Conservative Leadership

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*Announcement on Tuesday 6th December at 3.00pm*

The great debate on the Conservative leadership is still going strong! The most exhaustive, in depth, dynamic discussion of the battle for the toughest job in politics has now received over 600 comments – the blogosphere has never seen anything like this before!

But it’s not over yet! What do YOU think? The Boris Johnson office is listening! There’s still time to tell us…

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Mac’s insight into the leadership race:

There’s a hush in HQ, (for we all know the name),
Of the one who came first in this race.
They were still neck and neck as they came round the bend,
But one of them fell off the pace.
There was lots of good money we bet on these two;
And each trainer was true to his yard.
First one then the other seemed to ease to the front;
Changing odds made the bookies work hard.
The punters were all of a dither;
But it seems now the race has been won,
One fell behind , and could not make lost ground,
And the race is all dusted and done.
We’ve waited so long for this moment;
The counting of votes took an age,
But now that we have a new leader.
A new act will take centre stage.

322 thoughts on “Conservative Leadership”

  1. Thank you. Perhaps I should start this off then?

    I’m not a member of the Conservative Party, but I would like to see the party strongly led – for the sake of parliamentary democracy, and to act as a check on bad government (of which there is a lot!).

    Opposition parties cannot realistically wait for the Labour government to self-destruct – there is every prospect that a Labour Government under Brown will actually be stronger than under Blair – so the Tories need a charismatic and inventive figure that is capable of seizing the initiative and talking up the right issues.

    Maybe the best thing the Tory Party can do is to listen carefully to what Norman Tebbitt says – and then do the exact opposite? He is telling people not to support Kenneth Clarke.

    Clarke may be lazy (as Tebbitt says), he may be too old, and his tobacco connections may be unfortunate, but his judgement has been proven sound (re Iraq) and he is trusted by the public, he is a thorough-going democrat (re House of Lords reform), and has the confidence (as a successful ex-Chancellor) and general chutzpah to challenge the government.

  2. Well, if not Boris for Leader, then it has to be Charles Clarke.

    For one, he is the only one which the punters could pick out in a lineup. Secondly, he has some gravitas and experience without being tainted by it, thirdly, the tories do not need someone who will appeal to the core vote – they need someone who can appeal to the floaters.

  3. Charles Clarke to lead the Conservatives ? Surely far too right wing.

    I think almost irrespective of Europe or anything else, it’s vital for the country that we get rid of these ***!*!*!*! in power, before they’ve stolen and wasted what money we have left.

    Therefore, I think it may well have to be Ken Clarke.

    I think Murk is right. It doesn’t matter what the Conservative core think of the Leader, or the Labour core for that matter, because both will vote for their “side” almost irrespective. It’s that group of floating voters that matters.

    Whatever one may think of the various politicians, it is essential for the country that we don’t have another four or five years of this bunch of incompetent ……. well.

    Ken Clarke once said, quite correctly, that Labour Governments always run out of money. This is already happening, and when the effects really hit the C2s will desert in droves, despite a no doubt increasingly desperate stream of bribes.

    New Liarbour’s approach of drowning people in fabricated dishonest statistics will, eventually , fall apart spectacularly.

  4. We need Ken Clarke and Tony Blair as party leaders. If Ken can discretely sashay over to Labour and Tony gracefully join the Tories then everything is in place and I will vote Tory for the first time ever.

  5. Ken Clarke? Charles Clarke? What about Nicky Clarke, if what you are interested in is appearance. Young, trendy and hirsute. Or Michael Clarke – he is a promising batsman, but has only moderate success this summer: the experience of being jeered at by the whole of England should be excellent preparation for leading the Conservatives. Or Petula Clarke? Perhaps a little too trendy for the Tories.

  6. Nicky Clarke? Well if we’re on to blondes, no better than Boris.

    But all that aside, it doesn’t matter who leads us, as long as we form SOME form of opposition for heaven’s sake. Who can disagree with that?
    The party has totally turned in on itself, coiled up and is maybe going to slither off like an awkward rattle snake.

  7. ..shame Alan Clark, as of the Diaries fame, isn’t around – he would have added to the fun.

    In the end it all boils down to Jeffers’s comment above – A GOOD LEADER and contender against the Government. And Simon of course is right too.

    I can’t quite pin down who the leader would be – of the front runners probably the Clarke idea settles in my mind the best though the silent strength of Willetts could push through if he is given half a chance…he isn’t known as ‘two brains’ for nothing and I know that his staff think very highly of him – he is just hiding his light under a bushel at the moment.

    However – we must risk supporting whoever ends up as King wholeheartedly – whoever he/she(?) is. Let not the Leader ever put anyone off the Conservative Party as a whole – that mustn’t be allowed to happen at all costs!

  8. True, True, and thank you Melissa.

    All we need is an individual to personify our beliefs, have the guts to say what he thinks, and have enough about him to stave off the attacks from His Royal Tonyness of Vanity of a Wednesday.

    Because that’s all we need. A person to look good and focused and insistent in front of the press. When the voters are watching. THAT slot is what gets shown on prime time.

    Remember that image is half the battle. Just happens that image is all Tonyness has….

    Anyway, get a shouter and a thinker of a leader and we’re made.

  9. I’m not a Tory voter (just in case you hadn’t guessed!) so I’m reluctant to get too involved. But one thing I did notice: in interviews, Clarke is refreshingly good at giving a straight answer. After decades of deflection, from politicians on all sides, that’s an attractive quality.

    He’s being a complete idiot over the tobacco connection. And I’d like to know his reasons for being pro nuclear power, and anti wind farms. But he might well be the one you need right now…

  10. Does the candidate has to be a member of the House of Commons?

    There is one man, with solid credentials – as personable and able as Ken Clarke, but younger and fitter and probably with fewer enemies in the party. He’s also enjoyed a more varied career, including running his own government: Chris Patten.

  11. What an idea Simon – I suppose that the Party Chairman doesn’t have to be a member of the Commons…(as in Jeffrey Archer at one point)

    Chris Patten is a solid good chap I agree but I haven’t heard much about him recently – when he was the governor of Hong Kong he was making waves and there was talk he would reach higher office, but now things seem to have gone quiet for him

    Mark Gamon – I like your fresh input

  12. Even though I’m yet to become old enough to vote, I have to agree with Jeffers – Image is half the battle – just look at the popularity Galloway has found since he had the audacity and determination to face down the American senate.

    If a Tory candidate were to do the same with British citizens in Guantanamo Bay, I’m sure they’d find more support amongst the swing voters than any amount of economics. You can just imagine the speech – “They may be held illegally for an indefinite period without charge and unable to hear the evidence against them – But by *deity of choice* they’ll be held in OUR prisons!” People want invigorating speeches rather than political point scoring that merely serves to make Westminster seem even more detached and even pettier. The same for promising to give power to elected MPs rather than spin doctors and other invertebrates.

    From a purely ignoble point of view, no leader who is unfortunate enough have glasses, grey or balding hair or anything but the most virtuous of faces is going to be considered as the next Prime Minister – the sad truth is that appearances matter before policy.

  13. Conversation overheard in the pub on Saturday night. “Well, if Ken Clarke becomes leader he’ll put a stop to all this smoking ban nonsense…”

    You know, that would almost persuade me to vote Tory.

    Well, not really, I’ve been in the Labour PArty since ’84.

    But, pause for thought, isn’t it…?

  14. Totally agree. We need to look good while we take over.

    And please, all, do remember, we are only here putting comments on this board because we want the best for our country, and wish to discuss the right direction for the leader of our future.

    We want the Conservatives to win the next election, facilitated only by the best most confident, assured and focused leader.
    So, yes, thats why we care so much.

    This is why the Conference is going to be so good, next month.

    It will be a showcase of the latest Tory Talent.

    I’m 22 and would love to see others of a similar age getting serious about the Party. So, well done to you, Mike, for being interested.

    No doubt when we arrive the press will be wondering who all these shiny new people are!

  15. Mike – aaaargh!! Grey hair is a bad thing now????

    That’s really distressing. I mean I know Winston Churchill hung on a bit past his sell-by date (ie into his 80s). But grey hair can start in your 30s. And for most of us it’s a fact of life by 50. That probably rules out half the population of parliament.

    Not that it’s my business, but as of now I’m recommending Clarke, purely on the grounds of age.

  16. For crying out load you crazy bunch of Boris addicts! Can’t you see that Clarke, like Howard, is just too old for this job. The Conservative Party is stuck on a loop where the new leaders seem to be as useless as their predecessor!

    There is one man fit for this job and that is David Cameron. Give him a chance. Highly educated, young, and ambitious. He can connect with everyone and will give the Tories a new look.

    A young gun with some new ammunition. Thats exactly what this party needs!

  17. I can remember in ’97 when they lost. Major made a lot of fuss, organised a company to get him out of Downing St, etc etc.

    Ken just hired a van, loaded it himself and drove down the street, no fuss, no mess, just got on with it.

    I’m not a Tory, I’ll never vote for them. But we need to get Labour out of power, so we need a Tory that can get the “centre ground” and not alienate the voters that are needed. Plus, we need someone that CK and the LibDems don’t automatically rule out from doing business with, which means someone like Ken, Boris or that young bloke (Cameron?)

  18. Sorry, but not Clark, please! Apart from his Europe stance (and his backtracking, Paris is well worth a mass…), but if everybody that is not Tory wants Clark, what do the Tory’s vote? I want more than being a scruffy bloke to be party leader, I want someone with concrete ideas, a plan to pull the UK from the social, cultural and economic mess we have at the moment. I want someone that will tell the truth about how to do it, not someone pandering to the last sound bite of the latest news story. I want someone that doesn’t spend his time pandering to each and every minority making everybody un-happy, since you cannot please everybody. If Clark had been opposition leader, only Brown would have been against the Euro; but now Clark said that he made a mistake, good, I could have told him much sooner, but once in the Euro it is hard to get out, in fact according to the EU laws it is hard to get out from anything signed. Sorry for the rant, but I cannot stand this Clark beatification!

  19. For a sensible comment I can only refer you to simons first post and say ditto. Can’t say I agree with his Chris Patten choice though. At the risk of being lampooned from all sides, well, I’d still vote for Boris. Might as well get hung for a sheep as a lamb…

    You had me at hello honey, Boris for PM!

  20. Murk – hmmmm.

    What is it with this ‘everybody’s too old’ thing? I have a feeling there’s a law against it somewhere. Can anyone advise?

    Your assessment of David Cameron is a little scary too. He might be good, I don’t know. No experience of office, little or no visibility among the electorate, and a couple of TV soundbites to his name. But he’s ‘highly educated, young, and ambitious’. I can think of a lot of pop stars who answer to that description too…

  21. Chris Patten – Fat Peng – the Blusterer of the East – EU propagandist – two faced plotter? No thanks.

    One thing is for sure, Ken Clarke is no Clark Kent able to break the Tories’ fall with an outstretched hand. On the subject of Clark(e)s by the way, it was clear that Old Alan whilst certainly adding to the gaiety of nations equally had something very much of the night about him. Not many UK politicians see fit to mark Adolf Hitler’s birthday with sentimental meditation or indeed to call their dogs after AH’s mistress.

    I actually think of a not very good bunch Michael Howard is the best – he actually did doing somethign about crime and he was right about mass immigration in the recent general election. But obviously if he thinks it’s time to go, then one has to respect that.

    David Davis appears to me lazy. David Cameron’s elite background must count agaisnt him in the current cut-throat world of class-coloured politics and spin. Rifkind looks like a fox-appeasing bunny.

    Personally I think the Tories need to concentrate more on their organisation, their ideology (yes, not a v. Tory concept but every party has one – or several), and their policies.

    I would like to see a party that is committed not only to strong leadership, but also referendum democracy. In the modern era there are all sorts of issues which I think a a grown up electorate should decide for themselves: e.g.
    abortion law, ethical medecine issues, immigration laws, the overall tax burden.

    I think the Tories should reform as a strongly federal party with a new name and different names in the four national regions of the country. Political nomenclature is a tricky business but the left-liberal media establishment have so comprehensively (and quite deliberately – just listen to Fluck and Law id you don’t believe me) rubbished the Tory and Conservative brands that they have to be discarded.

    I would suggest that Democratic Party is probably the best choice. You could then have a Democratic Party of the UK as the overall organisation with separate parties e.g. Democratic Party of England, Scottish Democrats, Welsh Democrats, Democratic Party of Northern Ireland to fight elections.

    The new party would need to redefine its ideology incorporating:

    1. Declaration that it does not seek to preserve privilege, that it is committed to spread of wealth, to democracy and to elimination of poverty.

    2. Commitment to consitutional monarchy as basis for government.

    3. Committment to devolution for Scotland,Wales and N. Ireland and England (the latter coudl be achived through “dual status” for English MPs who act both as UK MPs and English MPs utilising the same chamber – this would finally resolve the W. Lothian question).

    3. Commitment to internationalism and global development – not trading blocs.

    4. Commitment to free and fair trading.

    5. Commitment to maintaining national independence and opposition to Euro state.

    6. Commitment to referendum democracy.

    I think if the Tories adopted this approach they would get a lot of positive publicity. They would begin to appeal to new sections of the electorate and probably claw back a lot of teh UKIP vote. The left-liberal slanderers would find it much more difficult to have a go at “the democrats”. Particularly if those democrats were saying on a no. of key issues “let’s ask the people and see what they think”.

