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« Moore democracy required | Main | Who's backing who? (rolling update) »


James Hellyer

My favourite bit of Micahel Howard's speech was this:

"You reach out to new supporters by strong clear-minded leadership of a disciplined and united Parliamentary Party not by a protracted period of inconclusive wrangling over matters which are of no interest at all to the general public."

Did I imagine Mr Howard launching protracted period of inconclusive wrangling over matters which are of no interest at all to the general public when he announced he was standing down in the early hours of May 6? If I didn't and it was such a terrible thing, why did he do it?

I also enjoyed this bit of point missing:

"And, I repeat, choosing a Leader who does not command the support of a majority of Members of Parliament is not the best way of achieving the discipline and unity we need."

So, Mr Howard agrees that the endemic disloyalty of the MPs is a problem. However, he assumes that letting them choose the leader will mean they support him. I imagine Messers Major and Hague could tell him otherwise...

If the problem is that MPs are undisciplined rabble, the answer is surely to impose discipline rather than cave in to them.

James Hellyer

"They want to put Mr Davis before the grassroots membership in the expectation that the membership is (even) more friendly to Mr Davis than the parliamentary party."

It would be too much to suppose this is motivated by high minded idealism, and is no way ensuring their man wins any run off with Ken Clarke...

James Maskell

MH's points are interesting ones.

1. How can a Party be unified if it doesnt have the support of the voluntary party? It would be split, not unified.

2. Going for a quick answer doesnt always answer the actual question. Id rather wait longer for the Party to come to the right decision of who to lead the Party rather than shovel this proposal down the Party members throats to save time.

3. Thats completely ridiculous. Thats like Tony Blair saying that he will be getting rid of the Office of Prime Minister and replacing it with an Office of President of GB, since it works in the US.

4. 1005 members of the Conservative Party does not represent 300,000 members. I do not trust surveys with such tiny samples.

His points seem a little desperate.


Oh goodness - just please let this be over soon! It looks so bad that the members and the MP's can't come together and agree on the choice of leader and get behind them. Gosh the Labour party have had Gordon Brown lined up for years.

Perhaps every MP should write down one trillion pounds - this is the amount of money owed personally by people living in the UK - the borrowers have all been riding the Labour Party band wagon and soon they're all going to have to repay this money at about the same time that taxes will rise to cover the increased public spending and wage inflation caused by the ever increasing NMW (differentials).

Adrian Owens

I have to disagree with my Leader on this one.

Let's suppose that we had had the previous (and now proposed again) MPs only system in the 2001 Leadership election.

Given the almost even 3-way split between Ken Clarke, IDS and Michael Portillo in the final MP vote and given the polarised nature of the 3 voting camps at this stage, I cannot see how MP-only voting in a final head-to-head between KC and IDS would have contributed to a more secure leader.

It can be argued, I believe that IDS probably got a more secure leadership (difficult to believe at first glance I know) by receiving the mandate of the members than if MPs alone had selected him.

The alternative that the mebership chose IDS whereas the MPs would never have done so and would have picked Clarke in a final ballot would surely have led to a vociferous disaffected minority much larger than at the time of Maastricht and the desertions of tens of thousands of members.

MPs-only voting leading to a unified, disciplined Parliamentary party Mr Howard? I think not.

Dave J

"MPs-only voting leading to a unified, disciplined Parliamentary party Mr Howard? I think not."

Is Michael Howard suffering from amnesia, or was it some unseen force other than the party's own MPs that stabbed Margaret Thatcher in the back and gave the country six years of the relatively useless John Major? And remind me, was the party completely unified and disciplined after that? This kind of rhetoric is insulting to the intelligence of anyone who was alive and conscious at the time.


I counted 250 people at the NCC meeting, and I would say that of the 50 speakers the views were fairly evenly split between those who will vote for the change and those voting against. The full attendance at the meeting could have been about 700-800, so there is still a huge unknown factor. I suspect that most of those at the meeting had already made up their minds beforehand, though a few uncommitted delegates said they had been persuaded by Robin Hodgson's powerful speech. Certainly those opposed made the most noise, and in that sense the mood of the meeting was against the proposals.

The main argument that those in favour made was that we must have a leader that commands the support of the vast majority of his colleagues, yet in any final ballot we could get a very narrow margin. Even if there is a wide margin, say 2 to 1, that still leaves one third of the MPs dissatisfied with the result, and if the chosen leader does not get success within twelve months he will be in exactly the same position as William Hague and IDS. Unless the MPs can be more loyal, the system for choosing him will not make any difference.

If all the MPs could be persuaded by their colleagues to abide by their own selection system, they could choose their own leader by themselves anyway. But with a probable four years before an election I can't see them all doing that.


George Osborne was just on tv urging those who still have a vote to vote for the disenfranchising proposals. Spoilt his good performance on flat tax.

What was really dreadful, in my view, was the way he first said he 'had reservations', then went full power for the proposals. These people think it's all about positioning, manipulation, clever talk, never a mature approach to ideas and principles.

Selsdon Man

George Osborne knows that his friend David Cameron could be humiliated in a members ballot. The grassroots simply do not know him even with the recent media coverage of his speeches.


A "what if" question...

Excluding William Hauge, I would say the most high-profile Conservative not to declare support at the moment is Theresa May.

She has a lot of respect both on this website and in the country. If we presume (and a lot are yet to declare) that she is having difficulty getting support to stand herself among MPs and Cameron would face an uphill battle to win among the membership - what if they did a deal. Their views on modernising the party but maintaining key themes such as supporting the family seem to be similar.

I wondered what others thought?


Being enthusiastic about lower taxation won't do George Osborne any harm with tax-cutting David Davis as leader either!

Selsdon Man

William Hague could be the "king-maker". He is the ultimate other half of a "dream ticket".

Jack Stone

I can`t see William Hauge making David Davis king when he and those who surround him were behind a lot of the most disgraceful acts of disloyalty William had to go through during his time as leader.

Sean Fear

We hear a lot of comments about how "disloyal" DD has been. Can anybody come up with any specific instances?

On the face of it, Davis was poorly treated by IDS when he was removed as party Chariman.


Agree with you Buxtehude about George Osbornes performance on TV.Sounded very good when talking about his brief then blew it completely when talking about the leadership election reforms.
He mentioned that the 'debate' was already over,really,I must have missed it!
Also said that he had 'reservations'about the changes but would vote for them anyway!
Not very inspiring was it?

Selsdon Man

Who is going to scrutineer the ballot on behalf of the pro-democracy supporters? We need an open and transparent process.


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