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« Geoffrey Howe intervenes in leadership race | Main | Leadership candidates refuse head-to-head battles »


James Hellyer

At least Ken Clarke has the courage of his convictions. While other leadership contendors like Davis, Cameron and Fox took the easy way out when MPS voted to reform the electoral rules (by mouthing platitudes about direct democracy and then abstaining so as not to upset fellow MPs), the Clarke camp has at least admitted they want the rule gerrymandered in their favour.


It is interesting that while I like Clarke as an individual (except his views on Europe) all those commentators who seem to to think he will be our most formidable leader come from people or institutions not favourable to us.
In this spirit I would like to offer some advice to the Labour Party many of whom I'm sure read this blog.
When Blair retires don't choose Brown go for the much underrated Geoff Hoon.He is a forensic debater and has the respect of all who know him. Many of my friends in the army think he has been the best Defence Secretary we've had.They are particularly impressed with the way he sent them into Iraq so well equiped and his concern for their welfare since they have been stationed there knows no bounds.
So come on Labour make Geoff PM and make the whole country proud!

James Hellyer

Picking Geoff Hoon would be a disaster for Labour, Malcolm. The far more talented Alan Milburn deserves the top job. His managment of the pre-election campaign was beyond reproach.

Simon C

Gentlemen, you are forgetting the phenomenon that is Stephen Byers. Unique amongst New Labour in having the integrity to admit that he had not told the truth to the House of Commons, and true enough to the Socialist principles that brought him into politics to re-nationalise a privatised industry.

Andy Cooke

You are all overlooking the best option - possibly deliberately in order to try to tempt the Labour Party into an error of omission.

Peter Mandelson is the only politician respected throughout the Labour Party and the country. Bring him back from the European Commission and he can lead a Cabinet packed with Buff Hoon as Foreign Secretary, Milburn as Home Secretary and Byers as Chancellor.

It's obviously the best option for the Labour Party.

James Hellyer

My word, Labour really are spoiled to have so many top quality potential potentates.


You're I absolutely right Simon.I had forgotten about the incomparable Byers.How lucky the Labour party are to have such an array of talent in their PLP.
We must also remember that some of Britains greatest PMs have sat in the Lords.Now I know new Labour are most concerned to preserve our constitutional integrity but perhaps an exception could be made for the talents of fatty Falconer.
I would pay a lot more tax to watch a leadership contest between those four.

James Hellyer

If they could be led from the Lords, what better candidates than Lord Irvine or Lady Jay? Their common touch would show that Labour truly was the party of the people.

Selsdon Man

The anti-Cameron quotes in the Gruaniad indicate that it is talking up Ken Clarke's candidacy. It is interesting that there are no figures to back up its claim that Clarke will scupper Cameron's campaign.

Michael White fails to take account of the consultation process. What happens if the consultation reveals grassroots opposition to Ken Clarke? Will the MPs be willing to risk the wrath of the members?

As far as toning down his pro-European views, it is not just Ken's support for the Euro that is a stumbling block - it is his support for the EU constitution and what it represents. It is not yet dead and could re-emerge in the form of treaties.

Will Ken Clarke be willing to pledge that he will oppose further transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels? That is unlikely in my experience of him. He is a man of conviction who sticks to his principles and beliefs.

Those are issues that will concern not only MPs but large Party donors. Many MPs will also be concerned that a Clarke leadership will lead to greater support for UKIP. Many of our new MPs are defending slim majorities and would at risk to a UKIP revival. It is possible that a large number of our grassroots members could defect to UKIP.

It would be a great risk for MPs in safe seats to impose Ken Clarke on the party when public support for the EU is at an all time low. It would be a gift to Gordon Brown who is likely to be a Eurosceptic Prime Minister.

Ken is 65 and will be nearly 70 at the time of the next general election. He did not look fit or well when I met him while campaigning in April.

The Party needs a fit and energetic leader who will unite and re-build the Party, appeal to swing voters and is capable of being Prime Minister for two full termns. All the leading candidates must demonstrate that they can take on these challenges and succeed.