  22. Absolutely.

    The ideas we already have. The spokesperson, we don’t got! We all know what change we want.

    No doubt its clear we should:
    1. Introduce the Aboliton of Europe Act 2005
    2. Delete the Criminal Justice System and its associated laws and replace it with the correctly named and functionable Justice for the Victims off Crime system whereby we :
    (i) re-introduce the death penalty
    (ii) create punishments in line with

    So you’ll see that we can cure the woes of crime in this country by adhering to this bananas “Criminal Justice System” aka Justice for Criminals, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
    And we’ll turn it all round.

    Its SIMPLY a choice of who will voice the changes we need.

  23. markgamon – hmmmmmmmm!!!
    Pop Stars! This is the Tory leadership fella! To get the vote you need someone who is going to stand out! I suppose it’s not really about age but surely those who don’t give too much thought to voting would look at the interesting candidates when it comes to elections. Michael Howard, Kenneth Clark, Malcolm Rifkind…it’s all so continuous. It needs changing! And the Tories need a new style. Twelve years Mark! Twelve flaming years its been! And why? Because none of the leaders stand out to the public. They might to you hard-on Tories, but not the general voters! Come on…Think about it!!!

  24. Well said, Sabriam Murk.

    Pamela Anderson for leader, then?

    What about a tag team? Two of our finest, Kenneth AND an assistant to give out sharp left hooks and take the flak.
    Shared somewhat……in interviews on TV they’d say, “Nah, he said that…” or deflect the praise onto the other and say, “Oh I know, and isn’t he fantastic. I agree.”

    That’d be original.

    Or……I know!! Anne Widdecombe! She was fabulous. Bring her back.

  25. What’s with the sudden passion for Ken? A man prepared to drop his Euro-enthusiasm like the ash off his cigar. (I don’t mind him having shares or whatever in fags – freedom fighters against health fascism have to risk their lives). I suspect he might find a sudden fondness for rap or garage or outside loo over jazz if required.

    So, if you lot aren’t going to use your considerable influence to get Tony elected, how about Angela Merkel instead? We’ve already got one German lady MP Gisele Stuart or whatever her name is, in Birmingham. Since we seem to be stuck with Europe we may as well take advantage of it and give some of their smarter politicians a break. Apart from poor old Mr. Major the last Tory prime minister was a woman. Four blokes since and – errmm – not doing well. As someone who mentions Popper from time to time I shouldn’t say this but the inductive lesson of history is Tory boys don’t win elections any more. You need a lady! I think she’s a scientist as well! No danger of post-modernism. Running both Germany and UK will be a cinch for her.

  26. Re: Lets get Anne Widdecombe – Right you are, Jack.

    She is great, and given this new angle I think she has the potential to be a real force in dismantling the Labour.

    Which, incidentally, is what we must term them. We, quite simply, in that case, could re-brand ourselves too.

    Tag Team idea still is very much a fabulous vision.
    Anne W and another. You guys insert as appropriate.

  27. At the risk of sounding like an old cynic I think people tend to vote with their wallets, and until people start to accept that Labour is bungling the economy, they will keep getting elected. Labour could hardly have made a bigger mess of all the other issues – immigration, crime, Iraq, pensions etc.etc. I tend to agree that Tories just have to be patient until the money runs out….

    Field made some interesting remarks about devolution. Didn’t the Tories already win a higher share of the election vote in England – but got slaughtered in Wales and Scotland where Old Labour is doling out our cash?

    Even hardened labour voters find this government arrogant and deceitful, and as soon as the huddled masses lose confidence in their handling of the economy the wheels may start to fall off very quickly.

    Conservative policies weren’t the problem at the election (and Howard didn’t do a bad job either) – the time just wasn’t right. So whichever leader is chosen, the party needs to quickly unite and stick in there as a credible opposition.

  28. I am unfortunately a young Tory (19), and my experience of the party and it’s potential leaders is too limitted for me to speak with authority on it.

    However, I would like to highlight one issue that’s on my mind. At the moment, everyone is focussing on who is most likely to win us an election. I can definitely understand this with the ruin that Labour has been bestowing on our country, but this may diminish somewhat if Blair goes (it may not, who am I to say). Nonetheless, it is this desperate struggle purely to get into power, without solid notions (in the public’s eyes) of what we want to do when we get there, which gives our party such a bad name. People think of us as opportunistic and selfish people who will do anything for power, and electing a leader on the basis of who will most likely return us to power is not a good way to go about changing that!

    Personally I think we need a full term, probably even two, in which to remind people of what we stand for. To remind them that we’re not just a coalition of Blair-haters (I hope?). As such I would be looking for a long-term leader, someone with integrity and principles. This may be hard to find admittedly, but surely we have someone?? I’ve never understood why age seems to be an issue, in fact in this world climate I would rather support an older candidate who would give Britain a feeling of stability. Everyone knows that we can’t stand up to America and it’s foreign policy, which is what a young leader would represent, and as such an older person who would not be standing up to but rather moderating it would be good. However, since my hope is that we’ll find someone who could potentially last for the next 20 years (with about 6-10 in opposition), an older candidate may not be ideal.

    If Blair steps down before the next general election I think it will be of major benefit to us. We would lose to Brown (labour but without the Blair reputation), but he would then be lumbered with the demolished economy and chaotic society, take the blame, and lose next time round. In terms of electability we need a leader who has credibility in 8 years time, and the only way for that to happen is if we choose someone with long-term reliability now, put our support behind him, and then work for the next decade on the party’s image, not the leader’s.

  29. Oh one more thing!

    I’d like to take a little moment to speak for the young (or at least my experience of them). Being 19 myself, I am nearly entirely associated with “the young”, and I can say a few things with confidence.

    Firstly, everyone hates Tony, I have not met a single person who likes him or his policies, even living at university with many die-hard labour supporters. But, don’t be mistaken into thinking that just because their perception of labour is based on the leader’s image, that they judge all parties this way, it’s not so. Quite the opposite in fact, most don’t even know who the Tory leader is, only that he’s Tory. And that means that he’s a slimy, selfish, probably pompous, rich aristocrat. Since joining the party myself, I’ve encountered masses of bad feeling, even from people I know well, who think that I’ve suddenly become all those things above, plus racist!

    This is our biggest obstacle (at least as far as the under-25s are concerned), and a leader will make little difference to it.

  30. JackT you are brilliant. More of the same from more of you, please. Its positivity that’ll rally the troops.

    Not English, self-obsessed inward destruction!

    Who remembers that typically cringe-worthy, terrible song that was hammered out when they got in, “Things can only get better.”

    Oh my goodness.

    Words fail to depict the pain and suffering of that memory.

    What would WE play?

  31. Why don’t they (all candidates and the negative contributors to this comments board) go on Jerry Springer and let Jerry give his final thought for the day which would be along the lines of:

    (imagining Jerry’sone of us)

    They (Tony and co) stand for what they think. They attract their appropriate audience.

    We need to say what we think, stand to represent it, and worry about our supporters AFTERWARDS.
    They come with the territory.

    People will identify with our common sense way forward plan.
    They’ll put energy into that, not toward this bickering and go-nowhere attitude.

    After all, our supporters are the Silent Majority. We need the right person merely to awaken their commitment and add gusto to their suppressions, so we can hear them.

    Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

  32. Sabriam Murk – 12 years? Reminds me of how the Labour party felt during the Thatcher years…

    Jeffers – the Abolition of EUROPE Act 2005? Are you sure? That’d create an awful lot of unnecessary ocean between here and Russia…

    Simon – are you still keeping score? This is fun.

  33. I like the Patten idea, however, I think that the leader should be a member of the house because he plays an important role in debate and PMQ’s and surely he has to be a member to get in there.
    I still think Boris should run, but if not I’d go with David Cameron. If Clarke gets it, then the Lib Dems get my vote, what the party needs to do it break with the past and try to regain some appeal, which KC just doesn’t have. All getting KC in is gonna do is alienate more people. Cameron is young and something new, and that is what the party needs.

  34. JackT –

    Very interested in your persepctive as a young Tory. Seems to me your analysis rings true.

    I think what you say backs up a lot of the points I was making about the need to restructure, rename and redefine the party. You are saying that in effect the Tory “brand” has become so polluted in people’s imagination (and a lot of it is imagination I would say) that however good the leader, they are going to find it difficult to make headway, particularly with the younger voters.

    I’m not convinced Lucy has quite absorbed what you are saying and the fact that she advocates Anne Widdecombe – whose jibe about “something of the night” probably cost the Tories ten seats at the General Election – shows it.

    RichM –

    My point on devolution is that the Tories do need to pick up a few seats in Scotland and Wales (and why not N. Ireland?) if they are (a) to have credibility as a national party of government.

    Do people just vote with their wallets? I think it’s a bit more complicated than that but undoubtedly Labour newly discovered (discovered by chance?) economic competence is a big barrier to Tory success. Certainly the Tories need to go where Labour CANNOT follow e.g. flat income tax rate.

  35. Sabriam Murk: Was MarkGamon hmmming at you or I? (what follows had all the paragraphs removed by the preview, I will insert // for paragraphs in case they do not survive posting)

    Personally, I cannot see the Tories getting elected anytime soon, short of a *big* amount of image changing. The only guy on the radar now for that is Clarke, the others are simply more of the same (Clarke isn’t a great choice). Boris would be my choice if I could pick anyone, PM’s question time would be wonderful!

    At the moment, the tory and lib dem vote is clustered, whereas the labour vote is distributed, with enough people to win in many seats, but not so many that votes are wasted on someone already elected. Witness that Labour has a 60something majority with the smallest share of the vote of a governing party in living memory.

    Note that in England, the Tories got more votes than Labour, yet Labour got the majority of the seats… when will electoral reform be addressed by the major parties?

    ……. possibly when they realise that they’re no longer a major party. Or is that a little too cynical?

    As a not unrelated aside, England is the only country in the UK without it’s own parliament. Why is this not a major issue for the Tories?

    The parties, including the Tories, should be encouraging participation – this is not about tinkering with insecure postal voting, it is about promoting an interest in politics. Engage with people, most importantly, champion making their vote count…. if a party wants to engage with the public it needs to do so continuously, and not just in the marginal seats. If politicians really deplore falling turnout, recognise that with the current system, most of us have a vote that is not worth much as we live in a safe seat.

    My recommendation to the Tories: Whoever the leader is, engage with the public, and push for the public vote to actually count (and not via a list based system). Highlight that in 1997, Labour promised action on this, and hold them to account for ignoring the recommendations of their own 1998 committee.

    Back to the leadership:
    Most of the people in the frame are anonymous; unfortunately where are the rising stars *who are known to the public*?

    I’m interested in politics, but the current runners (or rumours) are just names to me for the most part. David Davies (so good they named him twice), Clarke, Cameron, Rifkind, Liam Fox (didn’t he write for New Scientist), Willets, May.

    Only one of these I could identify from only a photo (Clarke).

    I could identify Davies, Rifkind, Fox and May by name, but would not have been able to match them to a photo (okay, given four photos, Theresa May might have been guessed at).

    If I have this difficulty, I dread to think what the average punter might think.

    The issue is… where is the known face? Where is the obvious choice? More simply, given certain recent laws such as the restrictions on protest (aimed at one man who is exempt as his protest predates the legislation), house arrest, ID cards etc…. given all this, where is Her Majesty’s Opposition?

    …… Hmmm, how did that turn into a rant?

  36. Dear Mr Murk,

    I didn’t know of your existence. I am not sure who that other fella was humming at..could have been either of us. But what the hell…I gave him a response. Maybe I should just make all my posts with “Sabriam” from now on…lets save any future confusion.

  37. I make the score now:

    Ken Clarke 5
    David Cameron 2

    Non candidates:
    Anne Widdecombe 2
    Boris Johnson 1 (2?)
    Michael Howard 1

    Non MP:
    Chris Patten (if available) (1?)

    I’m surprised that those who want a woman as leader haven’t considered Theresa May. I can remember her attack in the Commons on Stephen Byers when the Tories were calling for his resignation. It was feisty stuff – and she knows how to buy shoes!

  38. All getting very exciting Simon – a bit like Election night all over again.

    People are surprising! and how right you were to air the subject more prominently.

    There is, however, a sense that there is still a lot to play on all fronts.

  39. Ok, I’ve been trying to assimilate as much information as possible on the candidates, who they are and what they want for the Tory party.

    You can count me in for David Cameron. Ken Clarke is not at all what I want… quite the opposite in fact!

  40. Melissa: Have we got to the Tory Last Chance Saloon? There’s a widespread feeling that if the Conservatives don’t get it right this time right this time, they are never going to make it with the electorate, and we are all doomed to long-term rule by dismal, authoritarian, bureaucratic, gung-ho Christian socialist appatchiks.

    Not surprising that there is all the extra-party interest in the leadership selection process. It is almost as if the BBC and the media have decided they want Ken Clarke and are co-opting the public (and a majority of us here) in on the campaign.

    N.B. Interesting to note that after 50 odd comments we have zero interest here in David Davis. So much for the ‘front runner’!

