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« A good morning for David Cameron | Main | Party democrats urge more than two names to be presented to country »


James Hellyer

but policy substance and TV performance matter at least as much.

But he's not much good on television either...

James Hellyer

Nick Assinder's verdict:Is Davis still the front runner?

The media backlash has begun.

Adrian Sherman

Hmmmm. how interesting. I always had a nagging suspicion in the back of my mind that the Davis campaign could implode and/or crumble.

I wonder what the likes of Ian Taylor and Richard Ottoway think now, considering their old chum, Ken, appears better suited to the task than Davis.

Besides, favourites never win Tory leadership contests.

James Collins

Davis completely failed to inspire this morning. I agree with his positions on Europe, drugs, the need to tackle welfare dependency etc. - but choosing a leader has to be about more than ticking off a series of boxes on a checklist.

His delivery was appalling, without any passion or conviction. It is not surprising that people have been walking out during his fringe appearances.

I had to laugh when Davis implored us not to criticize fellow Conservatives after the discord he has caused our party in recent years with his briefing against colleagues.

Stewart Buchanan

Is there any chance of getting detail from the candidates? Vision is important but rhetoric doesn't build nations. Still waiting on someone mentioning the fact that the NHS and other public services are the key elements on which to fight. I'll not vote for anyone who says the two most important issues are Europe and immigration, although at the same time I don't want these ignored.

Jack Stone

Passion, an ability to inspire and charisma are the essential foundations anyone must have if they aspire to be a successful leader.
Unfortunataly I just don`t see any of these in David Davis.
If the party choose him I just can`t help but think that history is repeating itself and the party is simply going to have another IDS on there hands!

Coffee Monster

This could still work to Davis' advantage. I think his best chance now would be against Fox (Cameron and Clarke would probably beat him). That speech could send undecided right-wingers to Fox and lead to a Davis-Fox final ballot which Davis would probably still be favourite to win.


Well, although I'll look into things in a bit more detail in the coming weeks, I know who I'm *not* voting for in the second round, now!

Henry Cook

All of a sudden the Davis campaign seems to be in reverse: for whatever reasons he is now three MPs short of the final round ballot, not just one. Everyone seems to agree he's not a good public speaker. Its very likely that some of the MPs (read here David Willetts) declared for him will be having second thoughts. It would be a most spectacular fall, but it is most definitely now on the cards. A Clarke-Cameron run-off? Now that could well inspire the nation as well as the party. Not likely, but very possible.

Julian Shepherd

Despite reservations about Europe and lack of new ideas, on the speeches alone, Ken Clarke is ahead by a mile. In my view he was even far better than Cameron. Clarke shows he has the potential to make mincemeat of Blair and Brown in the Commons and on TV. That is a minimum requirement that the other candidates don't have.

Adrian Sherman

Yes Henry, stranger things have happened.

I wonder when the likes of Ottoway and Taylor get in the privacy of the voting booth, their pencils may hover over Clarke longer than they should....

Similarly the likes of Brazier vis a vis Liam Fox.

Michael McGowan

I haven't even heard his speech but even if it was lacklustre, so what? Gordon Brown is hardly a great speaker but will be the PM within a couple of years and will probably beat the Tories at the next election anyway.....

The Tories have spent a decade ducking hard questions and hard graft in their fruitless quest for a Messiah. The question is not who can make the best speeches but who can overhaul the Party machine; start attracting support among people and in places where that support has been absent for years; and present a confident, modern vision of liberal Conservatism which is recognisably centre-right and not a feeble imitation of the authoritarian mediocrity of New Labour.

Anyone who is going to achieve even half of this in four years is going to need to be streetwise, experienced, imaginative, very hard-working and very very resilient. That person will also need to harness wholehearted support from all parts of Conservatism.

Which, in a far from impressive field, leaves one candidate with the stature to do the job: Davis. KC and DC both belong to cliques which for years have treated with undisguised contempt the very people they will need to galvanise if they have to the faintest chance of a win in 2009.

James Hellyer

I wonder when the likes of Ottoway and Taylor get in the privacy of the voting booth, their pencils may hover over Clarke longer than they should....

Similarly the likes of Brazier vis a vis Liam Fox.

That will be when we'll know if this has had an impact. If Davis polls lower than his (already shrinking?) level of public declaration, then his campaign will implode.

James B

DD's speech emphasized the same themes that the party chose to contest the 2001 and 2005 elections without success (immigration, Europe, family values) - i.e. more of the same. Given that DD, at least to me, appears to have less charisma and oratorial skills than Hague, and less gravitas and political presence than Howard, I regrettably cannot see how he could improve Tory fortunes without, in Michael Howard's words "an economic slump".


