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« David Davis' global vision | Main | Bercow attacks David Cameron for "Eton, hunting, shooting and lunch at Whites" »

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Daniel Vince-Archer

Tactically voting for Cameron would be a mistake. Back in the Dark Ages when this contest started, Cameron was billed as the ultimate 'Stop Davis' candidate because of their different backgrounds, different agendas (so far as Cameron has got an agenda) etc...

If the contest came down to a run-off between those two, Cameron would seek to reposition himself as the antiDavis and the sizeable number of people within the party who (allegedly) feel antipathy towards Davis could coalesce around Cameron once more.

Coffee Monster

From today's Sunday Telegraph:

"While Mr Davis was thought to have had the most commanding lead among grassroots members, he is now the clear leader among MPs. He is estimated to have 70 supporters in Parliament, with his camp confident of announcing 80 by the time of the party conference next week. New backers will include the frontbenchers Mark Field, David Lidington and Nigel Evans.

Mr Cameron and Mr Clarke have about 30 each. Liam Fox has the support of 30 MPs, with his camp confident of at least 10 and perhaps as many as 20 more."

The current odds are:
DD 8/15
KC 9/4
DC 13/2
LF 16/1
MR 25/1

Does anyone know if the claim that Fox could get 50 backers is accurate? If it's true he looks good value at 16/1 (certainly compared to Rifkind). Who do people think Cameron would back in a Davis-Fox final round?

Wat Tyler

Fox on 50? Hmmm...then why hasn't he managed to get more of them to declare, given he's been stuck on 10 for quite a while now?

And as for that tactical voting business...I've just been reading M Cricks' biog of Hezza. His team apparently regretted not voting for Maggie in 1990 Round 1, because she then dropped out allowing Major in- who was much more of a threat to H.

But as the IDS shenanigans showed, it's pretty high risk. The MP electorate is notoriously...what should we say...umm, I think the polite term is "sophisticated". Anyway, it means you can't altogether depend on what they tell you. And how do we know Ken actually is the main "threat" in a member vote?

James Hellyer

"Does anyone know if the claim that Fox could get 50 backers is accurate?"

I'd guess that he has thirty supporters excluding Cornerstone, and the addtional twenty votes are the Cornerstone members if they declare for him.

As for why more haven't declared yet, half of the parliamentary hasn't declared yet. Maybe they're waiting to do it as a thunderclap all at once. Maybe they're trying to be certain about what Cornerstone are going to do...

James Hellyer

"Who do people think Cameron would back in a Davis-Fox final round?"

Who's he launched the least personal attacks on?

Coffee Monster

"Who's he launched the least personal attacks on?"

Fox. However, Davis was always going to get a large amount of critism, it's part of being the frontrunner. That doesn't necessarily mean Cameron is idealogically closer to Fox, it just means he is smart enough to know that if he and Fox squabble amongst themselves then Davis could run away with it.

James Hellyer

Labelling Davis as political suicide was pretty strong though...

Coffee Monster

"Labelling Davis as political suicide was pretty strong though..."

Wasn't that particular barb aimed at Clarke?

James Hellyer

"National suicide" was the barb aimed at Clarke.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Didn't Cameron actually say pursuing a right-wing course would be political suicide? Surely that's a nod towards Fox as well as Davis? I have to admire how the Fox team has managed to dodge the flak on this one...

AnotherNick

If the Rifkind rumour is true - full marks for cheek!

IF (yep, that is a big IF :-)) Cameron does need to back someone else it is a tough call.

Argument for Ken Clarke:
Career prospects would be best served by backing Clarke and perhaps being primed for leading the party in the future. His supporters have been harsh in their comments on Clarke, but Ken has heard it all before and I don't get the impression it would prevent him offer Cameron the chance to come on board.

Argument for David Davis:
Before Ken's entry into the election (i.e. when it was boring) Cameron was actually rather talking rather positively about David Davis.

Argument for Liam Fox:
In some ways this seems the most obvious. Both have talked up marriage and similar views on Iraq. Mildly different wings of the party from the same generation.

There is another point though, if Rifkind backs Clarke, then the numbers suggested above become urgent for Fox & Cameron.

If by some means Rifkind gets into the last two (hard to see at the moment - but these things are never straight forward), his tour round the country may have done him a lot of good.

Finally & obviously, until a great deal more declare support it is very difficult to tell.

Coffee Monster

I apologize, you are quite correct James. However, given the way Cameron is criticizing the campaign he was policy coordinator for, I remain convinced he is capable of making and breaking deals depending on which way the wind is blowing.