  41. That’s interesting actually, you’re right. David Davis would work for me, I could support him (not only because he went to my university!), under the (current) election rules I would only have the opportunity to vote in the final two I believe, and since it is likely that Clarke will be one of them, I would vote for either Davis or Cameron, whichever the second candidate is. If it’s anyone other than those two I’d have to rethink it.

    The issues he talks about aren’t particularly the ones that I’m interested in, but at least he’s not saying things I disagree with like Clarke.

  42. Yes, Davis or Cameron are ok for me, we need a leader, not a celebrity. Most the people that say they like Clark DO NOT VOTE TORY and will not do so if Clark is elected. One has to get known, give policies, give a sense of what the party is and will be. The young Bliar was an unknown entity at first, but he worked on his image (and no substance). The Tory party has a horrible reputation, but so did labour, so it is possible to turn round. By the way Melissa (or @), do you know in which group the Tory European members of parliament belong to? I am quite afraid of the answer…. since I do know Italian political parties that I would not touch with a barge pole (unless to keep them down in the water).

  43. LUCY

    you have got to ask him something!

    Having shared an office with him for about two years I got to know him a little. I am afraid that he was a new MP then and unfortunately I did not see a rosy side to him – alack and alas. I am not, however, convinced that he is the cool cat who not once deigned to say a mere ‘good morning’ and perhaps he was keyed up and concentrating on other things far more important than a secretary who happened to share a room. There seemed to be an invisible tunnel leading to his office with a wall around his desk that was impenetrable and when he made his way to it and/or was at his desk he was oblivious to anyone else at all. What a change when I was in a room next to Michael Howard about 6 years ago: he would poke his head round breezily and say a cheery “hello”! He would also acknowledge me and other staff in the lift and alas I can’t say the same for our aforementioned member.

    So Lucy, I would love you to ask him something along the lines of:

    “Tony Blair is renowned for his apparent charisma and familiar approach with the public. Are you confident that you enjoy the warm and wholehearted support of all around you? and could this radiate out to the nation as a whole in such a way as to pose a serious threat and challenge to the government?”

  44. Right. Well I have taken in what you say. However I need to keep on the safe side of things.

    Plus I would never utter a meaningful word in praise or remote acknowledgement of His Royal Tonyness of Vanity.

    I don’t see it as “charisma” nor “familiar approach.”

    I am looking forward to the evening, though.

    Rather, I may ask DD what he thinks of Tonyness’s insincere, gut-wrenchingly patronising manner.

  45. @ – good to have you back. Your memory of David Davis is a little chilling. Politeness costs nothing, even for important people. Or those that think they’re important.

  46. Melissa: David Davis may just be shy, but a political leader needs people skills. The lack of them was a major problem for IDS. The media have already picked up on this aspect of Davis’s personality – I have seen some coded references to more or less what you have described – “known to be a difficult person to work with” etc.

    Vanessa: “we need a leader, not a celebrity. Most (of) the people that say they like Clark(e) DO NOT VOTE TORY and will not do so if Clark(e) is elected.”

    Vanessa, the Conservative party is not going to win an election simply with its present support base of elderly people in the south of England.

    If the Tories are not willing to try to persuade the people who “DO NOT VOTE TORY” to change their minds, then (in my humble view) they might as well disband the party and all join the Lib-Dems.

  47. As a Lib Dem voter I would be interested in voting Con if they elected Ken as leader.
    If on the other hand they reject him, do you think he would be interested in replacing our Charlie?

  48. Simon, I see that my “can’t stand” Clarke rant has made me diminish his name. I do not mean that we do not need new Tory voters, but there are people that will never vote Tory even if the clone of Hitler was the Labour candidate, and a lot of these people are the ones that like Clarke as Tory leader, worrying, no? Since there is no proof that Clarke can get new votes just being Clarke, without any polices, plans, ecc…, why antagonise elderly voters in southern England? Poor things (like my mother), they have had a though time anyway. The Europe problem is important, even if it is not the main point of policy; the referendum has been postponed (or put into the freezer), there is no way to address it, meanwhile, the constitution is not dead as a dodo, the EU is going on as though the French and Dutch did not vote. There are other reasons why Clarke is not my coup of tea (or my cappuccino).
    Meliss@, Davis has lost my vote! But on the other hand I knew that there was a heart in Howard!

  49. Vanessa

    I feel very humbled by your points – mark and simon thanks etc…

    We shouldn’t rule anyone out of the race but snippets of info help form a whole picture

    May the best (wo)man win! someone who will really be our best cappuccino

  50. Vanessa – ‘there are people that will never vote Tory even if the clone of Hitler was the Labour candidate’

    Doesn’t that work the other way too? – ‘there are people that will never vote Labour even if the clone of Hitler was the Tory candidate’

    Perhaps that’s part of our problem.

    Nice touch with the Meliss@, by the way. I’m already wondering about Vaness@…

  51. Melissa –

    You’ve certainly put the boot in – high heeled or otherwise. Not sure David Davi(e)s will get up after that and if he does he will probably be speaking in a high-pitched voice.

    It’s great fun dealing in the gossip of politics of course, but I think this discussion highlights the fact that the Tories are rather adrift. What are the Tories for? It may be that Labour are heading for a big economic crash. But let’s assume for a moment that they aren’t – then what exactly can the Tories offer?

    I feel they could offer a lot in a number of areas but I am not sure any of the candidates articulates that very well.

    Essentially I think the Tories need to redefine themselves as the party of the family, the real workforce, the “big” middle class. And I think a name change is absolutely essential.

  52. If somebody relatively new (one of the many Davids, for example) is leader then most of the public won’t, initially, know them. And the media and the Conservative MPs who voted for somebody else won’t give him sufficient chance to raise his profile before getting rid of him — William Haig had 4 years, IDS less than 3.

    So it has to be somebody already known to the public. Ken Clarke and Tim Yeo and so on are tainted with the failed Major government; voting for them would be seen as a step backwards.

    Which means the Conserservatives need somebody who wasn’t part of the Major government but does have a high media profile and is known by the public.

    It’s got to be Boris. Nobody else fits.

  53. What is so wrong with the name, “the Conservatives” ??

    Look, are we not just pointing to excuses now? Its our name thats the problem, now?

    I disagree.

    We have to work from the inside out, not the outside in.
    What we have to give is worth far more than what we are called.

  54. Field

    A name change! Boris has wondered about this too…

    ps I am not into the gossip but have merely commented that for all the rhetoric real life in the trenches can be entirely different for MPs – thus it was for said Davis. That was my own minor experience a while ago that has unavoidably coloured my present thinking. However, I am prepared to be challenged on this.

  55. Lucy

    I can understand your views.

    However a slight change in name could enhance public perception about where the Party is going.

  56. I agree that inside out has to be the best way forwards, but a name change might not be a bad idea. It’s not without precedent, Peel changed from Tory to Conservative back in the 1830s, in an effort to throw off memories and ties with the Peterloo massacre and repressive measures introduced at the beginning of Lord Liverpool’s premiership.

    However, I think that in this time of mass media and clearly defined party politics, it would look more like a vote-grabbing exercise than anything else. I think what we (by which I mean the party) need most is an image of stability an consistancy. A name change is definitely not the best way to do that! Above all we must resist the temptation to throw off the next leader if we lose the next election. People need to see that we are at ease with ourselves and comfortable with our party’s form before they can entrust us with running the country. A party which has been through so many leaders so quickly just shows people that we don’t trust our own leaders to do a good job. If their own party doesn’t trust them how on earth can the public?

    Also, I think it would be best to have someone who was less well known to the public, as it gives them a chance to show who they are rather than having conclusions drawn about them already.

    NB. What do you think satirists would do with the leader of a tory party who is so tied to cigars?

  57. 1. On the subject of the name of the Conservative party, “Conservative” should be used more often and “Tory” discouraged.

    If you are a die hard right winger and always have been you may not mind being called a Tory; but people who are not yet converted but could be will find it easier to say “I am a Conservative” than “I am a Tory”.

    Think of how left wing politicians always prefer to call their opponents the “Tories”
    which was the name of the party from circa 1679 to 1832, and now carries implications of being an unthinking reactionary.

    The BBC and especially Radio 4, notorious for their tendency to see everything in centre-left terms, usually say “Tory” rather than Conservative, presumably for the same reason.

    No one now calls the Liberal Democrats “the Whig party”, which would be the equivalent.

    2. On the subject of the Conservative leadership, can anyone ytell me any specific policies that any of the candidates have, beyond vague waffle about “modernising” and “connecting”?

    Evil Tim Lawyer

  58. At some risk of attempting to show ancestors how to suck eggs may I offer the following observations?

    We are talking about the leadership of the Conservative party. Now I think that the word Conservative means something. I was reading Roger Scruton’s new book. In there he refers, in discussing Burke, to T. S. Eliot’s essay “Tradition and the individual Talent”.

    “ which tradition is represented as a constantly evolving yet continuous thing, which is remade with every addition to it, and which adapts the past to the present and the present to the past”.

    I read this not as being reactionary – the reactionary wishes to go back to the past and live there.

    Recently I also quoted Priestley and his abhorrence of ” ..the saddest waste of all, the waste of human beings”. In this piece Priestley saw himself as a socialist in saying this, but feared the regimentation that socialism seemed to require. Perhaps it might be best to see Priestley as a progressive, in the sense that he wanted to ameliorate the waste and suffering that he saw. But perhaps it is also right to see him as a traditionalist in the sense that Scruton aludes to, or indeed as a conservative, since that is what Scruton was getting to.

    Popper also has an interesting essay “Towards a rational theory of tradition”. Tradition is where we start, but not uncritically. However criticism is impossible without first understanding a tradition.The radical overthrow of tradition without criticism through understanding is what leads to often disastrous consequences ranging from EU wide laws to gulags. (As I understand it Roger Scruton is not too enamoured of Popper as a philosopher but it seems to me that they are not so far apart in this matter).

    Having understood this, in my own humble way, I began to see how importnat it is to have a Conservative party even if I don’t (yet) vote for them. A conservative need not be against progress, where progress is sensible and humane management of change based on a critical appraisal of tradition. Conversely progressives need not fear natural conservatism which appeals to tradition for caution in management of change. Reactionaries and radicals are what we should be wary of. Both want to tear up where we are now, one to go back to a past that is often as illusory as the future the other wants to go forward to.

    Well maybe it doesn’t work out that neatly. But I can’t help feeling that Ken C. is perhaps a little too dismissive of tradition in his – now slightly subdued – enthusiasm for the EU. I would be interested to see if any of the others can put forward a concept of conservatism where there is evolution through our traditions to make progress in the amelioration of the many existng evil aspects of society – some that Priestley would still recognise and some new ones.

  59. Vaness@: “there is no proof that Clarke can get new votes just being Clarke”

    I don’t know whether polls are proof or not, but the one the BBC have just done suggests that Clarke is an establish brand all ready for sales in the High Streets of middle England.

    This is the difference between Clarke and Rifkind (who might need a couple of years) and Cameron (who might need longer), assuming of course that they have it in them in the first place and are given a fair chance by the media (not something that can be guaranteed!).

    How much time have the Tories got? One solution might still be the so-called ‘dream ticket’ idea of Clarke plus Cameron (or whoever), with the younger man easing into the job under some measure of protection.

  60. As a 50+ lifelong Conservative (well, since I was old enough to vote)and a Party Member, I get fed up with these leadership elections. It is always the same old same old. We need someone who is going to appeal to the younger voters and get us out of this ‘Blue Rinse Brigade’ timewarp. My first choice would be (obviously) Boris – or what about George Osborne? He’s young, seemingly confident and very nice to look at. On the other hand what about another woman…………………I leave you with that thought

  61. Boris for Tory leader?! Come off it team. Yeah he’s a nice enough fella but can anyone here really see him leading a serious Conservative Party? I think Boris see’s the Tories a bit like a football hooligan would see their own team. He’s obsessed! But after leading (and probably failing) there would be much to say by his colleagues and it would ruin such a sparkling reputation. Stick to the back bench Boris! HAHAHAHA and try and get promoted to the shadow cabinet again!

  62. Jack

    It strikes me that you are prodigiously mature for your young age – with quotes of Priestley, T S Eliot etc

    On vote grabbing, you are right that any opportunistic short term gain would be a waste of time. How sensible. However, in the long term we should be mindful of cyclical changes in thinking and be open to a new branding and change.

    Of course I still think there is at least one potential leader hiding under a bushel at this stage. There is still a lot to play.

    >I began to see how important it is to have a Conservative party even if I don’t (yet) vote for them.

    really – are you kidding? you that young?

  63. “My river is nothing but a field of gold. My lady is a candle. My chinese friends are all gone”
    Does anyone know who wrote this? It is an extract from a poem. Any ideas?

  64. Just to clarify Melissa – me and Jack are different people, in fact very different people I believe!

    I’m the young one (19), but a member of the tory party and I did indeed vote for them in my one chance so far this lifetime.

    Jack is the one who quoted Priestly and T S Elliot, I’ll leave him to speak for himself on other issues!

    “I began to see how important it is to have a Conservative party even if I don’t (yet) vote for them.” is not me of course.

    I can change my name if it’s easier! The T annoys me too…

  65. JackT is right! We are very different people! I am a 50 (urmm) plus Labour voter. However I find JackT’s observations rather useful in preventing intellectual complacency and a good deal more stimulating than some from those who might describe themselves as cynics!

