Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Tories in Blackpool
In 1946 the party still had leading able politicians to drive the party forward, including the venerable, canonised but still determined Churchill. Now the Tories have no real obvious heavyweights. Interestingly the biggest ovation of the day today was given to a failed leader, William Hague. John Pienaar on the BBC said that had he decided to stand for the leadership he would have been elected there and then by acclaim.
The real contest however, is now between the five candidates- David Davis,(council house, single mother, ex SAS and successful businesman but with tendency to alienate people. Speech today judged 'workmanlike' at best) 'Dave' Cameron(Etonian, 38 yearold, married with disabled child for whose cause he has worked admirably but with no experience and a habit of trying to appear too much like Tony Blair), Kenneth Clarke( 65 yearold veteran of Thatcher and Major Cabinets who is hugely popular but too Eurosceptic for the rank and file- also works for a tobacco company), Liam Fox) youngish former doctor who looks good and appeals to the rightwing traditionalists- did well in his speech today)and Malcolm Rifkind, former cabinet minister who is younger than Clarke but seems older- not regarded as a serious candidate). Who will win?
There is quite a lot of time before the MP's vote takes place to find the two on whom the membership will vote, sometime in December. But, emerging from the conference, David Davis has probably found his bandwagon has slowed down appreciably, Cameron's has advanced after a fine presentation but so too did Clarke's who basically appeals to the same constituency of Tory supporters as the younger man. Rifkind, who was never rated as a realistic player, is also a One Nation Tory is virtually out of the race, despite a spirited address to the conference. My guesss is that it will come down to Davis and Clarke with a possibility that Fox will come through amongst MPs. In such a run-off the rightwinger will win and the party will have wasted another chance to move into the centre ground and really threaten Blair's hegemony there. Seems Edie Robertson's comment is still relevant nearly sixty years on but the body is now even closer to terminal coldness.
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