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« Liam Fox takes the gloves off with attack on Clarke | Main | Liam Fox woos socially conservative Cornerstone MPs (Part 46 in a continuing series...) »

Comments

Daniel Vince-Archer

That makes it even more likely that Willetts will jump into bed with Ken instead of Davis.

Editor

David Willetts' cautious approach to tax cuts have always made him an unlikely Davis Shadow Chancellor.

James Hellyer


Peter Oborne talked about this in his Spectator column this week. He seemed to think it was a strong point in Davis's favour that he might be able to persuade Hague to come back - and that's coming from an out and out Clarke supporter.

I agree with Tim's assessment though that Hague won't declare for Davis while Fox is still in the race (I'd probably say the same for Howard). If the Fox team's comments in The Sunday Times are at all an accurate reflection of how the MPs are likely to vote, then Davis won't get that support.

Peter Littleton

Having William Hague on board would probably make David Davis unstoppable. His main weakness so far in the campaign has been the sense that he is a divisive figure. However, if he can show himself capable of mending fences his candidature will become a lot more attractive to many.

But as for David Willets, it would be really good to see him join the Davis bandwagon. It would give the Davis campaign even greater appeal and bring some credibility to Davis's claim to have a good focus on social justice.

AnotherNick

I wonder how many MPs regret jumping into the Davis camp too quickly. He racked up a lot of names, but I don't think many people anticipated the way the leadership battle would accelerate with Ken's declaration, Liam very cleverly designed his launch having seen Ken's. Now Davis & Cameron need new momentum, possibly already to late for the latter although he still polls fairly well at the moment. Maybe too many MPs thought that Davis would walk it and backed him too quickly.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Hague backing Davis would probably be the coup of the leadership contest. Hague still has enormous clout within the party and the media and would undoubtedly cause the momentum to swing back to Davis from Ken and help re-establish his solid lead amongst the membership. As mentioned by others though, I think he would offer 'discreet' {sic?} support to Fox first, along with Duncan Smith and that kind of big-name support is just what Liam needs to make the breakthrough in this contest from also-ran to real contender.

James Hellyer


As I said, I doubt either Hague or Howard will endorse a candidate until we're down to the final two or three.

Neither are likely to endorse Davis while Dr Fox, a friend of both of them, is still in the race.

On the level of personal politics, I also doubt any of the former leaders want to back a candidate who may get knocked out. I wouldn't necessarily expect them to endorse Fox early either.

In any case, if the election did come down to Clarke and A.N. Other, Hague would certainly back A.N. Other, just as he did in 2001.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Is Howard not backing Cameron any more then?

James Hellyer


Howard never was openly backing Cameron. Cameron is supposed to have upset Howard by distancing himself from the election campaign and then trashing his leadership.

As Dr Fox was Howard's campaign manager after Betsygate, it seems likely that he would receive his backing if he gets to a further stage than Cameron.

Personally I don't believe Cameron will stand. His campaign has been fatally wounded by the Clarke candidacy. Previously he was feted by the media, now he's nowhere.

Daniel Vince-Archer

For once James, I agree with you!

buxtehude

I wonder how far DD actually went in 'suggesting' he wants WH as his shadow chancellor? If he really said so, it's a big (and pointless) risk - what happens if WH says no? Wouldn't look good - and makes who ever DOES take the job look like 2nd-choice.

James Hellyer


I think it's just a rumour. Davis and Hague have been hillwalking together. People have wanted to get Hague back on the frontbench. In the end, this is just someone floating the possibility to give the Davis campaign a boost.

buxtehude

What Howard does or doesn't do, and who Howard backs or doesn't back, is a matter of no concern whatsoever. The leadership of Michael Howard marks a very dark chapter in the history of the Conservative Party, and everyone associated with him and his rotten campaign is tarnished. He now seems empty, nasty, incapable of any strategic thought, positive vision, or even a half-way decent human impulse.

James Hellyer


I think that's rather harsh. His attempts to alter the leadership rules aside (which analysed the problem of MP disloyalty correctly, but prescribed the wrong cure) his leadership since the election actually seems a step up on the months preceding it.

Certainly I found his interviews and articles on multiculturalism, in the wake of 7/7, to be both articulate and sensible.

