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« The Sun Says: Carry on, Dr Fox | Main | 14% of Tory members would resign if Ken Clarke became leader »


James Maskell

Ken Clarke is doing well. In fact I spoke to someone who is a member of the Party earlier today about the contest. When I mentioned to her about the upcoming leadership election, without hesitation she said that Ken Clarke should be leader.

Curiously the hardcore Labour supporters at my local pub felt that William Hague should stand and that he would be the best leader, this being down to his being normal, relatively speaking.

James Hellyer

The lack of new endorsements for Dr Fox may have something to do with the timing of his campaign launch. Even if he had unveiled several new supporters, he would still have been overshadowed to some extent by Blue Ken's Brown Bashing.

Unveilling supporters in the coming days and weeks should help maintain momentum and press interest.

Selsdon Man

Ken stands a better in a membership ballot. He is the same generation. The members will take this week's polls very seriously and back whoever has the best chance of winning in the country.

Ken's chances in the Parliamentary ballot would depend upon Liam Fox taking votes from Davis.

Cameron looks to be real in trouble. He could also lose support to Fox amongst the younger generation.


I am very sorry Editor that you chose to give the impression that the Guardian journalist David Aaronovitch is in any way a good bloke.For me he is one of the worst 'Blairite' hacks.A former communist he has become a true believer in Blairs project and will support anything no matter how dishonest or dishnourable his leader suggests.

Samuel Coates

What is Rifkinds nationwide tour of, good fishing rivers? (
Seriously though, I don't suppose he has made any of his times and locations public? I know which cities he is going to but would like to see him if he makes a speech in Liverpool.

James Maskell

I dont see Rifkind being the next Conservative leader. Bearing in mind I am very young to be interested in politics (21) and therefore not really knowing Thatchers era personally, I never really saw him as hugely important. Nothing against him, knowing that hes done so much for the Conservative Party but as a Conservative Party leader...I just dont see it.


Maybe you're right James but like Fox he is a thoughtful man , an excellent debator and in my opinion a very good chap.He is going to have to have the campaign of his life to win 'though but stranger things have happened.At the beginning of the 1990 campaign I did not expect Major to win and was amazed when IDS beat Portillo in 2001.
Rifkind is definitely worth listening to if you get the chance.

James Hellyer

Didn't Peter Oborne say that Rifkind would deliver the best conference speech, but that it would be too late to save his leadership bid?


No idea.Did he?

James Hellyer



It was Bruce Anderson who said it: "“Malcolm Rifkind is not only a fine speaker; he is one of the very few orators in the House of Commons… Sir Malcolm’s main hope of becoming a credible leadership candidate was to remind those who knew him of his prowess as a speaker; and to astound the young.”

See here.

James Hellyer

Well, I got the right quote and thread. I just named the wrong Major era retread of a commentator!



Sir Malcolm is in Cardiff... details below:

Rt Hon Malcolm Rifkind QC, MP, (Shadow Secretary of State for Work and
Pensions) has kindly agreed to join us for lunch at the Trehan Arms on Culverhouse Cross o
Wednesday the 14th September at 12.45.

Through the support of Terry the proprietor we have secured a low cost
the two course meal of £20.00 per head. Unfortunately the number of
is limited to just 50 on a first come first served basis.

As Sir Malcolm has now declared that he will be a candidate for the
Leadership of the Party this will be a unique opportunity to hear his
address and ask him questions.


An excellent list of policy priorities by Dr Fox, and all that time it looked like he was resting while the contest went on around him - he was spot on. Ken's big launch meant that Cameron and Davis looked swamped, by timing his launch after Ken, Liam was able to gauge it better, drop the publicity hints, get the website done etc. I think he should gain the backing of the Cornerstone group but also a number of centre ground members. His approach is professional, something new to this party! Liam needs more MPs now to public back him or he could be swamped by the pro-Clarke fuss.

The Ken & Liam show..... maybe that doesn't sound too bad an idea.

Where does Cameron go now? If he endorses another candidate (this would be ill-advised anytime soon) he could play a big role, if he takes 8 or so of his supporters with him.

Rifkind's tour maybe low key but he is gaining support on the ground, if the members have a say he could still have a chance, but it is difficult to see where the MPs backing is going to come from. A good man, who is working hard, hopefully a key maybe of the new front bench.


James Hellyer,I'm curious,why are you so insulting to most of the candidates in the leadership election?Can you really see no good in them at all?

James Hellyer

Am I insulting to most of them? I admit I see little to admire in Ken Clarke, but I'm hardly scathing about the rest. Where there are issues, as with Davis, it's because they don't actually seem to do anything to suggest they are up to the job. "Predatory inactivity" (hat tip to Peter Oborne) is not a charactetristic of a leader in waiting.