    Surely 19 is not too young to be acquainted with Priestley or Eliot? I recall presenting a copy of the Four Quartets to a very modern young woman as she started her English GCSE. She seemed to like it.

    It’s probably too late but I could renounce the name Jack in favour of something else since I think that JackT was here (on this blog not Earth!) before me.

  66. Many apologies for getting my Jacks confused. I really was getting bamboozled

    How about Jack T (1) and Jack Senior (2) – it is confusing when we get newcomers here with similar names – we have had a few

    All the same I must confess I am very impressed by your intellectual analyses – you both.

    May more Jacks come our way – Jack 3 it would have to be

  67. Simon

    You are a great example of clarity in these things and you are so right in saying that full names would make things clear as a bell.

    We have had a few Simons and never once have I confused the identities I think!

  68. Well Simon, interestingly Jack is in fact my name! I imagine it’s so for Jack too. I came second (to both the blog and earth), which is why I added the T (for my surname). I could change to Charles if you like (second name), I haven’t seen a Charles about that I can remember. But I think in the spirit of common sense it is probably best if I just use my full name!

    So from now on, you will see me posted as Jack Target.

  69. .. aka the blogger once known as Jack, is going to appear as Jack Ramsey from now on.

    Well! I’m glad we got that sorted out! The idea of attaching numbers to names sounds positively dystopian! And none of us like that sort of thing!

  70. Another angle: imagine how you would caricature each candidate if you were one of the Guardian cartoonists (Steve Bell etc.)

    Some ideas currently under development . . .

    Ken Clarke: John Bull (Falstaffian, Churchillian) juggling cigars and fedoras. “We shall welcome them on the beaches, we shall welcome them on the landing grounds” etc.

    David Davis: the manager of the ‘navy blues’ (Cons United), hired to save the club from relegation to Division 3, “Yeah, well, we may not have won, but there were a lot of positives to take from the game. I mean – three own goals – gives a wrong impression, doesn’t it?”

    Liam Fox: The attack mouse – eyes close together, big teeth, talking interminably, but never answering any questions.

    Theresa May: The avenger – kinky dominatrix in black rubber suit with leopard print boots, overtones of Bond/Honor Blackman etc.

    Malcolm Rifkind – The mad hatter – genial, myopic, a master of mistiming, always turning up in the wrong place and wrong time, going round in circles and always arriving back where he started.

    Not sure about David Cameron. Of course Boris Johnson IS Boris Johnson!

  71. Interesting, John East. Maybe he’s too young

    Boris reply to your last line by saying that he’s too offbeat for the old guard and they probably don’t want him anywhere near the leadership spectrum. Good to have your kind words though!

  72. I think Lucy must be the Labour HQ plant on this site – suggesting Anne Widdicombe for the leadership!

    I’m not entirely convinced Boris is entirely sound on certain key issues – Europe and the War on Terror to name but two. However as a personality, yes he would certainly get my (non-existent) vote for the leadership.

    Regarding the issue of a name change, I think one has to distinguish between a name change designed to avoid real and necessary change and a name change that is indicative of real and necesary changes having been put into effect. I think Conservatives/Tories (/Unionists if you like) underestimate what a considerable vote blocker their name is because they don’t understand the depth of the cultural changes that have been going on in the country.

    I think we have seen a left-liberal takeover of the “commanding heights” of the media; millions of people who never did previously now pass through some form of higher education and are exposed to left-liberal ideology; people themselves are “class cameleons” and they expect their PM to be one – as he is; the super-rich have mostly thrown in their lot with,or are not perturbed by New Labour, who do nothing to dent their super-wealth; there are now millions of voters or immigrant stock who will only ever vote for Labour or Lib Dem.

    Taking all these changes together I think we can see that the Tory vote base is being eroded and will continue to erode as the older generations die off. I think the effects have been slightly masked by the tendency of older people to vote more than the young.

    My analysis is therefore that the Tories need to take active steps to expand their voter base. I think it can be done but only if they make a serious appeal to the anti-scrounger, patriotic, law abiding majority. Part of this process invovles a name change to reduce voter resistance. And of course the name has to be bullet-proof which is why I suggested “Democrat”.

  73. John East

    David C used to be a trendy go-ahead researcher in Central Office and very cliquey. His latest speeches seem to be painfully patronising – ie Britain needs this, needs this — “hey man”, I felt like saying – “hold your horses, you’re going OTT on the dictatorial handing out of prescriptive ideas of what you think I need”. In one way he’s suave like Portillo. On the other hand, he does seem to be getting better as the years go by (for instance he’s shown loving care in the face of his firstborn son born with medical problems – and promotes help to others in a similar position) and Boris says he might support him. They went to the same school etc.

    Secretely I think Boris suppots Ken Clarke as he did before. How awkward it must be when your old school chum puts himself up for grabs and asks for your wholehearted support.

    Boris is already a giant so he won’t be preoccupying himself too much about the potential kingpins.

  74. Melissa: “Boris would say he’s too offbeat for the old guard and they probably don’t want him anywhere near the leadership spectrum.”

    Perhaps there are two kinds of politician? Type A who mature early, going straight for high flying careers, paying some kind of price on the way in terms of lost integrity (Blair and Brown). Sometimes they burn out, sometimes they find a new life later and claim back something of what that they have lost (Portillo obviously, also Hague).

    Type B are slow starters who compromise less at the beginning, have a more difficult passage, but retain more honesty. They have more stamina and are less likely to be knocked off course by scandals and indiscretions. Having sacrificed less to political expediency, they retain more self-esteem and enjoy life more. They may get to the top but not before they are 50 or 60.

    Surely Boris is Type B, even if he is lucky enough to possess a Type A constituency.

  75. Field

    I think the Conservatives have more right to call themselves Democrats than the current bunch of PC warriors with the word Democrats in their title. The problem would be that if the others are seen as Liberal (which they ain’t either) Democrats then what would that make the Conservatives – Illiberal Democrats ?

    Our Conservative candidate came over really well in May. If it hadn’t been for the fact that our not so bad Labour MP was under attack from the LDs and various shades of Respect I might have voted for her. There was nothing special about her background but she had worked hard, got a good degree, in engineering I think, and was in business. She clearly was a problem solver who seem to realised that ordinary working people of all classes and ethnicities had problems to be solved, not neccesarily by throwing money around but often by removing obstacles put there by government. But she has an uphill struggle because voting Conservative round here is ‘uncool’. What’s the answer? I don’t know. It’s tempting to say that the Conservatives should drop spin, focus groups and nice image -building. Remember the pullovers? I hope you guys can sort it out because I don’t want people to be elected or not just because they are cool or uncool. Competence, ability and a commitment to a free, democratic society is what I want. Able Competent Democrats is a lousy name but that’s waht the name should at least hint at.

  76. FIELD? ! What? I am NOT in any way asocited with the enemy, thanks very much. I’m blue through and through.

    Melissa, yes I shall be there. Can’t wait. I’m one of those eager, keen shiny people.

    I’ll rugby tackle the contenders to the floor to get a glimpse of how they are in the rough and tumble of politics.

    I’m going with a few friends, taking over a hotel, of course. Or possibly just a floor…

    Are you going, Melissa?

  77. Hi Lucy

    We believe you, we do!!

    I’m staying at a dear little guesthouse a bit of a way out for a couple of days and perhaps we could meet at one of the fringe meetings Boris will be addressing?

    I always have a great time, even if its in a bit of a quiet contemplative way. I’m not a great one for living it up till the early hours but I love breakfast meetings.

    See you there!

  78. Simon

    You might be right about the Type B

    ps do you realise this must be a record post achieving 100 COMMENTS in merely two days !!!!

    It was all your idea THANK YOU

  79. Thanks for the kind comments guys!

    To be honest I think that there’s only one real way to change the name of the Conservatives without it looking too much like vote-grabbing, and that’s to couple it with a new and fresh leader, like Labour’s “New-Labour” trick with Blair. Personally I think that the only way this could work is with David Cameron, or else another young and new candidate.

    Other than this only a party split would do it, and I assume that’s undesireable to everyone. Besides the party’s not divided enough for that really.

    But I do think it’s important to get that right. A name change has to accompany a complete change in image. If people look at the change in image and think “yet another tory trick”, then all the bad associations will hook themselves onto the new image and the whole business will be for nothing. If it’s done carefully then it could be a big success, but otherwise it would be a big waste of time, effort, and money.

    Perhaps I’m being too cynical and it could be done more easily, I’m not sure, but either way it would have to be done with a lot of care. Other than that concern, I think it might be a reasonable idea.

  80. Melissa: “do you realise this must be a record post achieving 100 COMMENTS in merely two days !!!!”

    All credit to our terrific blog mistress!

    The next time somebody writes a history of the great political hostesses (Lady Astor etc.), they will have to give you a chapter, giving due credit to the kindly and generous welcome you have given to those of us who don’t come from the blue range of the political spectrum.

  81. Well how about having me as the next Tory leader? My friend told me tht there r two types of Tory, these are
    1.The Tory – this person decides to support tory party and its ideologies
    2. The Tory Bastard – This is a person tht was plain and simply born a Tory and can never change this
    Of course my friend accuses me of being the original TB.

    I am also intelligent, witty and have a large mop of thick blonde hair tht controls itself

    I would love to lead the Tories although I still am not quite as seductive as our very own Boris

  82. Sabriam, thanks, we can make it a two-person revolution in the party, huh?

    Melissa, I hope Boris doesn’t mind, but I overhauled my blog, and due to a strange creative whim I went Russian. He has now became ‘Comrade Boris’ in my faves. This doesn’t mean I expect him to become a raving leftie, altho if he wants to sport a ‘millionpieces – procrastinate the revolution’ tee-shirt on tele, I’ll make sure he gets one sent 😉

  83. Jack Ramsey,
    You suggested the name Able Competent Democrats, and suggested that coolness was a factor in how voters voted. How about adding Collective to the end and coming up with an ultra-cool (well at least when I were a lad) acronym.
    ACDC now there is a way to get some young and some not so young people to vote for the party 🙂



  84. Gengee

    Possibly Able Competent Democratic Chaps, where chaps is used inclusively genderwise, might hit the spot better. Is ACDC still cool though – the term not the meaning?

    Obviously Competent Able Democrats is a non-starter.

    We need a new competion for a name.

  85. True blue Lucy? Then you must be floating in the blue yonder if you think Ann Widdicombe would make a good Tory leader! However, don’t let me put you off – I believe in free speech.

    ACDC! Wouldn’t that confirm that other negative stereotype of the Tories that they all harbour secret sexual pecadilloes? Some of us haven;t quite recovered from Edwina’s revelation.

    Blondism…surely blonde has never been associated with political success, unless you are counting Margaret Thatcher – but somehow I never thought of her as blonde. Blonde is associated with infants and hence an absence of the faculty of mature judgment (sorry, Boris – nothing personal).

  86. Hi – I only discovered this site today, I wish I’d discovered it ages ago!It’s been educational to go through and read all the different points of view.

    I think the leadership campaign is going to be exciting and, hopefully, the start of a long trail back for us.

    I’ve been a Conservative supporter since childhood – really since 1979, seeing my parents dance around the room celebrating Maggie’s victory, and witnessing their joy as tax rates started to come down to manageable levels. It’s sad that the strong achievements of the early years of Conservative government are now ignored, and children are taught to say ‘Thatcher’ as if they were spitting!

    There’s one thing that worries me about this buildup to the leadership election. I’ve listened to each of the candidates, and so far I’ve heard all of them talk about ‘coming back to power’ or versions thereof.

    Does anyone else feel that this is perhaps a poor message to send to the electorate – a message that power is more important than principle?

    As the campaign goes on, I’m hoping to hear candidates talking more about values and principles. Not necessarily winning the next Election – but staying in place, standing firm and holding on to principles, showing the electorate what our values are and that we adhere to them, rather than appearing solely interested in power.

    And my �0.02 about the candidates so far:

    – Ken Clarke: too smug and tainted by the problems
    of the previous Conservative government. Oh, and
    I don’t believe in the Euro, and I’m unconvinced
    by his recent denouncements;

    – Tim Yeo: see above about tainting.

    – David Davies: Powerful within the Party, less
    known outside it. Could (and probably would) be
    seen as another IDS/WH.

    – Liam Fox: Only heard him this morning. Possible.

    – David Cameron: Young, ambitious, articulate.
    Untainted by the previous problems. He might be
    seen as too young, but maybe what we need is a
    gamble on a younger man.



  87. Golly. You go away for… oh, all of 12 hours… and no-one’s any closer to deciding the ‘Boris Johnson Website Leader of Choice’.

    I don’t expect Boris IS in the running for the top job, but couldn’t we all lobby for him to get his old Shadow Arts job back again? I thought he was dead interesting doing that. AND he appreciates Hogarth.

    Wat’s everyone got against Whigs and Tories? Bring back the old names, sez I. MUCH better than getting your heads in a whirl trying to come up with an acronym that uses the word democrat without sounding like the Liberal Democrats. Who were better when they were just called the Liberals anyway.

    Whig. Tory. Labour. Liberal. Keep it simple, stupid.

  88. Vicus Scurra: “Over 100 comments and still no sign of a decent leader. . . .”

    Vicus Scurra of Kingsley, Hampshire has a good point, as ever.

