Conservative Home's debate blogs


  • DVD rental
  • Conservative Books
My Photo

Conservative blogs

Blog powered by Typepad

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker

« Liam Fox promises red meat to Eurosceptics | Main | »



I have enormous respect for Sir Malcolm.His views and my own are exactly the same on many things.Sadly his campaign with MPs,activists and the general public just doesn't seem to have caught the imagination and I fear he will be the first to be eliminated.Perhaps he should join forces with Clarke now?

Jonathan Sheppard

Am I reading it right when Crispin writes about Davis, "He is superior in political positioning over Clarke, in experience over Cameron and in political stature over Fox"??

I assume that he would pass his support to David Davis if/when Sir Malcolm drops out.

Coffee Monster

I can only echo malcolm's post and say that I have tremendous respect for Rifkind. His political positioning as a eurosceptic one nation tory who has been a big supporter of localised politics since before it became fashionable is something that really impresses me. Clarke's entrance into the race has sadly destroyed any remote chance he had of becoming leader and I think he should withdraw. It would be unfortunate if he embarrassed himself on a first ballot. Hopefully he and that other sensible cerebral centrist David Willetts will form the intellectual backbone of the shadow cabinet for whoever wins.

Julia McIntyre


Mark Fulford

He'll make a fantastic deputy, but Rifkin doesn’t have the necessary charisma or voter appeal to win elections. It’s sad but true that these are two arbitrary qualities that a leader must have (and we have been lacking).

Oberon Houston

The interesting bit for me in all of this is the growing consensus that Davis is week on his oratory skills and presentation.

I also find him rather wooden, and I guess if he became leader he would be…. ok…. but I still don’t think he has the centre leaning instincts, or the charisma to pull voters to him in big numbers. And I just don’t buy his One Nation intimations; IDS said the same things and quickly resorted to type behaviour once leader. I don’t think Blair and Brown will be able to dismiss Davis as easily as the dispatch box as they did previous Tory leaders, but he won’t be able to deliver any knock down blows, he can’t punch at Clarke’s weight, and that’s what we must have in a leader. Clarke has the policy right (if he shuts up about the EU, which he said he would), he has the charisma – well that the wrong word, but you know what I mean – to appeal to a vast crop of swing voters, and, of great importance, he has the unique ability to pound Gordon and Blair publicly any time he chooses.

It’s for these reasons that I really think he will get us into power, and that is why I will be voting for him.

Oberon Houston

I should have mentioned Malcolm Rifkind, I think he is a great asset to the party when talent is - well - what is the polite way to put it - a bit thin. Oh that comes across badly, better move quickly on... Malcolm will make a great member of the Shadow Cabinet, he is gaining more and more empathy with the voters and he speaks the kind of reassuring language they like, but with the pragmatism we Conservatives are so good at and Labour can't do without resorting quickly back to dogma.

On the side, poor Mr Wolfgang, having to accept an apology from Rotweiller Reid, now thats irony folks!! Is everyone looking 4wd to our conference - whats the highlights going to be? Boris Johnson in the final of the blue rinse kissing contest?

Michael McGowan

Davis is the only one so far (with the possible exception of Fox) to break away from the stale and failed belief that the "social justice" debate must always be conducted on terms laid down by the left and their acolytes at the BBC. For decades, the left wing of the Conservative Party has simply danced to Labour's tune on "social justice" with a bit of tinkering her and a minor adjustment there. It hasn't worked and yet that is all that Cameron and Clarke are offering, with a bit of Ken's bluster thrown in on top for entertainment. Great pantomime but hardly "embracing change".

No one can exactly describe Ken Clarke's tenure at Health and Education as a success, not even his spinmeisters. As for Cameron, he is a career politician born to privilege. He will always be able to buy for his children the quality education and healthcare denied to most children by state education and a creaking NHS. So it's easy for him to deride ideas such as vouchers as "extreme" in order to curry favour with the Guardian reading classes because his hopes and aspirations are never going to depend on revitalised public services.

Oberon Houston

Oh oh. Easy cowboy. The left leaning Conservative party of the post war era, and the socialist labour party went too far left, and it all came clunking down in the 70's. What we have here is a re-adjustment to the post-thatcher era. Now some believe that the Britain of the future should be a continuity of the unfettered oportunism of the 80's, but greed was too tempting for most. Then we had the shift to the Major/Blairite politics, and what I am pondering is this. Are the electorate ready to set a course for Blue Water Sailing? I don't think so. So how do we get them on board? Well, its simple really, propose small but important changes - demonstrate the benefit and move from there. Its not always a case of left or right - sometimes it is really Pace that people are interested in. The are natural conservatives after all.


If David Davis were simply intending to resurrect the political ghost of Mrs Thatcher, then I rather doubt if Damian Green, David Willetts and Greg Clarke would be backing him. For a thoughtful outline of a more hopeful and less stale vision of "One Nation" conservatism, it's worth reading Damian Green's Macmillan Lecture on the TRG Website.

Cameron and Clarke still sem to be languishing in the era of Butskellism. Fox and Davis are not.