James Hellyer

I forgot that I am genuinely unimpressed with David Cameron. Youth appears to be his only virtue.


AnotherNick: "Where does Cameron go now? If he endorses another candidate (this would be ill-advised anytime soon) he could play a big role, if he takes 8 or so of his supporters with him."

I've never been sure that candidates can reliably take many of their own supporters to another leadership camp. There is lots of speculation that Cameron will team up with Clarke. I hope that the Eurosceptic, pro-Iraq war Cameron won't do this but if he eventually does it would be unlikely that the likes of Gove, Osborne and Letwin, for example, would follow. Gove and Osborne, in particular, have been tax cutting, Europsceptic hawks and could not back Clarke. At least I hope not!

The time will come for a discussion of alliances... but, probably, not yet. When it does come we should remember the infamous 'Clarke-Redwood odd couple'. Redwood endorsed Clarke - partly because he was furious that Lilley and Howard backed Hague even though he had beaten them (the other two right-wing candidates) in their unofficial primary of three. Redwood didn't take many of his supporters into the Clarke column, however. Redwood's campaign manager - IDS - even deserted him for Hague.


Out of interest - why is David Davis the frontrunner? What strengths does he have? And does anyone really believe he appeal to voters in such numbers that he can beat Gordon Brown?

James Hellyer

In this week's Spectator Peter Oborne says the following about Cameron:

"My guess is that Cameron may favour a deal with Clarke, but find himself unable to deliver his two lieutenants, George Osborne and Michael Gove. They are likely to favour the Davis camp, for ideological reasons and because of the Iraq factor."

James Hellyer

"Out of interest - why is David Davis the frontrunner?"

Becasue he's spent seven years campaigning for the job and building up parliamentary support?


Ken has had a good week, though these are early days. He needs to give much clearer answers to questions on his EU policy. Even if we accept that he has finally recognised that the euro is a failure, he must explain why until just a few weeks ago he was recommending that this country should join it.

Will Ken now back the current party policy of repatriation of our fishing rights, and the right to control our own immigration policy? I very much doubt if he would end our disastrous association with the federalist European People's Party. These questions will reveal the true nature of his intentions!


Aaronovitch's Baldwin jibe is unfair. "Safety First" was the slogan in the 1929 election campaign, and was an argument in favour of economic orthodoxy against more radical programmes touted on the Left.

Aaro seems to be referring to the question of German appeasement, but even then, the comparison sucks. Aside from the historically crude portrait of Baldwin as simple appeaser (happily tarred and feathered as such by a Left eager to cover up its own pacifism) like Chamberlain was, the situations are completely different. We didn't go to war in 1939 to restore democracy to Germany. We didn't even go to war to restore democracy to Poland (it didn't have much to begin with). We went to war to stop Germany attaining global supremacy, because it was contrary to our national interests.

(None of this should be taken as an endorsement of Clarke, or his view on international security, which I find bone-headed. But Aaro's full of crap here.)


I've just watched the final episode of Richard Branson's program of an entrepreneur being chosen from about 12/14 people to win £1 million and the eventual winner obtained a 3 month opportunity to become a president of Virgin. The idiot chose a fellow to be his second in command that had, not more than half an hour before, stabbed him in the back and actually selected someone else to win. I think all the leadership candidates need to remember they will all be working together at the end of all of this.

I thought what a shame someone couldn't take this difficult leadership decision for the conservative party without all the protracted speeches and pointing out each others weaknesses to all and sundry. That can only benefit the opposition, how silly. A candidate should be able to point out their strengths without hinting at their competitors weakness - don't forget these competitors are all on the same side.

Many of the speeches read very similarly. When I read KC's & DD's on the economy it awoke memories of prior write ups by George Osbourne and Oliver Letwin.

I'm concerned about the paper's bias - The Mail mentioned a negative piece on David Cameron supporting legalising drugs (even though I thought this was from three years ago). I have no favourite - it can only be them - candidate. I can see strengths in each candidate. I especially like the FoX logo and clean line website - quite informative. I don't like the scroll down arrows on Ken Clark's website but the colours and layout are K.I.S.S. and readable.

I hope as much time and energy is devoted to winning the next election by everyone in the party and not just the leader next time, and for all the knocking Michael Howard has received he certainly worked and canvassed hard with the help of his wife.


Totally agree with everything you write a-tracy.Unlike many bloggers on this site I believe we owe a debt to Michael Howard. He made a mistake with the leadership changes for which he has been pilloried but has worked tirelesssly for years for our cause.

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