I completely disagree with you, Michael.

So what if Brown is a poor orator? That doesn't mean that we should ignore the issue entirely.

I think it's important to go into the next election with a clear difference between a party led by a man with as much charisma as a pudding (Brown) and a party led by a charismatic, appealing candidate. Just imagine the reaction of voters to that particular contest!

Of course it's important to strengthen the party machinery, I don't think anyone disputes that. But Davis isn't the only man up to the job.

Lacklustre speeches do not a modern Prime Minister make. It's the reason why I think Brown will lose the next election, as long as we've got someone charismatic, with well thought-out policies to provide an alternative.

John Sheldon

We shouldn't too obsessed about the speeches. There haven't been that many Prime Ministers who've been great orators. Thatcher was good but quite wooden and scripted in her style.

Davis certainly can't woo and charm - far from it. But its a strong, clear and unifying Tory that we need at the moment and Davis still fits that bill best.


Davis had - and flunked - the opportunity to overhaul the party machine when IDS appointed him Chairman. I also note that members of his "clique" do not have an unblemished track record when it comes to respecting their fellow party members. An attractive public persona (part of which involves the ability to deliver inspirational oratory) is surely a pre-requisite to attracting both lost and new supporters. There is no doubt that Davis has the right vision of modern Conservatism but that in itself is not enough to give the Party the breakthrough it needs with the wider public.

Alan Tinning

I think the criticism of DD's speech today is far too harsh. Apart from the eleventh commandment bit I thought it was alright. I think the problem was the script and not the delivery or *most of* the content of the speech.

I think the speech was better than Ken's and DD remains a better speaker than Ken. I don't see what all the fuss is about. He's a perfectly competent, if not inspiring, speaker and he has a reassuring tone.


The real problem is - why can't David Davis ever be seen to deliver? I am a supporter, but having a wobble. It's no use saying this or that doesn't matter: when you know that the attention of the party and the country is on you, and you can't deliver, then that says something about your nerve and your preparation.

James B

I agree with the previous comment that a unifying Tory is needed. However nothing unifies a party better than a winner.

Mrs. Thatcher to her credit was hardly a unifying leader but bickering and opposition was confined to the wilderness until polls started to slip.

Likewise, although DD has attracted MPs from different sides of the party in his leadership bid - if Tory performance doesn't improve the bickering will start again.

DD's speech did not offer any new vision or idea. He did not, in short, give us his idea/plan for the route back to government. As one person interviewed on Sky News put it - it was a good speech for a Home Secretary.

The effect of DD's speech was to make Clarke look like a big beast.

Alan Tinning

Posted by: petersmith "The real problem is - why can't David Davis ever be seen to deliver? I am a supporter, but having a wobble. It's no use saying this or that doesn't matter: when you know that the attention of the party and the country is on you, and you can't deliver, then that says something about your nerve and your preparation."

Okay I agree with what you say for the most part. Davis does need to exceed expectations which he is failing to do, however, if someone had asked me to rate the 4 the speeches of Rifkind, Cameron, Clarke and Davis without hearing other people's comments I would have rated Cameron first and Davis second. Maybe it won't do DD any harm to loose his 'annointed one' status and fight the contest as the new underdog.

John Sheldon

I agree with Peter insofar as Davis is no great speaker and that fact looks really important today witht the conference on the TV.

But these factors are not decisive in dtermining who becomes leader and whether or not the Tories can win the next election. It will be down to policies, ability to run the party in opposition and Labour's mistakes.

William Hague was a great speaker and parliamentary performer but couldn't unite the party or present a clear vision. Labour won in 2001 despite being trounced time and again by Hague in the commons, because it made few mistakes.

DD, more than anyone else, probably still can unite the party behind him and has a conservative vision. We will still need to depend on something external, like the economy or a big Labour blunder or the govt running out of steam, for us to win next time.

But party conference season is not the best time to see things in proper perspective.

James B

John is quite correct. "But party conference season is not the best time to see things in proper perspective."

It will be interesting to see how things will pan out over the coming weeks

Midnight Blue

It's true that being a great orator and inspiring speaker isn't everything - but it doesn't half make things easier.


The speech was okay, not a dud but a bit predictable. Davis really blew it on his Sky interview afterwards, a dreadful performance which makes me wonder why he is in the running at all. And as for the DD t-shirt thing ... I'm in the Labour-voter who would like to see a convincing opposition camp and to me, Davis looks like another IDS. Without the charisma. Cameron looks like a more convincing leader and someone for Labour to worry about.

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