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« And the result is... | Main | Ken Clarke launches his 'Time To Win' campaign »


James Hellyer

Oh look, stragglers from the Clarke '01 campaign are endorsing him now. That's hardly a big boost.

Unless his campaign attracts backers from more recent intakes, Clarke is toast. What's left of his '01 vote isn't enough to get him to the final two.

Stephen Newton

'Come through the middle' is what Douglas Hurd was exepected to do all those years ago. It didn't happen then and won't happen now.

If big anti-Clarke and anti-Davis lobbies gain momentum, the others will be squeezed as anti-Clarkes go Davis and anti-Davis go Clarke.

James Hellyer

"If big anti-Clarke and anti-Davis lobbies gain momentum, the others will be squeezed as anti-Clarkes go Davis and anti-Davis go Clarke."

That's working on the assumption that the ABCs would be able to stomach Davis and the ABDs would be able to stomach Clarke. If they can't then there's room for a third candidate to slip through, who doesn't have an "Anyone But" vote of their own. A bit like IDS in 2001, when he benefitted from the ABCs and ABP vote...

James Cleverly

I have to say that as a relative newcomer the “hard politics” I am amazed at the accolades that are being heaped upon Ken Clark.

He is undoubtedly a big character and popular, but in the last two general elections I have seen nothing of the campaigning skills that the above letter mentions, indeed if he had thrown himself into promoting the party in 2001 and 2005 we may now be in a better position. His self-imposed exile to the backbenches has enabled him to pick and choose the policies and issues he promotes and it is easy to be a straight talker when you do not have a portfolio to protect.

My main concern about having Ken as party leader is that once he is hitched to the party proper and has to defend all its policies, both popular and unpopular, he will loose much of the public adulation that is his main selling point. As a party we need to focus much more on the creation and communication of coherent and effective policies than reinforcing the cult of personality.


Probably really really niave of me but wouldn't it be absolutely great if our MPs finally realised that feuding benefited noone other than Labour and didn't vote for the anti-anybody candidate but actually voted for the person they believed would lead us to victory.
As I write I've just seen a large pig flying over St.Pauls!

"As I write I've just seen a large pig flying over St.Pauls!"

That's no way to speak of Ken!


Comments like the above should not be made anonymously!


Just an anecdotal observation, but my guess is more people are Anyone But Clarke than Anyone But Davis. Most of those I know who support Fox or (a little less so) Cameron are no more enamoured of Clarke than the average Davis supporter.

Wat Tyler

Blimpish- Tory members agree with you: while Ken is ahead of DD in 'open' member polling, in a head-to-head run-off, most of those who support Fox and Cameron etc would switch to DD.


I'm not sure if Clarke can really get to second place. Last time he had 59MPs, 10 retired and about 12 have defected to Cameron or Davis.

Cameron launches tomorrow and will probably wheel out another couple of supporters to push him back over Davis.

Either way I think that returning the vote to the members pushes Davis right up against the winners post.


I have to agree with their being more anti-clarkes than anti-Davis'. I am both anti-clarke and anti-Davis and would much rather either Cameron or Fox got in, but i would still rather Davis than Clarke. I believe Clarke would split the party, as a yougov poll stated 14% of members would resign if he became leader and i would be one of them.

Simon C

Watlington's insight is important. The Editor usually gives us a detailed analysis of what Watlington has to say, but is understandably distracted by his conference in Washington. Here's something I posted on the Newslinks site yesterday (I would put it in italics if someone would tell me how):

Whilst our Editor has been away in Washington, one of his favorite Bloggers, Watlington, has been back in action at the Social Affairs Unit. This time he predicts that Liam Fox could break through the middle between Davis and Clarke. He picks up on the fact that, as others on this Blog have noted, Liam has the happy knack of being able to express clear political convictions without collecting political enemies determined to stop him at all costs. We have ABC & ABDs (Anyone But Clarke or Davis), but no ABFs!

Given that the Conservative Party needs to win friends not alienate them, this is an important leadership skill.

Importantly, Watlington also pays tribute to the series of speeches that Liam has given, describing them as "remarkable...respected....and eleoquent".

He notes Liam's support from the Sun, probable support from William Hague, and popularity with the grass-roots, and predicts that, despite the current numbers, Liam might win. Margaret Thatcher, he reminds us, was not the front-runner in 1975.


If you will forgive the pun, you would have to be an ABF (Absolute...fool) to be an ABF!

The key thing, though, as Wat has said on his website, is that this time the parliamentary party must produce a short list with 2 MPs on it, both of whom they would be prepared to rally round and work with. None of them are unknown quantities. If there is only one candidate that they would be prepared to support in that way, they need to make that abundantly clear in their voting.