Certainly the level of respect for Mandelson is both unique and, outside 10 Downing Street, universal.

Whilst I would support a short Bill of the sort which enabled Viscount Stansgate to surrender his peerage and join the Commons, in order to see Falconer fighting a tight by-election somewhere, we may not need to look to the Lords to find that common touch.

Patricia Hewitt is down to earth, never patronises, and, as her handling of Rover before the election illustrated, demonstrably on top of her brief.

James Hellyer

This man really deserve to join the crowed field:

- Peter Hain has a marvellous manner with interviewers and comes across as the most suave and sophisticated person in the room.

Why, oh why does Labour favour Brown, when there are these decent, honest and charismatic individuals just waiting for the call to duty?


If anyone seriously thinks that "consultation" by MPs will make any difference to the way they vote, I will be very surprised.

James says that at least Clarke has the courage of his convictions, but if we don't like his convictions then we must make sure he does not get the job. Having been soundly rejected by the members in 2001, he should take that as meaning he is not acceptable.

This is all the more reason for the Electoral College to reject the changes to the leadership election process. If they don't then they can only blame themselves if they get the leader they don't want.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Come on now, this is getting ridiculous, surely with party leadership battles being compared to a beauty contest, the Labour 'dream ticket' would be the pin-up pair of Margaret Beckett and Clare Short?

Or with the political tide turning against nasty, yah-boo politics, perhaps that gentle fellow and all-round nice guy John Reid would be a better option?

If jealousy would prevent the ravishing beauties Beckett and Short gaining support, and if the ever-so-charming Reid is thought too timid, then the ideal candidate, who combines beauty and charm as well as dazzling intellect and incisive wit, making him an excellent communicator and superb debator, is none other than... John Prescott.

Simon C

Gordie B will be looking at these postings and weeping. How can he possibly think he might ever move next door in the face of all this quality competition?

More seriously, the Guardian story contained the following: ""Ken would do real damage to Dave," a Cameron supporter admitted last night."

It's revealing, and disquieting, that the Cameron camp sees its candidate as a Clarke-lite who would be damaged by a Ken Clarke candidacy. That must mean that they see something in common between their own agenda, and a likely Clarke programme. What would that be?

James Hellyer

Simon, they may just mean that they thought Cameron was the natural repository for non-Davis votes or the party "moderate" wing. A candidate like Clarke, who would probably say similar things to Cameron,but who has some work experience, could only leach support away from him.

Of course, what I suspect they really have in common is that both would tack towards Labour and offer a technocratic agenda, as they quested for the fabled middle ground.


In answer to Simons last post.I often wonder how genuine these unattributable these anonymous 'supporters' really are.I wouldn't put it past the Guardian or any other national newspaper to invent these quotes.It makes a story out of what is probably nothing.
I still can't believe that anyone who cares about are party could ever seriously think electing Ken would be a panacea for our party.
On a much less serious note,thanks everybody for livening up a totally boring morning in the office with your ideas for Labour leader.The only sad part I suppose,is that these 'magnificent' people have the power to change the lives of the British people.

Jonathan Sheppard

Too true - Uniting the party and focusing outwards is a key task for the next leader.


When the prize at the end of the day is a shot at becoming Prime Minister, let alone the honour of leading your party. I don't think it is unreasonable to expect a leadership contender to step down from controversial directorships. That applies to both Cameron and Clarke. Afterall, I doubt they'd have much trouble getting back into a boardroom even if their campaign's were not successful.

Wat Tyler

1. I salute all those public spirited suggestions for Labour leader- makes you realise just HOW dependent they are on Blair (yes, I know all about those polls supporting Brown...but we'll see how it looks once Tony leaves)

2. Re Tiger Tiger, I reckon the best bit is the excellent Wayne Rooney connection ( )

Kenneth Irvine

"If they could be led from the Lords, what better candidates than Lord Irvine or Lady Jay?"

Lord Irvine for Prime Minister! I like the sound of that!

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