I think his opinions could still influence a small numer of MPs and ordinary members (who don't seem to hate him).

Daniel Vince-Archer

Buxtehude, I simply cannot believe how thoroughly unfair your post is to Michael Howard. (Are you Ann Widdecombe in disguise?) Yes, he failed to win the election and can be criticised for a number of things that have happened under his leadership. But to call it 'a very dark chapter in the history of the Conservative Party' is a bit over-the-top surely? If you want to refer to anything as 'a very dark chapter...', then I'd argue you'd be better off using the period immediately before Howard took over, when the party was wracked {sic?} by disunity {sic?}, with disgraceful backstabbing culminating in the downfall of a decent man, and when the party was treated as a complete joke by all and sundry. At least Howard united the party and gave it some credibility.

Cutting taxes win elections

The previous post refers to when the part was treated as a complete joke by all and sundry. Its now treated as a complete joke by its "leader", who seems to only want to hold a leadership election once he has fixed the rules, and whose treatment of the many hard working, and poorly thanked, members of the party is shocking.

Richard Allen

"I wonder how far DD actually went in 'suggesting' he wants WH as his shadow chancellor? If he really said so, it's a big (and pointless) risk - what happens if WH says no? Wouldn't look good - and makes who ever DOES take the job look like 2nd-choice."

I seem to remember a rumour going round about 2 months ago that Hague had let it be known to all the leadership contenders that he wanted the job of Shadow Chancellor. If that was true it is hardly a risk on DD's part.

buxtehude

Well, I think Michael Howard had a golden opportunity, and he used it to take the party backwards, not forwards. I'm sorry, I can't help it, I think he's a shabby, mean-spirited man whose one talent - arguing like a barrister going in for the kill - continually backfired for us. He is the architect of our current dismal position, and I think history will take a very dim view of him. What's more, if you talk to his erstwhile 'team', you will find most of them think the same and much worse.

But it doesn't matter - I'm sorry if I offend some of you here with these views, let's move on. He'll be gone soon.

It's kind of funny that delivering Hague as Shadow Chancellor should be seen as such a coup, when the current occupant of that position has been getting such good press in the last few days.

Since David Cameron's bid seems to be suffering lately, is George Osborne heading for an inevitable demotion under any other leader and is that deserved, since he seems to be making a reasonable fist of it?

James Maskell

I thought Hague had said he wasnt looking for frontline politics, that he wasnt interested. I cant blame him with the state of the Party currently.

James Hellyer


"I cant blame him with the state of the Party currently."

It doesn't help the state of the Party when it's supposed Big Beasts won't take part in frontline politics.

James Maskell

Theres a good reason for that. Michael Howard was (and to a lesser extent still is) a Big Beast. He has found himself dragged down by the Party and defeated in a bad way in a General Election. The Party is split on a number of issues and the Big Beasts I suspect dont want to take on the challenge. I certainly wouldnt take it on. The Party isnt agreed on what it is yet.

Simon C

"It's kind of funny that delivering Hague as Shadow Chancellor should be seen as such a coup, when the current occupant of that position has been getting such good press in the last few days.

Since David Cameron's bid seems to be suffering lately, is George Osborne heading for an inevitable demotion under any other leader and is that deserved, since he seems to be making a reasonable fist of it?"

Osborne has been doing well, but suffered an immense setback today when Portillo marked him out as the next future of the right....

With both Willetts & Hague wanting to be Shadow Chancellor, and Osborne in post, there will be some interesting manouverings going on.

GaffaUK

"Big Beasts I suspect dont want to take on the challenge."

Clarke is one of the big beasts and has put his name into the ring three times. Trouble is the Tories keeping voting in minnows. Major, Hague and IDS were so uncharamatic and visionless - and they held little appeal to the public. I thought Howard was an improvement but in my opinion, blew it when he spent way too much time during the election on immigration and defended the pretty much indefenceable Iraq War. This just turned off the voters who still see the Tories as the Nasty Party.

Having Hague as Chancellor would be another mistake - this is the guy who won a net 1 seat gain for the Tories. The Tory party is more interested in trying to stay together ideologically as a tight unit - rather than accept any main party is a broad church and concentrate on attacking Tony Blair and actually try to win after 3 poor defeats.

Selsdon Man

The Fox camp are privately confident that Hague will back Liam.

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