    Judging by the discussion so far, there seems little chance of a leader emerging who is acceptable to the party as a whole, let alone the country.

    If the right wing will not accept Ken Clarke and can’t come up with a decent candidate of their own (which surely is the case here) then maybe they should ask Michael Howard to stay on. He is an articulate, thoroughly professional politician – and he’s younger than Clarke!

    Gemma: In the circumstances I think they should take you seriously as a candidate. Do you have a good set of publicity photos? You could put them up on website, maybe also with a podcast: “Hello, I’m Gemma and I’m standing for the leadership of the Conservative Party . . .”

    I’d be happy to choose the theme music for you.

  89. Simon – how about ‘Things… Can Only Get Better’ ??

    Jack Ramsey – thank you. Definitely time for the Chartist Revival. Perhaps with Boris as leader, and Ken Clarke as Shadow Chancellor. He’s done that before, I think…

  90. Mark Gamon: “Whig. Tory. Labour. Liberal. Keep it simple, stupid.”

    Absolutely. Doesn’t re-branding almost always follow bad times and herald worse? (Consignia, Veritas, Network Rail etc.) ‘New Labour’ has been a mixed success at best. (Gordon Brown will probably drop the ‘new’ when he becomes PM.) What examples are there of successful re-branding?

    ‘Democratic Party’ might be an attractive name, but appropriating it would be difficult, as all the other major parties in Britain consider themselves ‘democratic’.

    What is wrong with Conservative? It has a generally positive meaning. It’s distinctive. I think the only other prominent Conservative Party is in Canada.

    Someone argued that only hostile politicians and journalists use the name Tory, but the Scottish Conservatives website is called The four letter word now functions as a typespace-saving nickname, unassociated with Irish cattle thieves.

    “how about ‘Things… Can Only Get Better'”

    Excellent. Now where is our candidate? Or has she already withdrawn?

    [Have we made the record now? The counting is working erratically but we seem to be 115+.]

  91. Simon we certainly appear to have a record – you obviously got the measure of blogosphere interest on this topic perfectly. At this rate we could be hitting the 200 mark quite easily and that would be a record to beat all records. You deserve a “Trophy for heroic blogosphere comment”

    Keep tipping me the wink and all will go swimmingly

  92. Neil

    Many thanks for your contribution and welcome to our humble club of political (and other) comment

    All @ Boris Johnson’s Office

  93. Simon –

    I think there are lots of examples of successful rebranding around the world.

    We have already seen that the Whigs became Liberals which gave them a new lease of life. The Tories became the Conservatives which certainly helped them throw off the pro-monarchy associations of being known as only Tories. They also became the Conservative and Unionist party absorbing anti-Home Rule Liberals – again expanding their base.

    I don’t think the Conservatives of Canada are a good example. They were virtually wiped out a few years ago. And the Conservative Party of South Africa was similarly vapourised. Truth is, it’s a lousy name for a political party.

    In Eastern Europe many former Communist parties have survived and done well by rebranding themselves as worker parties.

    In Europe the old anti-democratic pro-papacy right also rebranded after world war 2 and became “Christian Democrats”. A few decades earlier, the Catholic Church had been reoslutely opposed to democracy.

  94. Lots of examples of successful rebranding, you say, Field ?

    Are we forgetting the inexplicably unnecessary change of name that Opal Fruits instigated?!!!

    Starburst?! What? No – i say stick with the original.

  95. I keep hearing more about Liam Fox and his potential bid for the leadership. He could be quite good and as a Scot, the Scottish element would then be pre-eminent in linking the political leaders. All these people from Bonnie Scotland, Simon!

  96. Field: “I think there are lots of examples of successful rebranding around the world.”

    I am not sure your historical examples, good though they are, are really of ‘re-branding’. Name changes that reflect real (and not cosmetic) changes are of course accepted by the public.

    If the Conservative Party split or changed direction those involved would have to use appropriate names, just as the ‘gang of four’ did when the split from the Labour Party and started the SDP.

    A purely cosmetic change is much more difficult. You don’t like the name Conservative, but what name do you suggest? And equally important what strategy would you use to implement the change?

    It was easy for Blair to add the word ‘New’. ‘New Labour’ didn’t belong to anybody and he was free to invent it. If on the other hand the Tories substituted ‘Democratic’ for ‘Conservative’, there would be howls of derision all round. They would be accused of an American imitation, while the Lib Dems would cry foul and threaten a court case.

    Re cosmetics: it’s always a bad idea to put on your (political) make-up in public.

  97. Melissa: “I keep hearing more about LIAM FOX . .”

    I’ve heard two or three Fox interviews, including one about the leadership, more by accident than design. He avoided answering every question and produced an interminable drone to kill time and frustrate the interviewer. Rather like John Reid, he’s perfected the technique of raising his voice to a fortissimo at exactly the moment when the interviewer is likely to intervene. He concentrates on not making a mistake, rather than trying to win anybody over.

    Where exactly he belongs in the party, I don’t really know. Left, centre, right? It isn’t discernible, though apparently he called for the re-introduction of flogging at one point. Nor is he another JFK in terms of looks. I thought he would be the first candidate to drop out.

    Compared to Clarke, Rifkind, even Davis or May, Fox is cardboard.

  98. The Fox is a wily beast,
    Shows cunning when planning a feast.
    If asked for his aims,
    This he proclaims:
    “I want to bring chickens into the loop,
    Which is why you’ll find me circling the coop.
    I’d like to save fowl from the farmer’s blade –
    Here look at my wristband for Chicken Aid”.
    The birds start a-cluckin’
    They think that their luck’s in.
    But before very long the Fox gets inside…
    And that my good friends is how the Tory Party died.

  99. I know this maybe a strange idea, but I thought we were meant to vote for a party based on their policies, not the party leader.

    Who cares who the leader is, so long as he or she can represent the party’s and electorates views.

    Oh, having said that, stuff it all, BORIS FOR TORY LEADER!!!!

  100. Simon

    re FOX… oh dear – I haven’t seen any interview with him – I must perhaps revise my initial thoughts.

    Perhaps I was being optimistic and upping the ante on possible leaders that would do the Party some credit

    ..still on a positive look-out for the specimen of the perfect cappuccino variety…

  101. OK help! All you Johnson bloggers I am in desperate need of help. You don’t know me well, but by reading past posts, I’m sure some of you will have gathered that I’m a Cameron supporter in this race. BUT BUT BUT, there is some new electricity in my brain. Worrying stuff. Today, I “page 2” of The Sun (this is their “serious” literature), the political stuff, I was reading all about Dr. Fox.

    During the general election and throughout this battle for leadership, I have been a firm disliker of Fox. In interviews, statements, news from, in everything! But after reading this artical from this damn tabloid trash, I am being won over. Fox isn’t looking so bad anymore. I am, worryingly, starting to like him. He seems firm, agressive, fresh, policy structured, and so on. But I’m worried. Because I’m sure I had a damn good reason for disliking him in the first place and I just can’t remember it and I don’t want to start supporting him (well, at least I think I don’t).

    So could any of you, anyone at all, please give me all the reasons NOT to support Dr. Fox. Because, I fear I have been brainwashed. So before I start reading more Fox propoganda and this condition exacerbates, save me…PLEASE!

  102. I’m afraid I know very little about Fox. I am curious though about George Osbourne. Do we know if he is definitely intending not to run for the leadership? He is exceptionally young, but he seems to be something of a high-flyer. I know very little about him policy-wise, although with his new report on taxation I would imagine he’s not trying to seize the centre like Clarke.

    I’m wondering if he’s waiting until the last minute to announce candidature, in the (quite plausible) hope that we will get so sick and tired of the debates about the old contenders to be ready to support a fresh alternative. Someone who may not be ideal, but at least we haven’t been talking about him constantly for ages!

    I would imagine that I am probably slightly out of the loop, and somebody may well point out to me a good reason for him not standing, but what do we think?

  103. In this fast and furious exchange of views on the next Tory leader, there has been little consideration of who will actually be a match for the next Labour leader, both in the arenas of the Commons and the TV studio.

    Brown will be a formidable opponent and Ken Clarke is surely your only contender with the requisite brains AND street-fighting skills. But the Tories rejected him before ‘cos of their Eurobsessive compulsive disorder. If the above posts are at all representative of Tory opinion, Clarke will probably be given the cold shoulder again simply because people fail to see that your enemy’s enemy is your friend.

  104. I disagree completely, our enemy’s enemy is not our friend, not in my view. Well, he may be our friend, but he should not be our leader!

    Surely the point of being a political party and of MPs in general, is to have people who stand up for our views. Even if it is always an opposition party, at least they are acting to defend our views and to champion our cause. This is much better than giving up the Conservative ideals which we believe purely to get in to power. If we do that, we might as well not get into power at all!

    I would much rather be part of a small party who stand up for what I believe, than a big one which doesn’t. Ken Clarke’s views actually conflict with mine in many ways, and so if I have the opportunity I will certainly be voting against him.

    Besides, What the conservatives need right now is not just a strong leader, but a leader who everyone in the party feels confident uniting behind. This may not be descriptive of any of the candidates, but Clarke is defininitely not that person. His views on Europe, his ties to BAT, and his desire to move the Conservatives into the centre of the political spectrum, all serve to distance him from a large portion of the party. He may be good in the public’s eyes (I’m still not convinced of this), but I think in the long run he would not be a good thing for the party. If he became leader he would certainly lose my support (admittedly I’m sure no worry to him or most people!), and probably the support of many others too.

  105. I go for Kevin B!

    I can’t imagine the young ones getting anywhere Jack Target, Sabriam. And on that note Sabriam – take a look at Simon’s earlier comment on Fox – though I must confess I can understand your recent opinion on him.

    All the others – I did have higher hopes at an earlier stage.

  106. I wasn’t saying that the young ones are any better, I was talking mostly about principle. I was saying that we should be choosing a leader based first on who represents our opinions best, and then who is the most capable person from that group.

    Clarke may get us furthest, but in what direction? Probably not the direction that I would like to see us or the country going in.

  107. I AM saying that the younger ones will be better! It’s logical. Obviously, one thing the Tories have to do is reel in more voters (like any party has to) but so far, during the three labour terms, it hasn’t been working. And why? Look at the leaders. They all seem to follow the same trend. If we need new voters then we need a new look. Cameron, or possibly Osbourne, will provide this new look. Clarke has had his day, so has Rifkind, but now it is time to move on. Put on a new show. It’s highly incorrect to say Mr. Cameron would make a premature leader. He is a father for crying out loud. Former policy co-ordinator and now Education spokesman. I think his leadership will be essential for the party. But those undecided voters, who have hated the Tories for their past, will look at Clarke and think, “Oh yeah, I remember him” and wont want to head back to what they would consider the “dreadful years”. Get a new face and a new look. A fresh face and a fresh look. Come on DAVID CAMERON!!!!

  108. Sabriam: “could any of you, anyone at all, please give me all the reasons NOT to support Dr. Fox?”

    There are video clips on the BBC. They are a bit difficult to navigate to but you can try the links on this page:

    Fox has declared, “I am the only candidate who is going into this contest with a positive vision of the future.” That rather begs the question why he doesn’t tell us about it.

    He once described the Spice Girls as “three dogs and a blackbird”, but his finest hour was apparently when he rushed to help an unwell tourist in Westminster, “There are times when duty calls and I did what any doctor would have done,” he told reporters. I’m not sure whether he called a press conference.

  109. Reasons for not voting for Fox? See Fields poem (excellent). Fox is ambitious but careless.

    There are so many impediments to each candidate discussed here, especially Theresa May (and her stupid shoes) that for me the only option is Boris or maybe Rifkind (jury’s still out on that one).

    If I had to nominate a leadership race I’d choose Lucy, Simon, KevinB, Boris and, of course, me. I haven’t got the time so for me it would be between Boris and Simon and Boris wins my vote. Whilst this may sound light-hearted, think about it, none of us could do any worse than the current administration! And in all seriousness I think Boris does a good job for his constituents and has the broad appeal and charisma needed to get votes. At the end of the day, that’s what counts. It’s easier to change direction when you’re in the driving seat.

  110. Sabriam

    Wasn’t Hague a fresh face five or so years ago…and he had a lot of political experience (previous Welsh Secretary etc). Yet he was deemed too young at that stage.

  111. I believe we have set a new British Political blogging record here. This is comment 141. The previous longest thread was 137 (following the July 7 bombing).

    Jaq: “If I had to nominate a leadership race I’d choose Lucy, Simon, KevinB, Boris and, of course, me. I haven’t got the time so for me it would be between Boris and Simon and Boris wins my vote.”

    That’s very kind, but I don’t qualify. A serious candidate should have good hair and be sound on economics. Like Boris my hair has been the subject of numerous compliments, but economics is not my specialty. (I’m not sure how well Boris scores on this either). I also belong to a different political party.

  112. Erm “@”…out of Hague, IDS, and Howard, who has been the best leader??? (in your opinion). It wasn’t because he was too young either. He had great experience, had good policies, was quite an orator, and had good support amongst his colleagues. If he was running again, I’d be supporting him. We need someone fresh again.

  113. Sabriam

    He sure had all those things but he was too young at the time. He will most probably return (we hope) in a few years time. More cultured (apparently he is playing the piano a lot) and richer(we hear that he is giving numerous lucrative speeches in America) and as a father ( he would like to have children).

