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


Michael McGowan

You certainly shouldn't ignore oratory but you shouldn't exaggerate its importance either, especially after nine years of a PM who is long on windy rhetoric (and better at it than Cameron) but woefully short on delivery. Its no substitute for a massive amount of graft which should have started on 2nd May 1997.

Don't bank on Brown losing the next election. That would be very rash indeed. His "unspun" image is a major part of his sales pitch and seems very popular. I certainly wouldn't bank on the Tories being less than 18 years in opposition.

Davis does of course have his own clique, who are not saints. Whatever their faults, they did not, unlike the Portillistas, simply throw their toys out of the pram when IDS was elected. Nor did they heap abuse on the Party membership or seek to deny them a democratic voice in the running of the Party: unlike Patten, Heseltine, Tyrie, Bercow and Chairman Maode. Some of us have long memories......That's probably why we don't vote Tory any more and have given up our membership.

If "anyone" could overhaul the Party machinery, why has nothing happened in ten years?


Elena, Brown is formidable because of who he would be up against and his so far his record is not too badly tarnished .Who would you choose if you were Labour?We had a very entertaining morning a few months ago discussing this.But seriously who could they choose?Reid,Darling,Milburn,Straw, PRESCOTT? I don't think so.

James Hellyer

Alan Johnson. He seems credible and competent.

Stephen Marchmont

The problem with Davis is this: if he cannot deliver in Conference with a hugely prepared and non interrupted speech then what will happen at PMQ's?
IDS was hammered for being wooden, without passion, lacking real debating skills. Blair destroyed him. Davis is similar in style.
As for the criticism of Brown as a performer I ask you to tell me one shadow chancellor (apart from Howard) who has bettered him?
Have they all been halfwits? Hardly! Lilley, Maude, Portillo and Letwin. Brown is a class act, but we need a classier act: it's Clarke or Rifkind.


I know full well that Brown will be the leader of Labour and that he'll be the best chance they have of winning the election and enticing back the lost 2005 voters...

Which is why we have to present an alternative candidate for Prime Minister who really *inspires* the electorate. Davis couldn't even inspire the delegates in conference today. Could he really inspire the rest of the country?

I do agree, however, that we can't put too much emphasis on these speeches. That said, they do give us an indication, small though it may be, of what type of leader the speaker would attempt to cast themselves as.

Davis can speak sound sense - I really did feel that - but can he present it in a way that is palatable to the wider electorate? That was the thing that I felt was sadly lacking.


No chance James.A former Union leader with five years parliamentary experience? The brothers wouldn't wear it.
Not that what you say isn't right.Compared to the rest of the cabinet goons he is quite an attractive character.

Adrian Sherman

All it needs is 3 of Davis' supporters to each jump ship to Clarke, Cameron and Fox, and he'll be in deep trouble having lost nine votes altogether.

Does the prospect of Brazier, Fallon and Amess joining Fox seem so outlandish? Or for that matter Field, Hammond and Goodman doing likewise with Cameron? Or the three centre-Lefties Ottoway, Taylor and Beresford doing an about turn for Clarke.

That would leave him on only 55, and shades of Portillo '01.....

Henry Cook

Quite extraordinary. The turnaround we are witnessing before our eyes is astonishing. The comments on this blog suggest a wave of feeling against DD. Even Michael Brown, a passionate DD supporter, suggested the final round place is under threat. From the right, Fox has just shown he is a more exciting and interesting prospect than DD. I'll stick my neck out and say that by the time of the first MP's vote, Cameron or Clarke will be the bookies' favourite. Don't know about you but I'm off to Ladbrokes to place my bets right now... (re-reading my post, it may seem a bit sensationalist, but there's nothing wrong with being caught up in the moment!)

Adrian Sherman

Yeh Henry, it's not just you who's feeling like Davis' campaign is imploding before our very eyes. His support could drain away faster than the tide on the Lancashire coast.

If Davis does collapse, I'd make Cameron the clear favourite as the Eurosceptic Right will, after a Fox detour, back him over Clarke and so will the Party; and I say that as a keen Ken supporter.

Still clinging to the hope that Fox may come through, if Ken doesn't make it. I backed him at 25/1 @ Hills, 3 weeks ago.


I think that despite his performance earlier today, Davis will still *probably* make the final ballot.

It will be much tighter than his firm supporters would've liked, but make the membership vote he will (at least, in my eyes).

The big question is who gets there with him...

Adrian Sherman

Well Elena, I'm a Ken supporter so thus of course biased. However, I feel that a final round punch up between Davis and Clarke is the contest most people want to see. I just think Davis v Cameron would be very lacklustre.

Sean Fear

I don't doubt for one moment that David Davis will make it through to the final round, but it really is impossible to tell who his challenger will be at this stage.


David Davis made a mistake IMO in not acknowledging his perceived weaknesses. If you're going to be dull, the best thing is to acknowledge it, but explain why the voters should look past it. Ask, for example, why it is that every time Blair seems to make a speech in the last two years it is advertised as "crucial"? - because being a good speechmaker is not what makes a good prime minister. It's what happens in between the speeches.


Well, I've seen both the BBC and ITV coverage of Davis' speech, and I've got to admit, it'll be painful viewing for his supporters.

Could the media bring him down? I can't see many editorials being favourable to him tomorrow.


I think that comments are very unfair on David Davis. We knew he was no great orator, but neither was Mrs. Thatcher until she was in power. Hague was wonderful and look where that got us. I actually think he would be a good PM and will watch over the next few weeks to see how it plays out. I still think Cameron is too young although he shows great promise and that Clarke would cause divisions over Europe sooner or later. After all Blair's oratory I just want someone who will tell the truth and get Government off my back.


