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« David 'JFK' Cameron | Main | Has David Davis driven the final nail into the coffin of Michael Howard's reforms? »


James Hellyer

"Yesterday's Sunday Telegraph survey putting Clarke neck-and-neck with David Davis amongst constituency chairmen was the first."

Except as Brice said yesterday, when he was asked by the Telegraph and replied "Fox", they then restricted his choice to Davis, Cameron or Clarke. So not only is it wrong to assume that Constituency Chairmen are necessarily representative of the party as a whole, but the question they were asked was loaded. It's therefore hardly reliable data!

Onto other matters. Lord Lamont says

"The time has to come when the Iraqis assume responsibility for their own destiny."

So, we remove the government (awful as it was), weaken the armed forces and police through the de-Baathification process, allow several regions of the country to collapse into civil disorder, and then... pull out. That doesn't sound very responsible to me.

Surely we owe a duty to the Iraqis to allow their government to at least have a chance of success. If we withdrew now, we would in fact deny most Iraqis any chance to take responsibility for their own destiny.

Jack Stone

I may be wrong but I get the impression that things have began to move away from the Davis campaign.
Personally I suspect that the reason for this is two fold. Firstly the reputation for dirty politics the Davis camp have earned themselves in recent years and also the fact that take away the life narrative that we hear so much about from wat tyler etc there is very little to attract people to the campaign.
For instance what sort of Conservative Party would we have if Davis was leader. Frankly I have no idea and if Davis does he is certainly keeping it to himself!

Selsdon Man

The Brice story confirms my suspicion - that there is a media attempt to exclude Fox from the debate to create a Davis-Clarke factional divide. The Telegraph's poll is biased and contemptible. No polling organisation could get away with it.

Jonathan Sheppard

Jack - perhaps its because he hasnt even launched his campaign yet. I know a lot more about what Davis stands for through his masterful handling of the Home Office brief than I do of some of the other contenders.

James Hellyer

That's a little disingeneous, Jonathan. Davis has been unveiling supporters and taking part in newspaper interviews (about him rather than his work) since shortly after the general election. He may not have officially declared his candidacy, but his campaign has been up and running since June. Or are we going to pretend all those open collared interview pieces had nothing to do with it?

Jonathan Sheppard

The only candidate who has actually launched "proper" would be Ken Clarke. Obviously we all know who the runners and riders are - but we have to be realistic as well. The contenders are still going to be weighing up when might this election take place. There is no point starting the ball rolling if the election won't finish until next year, whic whilst I would be appalled - could be the case.

They are all canny political operators - and timing is going to be key in the election.

Selsdon Man

Fox, as a former GP, handled his health brief very well. He has made a good start on foreign affairs too. Liam's Politeia speech is a very good guide to his personal philosophy - freedom first. Fox's Conservative Party would be radical - pro-free market and individual choice.


I'm not entirely convinced that Fox did handle his health brief very well. He was away on a skiing holiday at the time of the biggest NHS crisis in recent years and with him as Shadow Health Secretary we made no inroads whatsoever into Labour's claim to be the party of the NHS. Mr Fox, despite his many qualities, would just be a repeat of the policies and platform so emphatically rejected by the public at the last two elections yet still enthusiastically endorsed by many members of this forum. Reminscent of Tony Benn's diaries after the 1983 election, which he claimed was a ringing endorsement of Socialism, and after the Common Market referendum, which he claimed was a moral victory for the No camp.

Simon C


Freedom is not the only club in Liam's bag. His Broken Society speech and his campaigns on Mental Health show that he also understands the need to rebuild Britain's decaying social fabric.

He is not afraid of radical solutions to the radical social problems that we face, but he will be more than just a libertarian laeader (which is what your last post seemed to suggest).

Simon C

"with him as Shadow Health Secretary we made no inroads whatsoever into Labour's claim to be the party of the NHS."

You are being a little harsh, Disraeli.

According to MORI's website, when Liam became Shadow Health Spokesman in 1999, Labour led the Conservatives by 33% in polls asking which party was most trusted on health. By 2003, when he became Chairman, that gap had been reduced to 14 points.

The DoH never produces a green or white paper nowadays without including "Choice" in the title - that reflects the way that Conservatives have been winning the debate about health & social service provision over the last several years & forcing the government onto our ground. There's still a long way to go, but Liam can take much of the credit for that.

James Maskell

The problem I find though is that if the Conservatives get a hit against the Government, Labour simply takes in the Conservatives ideas and claims them as their own. The Conservatives cant get the complete hit where the point is scored but Labour struggle to change the policy without having to go against what it believes.

Simon C

"The Conservatives cant get the complete hit where the point is scored but Labour struggle to change the policy without having to go against what it believes."

That's because New Labour no longer believes in very much domestically except "what works" - the writing around The Third Way some years ago made it clear that the only guiding principle was pragmatism.