Jack Stone

It really is a cheap shot to accuse David Cameron of being hypoctical on health when it as been said his severly handicapped son as spent much of his young life being treated on the NHS.
Lets keep this leadership contest clean and not resort to gutter politics that attacks people in a way that is in my opinion as equally offensive as attacking people for the colour of there skin or the religion they practice.

Michael McGowan

I'm afraid, Jack, that that kind of abuse at best makes you look ridiculous. At worst, it brackets you with too many One Nation Conservatives who are afraid of real debate but are quite happy to headbut their opponents. We saw a lot of this behaviour from KC's acolytes in 2001. Why not accuse me of racism and homophobia too? Maybe then you will have offloaded your entire cargo of bile.

I am well aware that Cameron has a handicapped son and I am sure that he is an admirable father. I had a handicapped father who for 20 years was cared for, on the whole well, by the I know a lot about handicapped people and the NHS. If you read my comments, rather than leaping to the conclusions that matched your pre-conceptions, I did not accuse Cameron of hypocrisy but, if anything of lacking the necessary urgency to explore new ways to revitalise our public services. Despite the obligatory nod in the direction of "localism", the Cameron/Clarke prescription for public services smacks too much of the exhausted Blairite formula of yet more centralised control and direction by doubt with Tsars, crackdowns, eye-catching initiatives and targets to match. This has been tried time and again ever since 1945. It is a stale legacy of the wartime command economy. It has cost a fortune and it has largely failed, especially in terms of generating social mobility. Davis and Fox strike me as much better equipped to try a new approach than Cameron who comes from a stratum of society which has been largely insulated from the failures of the left's dogma on public services. Both Fox and Davis have direct personal experience of an upbringing where the failure of our public services blights people's lives. Hence their greater sense of urgency and imagination when it comes to doing something about it.

Jack Stone

You do not have to come from a working class background to know of or experiance the faults of the NHS.
David Cameron is correct when he says that the party needs to come forward with policies to improve the NHS not as they did at the last election come forward with policies to help people escape from the NHS.
The party needs to convince people we can improve the NHS not privatise and break it up which unfortunatly I supect most people would see as the consequences of Davis and Fox`s approach to the NHS.
Those of us on the left and centre of the party have stood back in virtual silence and allowed the right to lead the party to two success defeats.For the sake of the party and our country we moderates need to come out fighting and try to prevent the party from being defeated yet again and our country facing nearly ten years more of Labour government.

Michael McGowan

Jack, I suggest that you read the Prospectus on Davis' website. It says nothing about "privatising" the NHS but suggests that we might do well to learn from the long-standing successes of such right-wing dictatorships as Sweden and the Netherlands in giving ordinary people choice and quality in their public services, while preserving the principle of universal access underwitten by the taxpayer. What is it about the left wing of the Conservative Party that (a) they can't think beyond the dogmatic straitjacket imposed by the Labour Party and the Lib Dems; and (b)they always want us to embrace Europe's failures (the ERM, the Euro) and not its successes? There is more vitality and optimism on the Orange Book wing of the Lib Dems than there is on the left of the Tory Party.

David Cameron has so far failed to come up with any road-tested suggestions for improving the NHS. He was a key architect of the hopeless 2005 Tory manifesto ("cleaner hospitals, more matrons") which you rightly derided and I declined to vote for. Cameron has now of course tried to disassociate himself from that ill-starred venture.

I would suggest that coming from a background where you are utterly dependent on public services injects a degree of urgency and imagination into your desire to see them improved. That much is evident from the Fox and Davis campaigns and presumably explains why Davis has attracted the support of rabid free-market ideologues such as Damian Green, David Willetts and Ian Taylor.


I would love to see Rifkind as Cameron's deputy, that would be add fantastic gravitas to his leadership.

Selsdon Man

I wish to associate myself with the postive comments made about Sir Malcolm. In my personal experience, he is interested in radical ideas, including free markets and privatisation. His intellect is truly formidable and his oratorical skiils are excellent.

Daniel Vince-Archer

"I would love to see Rifkind as Cameron's deputy"

Going back to the rather harsh, unflattering characterisation of Rifkind that one blogger posted elsewhere on this site, would this be a rare case of a rat climbing on board a sinking ship?

Seriously though, Sir Malcolm is a shrewd, canny political operator and if he does drop out of the contest, he'll back someone with a decent chance of winning the contest and a vision other than turning the Conservatives into New Labour-lite.

James Hellyer

I can't see Sir Malcolm hanging out at the smoothie bar with David and the kids...

His belief in free markets, localism and Britain as a nation state suits him far better to Davis or Fox, than to Ken Clarke or Blair-lite. Let's hope he makes the right choice when he bows out.

Richard Allen

I have been genuinely disapointed with the performance of Sir Malcolm so far. Way back at the start of the campiagn I had said that I backed Davis, with Fox as a close second and that of the more "moderate" candidates Sir Malcolm appealed to me the most.

I am frankly astonished that such an acomplished politician has fought such a poor campaign, perhaps he would have been better off without Crispin Blunt.

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Conservative Home


  • Conservative Home's
    free eMailing List
    Enter your name and email address below: