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« Who's backing who? (rolling update 2) | Main | What is 'one nation conservatism'? »


Selsdon Man

"A rattled David Davis appeared on TV saying that Ken Clarke’s Euroscepticism made him an "absolutely unacceptable" Tory leader for the Tory party"

Did you not mean Europhilia, Ed?


Corrected, Selsdon Man!

James Hellyer

I'm not convinced Ken Clarke will even make it to the final two candidates. As I've said before, of the 59 MPs who backed him in 2001, 10 have left the Commons and 12 have endorsed other candidates already. Moreover he has no declarations from the latest intake of MPs and attracted only Boris Johnson from the '01 intake last time around (and he's lost him now).

We have to be careful not to confuse media coverage with actual support. After all, it's only a few weeks since the media was claiming it was a Cameron vs Davis run off.

Selsdon Man

Your analysis is spot on, Ed.

DDs pro-Europe backers may look for an excuse to return to Ken. Several of DD's MP backers may vote tactically for Fox to try to eliminate Clarke from a members vote. That could be a risky tactic.

Peter C Glover

I think this is quite the best assessment I have read at any stage of this ludicrously prtoracted leadership race.

The Cinderella Man (Ken) may well have shot his best bolt (so much for the Telegraph's implicit support of him). Though I have much time for Edward Leigh's Cornerstone paper I think his chances would be less than George Galloway's at a Republican Convention.

David Davis is, almost by default, as well as 'true conservative' reason the best man.

Yet, and I say this with heavy heart, David Willett's assertion that he is th eonly to 'ensure' a Tory victory will perhaps prove somewhat wide of the mark in practice (though I hope not).


You still forgetting James that their are still 16 first round Clarke supporters out their still to declare. Whatever you may say about Ken he does have a nasty habit of picking up support from in terms of MPs the "undeclared".
The point know through in terms of David Davis is what will the 20 odd IDS supporters do in terms of voting for him or not?

James Hellyer

"You still forgetting James that their are still 16 first round Clarke supporters out their still to declare"

26 final round supporters actually. As the rest of his vote has from 2001 has fragmented, I see no reason why we should think that all of those MPs will still support him.

Wat Tyler

Yes, I know I'd say this wouldn't I, but I completely agree with you Ed.

The Times leader effectively calling on Rifkind, Fox and Cameron to withdraw is interesting- especially given the Times' previous support for Cameron. Opinion at DDFL is split on this- I think it would be good for the party if they did so before the Conference; others think it will benefit DD's bid if they stay in sniping away at Ken.

James Hellyer

In fairness Wat, the Times did say that Dr Fox had more troops on the ground than the others. It just called on him to unviel more parliamentary support to prove his credentials.

Of course, the real people it should have called time on were Lansley, May and Leigh. I mean... what is the point of them?

Simon C

"The Times leader effectively calling on Rifkind, Fox and Cameron to withdraw is interesting".

Err, Wat, that's not quite what The Times said about Liam:

"Dr Fox appears to have more troops and is a vigorous politician. But he too has to show that he has the secure votes of at least 30 MPs before the party conference opens or he will not, ultimately, be the successor to Michael Howard."

That seems to me to be recognition of his qualities, but making the obvious point that he needs to get some more support from other MPs.

EU Serf

Calling on Cameron to drop out is unfair. Two weeks ago he was firmly in second place.

If Ken's campaign is as lacking in foundations as some of us think it may be (BBC and Guardian support but lack of real support in parliament & party) then he could soon be in the number two position again.

James Hellyer

"Calling on Cameron to drop out is unfair. Two weeks ago he was firmly in second place."

In the sense that he had a couple more endorsements than Liam Fox, yes. But like Clarke was a candidate whose prominence was created by the media who wanted a simple Davis vs. A.N. Other contest to report.


No James First round actually as I said in my post. That support is more than likely to stay with thoughout his campaign like it did last time.

James Hellyer

Peter, there isn't a list of how everyone voted in the first round. Of those who did declare their support at that stage in 2001, most have either backed Clarke already or left the Commons. Of his 59 final ballot supporters, 26 still haven't declared.

Wat Tyler

I certainly don't have anything against Doc Fox- I've just read the splendid speech he gave to the CPS this week. But DD is my choice and is streets ahead of the Doc on any measure you care to take.

The brutal fact is that Doc has just 10 declared supporters and no obvious momentum. So when the Times says "he too has to show that he has the secure votes of at least 30 MPs before the party conference opens", I think we can interpret that as a polite suggestion that he withdraw.

Wat Tyler

And as for "People do not perceive me as dull, not in the slightest" Rifkind, he should withdraw before he embarrasses himself any further.

James Hellyer

"The brutal fact is that Doc has just 10 declared supporters and no obvious momentum."

What one less declared supporter than Clarke, a steadily increasing poll rating and favourable coverage from News International equals "no obvious momentum"?