Cameron has established himself as a real contender. Clarke performed well. But everyone was looking for Davis to falter after those two. The damage could be if the membership think that Cameron/Clarke seem like a better chance of being PM (and if they do think that they'd be correct).


Cameron really seems to have set the conference on fire this week. Clarke did very well but, unfortunately, only two can go through.

One of those two candidates will be Davis. He simply has too much support to fail. But my guess is that mud will stick and he'll lose the membership vote to the second person on the ballot.

That person will, as far as I can tell, be Ken Clarke or David Cameron. Party members liked them both.

Ironically, the MPs may indeed get the final say - who goes into the final two against Davis will now have a good chance of beating him.

Unfortunately, we can't judge who goes through out of Clarke or Cameron from conference. Party members really did seem to like the latter, because of his "Blair-ish" charisma and his youth. If it were up to the party members, he'd make the final two easily. But it all depends on how well the Clarke campaign manages to win over MPs in the next few weeks.

Who do MPs prefer - Clarke, or Cameron? I really can't say.


Elena, there are a lot of MPs undeclared but only 4 of Ken's backers last time are yet to declare while a few high profile modernisers could fall into the Cameron camp. Maybe some wanted to see if Cameron could carry it off at the conference. To others moving to a moderniser rather than a pro-European centrist may be more appealing. Yes, I want Cameron to win but at the moment I really think he'll make it to the last two.

James Burdett

Davis will certainly get to the membership ballot, the question is who will be the other candidate. At the moment it looks increasingly like Cameron. Now how will the membership vote, thinking logically I think that Davis may lose membership votes but it may not matter. Within the wider Tory party Cameron is perceived as too young and Clarke as too pro-Europe. Doubtless Cameron's performance has more capacity to alter the voting than Clarke. I think the best we can say is that it is going to be close. From a Davis perspective his best option I think is to go head to head with Clarke, I think the residual euro-scepticism within the party will mean that the vote would go Davis way. If Cameron is on the ballot it is much more dangerous for Davis as the only issue is youth and that is surmountable from a Cameron perspective.

James Maskell

The problem I have with DD is that his argument in general is in being a compassionate conservative and yet I cant find a real substantial want for him to do that. He is a rightwinger and hasnt been anything less than a tough hardliner of sorts. The only justification of any softer element is his upbringing, which is an excuse, not an argument. God damn, I was in a worse situation than him in my youth but I dont brag about it all the time. Yes it changes my perception on matters such as the family and its relationship to the state but I dont need to bring it up when I speak to someone as if its the thing that defines me.

And I havent even seen his conference espeech yet!

Ronald Collinson

Alan Johnson. He seems credible and competent.

I know the TUC floated that idea, but it's a silly one. He was the only Union leader to vote for the change in Clause IV (so he shouldn't have their support unless they're even more clannish than they appear), he's a loyal Blairite, and the electorate have no idea who he is.

David Davis's speech was not good, admittedly, but it was only bad in comparison to those that preceeded it. He was undoubtedly without passion, but I thought there was conviction behind his words – a sort of solid certainty, rather than fiery belief.

I have to admit that I'm shaking in my support for him – Liam Fox's emphasis on human freedoms, combined with his right-wingedness is particularly attractive – but Davis's words showed a real understanding of conservatism.

And there were some gems in that speech. The 'blind to race' bit was particularly good, as it would attract both those who can't stand positive discrimination, and the socially inclusive members. David Davis has a lot going for him – he's a right-winger with a social conscience – but he's struggling to convey it.

Here's hoping.

Barry Graham

My only fear, as someone rooting for Clarke or/and Cameron, is that DD's performance prompts some of his votes to drift to Liam Fox, leading to a Davis v Fox head-to-head.
In that case, it would have to be Davis, for me. But I agree with those of you who say either Cameron or Clarke would now have a great chance of beating DD when it comes to us members.
Personally, I'd like to see Clarke v Cameron run-off (though that seems highly improbable). If not, I hope they form a dream ticket in the run-off with DD.
I think James Maskell is spot on in wondering where the evidence is that Davis is a compassionate, modernising Tory. There must be some, for him to have wooed the likes of Ian Taylor and Damien Green, but I'm struggling to find it too.

Ronald Collinson

In this case, 'modernising' means 'changing policy and image in order to prove to the voters that Tories are not actually evil', as opposed to Cameronite (Blairite) modernising, which means 'abandoning core beliefs in order to get elected, trying to appear young and trendy, and developing a propensity to patronise the electorate'.

There's no doubt that DD supports civil liberties – he mentions them all the time, and he has been consistent in his personal opposition to ID cards. The best anecdotal evidence of compassion would be his reaction to the 'outing' of homosexual MP Michael Brown, after which he drove to Brown's home and offered his personal support.

James Maskell

He voted against the Adoption and Childrens Bill and voted against the reduction of the right to consent for homosexuals to 16. Are you sure DD didnt stand up for Brown because he knew him well and didnt want him to go down?

Ronald Collinson

I have a strong feeling that Davis voted against those bills on the basis of party loyalty, and a wish not to 'rock the boat'. If he has a fault, it is a tendency to sacrifice integrity for unity (then again, one might consider it a virtue in some cases).

I cannot, of course, be sure of DD's intentions, but he didn't have much to gain from supporting Brown. And forming a friendship with a homosexual is something a certain breed of Conservative would not do.

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