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« 'The Coalition' versus David Davis | Main | Is The Sunday Telegraph working for David Davis? »


Mark O'Brien

The only way we can have a new leader before the conference (by July is a bit excessive) is for Michael Howard to announce a leadership election immediately. We are in limbo right now. Right now, we're like a family that's decided to move house and we've got some ideas but the initial zest for change is waning and so we know we're going to move but we've got bigger things to worry about at the present moment.

The Conservative Party should be travelling at lightning speed right now. Instead, we've been dictated to by the leadership that the grassroots are naive and ineffective and that party HQ should always have the final word. We've had the rebuttal from all sorts of people, notably from sites like this one. What we really need is a conclusion to the debate about how the leader should be elected, and instead just get a leader as soon as possible.

I sometimes wonder if the slow pace the party is working at is a way of giving the 'modernisers' time to select their man. Either way, we just need a good leader with all the right qualities and the right vision far more than we need this futile debate about whether the elite few at the top of the party are more in tune with the public than the masses at the bottom.

That way, we can spend the next four or five years actually preparing for government, not cementing ourselves even further as Her Majesty's Official Opposition.

Mark Higgins

The perceived state of limbo does not mean choosing in haste only to regret it later on. the reason we need a process of consultation is because the leadership rules have to change. Like it or not, we grassroots members gave the party IDS, only to lambast him from all parts of the arena at the 2003 party conference and thank goodness he lost that vote of confidence the following month. so, the way I see it is this:

First, we could have a leader by acclamation as happened with Michael Howard and as Richard Spring proposes. not a chance! Tim Yeo didn't stand down from the shadow cabinet to spend more time with his family for a start, and I doubt Sir Malcome Rifkind came back into parliament just to acclaim Mr Davis.

second, there is always the choice of using the current rules to choose a new leader and then thinking about how they should change afterwards, but again there is no chance of this at all which in my view is a jolly good thing. The parliamentary party must, in my view, be the ultimate electors of the new leader, with members' having a subsidiary say.

Third, we can get it all right now, provide rules with which the vast majority are happy, choose the right man for the job and hopefully not have to worry about it for a good few years to come. This has the advantage of not stabbing Michael Howard in the back, which would be a poor return for his excellent service over the past eighteen months, and seems to me to be the recipe for long-term stability.

All right, the October party conference might be frustrating, it might not be the uplifting event of last year, but that's the price we have to pay for longer-term success. It may also seem that we're in limbo at the moment but history shows that any opposition party that rushes headlong into policy commitments and firm stances barely four weeks after an election defeat regrets it later in the parliament. Of course Richard Spring's universal acclamation thesis would be marvellous for us all, but it's more fantasy than fact at the moment.


I hold MP's entirely responsible for the difficulties Mr Duncan Smith suffered. We were given two names, IDS and Clarke. They believed we would choose the lesser of two evils(so to speak) and go for Clarke. They were wrong, and I don't trust them to get it right this time either. If it were down to what voters and members would like, then Davis would be leader now; so the delay it seems to me is purely to allow the blue labour lot to plot some course that will prevent that from happening. I can't for the life of me understand what their problem is.

Mark Higgins

Their problem is entirely legitimate. we polled 33 percent of the vote and different people have different ideas of how to increase that, which we must do. Ask yourself why people, a few of whom will do no more than pay the annual membership subscription, should have the ultimate say over who becomes leader and potentially prime minister in waiting. There is no case to answer, to my mind and the voluntary membership don't have an automatic right to the ultimate say. That's why these reform proposals are a fair deal, because if as you say most Tories want David Davis, he will be guaranteed places in the final ballots. But it seems to me political suicide to have a party leader who does not command the majority support of the parliamentary party. they work with him/her daily, after all, and it is they who will hopefully form the 2009-10 government.

Robin M

As one of Richard's local activists and constituents I can confirm that:

(a) the electorate here are frustrated by big party politics. This sense of irrelevance is only reinforced by bickering and lack of focus

(b) local party members welcomed the unity demonstrated by MPs BUT valued the accountability of MPs to their associations

As for me, I am glad that this is dropping off the RADAR...

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