The Fox camp are aware of the need for more MPs to declare soon... and they will

James Hellyer

"And as for "People do not perceive me as dull, not in the slightest" Rifkind, he should withdraw before he embarrasses himself any further."

No he shouldn't! He serves a useful purpose in tying up the votes of five to ten people who may otherwise back Ken Clarke.

John H

I've not seen anything yet to suggest that David Davis wants to lead the Tory party for any reason other than that he wants to lead the Tory party.

If Conservative MPs and activists think that Davis is the man to lead them to mainstream acceptance and electability then I suspect they may be dreaming. Has it occurred to anyone that the reason Davis is leading a fairly lacklustre campaign is not because the contest is his to lose so he's being cautious, but because he's actually a fairly lacklustre candidate?

In fact, he reminds me of John Kerry - the none-of-the-above, when-the-music-stops candidate. And Kerry has more chance of becoming President even now than Davis has of ever being Prime Minister.

But to be honest, I no longer have a dog in this race. I voted Conservative for the first time in a general election this year, but watching the farcical chaos since then is one of the factors that has got me re-rethinking my position and heading back towards the left.


Out of interest: 'What made you vote for Michael Howard's Tories, John H?'

Jonathan Sheppard

John - a very harsh analysis of Dabis. Why exactly do you think he cannot take the party forward? I have posted many times about the fact that he has performed extremely well in his Shadow Home Office post.

One criticism pushed forward was that his leadership would lead to factionalism within the party - yet the Willetts support shows how Davis appeals to a broad spectrum of Conservatives.

I always get concerned when people say they wont vote for a party because of a leader. I can partially understand it when the leader if Prime Minister - as they can be judged on their record - and that of the Government they head - but surely not on a possible party leader who has is not yet in post?

Surely you also take into account policies as well - and these really haven't been set out in enough detail to judge.

John H

Well, I was holding my nose a bit, and wasn't that unhappy with the result - slashed Labour majority, a Conservative opposition that (if not quite resurgent) was at least heading in a positive direction, with the opportunity for Michael Howard to continue shaping the recovery before handing over to.... oh. Oops.

But I had been moving rightwards for about three or four years, for a whole manner of reasons. Here's what I wrote on the day of the European/local elections in 2004 (see

This is the first time I've had the opportunity to vote since the 2001 General Election. At that time it was simple: as a Labour supporter for the whole of my adult life, I voted Lib Dem as a tactical vote to "keep the Tories out" (to no avail: the Conservative MP retained his seat by 269 votes). I rejoiced when the Conservatives were obliterated in the 1997 election; I danced on their graves in 2001. My only quarrel with New Labour was that it wasn't left-wing enough.

Since then I've experienced a, um, how can I put this, change in assumptions. For reasons I won't bore y'all with, I now find my political preferences lie as follows: smaller government; lower taxes; less regulation, especially of businesses; a moderate, but definite, Euroscepticism (including an implacable opposition to the euro and to the European Constitution); and an antipathy bordering on rage towards Labour's constitutional vandalism, their assaults on ancient freedoms (whether that be jury trials or hunting), and their policy of firehosing money at public services in a way which does nothing but increase the pro-Labour payroll vote stoke public sector inflation (now running at 7%, compared with 1% for the productive part of the economy). In short, I'm pretty estranged from the current government on virtually any issue you care to mention. Except Iraq, and even there I'm sick of the incompetence, manipulation and outright lies that have characterised Labour's approach to the war.

So you can see that the Conservatives really did have the opportunity to get me for life, the way I was thinking at that stage. I'm not saying I'd disagree with all of that now, but I couldn't write that today.

But I'm still subscribed to the Spectator, even if I have switched back to the Guardian as my daily paper. So perhaps not all hope is lost. ;-)

Selsdon Man

It appears that the Times no longer loves Cameron and has an anti-Scottish bias - looks like it will endorse Ken.

John H

Jonathan - I'm not sure that policies or personalities are as important as the overall philosophy of a party. I was finding that Conservative philosophy attractive - just as I found, and still find, the New Labour "philosophy" profoundly unattractive, whatever it may be - and was, if anything, disappointed at the lack of radical policies that reflected that philosophy. I'm now less sure about the philosophy itself, but disillusionment at the behaviour of the Amazing Disappearing Opposition hasn't helped.

Anyway, I'm not saying my harsh opinion of Davis is justified, I'm just saying that that's what my opinion is - as a politically aware, thirtysomething, higher-rate taxpaying professional with two children approaching school age. In other words, just the sort of person who should be a shoo-in for the Conservatives. I'm willing to hear the man out, but so far I've really not heard very much of any interest from him.

Even his laudable opposition to ID cards is tainted by the pre-election yes vote "in principle" by the Tories, and an over-focus on money and technology concerns rather than the fundamental principles of personal freedom and opposition to "the database state".

Daniel Vince-Archer

Selsdon - do you really think The Times will defy Murdoch to support Ken?

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