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

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James Hellyer


Not when Dr Fox makes the final two!

Daniel Vince-Archer

James, I like Liam Fox, but I really can't see the contest boiling down to a run-off between Davis and Davis-lite (a.k.a. 'David Davis but nice').

But then again, I thought Willetts was a dead cert to be Ken's Shadow Chancellor so will admit that my judgement appears to be somewhat flawed!

James Hellyer

"James, I like Liam Fox, but I really can't see the contest boiling down to a run-off between Davis and Davis-lite (a.k.a. 'David Davis but nice')."

I prefer "like David Davis, but with intellectual coherence and an optimistic outlook". While there is too little differentiation between the two, I'd say it's Davis who is "lite". He certainly never venture much beyond his political comfort zone.

James Hellyer

Oh, and in terms of the run off, I still expect the Cameron campaign to fold in the next week or so, and don't beleive that Clarke necessarily has the parliamentary support to make the final two.

Disraeli

Bruce Anderson has a long standing bug bear about Ken and, to be honest, I find many of his views expressed on various issues over the years to be downright offensive. If somebody is opposed by Bruce Anderson I consider that to be a positive thing.

Rifkind made an exceptional speech last night and it is rather a shame that he stands little chance of election. He is a high quality candidate who, if there were fewer zealots in the Party, would surely be polling more than Dr Fox.

As for the final round, I am still pretty confident that it will boil down to DAvis v Clarke (both of whom, as I have always said, would make very good leaders of the Party). Ken does need to attempt to get some support quickly from the last two intakes and, preferably have some representation from these intakes on his campaign team. The weeks leading up to conference will be very interesting.

James Hellyer

"Rifkind made an exceptional speech last night and it is rather a shame that he stands little chance of election. He is a high quality candidate who, if there were fewer zealots in the Party, would surely be polling more than Dr Fox."

Besides the cheap shot at Dr Fox, I would take excpetion to your comments on Sir Malcolm's speech. Maybe it was improved by the delivery, the text iteself spoke only to people interested in a particular Conservative tradition. As such, it was directed towards inhabitants of the Westminster village, most of whom joined as the creed in question waned. It contained no details about what a Rifkind leadership would do, or what challenges faced our country. It was a speech for political anoraks.

Mark S

The reason the Times has suddenly cooled on Cameron is because Willetts has endorsed Davis. Danny Finkelstein and others connected with the Times are big fans of Willetts (Finkelstein used to work with him at the Social Market Foundation) and what he does carries a lot of weight with the Times generally. Note Finkelstein's hatchet job on Clarke's credentials the other day.

Selsdon Man

Finkelstein, having originally joined the SDP, was a key Party strategist for the 2001 election campaign. That says much about his views, loyalty and skills.

Simon C

I have just read Rifkind's speech - as James said, the delivery must have improved it, because, as a text, it contains no great insight or vision.

Simon C

"I'm not saying I'd disagree with all of that now, but I couldn't write that today."

John H,

I can understand why events since the election would leave you disenchanted with the Party - but I don't understand how they would influence your underlying views in favour of smaller government, lower taxes, euroscepticism, and so on.

Selsdon Man

Rifkind's campaign is remarkably lacklustre. He is a very good orator and communicator, can engage an audience and is intellectually very capable. Clarke seems to have blown him off course.

Rifkind now looks like he is positioning himself as future party chairman by touring the country. At this point, his chances of making the final two are negligible. Perhaps he will withdraw soon.

Selsdon Man

A Cameron-Fox alliance is more likely than a Cameron-Clarke alliance. It could beat Clarke, and come close to Davis, in the House vote.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Who would lead a Fox-Cameron alliance though?

Editor

Why is it more likely Selsdon Man?

James Hellyer


Fox. It makes more sense strategically as you lose negate the experience downside of Cameron while stopping Davis from claiming hegemony over the party's right himself. Also when it came to a membership vote, Fox would stand a better chance. As a former Chairman he's well known and liked, especially in the marginal seats.

James Hellyer


It's more likely to be a viable proposition, Tim. If Cameron went to the CLarke camp he'd find it nigh on impossible to bring his supporters with him. The likes of Gove, Osborne and Vaizey would be far more likely to be willing to switch to Davis or Fox on ideological grounds (as well on the issue of Iraq).

Daniel Vince-Archer

Forgive me if I'm wrong James, but didn't Vaizey support Clarke in 2001?

James Hellyer

Not that I'm aware. At that time he wasn't an MP. However at in the 2001 general election, he served as an election aide to Iain Duncan Smith. Draw from that what you will.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Ok I must be thinking of somebody else...

I'm not sure Cameron's backers will have too much influence over who (whom?) he offers his support to - as shown by Charles Hendry backing Ken today, we haven't seen a rush of Willetts's previous supporters towards Davis have we?

I think performing the Fox Trot would be a bit of a climbdown for Cameron considering their relative levels of support at the moment. Having said that, the Cameron team's repeated bleating about Ken's age etc suggests that Cameron might have burned that particular bridge so it could even be the case that Wat Tyler's dream of Cameron performing the Davis Dash might be the eventual outcome!

Selsdon Man

Daniel, Vaizey was not in the House in 2001.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Thank you both James and Selsdon - I am aware that Vaizey was not an MP in 2001. I was under the impression that he supported Clarke from his previous position, however I accept that I was clearly misinformed {sic?}. I apologise.

Simon C

"Something special is going to be needed to stop David Davis now."

The Editor has hit on the key issue here, as the postings on this Blog make apparent. The MPs need to decide whether they want David Davis to be the next leader of the Conservative Party, or whether they want somebody else. As the front runner, his deliberately cautious strategy and speeches suggest that he believes that the race is his to lose. Whilst he is probably right about that in so far as it goes, MPs actually need to consider whether they positively want the race to be his to win.

The reason I put it like this is that the MPs will still have it in their power to keep the leadership to themselves, whatever the result of the vote on the rule change. If the rules are changed, it's MPs only. If they don't change, the MPs can still rally round one candidate between themselves and ensure that nobody else is nominated - or if they are nominated, by such a small number of MPs that they would have zip credibility.

Willetts's decision might act as a catalyst, forcing MPs to confront this over the weekend. Do they follow his lead, and rally round Davis - or is there another figure around whom they could unite, and whom they would prefer to see as leader? If that's the case, some of them will need to put their first preferences to one side, in favour of a more popular second preference.

If, on the other hand, they decide that Davis is the man, it could be all over very quickly and the Party Conference could become a Coronation.

James Hellyer

"I'm not sure Cameron's backers will have too much influence over who (whom?) he offers his support to - as shown by Charles Hendry backing Ken today"

I'm aware of that Daniel, after all when John Redwood teamed up with Clarke in '97, most of his supporters defected to Hague (including his campaign managed IDS). Similarly I see no reason why Cameron would be able to take his supporters to Clarke.

My point was for that reason, a Fox/Cameron alliance would be a more feasible one as a "Stop Davis" alliance.

James Hellyer

"I think performing the Fox Trot would be a bit of a climbdown for Cameron considering their relative levels of support at the moment."

We are only talking about a couple of MPs difference at the moment. That could soon change. I understand the Fox team are working on delivering a slew of endorsements at the moment...

James Hellyer

"Do they follow his lead, and rally round Davis - or is there another figure around whom they could unite, and whom they would prefer to see as leader? If that's the case, some of them will need to put their first preferences to one side, in favour of a more popular second preference."

Edward Leigh?

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