    In my opinion Howard brought us closer to imagining victory at the polls – so it’s got to be him. IDS wasn’t there long enough to make a significant impact.

    So Sabriam – why have we lost the last few elections?? We need your analysis on the reasons and how we can improve and make an impact at the next election. Young ~ old: in a sense you’re right in saying that we need a fresh face but it ought be someone who is combative enough to blow the government out of the face of the earth and it is questionable whether the young in our Party carry that strength. I am not trendy and suave enough for the young ones of the Party but I wish them well in their endeavours to buoy up the Conservative spirit in these tense times. Whether or not they win is more dependent on the view of the Parliamentary Party (ie MPs) than the views of Conservative Party members or even ourselves, if the proposed amended rules go through (by the end of this month).

  114. Simon

    This is a record to beat all records – as is the subject of course.

    I still keep ruminating in my sleep on who might be the best candidate in this leadership race….thanks to you we have an excellent forum where any ideas can be discussed freely.

  115. An extract from Patten’s book is in the Guardian today. It is entitled “They lost the plot – and only Ken Clarke can find it again: The Conservative party will continue to suffer electorally until it can exorcise the ghost of Thatcher’s defenestration”

    (In my opinion) this is the key paragraph:

    “The 1990s saw an upsurge in the manifestations and consequences of what we call globalisation. Money, goods, tourists and technology flatten borders. Prosperity and security – the things people care about most – can only be secured though international cooperation. Even an island nation-state such as Britain finds that its borders are porous when it comes to combating drugs, crime, environmental threats, illegal migration, epidemic disease, terrorism. It is difficult to conclude that the inviolate virtues of the nation-state constitute the basis of sensible domestic or international policies at the beginning of the 21st century.”,9115,1567731,00.html

  116. pps on the other hand I do value the nation-state for all our individual values and traditions held and cherished down the generations; I wouldn’t like to think that they might all be watered down in some great Euro melting pot – sacrificed at the altar of greater pan European integration

  117. Melissa: “our individual values and traditions . . . I wouldn’t like to think that they might all be watered down in some great Euro melting pot”

    Well, as you may anticipate, I don’t see Europe as a melting pot, it’s more of a glorified eBay where we buy and sell things we need or interest us. (America was a melting pot because immigrants arrived with nothing and had to adapt to the communities they joined. We are not in that situation.)

    (Re the nation state, we are a four-nation state rather a single one and this complicates matters, in my view.)

  118. Simon

    the eBay thinking is probably realistic though my hopes would rather be that the small shopkeeper would survive rather than be overwhelmed by Big Euro Brother.

  119. Sabriam

    Ok – let’s see whether the fresh face is what others want too. I go for the majority feel.

    At the moment it seems to be Clarke.

    Things could yet turnaround though: a week is a long time in politics

  120. Simon, that paragraph was a bit worrying.

    “(America was a melting pot because immigrants arrived with nothing and had to adapt to the communities they joined. We are not in that situation.)” No, here in Britain immigrants arrive and the native population has to adapt to the immigrants!

    Before I go and sing Baa Baa rare breed sheep to my child and draw with her on her chalk board I’d just like to say; don’t worry about being a member of a different political party – it hasn’t worried many a politician and if you look amongst the last few conservative leaders (I liked Hague though) you can do bugger all and earn loadsa money! So the big question is Simon, if it was offered, would you perhaps be willing to compromise your principles or maybe convince yourself this is an opportunuity to use them to sway opinion in time, whilst being seduced by power, fame and filthy lucre?

    [load cackle offstage]

  121. Melissa: “the eBay thinking is probably realistic though my hopes would rather be that the small shopkeeper would survive rather than be overwhelmed by Big Euro Brother.”

    Ironically this is maybe a French concern rather than a British one. Could it be that the obese, junk-food eating populace of GB end up by renaming their country Tescoland, while the French keep their wonderful small food shops, and the German all go over to organics?

    I’ve been wondering about British Euroscepticism. Could it be that it fulfills the same kind of symbolic role as UN-scepticism does in the States? In relation to the Conservative party, could it be that Euroscepticism expresses an unconscious determination to avoid the responsibility of government? Failing, like winning, is often a matter of will.

  122. Jaq:” . . . So the big question is Simon, if it was offered, would you perhaps be willing to compromise your principles or maybe convince yourself this is an opportunity to use them to sway opinion in time, whilst being seduced by power, fame and filthy lucre?

    Right – or was that a question?

    I am going to need an agent to find a by-election etc. Would you accept ‘no win, no fee’? I’m free all next week.

  123. Simon

    >could it be that Euroscepticism expresses an unconscious determination to avoid the responsibility of government

    Yes avoiding having a big brother rule over our parliament and avoiding monopolistic thinking as in Tescoland and the ICIs of this world. The lovely French type shops are in danger of being extinct both here and in France which is a great shame I think.

    I don’t think there is any shirking of responsibility – it is more a desire to keep our Parliament in Westminster strong rather than allow it to become little more than a glorified County Council. Already the Chamber is used a lot less and Parliament is by-passed too much.

    ps I should know the arguments as I was with Dick Body MP when he wrote his book ‘Europe of Many Circles’ – all about keeping a strong Council of Europe and reducing European Parliamentary powers.

  124. Melissa: “I don’t think there is any shirking of responsibility – it is more a desire to keep our Parliament in Westminster strong rather than allow it to become little more than a glorified County Council. Already the Chamber is used a lot less and Parliament is by-passed too much.”

    I would argue that Parliament is bypassed – by the UK government rather than any outside body – because our democracy is weak and unpopular. If (1) the Commons electoral system was reformed, (2) the House of Lords were elected, (3) full powers were given to Holyrood etc., the situation would be entirely different.

    Regarding Europe, Patten makes the point (in his article above) that Norway and Switzerland have denied themselves a vote in Europe but they still have to pay in full. So it would be better to engage actively in Europe to create the kind of future institutions we want, than withdraw and have no power or influence.

  125. Everybody,

    Ken Clarke may be a good potential leader (although I have my doubts), but he is undoubtably going to be too old to be a good Prime Minister. This wil be an issue should he lead the party into an election. We will also see the return of those ghatly Labour ‘remember 1992?’ ads; this is why we need someone new. Davis and Fox seem slimy and scheming; you wouldn’t have them babysit your kids. So its got to be David Cameron – he’s young, talented, politically attractive, open, friendly, and represents the new Conservative party. But we should remember that the Conservatives aren’t a one-man band – whoever becomes leader should make sure that other talented individuals (Boris, Hague, Letwin, Osborne, Willetts, Redwood, Gove, Greening, e.t.c…) get some time in the spotlight, so as to appeal more broadly.

  126. Simon

    As you are so engaging and convincing I will accept what you say with alacrity.

    Not so sure if my innards say the same tho’

  127. BLAMERON etc.

    David Charter has an article in the times entitled “Cameron looks for knockout blow’:

    “David Cameron began his fightback in the Tory leadership contest yesterday by focusing on the man who stands in the way of his ambitions – Kenneth Clarke. The Shadow Education Secretary firmly buried all talk of a dream ticket from the Left of the party with Mr Clarke whom he believes he must knock out of the race in order to get into a final-round showdown with David Davis. . .”,,2-1777620,00.html

    There was also an interesting article by Nick Cohen in August in the New Statesman on the ‘Birth of Blameron’:

    “A mere boy who went to Eton is standing for the leadership of his party on a ticket of “Tory modernism”. Nick Cohen can’t spot the difference from Tony Blair’s old flannel”

  128. Nice article about Cameron! He still has my support. I couldn’t read the New Statesman article because I’m not a subscriber.

    Incidentally it looks like someone’s mucked up the top of the page!

  129. Jack Target

    thank you

    Nuisance now cleared – it’s an occupational hazard seeing these unwelcome trackbacks pop up occasionally

  130. Recent newspaper interviews with Kenneth Clarke and Liam Fox are interesting.

    Kenneth says:

    – he is a localist, not a natural centralist
    – neither himself nor his wife have ever had any kind of make-over and they don’t like to schmooze people
    – although he lives in Nottingham, he is at heart a Notting Hill Tory
    – he talks about one nation conservatism
    – he believes all politicians are arrogant

    Liam says:

    – the Tory Party needs a vision of what Britain should be like
    – if you want something done, do it yourself
    – his is going to be a nice campaign
    – you can judge someone by the people they have around them
    – you should be judged by what you would bring to the country, not where you come from
    – our society is becoming dysfunctional
    – wants to strengthen the tradtional family and reduce the role of the Government
    – he doesn’t want to be in a United States of Europe
    – the war in Iraq was justified
    – he is 43 years old
    – he is getting married in December

  131. There is another amusing piece in the New Statesman (12 Sept.) which I will quote before it disappears:

    Rory Bremner imagines voting Conservative:

    “John Bird has a theory borne out by history: the Tories don’t vote for who they want as leader, they vote against whoever they don’t want. Thus they chose the little-known Margaret Thatcher because they didn’t want Ted Heath. They chose the remarkably unremarkable John Major because they didn’t want Michael Heseltine. They chose the young prodigy William Hague because they still didn’t want Heseltine. They chose Iain Duncan Smith because they didn’t want Michael Portillo or Clarke. They didn’t get a choice with Michael Howard: he appeared overnight (if he’ll pardon the expression). On this form, I wouldn’t discount Theresa May. Or Michael Ancram, who amusingly announced his willingness, after the Tories’ second huge defeat, to stand as “the continuity candidate”. Or, for that matter, Liam Fox.”

  132. Donner:

    The time when the new leader will be decided depends largely on whether the new voting rules are passed. I’m not sure of the exact dates, but there is plenty of time yet. I think if the new rules are passed, the leader will be decided by around November, but if they are not I think it is probably going to be after the new year.

  133. Simon –

    I had to laugh at your agreeing with Patten that Norway and Swtizerland – two of the best run places on earth with the highest standards of living – are somehow losing out by not being in something you call “Europe” by which I think you mean the EU.

    Didn’t you see the recent poll which showed that Norwegians were the happiest people in Europe. Did you not know that they have invested for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM

  134. Field

    I sympathise with your views but fear we may in a supranational tidal wave of thinking. We can in small ways protest by growing our own crooked cucumbers and supporting our dwindling number of local shops, avoiding superstoreland.

    Simon reflects the views of many and must be respected

  135. Simon

    I was interested to read about Rory Bremer saying that we have voted ‘against’ someone as leader. That poses quite a challenge – and the alternative ones ought to be explored

  136. Melissa –

    I’m disappointed. I thought you were a Tory. But it seems you’re not. It seems you believe in “historical inevitability”.

    Strangely, this tide of “supranational thinking” seems to have passed Norway and Switzerland by – and a lot healthier they look for that.

    Actually I’m not against systems of authority beyond the nation state but we need to be very careful about their purpose, their structure and their permanence. The EU seems to me to have no valid purpose, has an undemocratic structure and seeks to establish itself as a permanent state from which we can never secede.

    A Conservative leader appointed as PM should begin the process of establishing our democratic sovereignty. We should have an Act declaring the supremacy of Parliament. (This should also include provision for removal of judges who in the opinion of Parliament fail to implement the Act.)

    We should also move to a referendum system akin to the Swiss so that in future the people of the UK will decide their constitutional fate, not small select groups of politicians.

  137. field: “I had to laugh at your agreeing with Patten that Norway and Swtizerland . . . are somehow losing out by not being in something you call “Europe” by which I think you mean the EU.”

    Did you look at what Patten actually wrote? I’d recommend reading it in its entirety, however here is the passage relevant to your comment:

    “As a European commissioner I was responsible for relations with Norway, Switzerland and the rest. My conclusion was clear. They enjoy all the enhanced sovereignty that comes with staying at home while the decisions that intimately affect their own economic life are made by their neighbours in Brussels. We put a diplomatic gloss on it of course. But to enjoy our market they have to follow our rules: rules which they do not make or share in making. When we enlarged the European Union these outer-ring countries had to pay into the funds that we make available to help the poorer new members. I remember a Swiss negotiator telephoning me to plead that this subscription should be presented as a voluntary donation for development in the deprived parts of Europe, not an additional fee for access to a larger market. But we both knew the truth.”

    I think that passage speaks for itself.

  138. Melissa: “I was interested to read about Rory Bremer saying that we have voted ‘against’ someone as leader. . . .”

    Rory Bremner’s piece was humorous but there’s truth in what he says. Michael Howard deserves a lot of credit for trying to get an election system in place that works. However I don’t know whether it will lead to more positive voting and a better result – even if his reform is successful.

  139. field: “Did you not know that [the Norwegians] have invested for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM £20,000 in a fund for when the oil runs out.”

    We in Scotland are well aware that the Norwegians have an oil fund established for the benefit of the Norwegian people. It’s a sensitive issue because many people think we should have the same thing here – in Scotland.

  140. Field

    No – I am a real and good Conservative ,if such a thing exists, and have always questioned supranational thinking.

    Just because I respect Simon shouldn’t imply that I agree with him all the time

  141. Melissa: As always, you are very kind.

    If we all had the same opinions, there would be nothing to talk about. This forum gives us all a chance to develop our individual ideas. Naturally we diverge, but we also find common ground sometimes.

