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« Peter Oborne attacks Davis camp for plotting, praises Willetts for thinking | Main | 'The Coalition' versus David Davis »


Jonathan Sheppard

Agree with the sentiments about not letting Blair off the hook. I still wonder whether the two No votes could be music to Mr Blair's ears - as he can now try to justify not having a vote in the UK.

Mark Higgins

amen to that, I say. IDS is once again talking sound good sense. To be honest, if Tony Blair now refuses to hold a referendum then in my view that does not save him face as it amounts to a delcaration that the constitutional treaty is dead, given his previous declarations and those of Mr straw that it cannot be ratified without a referendum. In urging us to seize the moment, IDS is surely correct and as a consequence Ken Clarke can't be let anywhere near the leadership of the tory party, much as I like him on other issues.

Jack Stone

Iain Duncan Smith was a useless leader of the party and now he goes and proves himself to be an idiot as well.
The party should not be so obseessed and so blinked about Europe to rule out people of outstanding talent and Ken Clarke is not the only pro-european who this would apply to from leading the party.
I would rather have a pro-european conservative in Downing Street who I agree with on ninety per cent of issues than a New Labour Prime Minister who I don`t agree with at all.
Untill the party gets over this obesssion about Europe I frankly think its unelectable!

James Hellyer

Ken Clarke is not a man of outstanding talent. He's a chancer who's got by on a mixture of bluff and bonhomie.

If you actually look at his record, it becomes quickly apparent that he is useless. As Home Secretary, he accepted that his job was to manage public expectations of crime, not to lower crime. As a result crime rocketed.

He may have been a successful Chancellor, but then he had the advantage of competent public servants whose lead he could follow - specifically Sir Eddie George.

In opposition he has done nothing of note except sell tobacco.

This is not a man who would forward a visionary Conservative agenda or take on public service reform.

Above all else, he is detested by the majortiy of his own party. I don't think a combination of unpopularity, laziness and incompetence are good attributes for a leader.

Nothing he has said or done has convinced me that we made the wrong choice in rejecting him in favour of IDS.

Mark Higgins

I agree with a great deal of that, James, and there's little I can usefully add except that I think IDS was an unfortunate choice. I voted for Ken Clarke to be the leader of the party in fact, but I did so with a heavy heart because I thought we had two candidates who weren't worth the ballot paper their names were written on. For those who accuse me of obsessing about Europe, I'm sorry but it would be madness to abandon our ideological commitment to sovereignty in a free-market live and let live Europe and to stick by it does not make the party unelectable. On the contrary, our principles made us the most electable party in Britain when Europe was directly in issue! the reason we lost the election was because we started too late. Had we gone pro-Europe, however, it would have been melt-down. IDS is right, as he so often was. It's just a shame that as a person he was manifestly inadequate as a salesman for his commendable ideology.

Sean Fear

For the majority of us, it's not possible to agree 90% with a europhile Conservative.

Clarke's negatives have been admirably summarised by James. But also add his reaction to the French referendum result; not we must listen to the people, but Chirac should never have called the referendum in the first place!

Someone whose attitude to the electorate can be described as "Sod them, what do they know?" is not suited to lead the main opposition in a democracy.

Albion Blogger

Jack Stone,

But when, eventually, 90% of anything this country does is actually dictated by Europe the 90% of the remaining 10% that Mr Clarke can actually influence looks very small indeed.

Europe is everything in the end.

Jack Stone

I am afraid until the party stops this obsession about Europe and starts concentrating on the issues that are the voters priorities they will have no chance whatsoever of getting back into power.

Paul Marks

"getting back into power".

Well yes let us get some power back. The vast majority of people want "drastically" less rules and regulations (90% of the membership of the party for a start - according to the opinion polls that everyone says we should look at) and that means getting powers back from the E.U.

If Mr Clarke agrees with getting powers back from the E.U. fine - good on him. However, if does not.....

The idea that supporting the great project of European social democracy and the corporate state is the road back to office (by definition it is not the road back to "power") is rather odd, considering that the voters do not want this project.

However, I agree that there are other issues. Most importantly SAVING MONEY, the public finances are going to hell and deficits will mount and the economy decline over the next few years (and the little tricks like the P.F.I.s and treating the tax credit welfare schemes as "negative taxation" will start to fall apart).

We need a leader who would be good at cutting government spending - because that is what will have to be done.


Also once in government the Conservatives will have to tone down the Euroscepticism because otherwise we will be screwed in foreign affairs.

I agree with a Eurosceptic leader just to keep Europe off the agenda as it is an issue that has never once helped us, the last thing we need is more internicine bickering.

We need a leader who will set out a stall on a no-euro/further integration ground but still supports membership as that is the only Europe ground on which we can be elected.

Alasdair Ogilvy

Europe is going to be a very big story indeed for the whole of this Parliament. The economic situation in Old Europe is bleak, with precious little appetite for reform of the type undertaken by the Thatcher administrations. Something has got to give, and I don't see it being the ECB allowing Euroland to reflate. So the liklihood is that the Germans in particular will cut and run from the Euro and the ECB before the next general election.

The Conservatives cannot under any circumstances have a leader like Ken Clarke who espoused full-blown Euro integration, and has been proved utterly wrong in his judgement and so lacking in political acumen.

Dave J

"... the Conservatives will have to tone down the Euroscepticism because otherwise we will be screwed in foreign affairs."

Edward, as has been pointed out before, you fail to grasp that the EU is no longer a matter of "foreign affairs." Unfortunately, I suspect this is still hardly an atypical misperception for most of the British public, but what goes on in Brussels is already no more foreign vis-a-vis the UK than what happens in DC is to any US state.


When the EU declares war or puts up your taxes or closes your child's school, then it becomes domestic affiars. And then it will start to shift votes, apart from relatively small interest groups like farming and fishing that is not the case.

In politics perception is more important than reality.

You really should know that.


Is he thinking what Im thinking? ....

Sean Fear

The EU does indeed impose taxes. It imposes minimum rates of VAT, and has long sought to introduce a witholding tax on bank deposits.

There are in fact quite a few domestic issues on which the resolutions of EU institutions prevail; employment, discrimination, the environment, health and safety - all affect more than small interest groups.

Alexander Drake

I made the point in another stream that I think credibility on economic management - that we are seen to be committed to deliver low interest rates, job creation opportunities, and 'aspirational' opportunities - is crucial.

With that in mind, rather than talk about the leadership, I'd like to look at the #2 job.

Specifically, I'd like to see a nexus between the shadow chancellorship and the deputy leadership of the party.

I think it would be a small way to show the Party was serious about working hard to deliver positive economic results and better service delivery, for punters, all the time.

Abdul Salam

Excellent. I can't see why anyone in their right minds would disagre with anything Mr Smith says in his Swedish speech.We need national soverignty, so do the nations of Europe. Brussells should be an intergovermental process not supragovermental aspiring to be a false nation. The EU parliament should revert to being nominated from within each national parliament to give real accountabilty and experience to nation states. There was not, there is not and there will never be an appetite among the people of Europe for a United States of Europe. So why we wasting so much time, and money?

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