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« Who's backing who? (3) | Main | Theresa May isn't giving up on party democracy »


James Hellyer

I have to say that Davis's and Cameron's reasoning for abstaining seems very self-serving.

Either they believe that the rank-and-file should have a vote (in which case they're cynical opportunists for not voting for their convictions), or they don't think we should have a vote (and lack the courage to say so).


EVERYTHING, James, is self-serving. That's what they are all about, all the time. We shouldn't be surprised. It's genetic.

The question is whether they are smart enough to actually understand their self-interest. If they find themselves in an ever-shrinking party, with less and less money and increasingly dependent on a few temperamental big donors, they will realise what they have done to themselves.

Remember, very few Conservative MPs these days aspire to anything other more than a comfortable niche in the 'managed decline' of the Conservative Party.


Do we know who the remaining non-voting MPs were? I make it 20, and we know of Davis and Cameron, leaving another 18 missing. I agree with James. It is not a good start when the two leading contenders are ducking out of difficult decisions. I like to see honesty. We need a leader who is brave enough to say what he or she believes.

I admire those ten who signed that letter to the Telegraph. If this decision is to be overturned, a campaign needs to be established quickly. John Strafford is collecting names of chairmen and other members of the National Convention willing to be part of such a campaign. If you are interested then visit the COPOV website

William Norton

20 abstentions is probably about right for the number of leadership hopefuls, isn't it?


I've just been at a meeting with Liam Fox. He abstained in yesterday's vote but supports an electoral college made up of MPs, MEPs, councillors etc AND ALL party members.

James Hellyer

Why did he abstain and what does he propose to do bring about an electoral college? Or are these more fine words that butter no parsnips?

Wat Tyler

James- we can see what you're saying about parsnips and self-serving abstentions, but it is awkward if you're a runner, as DD said this morning on Today.

I'd like to see someone like, say, Theresa- who has been impressively proactive in defending member rights but who has no real leadership chance- grab this, and drive for one of the two real alternatives (ie electoral college, or reverse voting order). She'd do us- and herself- a huge service.

James Hellyer

"James- we can see what you're saying about parsnips and self-serving abstentions, but it is awkward if you're a runner, as DD said this morning on Today."

It may be awkward, but it hardly demonstrates that someone has the courage of their convictions. Or indeed has any convictions on these matters.

Obviously it would be better not to redraw the rules while a contest is iminent (thank you Michael Howard), but I don't think that should change where people stand on a point of principal.

Michael McGowan

Theresa May has written an excellent article on this subject in today's "Spectator". Rightly, it points out that modernisation will not get off first base if the current reactionary proposals are railroaded through.

Richard Morris

Davis is a very unimpressive man, isn't he? I started off all this wanting him to win, even though I remembered very well why I was one of many people who urged my MP in 2001 to support Iain Duncan Smith. DD's lack of charisma, principle and demonstrable political ability were all part of the reason why. But this time I thought: "let's try and repeat what happened with Howard in 2003" (ie a consensus emerging, and therefore a united parliamentary party) , but with someone not as useless as Howard.

Sadly Davis has showed that an inept politician doesn't change his spots. I think all his self-serving garbage about telling it how it is is rather put into perspective by this miserable effort.

According to my MP, he was asked (before the London bombings a fortnight ago) by a Davis supporter to sign a letter requesting a motion of no confidence. According to my MP (he signed it), the fcat that it still hasn't got enough names shows just how little support Davis really has in the parliamentary party.

I fully admit that I am in the same position most party members were in 2001. Then it was obvious that the increasingly and fundamentally anti-Tory Portillo would be a disaster for the Party. Thus we had to turn to Duncan Smith, despite him being a tabula rasa. He turned out to be a disaster (though far less than a Portillo leadership would have been: it would have split the Party at least in two). And now we have exactly the same problem: the people who support (or more exactly, prop up) David Cameron), are *not* Conservatives. They want to drain all the Toryism out of the Party, and it's therefore imperative that they be stopped.

So for me, my MP, and I imagine the vast majority of the people who voted for Duncan Smith, it's "Anybody But Cameron". But who then? I thought Dvais at first was the man, but I now wonder about Fox. He's admited to me in the past that he only reluctantly came out as a 1st round Portillo supporter in 2001 because he assumed it was a done deal, and that he has regretted it ever since.

He's also promised that all the remaining Modernising leakers will be sacked from Central Office. It's a pity that his campaign hasn't made more headway, but maybe it's like IDS in 2001 - and the unfancied slowburner will win in the end?

Richard Morris
[I want to give my constituency, but that would give my MP's name away, and I'm not sure he would be veyr happy with that: he's told DD's people that he will vote for him, but he's told me that he's already changed his mind and intends to vote for Fox, "if he look's just one effing fraction more serious". Good]

James Hellyer

That sounds fairly plausible, Richard, and certainly tallies with a lot of press rumours about the Davis campaign intimidating MPs.

I have to say though that I wouldn't be impressed with an MP who was so indiscrete and signed a motion to nix Michael Howard.

Howard may not been a great success, but he deserves better than that for his service in opposition (while most of his former Cabinet colleagues hightailed it to the city or the BBC).

Anyway, the rule change throws it all in the air. The Clarke candidacy blows apart the modernisers "stop Davis" co-alition. So long as Clarke, Lansley, Rifkind and Cameron are in the frame, nome of them will get real momentum. That may, as you say, give Fox some impetus as a stop-Davis candidate of the right.


The problem is not so much that Davis and Cameron abstained on the vote. I think we can cut them some slack on a vote they have a personal interest in. What is revealing, and discouraging, is that neither came out in public for member rights.

James Hellyer

"The problem is not so much that Davis and Cameron abstained on the vote. I think we can cut them some slack on a vote they have a personal interest in."

So? There's a broader principle at stake. Either they believe in that broader principle, but not enough to vote for it lest they upset fellow MPs, or their fine words about electoral college are just hollow platitudes for people who do care about the issue.

Malcolm Shykles

Quote from Telegraph:

"31st January 2005
Michael Howard's satisfaction rating has sunk to a new low. Now just 22 percent say they are satisfied with his performance as Leader of the Opposition, lower than John Major's January 1997 rating just before Blair's election triumph, two points above Michael Foot in January 1983 before Mrs Thatcher's 143 seat victory that year, 12 points behind where Kinnock was when he lost to Major in 1992."

If it was not for Davis and Howards interference, IDS could well now be Prime Minister. Do not forget that he was ahead of Labour in the polls when he was deselected!

Davis and Howard must never be forgiven. I hope that this post is not regarded as Anti Semitic!

You're a total twat Malcolm

malcolm shykles

Whoever you are you would probably find a home with the BNP.

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