    I agree on many basic things with you (and Boris!), Macarnie, and many others here (e.g. regarding democracy). However my perspective can be different because I have lived outside Europe for more than half my life.

    I hope I have something useful to say. I have lived and worked in dynamic, highly productive, forward-looking societies which are very different (in terms of attitudes and ideologies) from Britain. I express my views in that context.

  142. I wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time by commenting at all on this brain overloading subject, until I saw the tongue in cheek posting from Jaq; wherein she proposed herself , even though she recanted by withdrawing her nomination instanter.

    Why not, Jaq? She says she has neither time nor real inclination, but , if she stood , on the ticket which she represents, she wouldn?t need to be ashamed of her share in the vote. She is honest; she is devoted to the cause; and she has balls, (sorry Jaq: you know what I mean).

    We have, in the last few years, suffered under the rule of an all forgiving paligarchy, where friends can do no wrong, at least not for extended periods of time, I think that under Kenneth Clarke, the Hush Puppy maestro, the toy party would rally in a manner not seen in many a year. He is a real man; he is politically incorrect;( agreat plus), and he has an aura of honesty about him, which would ,and indeed does , appeal to the widest possible spectrum of the party. Once he were ensconced as a non-divisive leader, the party could go on to be successful again.

    Only from a position of power, can a party hope to reform for the future. For someone to have a successful future , one must have a successful past, and without a respected leader, a successful present is not on the cards.

    Ken Clarke is our man,( but without European integration).

  143. Ken Clarke is not a leader that the party could rally behind. He says (according to the BBC’s little profile thing) that he is not willing to lead a conservative party which is not prepared to occupy the center ground. This may be admirable to some, but I don’t think it’s a position that a fair portion of the party will be willing to adopt. I don’t know much about the Conservative Party, but I get the impression that many would not like or support this position. Certainly it’s not one that I personally would back.

  144. Thanks Simon for supplying such an excellent example of the effects of supranational government. You say that the Scots feel hard done by because they haven’t seen the benefits of their oil. In terms of your supranational ideology though you should be arguing that Scotland enjoys enhanced influence. In fact as far as Scotland goes they are the exception that proves the rule, since indeed their socialistic influence over the Tory-voting English is much greater than vice versa.

    As for the Patten quote, what a merchant of cynicism he is. Does he really think that the Norwegians have less influence over such matters than say EU member Slovenia? Come off it. In any case 90% of what the EU does, Norway would probably do itself anyway, so why bother being part of it, which would involve them in subsidising French farmers and letting the Spanish wipe out their fish?

    We in the UK – a country of 60-million – have hardly any influence over what the EU bureaucracy decide. They are dominated by the interventionist, continental style of government that suits France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Germany, the Benelux countries etc. We aren’t ever going to change that structural outlook.

    Patten should have stuck to lording it over colonial natives – come to think of it, perhaps he still thinks that is his job.

  145. Jack Target: “Ken Clarke . . . is not willing to lead a conservative party which is not prepared to occupy the center ground. . . . I don’t think it’s a position that a fair portion of the party will be willing to adopt.”

    Jack, how exactly is the Conservative Party going to present itself to the electorate, as a potential future government, without appealing to the centre? The centre is where most of the votes are. The centre represents the views of the average voter.

    If the Tory party pitches itself to the right of the average voter, then it will not be elected. This is important. If the Tory party had not commanded the centre, the Macmillan, Heath and Thatcher governments would never have been possible.

    Macarnie (above), unlike me, is a real Conservative. He understands this very well, however many other Tories who have taken part in this debate would evidently prefer to see the Tories as a niche party fulfilling some kind of extra-political social role. Surely this is folly!

    Since 1997 we have seen Blair and New Labour pushing the Conservatives progressively to the right – with their co-operation! Ironically Labour is now considerably more authoritarian and right wing than previous Conservative governments. Blair has been interested in only one thing – power – and he’s been handed it by an ineffectual Tory party.

  146. Field: “your supranational ideology . . .”

    I don’t have a ‘supranational ideology’. It demeans the debate to put labels on people. I wouldn’t dream of referring to ‘your UKIP ideology’ or anything like that.

    Field: “Patten should have stuck to lording it over colonial natives . . .”

    Patten tried to reverse years of authoritarian British administration in Hong Kong by encouraging democratic institutions. I know something about this: I lived there for 6 years. (Incidentally, Hong Kong reverted to China in 1997.)

  147. Simon

    I honestly don’t see why we should be changing our views to appeal to more people. It might just be because I’m young and inexperienced I realise, but to me it’s a ridiculous idea. It seems to me that if we believe what we say, we should be trying to convince others to follow suit, not sacrifice our views to match up with ones we think are wrong.

    I will concede an exception at the moment. When you have such a destructive Prime Minister, an effective opposition would have been essential, and only for that reason would I support us putting our own opinions on hold so as to appeal to a wider audience.

  148. Just read an interview with M Rifkind in the paper. Sounds quite good

    All these candidates sound excellent in parts and now with Willetts going for Davis it seems to be more of a two man race: Clarke and Davis

    We must rally behind the winner with all enthusiasm when the moment of truth comes

  149. Bang on the button, Simon: Rifkind, no matter what his strengths might be , is not the bruiser type needed to oust this posturing Republican puppet and his motley crew of cloned politically correct women, each intent on cramming a 10 minute party manifesto speech into 3.5 minutes.

    Frankly; if the present Tory Party indecisiveness goes on much longer; it might well be too late to allow a rallying of the troops for the next election.It might not be as far away as one thinks. The tortuous way in which the labour Party thinks ,or even acts, leaves the exact meaning of the Bliar’s avowed intention to serve a full term in a pretty opaque shadow. ( Work it out for yourself).
    It has to come to an end, and the sooner the better. An example of the oleagenousness of Mandolinechen, faced with the combined ire of the council of ministers ofthe EU members; he cobbles together an agreement to allow excess goods into the EU, under the fallacious excuse that we would be short of cheap bras and knickers for Chistmas.( A load of cobblers in fct) Does he think that China will stop production of these articles for next year? If it were not an insult to an eel, I would liken his wriggling to one .( perhaps a limbo dancer, then).
    And now that beacon of propriety , the leading policemans’ bullyboy friend ;David Blunkett, is alleged to have tried to interfere with the times of the A level examination releases , in order to benefit his son(?)

    Come on Ken! Light another panatella , and get on the your horse, we have a race to win.

  150. Simon –

    Just shorthand really. I could have said “your arguments in favour of us abandoning most if not all of our traditional sovereignty in order to reap the alleged benefits of turning ourselves into subejcts of a supranational authority where unelected civil servants enjoy the power of legislative initiative”. I thought “supranational ideology” was a fair precis.

    I notice you don’t address the argument regarding Scotland. Your whinge about the oil (not all yours by the way – England would have had a third to half under international boundary law which would follow the trend of the land boundary) undermined your case precisely because the UK is a kind of supranational authority, but one I support because it is fundamentally democratic and enjoys the broad support of the people.

    You clearly were arguing the benefits of a supranational approach. To try and label my views “UKIP” when they enjoy majority support in the people and I am sure in the Conservative Party is not very constructive but typical of the Kenneth Clarke approach which is to label such mainstream views as somehow “on the fringe”. The truth is the UK could walk out of the EU tomorrow and any negative effects would be very marginal. The only reason for staying in is if we want to be part of a federal United States of Europe. If we do, all well and good. But I don’t think we do.

  151. Since those oilfields which are in UK waters, were exploited long before the partial devolution of Scotland, they were UK property , so to speak , and therefore , properly not exclusively Scottish at all.

    When,( if) you( the SNP), come to power, in a Scotland recognized as a totally separate entity, and only then , can there be talk of that portion of the oilfields, being in exclusively Scottish waters, being classified as Scottish oil.

    Scotland has , in any case , benefitted , not exactly insubstantially , from the oil boom years, and now that the crude price is sufficient to allow for the remaining, up to now non-feasible; really deepwater; reserves to be exploited, perhaps the boom will some day return.

  152. Field: “I could have said “your arguments in favour of us abandoning most if not all of our traditional sovereignty in order to reap the alleged benefits of turning ourselves into subjects of a supranational authority . . . “. I thought “supranational ideology” was a fair precis.”

    You are entitled to quote me, but you are not entitled to rewrite my opinions for your own purposes.

    True democrats always respect the language used by their opponents. The method of appropriating words and their definitions, sticking labels on people, and putting words in their mouths – is totalitarian.

  153. Macarnie: “When, (if) you (the SNP), come to power, in a Scotland recognized as a totally separate entity, and only then , can there be talk of that portion of the oilfields, being in exclusively Scottish waters, being classified as Scottish oil.”

    Is the operative word here ‘talk’ or ‘classified’? That could be understood in two difference ways. Of course, if there is independence, many things will be changed and re-classified, but I see no reason why we can’t talk about things now – except that we are getting off topic here. We should really be talking about the Tory leadership contest!

  154. Simon : I did not introduce the subject of oil: you did !

    In an exchange with Field, on said,
    “We in Scotland are well aware that the Norwegians have an oil fund established for the benefit of the Norwegian people. It’s a sensitive issue because many people think we should have the same thing here – in Scotland.”

    As for the dscussion being about the possibility of there ever being a choice of leader for the Coservative Party, it would seem that just about everyone in the party has been nominated by someone or other in this marathon debate, but there is, as yet, no overwhelming favourite.

    Despite the obvious disadvantage, ( according to the young , inexperienced wing of the Party), of his, “greatly advanced”, age, Ken Clarke is many times more experienced than a lot of the others.

    Churchill did not come into his own until he was nearly 66, and in times of emergency ,( and this is one of them), a wise, less impetuous head is a great asset. Churchill had , at one time , embraced Liberal policies, and was a much better informed Conservative because of it.

    Clarke at one time embraced the EU federalist cause I believe: I think he is now a better informed, and indeed reformed politician because of that. An analogy: in short, sow the seeds of a revival in Tory fortunes by tilling the ground along with Ken. When the crop begins to grow and prosper, he can retire;become a gentleman farmer, and let a new,by now wiser, younger man, take over.
    The cream of the crop! Ken Clarke.

  155. Macarnie said: “I did not introduce the subject of oil: you did !”

    Au contraire, it was Field who asked the question: “Did you not know that (Norway) have invested . . . in a fund for when the oil runs out.”

    I heartily concur with the rest of your message. Despite his age, Ken Clarke seems to be the most vigorous of all the candidates and the best with the media!

    However the question remains. Do the Tories _seriously_ want to compete in the arena of British (or English!) politics, or would they prefer to remain a niche party. Losing, like winning seems (to me) to be a matter of volition (Melissa disagrees on this point!).

  156. Thanks Mac, but I would only stand if you agreed to be Home Secretary. What position in the cabinet would you like?

    I agree with your Ken Clarke aregument but the Europe issue is a real sticking point for me and I think one for the rest of the country too.

    I don’t understand what this debate about left or right is and where the next leader should stand. What an effective opposition should do is find out what the public wants and considers important, find out what problems exist, find solutions and sell them to the public. That’s it.

    I think they all should concentrate on the words ‘current administration’ rather than ‘in power’ and they might all do their job better.

  157. I did say, ” in an exchange with Field”, Simon; not that it makes much difference in the scheme of things.

    When I look at the desert of choice of outstanding politicians today, not only for the Conservative Party, I could almost weep. At least one can thank whichever choice of Deity which one may have, we don’t have anyone,of any party, (despite what I just said ),quite as dire as the current US Pres.

  158. Jaq you’re right I suppose, that is what an opposition should do, it’s just that I think of the party not as “the opposition” but as “the Conservative Party”. Government isn’t just about the conflict between the current administration and the opposition; if Labour somehow managed to propose a good policy, then I would like us to support it, not oppose it simply because we’re the opposition and it’s what we do.

    There is already a system in place for ‘finding out what the public wants and considers important, finding out what problems exist, finding solutions and selling them to the public’ – generally known as an election. I think we should be trying to get more people to vote so that the system works the way it should, rather than having it work miserably and the opposition then attempting to pick up the pieces. As such it is not the opposition’s job to try and figure out what the people want and then to use it to become the “current administration”, it’s their job to stand up for the principles and policies on which they were elected themselves.

    I really don’t want Ken Clarke elected, because I then have to choose between supporting a leader who’s policies I don’t support, for the sake of the party, or else sticking to my own principles and not supporting him, in which case I become part of the problem the Conservatives have been wrestling with for ages. I realise that nobody else will actually care how I deal with my problem, but I would, and I’d rather not have to face it.

  159. Let’s not weep and hope for a miracle person who would turn out to be a Grand Leader and Champion for All

    Hope springs eternal – why Jack Target, even Ken Clarke might change his Euro views. After all, if it is him eventually and he ends up as PM he would steer the country in a direction more to your approval and liking than the current administration – am I right in this assumption? If so, we have to go Blue all the way and overlook certain aspects in the interests of overall push to Conservative power and influence in this country and beyond.

    So – are you going for a true blue leader?

  160. Jack Target: you say you are young and inexperienced: don’t apologise for that; everyone has to start somewhere.
    One thing your remarks lead me to believe, and that is your apparent lack of consideration of the term,’Team Spirit’.