This may change in the new parliament because of the reduced majority and the presumed leadership to-be of Gordon Brown. You are right , though, this has been a significant problem for Conservatives, and one which we have not yet found a good solution to.

One answer is to focus on inequalities in access to high-quality health and education: vouchers/passports would in time ensure that every child had access to a good education, and every family access to high-quality health care.

James Hellyer

'That's because New Labour no longer believes in very much domestically except "what works"'

I'd add the provisio that believe that the state should control the provision of services. Their view of private provision, in health for example, is to reduce other providers to the level of sub-contractors.

Selsdon Man

Simon, I agree with you and take your point about Liam being more than a libertarian candidate. Both speeches are significant. Liam Fox is a genuine conviction politician with sound philosophical and intellectual foundations for his vision of the future of the Party and country.


What Lamont is saying in his article is that he supports Clarke's view on Iraq, but how could the Conservative Party have any credibility by reversing the already established policy of support for the US? Michael Howard got into deep water by stating that he thought the war was mis-sold on the false prospectus of weapons of mass destruction, though he also said he would still support the war.

By doing a U-turn Clarke would be turning his back on the US - a very serious mistake for our party. Perhaps Ken would be better off crossing the floor and joining the Lib Dems?

Tim Hughes

CLarke opposed the war from the beginning. This gives him license to actually oppose the government policy on Iraq, something quite useful if you are going to be Leader of the Opposition.

Clarke also laid out in his speech that he is a supporter of America. Clarke re-iterated the importance of the special relationship.If we want to win the next election we should listen to the thousands of Lib Dem and Labour voters who would vote for a Clarke-led Conservative Party. He will win the next election beyond doubt. Its time to put aside your prejudices against him. He's the only one who is capable of winning in 2009.

Oliver McCarthy

Stephen Dorrell and Lord Lamont! Golly! It's in the bag. If these two men agree on something it's almost certainly... wrong!

Seriously though, the fact that one of the more repulsive of John Major's underlings has shown his true colours (or lack thereof) as a contemptible Little Englander _and_ supported Euro-slob doesn't really recommend his new idol to me at any rate. Does Mr Clarke want the terrorists to win in Iraq? If he does, he should say why.

As for the absurd Mr. Dorrell, the less said the better, I think.

The Party needs to sideline these people as decisively as possible if it is to stand any chance of getting back into power. What is amazing is that no one (apart from Michael Gove) seems to be able to appreciate the difference between public name recognition and actual popularity. In any case, if Gordon Brown is the leader at the next election (and I'm still not holding my breath) with Mr Clarke leading the Tories, then it seems quite likely that 2009 (or 2010) will 1997 all over again -- or, at best, the Socialists' '92.

In any case, Mr Clarke is still very unlikely to win. He was beaten by William Hague in 1997. If it had been up to MPs in 2001, he would have been easily beaten by Iain Duncan Smith. (That sounds like heresy nowadays, but it's true.) Yesterday amongst MPs Mr Clarke was lagging in fourth place.

On top of that, 44% of Party Chairmen are set to reject the new rules, as are a sufficiently large number of MPs, effectively vetoing the changes. If this happens then Tory MPs would be very unwise to push Mr Clarke through to the final round (against Mr Davis).

The sad thing is that in any case Mr Clarke's candidacy will probably prove to have been what finally broke the back of the new proposals. It has also, therefore, ensured that David Davis will win.


What a thoroughly nasty post Oliver.With our fortunes as they are,the Conservative Party can't afford to 'sideline' anybody at the moment.
It seems we still have to learn after 8 years in opposition the lesson that Labour learnt years ago that to win we need to work together as cordially as we can.

Selsdon Man

Agreed, Malcolm. If Oliver's divisive vitriol is typical of that we can expect from Cameron supporters, we should be be very concerned.

The BBC and Guardian polls are very important, Oliver. The party members and MPs will take note. If they think that only Clarke can defeat Labour, they will vote for him - even under the old rules.

Selsdon Man

Derek, if Ken crossed the floor to the Lib Dems, it would damage the Party. We need popular figureheads. The party has always been a broad coalition.

Oliver McCarthy

I quite like malcolm's idea that the Labour Party won by working together cordially. Perhaps Neil Kinnock did 'cordially' kick out Militant and then reverse the Labour Party's position on nuclear weapons. As it turned out, he needn't have bothered. After 16th September 1992 almost any Labour Leader could have won because the public was determined to punish the people responsible -- i.e. John Major, Douglas Hurd, Michael Heseltine, Norman Lamont and, er, Kenneth Clarke.

And does Selsdon Man really believe that Tory Party members are just going to do whatever Auntie and the Grauniad tell them to do? Personally I'm not so sure.


I suppose we can continue our habit of fighting bitterly with ourselves as we have since 1990 and get thrashed again at the next election.
Labour left wingers accepted the expulsion of Militant and the the U turn on nuclear weapons as the price that had to be paid to get into power.

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