James Hellyer

"Didn't Cameron actually say pursuing a right-wing course would be political suicide? Surely that's a nod towards Fox as well as Davis? I have to admire how the Fox team has managed to dodge the flak on this one..."

The interviewer asked if he meant David Davis. He made no attempt to suggest otherwise.

James Hellyer

Oh and with regards to Ken Clarke, I'd say Cameron doused his bridges in petrol and then set them alight. He'd have ho credibility if he backed someone he described as "national suicide" - not to mention that his lieutenants wouldn't follow him to the Clarke camp.

Daniel Vince-Archer

"The interviewer asked if he meant David Davis. He made no attempt to suggest otherwise."

That's a leading question though. Making no attempt to deny he meant Davis does not mean he did not have Fox in his sights as well.

Fox is a right-wing candidate, as shown by his courting of the Cornerstone group, and Cameron was having a pop at the right-wing.

James Hellyer

"That's a leading question though. Making no attempt to deny he meant Davis does not mean he did not have Fox in his sights as well."

But those comments already require a huge mischaracterisation of Davis and need an even greater one of Dr Fox. And shouting "Cornerstone" still doesn't make him fit into the mould Cameron described.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Of course James. Fox isn't right-wing at all. Just like the folks at Cornerstone he's trying to get cosy with. Just like his neo-conservative Republican chums in Washington. Not right-wing at all.

James Hellyer

Nice straw man you've got there, Daniel. I didn't say that Fox and Davis weren't right wing. I said they didn't fit the mould Cameron was attacking of "more of the same".

Neither man's policy speeches indicate that's the case, both have bent over backwards to appear non-ideological, and Dr Fox has specifically talked about issued way outside the right wing comfort zone such as mental health, energy and the environment.

Perhaps you might like to reply to that point rather than one of your own invention?

Selsdon Man

"Does anyone know if the claim that Fox could get 50 backers is accurate?"

The figure of 30 without Cornerstone (about 18 to 20 uncommitted)is reasonable. The key is the ability to pick up the uncommitted new MPs - many of whom have yet to declare. Fox will have visited their constituencies and has the opportunity to pick up personal votes.

Daniel Vince-Archer

I would respond to that point James, and I do acknowledge that both Davis and Fox have spoken on issues outside the right-wing comfort zone, but seeing as my original point (which you chose to respond to) was about Cameron taking a pot-shot at right-wingers and you've given an implied acknowledgement that Fox is a right-winger, I feel I've said everything I have to say.

James Hellyer

No, Daniel I've explained why Cameron's remarks are very hard to apply to Fox even though he could be described as right wing. They are easier to apply to Davis because he's stayed within the economy/ crime/ traditional foreign policy spheres of debate.

As Cameron's criticism of right wingers was that they offer "more of the same", and this can't be said to apply to Fox, the point that he's less obviously criticising Fox than Davis stands.

AnotherNick

"Oh and with regards to Ken Clarke, I'd say Cameron doused his bridges in petrol and then set them alight. He'd have ho credibility if he backed someone he described as "national suicide" - not to mention that his lieutenants wouldn't follow him to the Clarke camp."

I'd have to agree with that, in my earlier post I focused the Ken Clarke point on whether Ken would want Cameron, but it would be very hard after such a strong statement for Cameron to back Ken.

Interestingly with the votes possibly very close between KC, DC, LF. Rifkind & his backers could be significant and DC v MR has not really been a row to date I don't think, other than the early "trashing the brand" comment. MR keeps talking "one nation", can DC show he has the one nation credentials to bring MR on board?

There are still a number of moderate profile modernisers yet to declare support too.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Well Rifkind would certainly add some gravitas to Blair Junior's team but let's not forget their markedly different views on Iraq.

Rifkind will probably wait until after the conference before he decides to back down or not and he's right to do so because I believe most of the undecided MPs and supporters won't decide who to support until they've seen them at conference and this could work in Rifkind's favour.

So far in the contest, he's been making a lot of noise but nobody's been paying attention; this should change at conference, where the focus will be much greater.

Rifkind has already been identified as an excellent orator (you'll have to forgive me, I can't remember which pundit predicted he would give the best conference performance) and could turn quite a few heads.

I still don't think Rifkind will make the final two, but he could still be an influential factor in deciding who eventually becomes leader, particularly if he continues to act as a blocking candidate.

James Hellyer

It was Bruce Anderson who said Rifkind would give the best conference speech (but that it would be too late to save his campiagn).

James Maskell

What exactly does the term "straw man" mean? For those who dont usually come here they might find the term a bit confusing since its not used that often in the public domain.

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