It's also worth noting that, according to today's Independent, William Hill has slashed its odds on Liam dramatically, from 21-1 to 6-1.

In the meantime, who heard Ken Clarke on Today this morning? Ed Stourton asked him politely, but firmly, to clarify his views on the single currency, and to defend his BAT activities. He rapidly became peevish and blustery. It wasn't the jovial & assured performance that his supporters would have wished to hear. It can be heard on the Today website:

EU Serf

.....but in the last two general elections I have seen nothing of the campaigning skills that the above letter mentions, indeed if he had thrown himself into promoting the party in 2001 and 2005 we may now be in a better position......

Why would any party vote for a leader that cares not one jot for the party. If Clarke is as big a beast as he is made out to be than why was he not pulling the punters to the Tories is the last two elections?

Ken Clarke is a fully paid up member of the Ken Clarke Party and no other.


I think most of what you say is true Simon.Fox has done nothing so far as I'm aware to make people dislike him.Much more importantly 'though is can he lead us to victory? I see no evidence at all that he can inspire the electorate to share his vision.If Fox is to win he will have to raise his game...massively.

Simon C

That's a fair point Malcolm, although the polls suggest that all the candidates would be beaten by Brown, so it's not just a problem for Liam. Whoever becomes leader will have a major job on their hands.

The way that the candidates have run their campaigns has been revealing. Liam has not settled for the usual mantras on the lines of the-party-needs-to-change, which are too often delivered as if recognition of the problem suffices in itself. They are no substitute for actual change.

Instead, he has given a series of speeches which set out his vision for Britain, and which demonstrate that, under his leadership, the Conservative Party would challenge people's preconceptions. His themes of the Broken Society at home, a Human Rights-based foreign policy, and his concern for people living with mental ill-health demonstrate that he is interested in reaching the parts that too many other Conservatives have not even tried to reach.

His campaign has been brave, optimistic, thoughtful, outward-looking and principled. He is a unifying figure. He has defied the expectations of those who were ready to write him off as an unreconstructed right-winger, and forced them to consider his candidacy with respect. These are all characteristics that our next leader will need.


Again agree with everything you write but is anyone listening?

Midnight Blue

It's true that polls show all candidates being drilled into the floor by Brown, which is undoubtedly a problem! I just cannot see anybody but David Davis or Ken Clarke being able to overcome this before 2009, the other candidates may have admirable qualities but they just do not come across as leaders or potential prime ministers to me.

James Hellyer

What do you mean by "is anyone listening?"

Simon C

I believe that people are increasingly beginning to listen. William Hill's slash in the betting price is but one sign of that. Watlington's post is another.

Also is today's Guardian description of Liam's campaign:

"Running a strong neo-Con campaign, linked to helping vulnerable people".

I am not sure the Guardian would have described Liam thus in May.

James Hellyer

Lord Rees-MOgg and Alice Thompson (between smears) have also acknowledged that Dr Fox is now among the frontrunners in the campaign, with Cameron and Rifkind trailing behind.

Simon C

And The Sun, of course.

Wat Tyler

At the risk of spoiling anyones fun...Political betting doesn't actually have Doc at 6/1. It's 14/1 at Betfair...or 16/1 at Ladbrokes (see )

Somebody better tell Doc before he goes on about it any more (eg World At One)and embarrasses himself.

James Hellyer

That's nice, Wat. It's just a shame they're talking about William Hill.

Simon C


Why don't you actually look at the William Hill website to see what odds William Hill is offering:
. It says:

Following the Conservative Party's decision to retain its existing selection process, bookmakers William Hill have shortened David Davis from 8/13 to 2/5 favourite to become the next Tory leader. Hills then offer: 7/2 Ken Clarke, 6/1 Liam Fox, 12/1 David Cameron, 50/1 Malcolm Rifkind.

"The Tory decision wouldn't seem to have done Ken Clarke's hopes a great deal of good and we think David Davis now has the clear edge over his opponents with Liam Fox - whose odds we have halved from 12/1 - potentially his main challenger", said Hill's spokesman Graham Sharpe."

Admittedly, Liam's odds were slashed from 12-1, not 21-1 - but halving the odds is pretty dramatic I think you would agree. And Liam was at 21-1 only a couple of weeks ago, when I last looked.

Wat Tyler

But er...Simon...surely Hills won't be doing any biz at 6/1. Why back Fox there, when you can get 16/1 at Ladbroke????

It's a meaningless number, presumably indicating that Hills weren't doin any biz why not just puff it for some free publicity. Which they've got.

Or maybe Liam's Mum is in charge of Hills political betting dept?

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