    We cannot; each individual; go hell for leather at a subject just because it’s high on our own personal agenda: the Party line comes first, and our own pet projects must take second place. One strong leader is all it takes to bind the Party together, internecine bickering will ,as the term implies, kill it off. The reports of the Party’s demise , as Mark Twain almost said , are grossly exaggerated.

    You appear to think that the party in opposition is there merely to oppose whatever the Government wants to achieve: this is patently not the case, the Opposition is there more as a ‘checks and balances’ mechanism, where governmental ideas are weighed, and if found wanting, opposed: but where ‘good’ governmental ideas are supported. The party, whether in Government or Opposition must have the support of all its followers, or it loses all credibility.

    I believe that is the situation in which the Labour Party finds itself: trouble is; Bliar hasn’t realised it yet, due to the remaining; self generated ;all encompassing rose coloured mist, through which he peers.

    Jaq: Thanks for the kind offer.
    My preferred place in any cabinet is on the top shelf, hiding behind all the other mere ornaments. A little like a particularly ugly Toby jug.
    I’m afraid my brand of Conservatism is a bit rich for some; I still contribute to the hang ’em and flog ’em school, ( well maybe not quite so strong as that), but without positive punitive measures, how do the erstwhile regulating powers regain control, and with control ,respect; with hands and feet fettered as they are?

  161. Simon

    quite something to see nearly 200 comments! Hero of Blogosphere – thanks to all our wonderful commentators

  162. Jack Target: “Government isn’t just about the conflict between the current administration and the opposition; if Labour somehow managed to propose a good policy, then I would like us to support it” – hell yes but they’re not doing that in my opinion. I’m not a member of the conservative party I’m a floating voter. It just so happened that Stanley Johnson caught my vote this time ’round, with help I may add from my local Labour candidate.

    Gotta take issue with “There is already a system in place for ‘finding out what the public wants and considers important, finding out what problems exist, finding solutions and selling them to the public’ – generally known as an election” ’cause in my opinion that’s not what happened. (chip in if you will Mac) An election votes on the solutions presented to the public. You presume there’s been the process I described beforehand but in the last election all Howard kept going on about was how crap Bliar was. We wanted to know what he was going to do to solve this mess not keep telling us something we already knew. And WHAT a stupid tag line: Are you thinking what we’re thinking? What? you’re gonna loose again? NO DIRECTION in that question, NO STRONG GUIDING MESSAGE, it was crap, really bloody awful and weak – what a great advertisement for the Conservative Party. It should have been simple, positive and with direction like ‘Time for a change, vote conservative’ Honestly I could do better myself.

    Did anyone ask you what was important to you? Labour asked me but the conservatives did sod all where I live. It took a Conservative PPC 200 miles away to bother to secure my vote. He did and I voted Conservative. Maybe if the whole party followed his lead and stiopped posturing amongst themselves they’d have a chance of winning the next election. Right now I get the impression most people are past caring. People feel disenfrachised from the political process. They need a strong leader, Mac’s right.

    You gotta laugh at the prospect of placing all your hopes of a happy and secure society in the hands of men who’ve gone from nanny to matron to wife. Maybe Anne Widdecombe should be considered.

  163. @ and Mac:

    I do indeed care that he’s pro-europe, although I mind more about his position in BAT. But the main problem I have with Ken Clarke is the way he talks, he seems only to think about how to win elections, and makes no mention of his own views really. Contrast this to Cameron or any of the other candidates. This has 2 effects, firstly it makes me doubt his integrity (even more than I do for most politicians – except Boris!), and secondly it makes me doubt where I’m putting my trust, since I have no way of knowing what he’ll do if he gets the leadership, except for try his hardest to try and get us back into power.

    You’re right that when compared to Blair I would prefer Clarke, but that’s really not saying much. If he does become leader then I will certainly give him a fair chance, and if he proves my opinion wrong then he’ll certainly have my support. But since he’s not the leader yet, and this is a discussion on the possible candidates, I think it ok to be frank about my opinion of him!


    Your words on opposition are in perfect accord with my views, sorry if I didn’t express myself clearly!


    You’re right that the campaign last election was not very well done… and the slogan was rubbish. Nobody spoke to me, but then I was a student at one of the least Tory universities in the Country (ironically enough, the same one that David Davis comes from), and so trying to gather support where I was would have been a waste of time.

    We really do need to revive interest in voting for the process to work… but it is hard to see how.

  164. I don’t think it would have been a waste of time – you were there! I spent time with Boris before the election but I’ve never had any invite from my local candidate. That’s one of the reasons I’m so impressed with Boris – he’s inclusive and seems genuinely interested in politics and ‘the cause’ rather than just himself. He was out knocking doors! In a safe seat! I have pictures!

  165. PS: I’ve been thinking of comparisons between fan sites and this blog. On fansites you often have a user profile where readers can see what job you do, what age you are, etc. Often you can include a picture next to your pseudonym and I wondered what it would be like here. I think it would be interesting as we seem to have comments from all ages and voters. I know we have a pensioner and a single mum, a lawyer and a secretary, a student and several yuppies. Would it be the Blog hall of fame or ‘The Usual Suspects’? User profiles or readers wives? Hmmm, on second thoughts I’m sure it’s better left the way it is, with just our own words to draw our character.

  166. To borrow a little from our recent rare win at cricket: If big bluff Ken , who J T tells us is AOK with BAT , why don’t we give him the ball and let him bowl the blighter now ar No10, out. All we need is one good innings , and those in the Field will have to work very hard to get us out. Bags I Ref’s job; I’ll raise a stiff finger, ( or two), to Bliar any time.

  167. Melissa: Congratulations on the DOUBLE CENTURY!

    I think we should book you on the US lecture circuit: “How I brought Internet Democracy to Westminster, England by Ms M Crawshay-Williams”, “Exponential development of large political online audiences by Ms M Crawshay-Williams” etc etc.

    But from us a salute to the doyenne of PPS-dom!
    The unrivalled muse of blog commenters!

  168. Jack Target: “the main problem I have with Ken Clarke is the way he talks, he . . . makes no mention of his own views really”

    I think you misunderstand him. There is probably no active politician on the Tory side who has made such a substantial body of speeches as Clarke – on the economy, on foreign affairs (including Iraq) and on constitutional reform.

    You can check this out for yourself on:

    This page gives his voting record etc. and links to biographical pages.

    In my view, Ken Clarke is a man of massive common sense who represents the real historic mainstream of the Conservative party. Hence his sound judgement on Iraq (unlike the majority of his party), his support for an elected House of Lords, and his positive approach to engagement with Europe and the world beyond.

  169. Blimey that’s an extensive site! It looks very interesting, and over the next couple of days I’ll go through it in detail for the main contenders, should be an enlightening read. Thanks for pointing it out, once I have a more informed decision I’ll return to the debate.

  170. Perspective: We are not hyping up a prospective President here, unlike elsewhere , We need a leader of a PARTY, and we need that party to have a theme: a theme which will attract the most ” Don’t knows”. Too long have the don’t knows and waverers had the laissez faire attitude of , “If it ain’t broke, don’t pay the plumber”. And their political inactivity has allowed the present state of affairs to stagnate. The Labour Party is arrogantly les to believe that what it does , or does not do, is to the Publics’ taste

    The trouble is that it IS broke, it’s morally and politically bankrupt, let alone broke: by it , of course I mean the Labour party

  171. Simon, re. the double century – steady on lovely I feel lunch comming up.

    On finding out what the public want – I sent a letter to Thatcher and received a reply. I tried to contact Labour central office and was shown the door. William Hagues leadership was kind enough to listen also, or at the very least be polite. We’ve since found that Labour had a department of dirty tricks going ’round the country. Lies and deceit.

    To find out what people want, politicians could do worse than read this blog. Whatever the subject or guidance from above or she-who-must-be-obeyed, the commenters discuss what they will, what’s important to them. If you look at the thread ‘In Defence of the Male Sex’ (?) you’re discussing Ireland, religion, all sorts. So it must be that people DO want to tell someone what’s important to them. The public DO want to be engaged in politics if they thought someone, somewhere would listen.

    Thankyou Boris for the blog!

  172. Jaq

    all you say makes perfect sense – have taken note of your earlier comments too re the profile idea

  173. Simon

    Am totally delighted that the number has got up to a double century. All credit to you. It is a privilege to have such genuinely interesting commentators who volunteer fascinating facts and views and who are invariably helpful and go beyond normal expectations.

    We have high hopes for the future hand in hand with you all.

    Boris Johnson’s Office

  174. Melissa – tell me you didn’t take the ‘Readers Wives’ idea seriously 🙂 I’m sure I could ferret out a picture in basque and suspenders or even naked on a Harley if you’re going to make a Bozzas Babes (haha) photo album but on one condition……you first!

  175. Jaq

    There could be room for a category on steadfast contributors’ profiles – you of course would be up there in the top group

    We value your input, however risqué at times

  176. You will never see me in a basque , naked or otherwise, but, if Ken can promise to address the following,I might be persuaded.

    Of course Jaq was right, when she complained about the lack of width of the choices offered by the parties in their manifestos at election times.

    A Party’s manifesto is, of necessity, restricted to mere broad strokes, with an extremely broad brush. There is a conflict of priorities; those favoured by the parties are not necessarily what the public would like to have seen to be addressed., but the public is not approached for its views, rather the views of non elected apparatchik lackeys, the numbers of which increase quicker than myxomatosis-free members of a rabbit warren, are gathered and promulgated as democratic choices.[ now that IS a clumsy sentence, but you know what I mean]

    Government, in a democracy, should be about what the common folk; the electorate; wish to have acted upon, and not what a few redirected lawyers and accountants think they are in a position to do , in the name of an unsuspecting public.

    When the Government is about to do something it suspects will be very unpopular with the public, we get the inevitable softener to counteract the rather unpleasant medicine :” Give ’em a sweetener, it’ll go down then”. For example the latest was , ” Give the pensioners £200.00 against their next Council Tax Payment; they are too decrepit to notice the much heavier blow when we change the Council Tax bands” . This unnecessary and expensive experiment in figure shuffling will only end in pushing more pensioners into an early grave: (shame about that , but they were going to die anyway).
    This is a caring Government? My arse.

    A democratically elected Government may only go as far in any direction as the public is willing to allow it to go, and it will take the consequences if it oversteps the mark. In my opinion, the present Government has overstepped its remit many times, without any marked reaction from a generally bamboozled, and in many cases dispirited public: spin and downright misinformation has cast its spell, and we are the Trilby to the Svengali of the Treasury .

    Profligate spending at all levels of Government has gone unchecked, hidden in the gobbledegook of bull dust interviews and loony leftist schemes to spend ever increasing amounts of our money, on hair brained PC projects, and of course on buying in more freelance spin , with which to make us dizzy.

    I have said it before, and it will stand repeating: this Government is held in power by the “Pauls” of this world, whom the Government pay from the spoils of their robberies from the “Peters” of this world. ( BTW ; a peter is the underworld name for a safe, how apt ! )There is no way that the “Pauls” will vote for their golden goose to get the axe.

    The Labour beanstalk will flourish on its own bull manure: for the Pauls, it’s permanent Christmas, ( what a pantomime! Look out , here come the ugly sisters, Christina and Petra: they’re left behind you).

    We don’t want another pantomime, we want a new Nativity of the Conservative Party; a rebirth of government without spin.

  177. Mac, you are first-rate (am with you on that Jaq)

    the Conservatives will be in high spirits following their Party Conference in two weeks time too. We will be sanctifying a true blue Leader! (all fingers crossed)

  178. Melissa:
    Only two weeks and a bit to the great unveiling. I hope and trust that when unveiled, the new Leader is not half as controversial as the new statue , blessed by the Mayor, Red Ken, in Trafalgar Square.
    Whilst it has something to say on the courage , (or foolhardiness), of a disabled woman, it has nothing to say in terms of the general theme of the remainder of the statuary with which it now shares an international meeting point. It ranks as high, in my opinion,in terms of taste and artistic merit, somewhere below that of the ” Unmade Bed” by Tracy Emin.

  179. Mac

    Odd that statue – makes me squirm but perhaps it is my shortcoming that I should find it unsettling

  180. It is not the shortcomings of the beholder which is so distasteful Melissa, quite the reverse. I fail to see any reason for the inclusion of this statue,in ANY collection, as having an artistic meaning.

    If art is the conscious use of skill and creativity in the production of something aesthetically pleasing, where is the art, either in showing an unmade bed, or a disabled woman, or a shark in preserving fluid?

    The Roman Empire drowned in the effluent of its own decadence: please somebody , throw us a life preserver, before we follow suit.

  181. Mac

    Good warning …. call a doctor to set us right as a nation…or not…

    From Private Eye this week:

    A Doctor writes:

    As a doctor, I’m often asked, “Doctor, is the Tory Party dead?”

    Whilst the symptoms all indicate that the party has long since ceased to exist, with no brain activity recorded for several years, it is possible that the party is merely in a coma and could be revived with a large shock to the system.

    This could be achieved by an extremely unlikely figure being made leader of the party, such as myself, in which case the party could wake up and ask, “Who on earth are you?”.

    If you are worried about Ken Clarke being leader, you should vote for your doctor at once.

    © Dr L Fox

  182. Dear Dr. Fox:P If I were to wake from my present comatose state , (semi moribund, is more the description some would give), and find you as leader of the Conservatives, I suppose I would , however reluctantly,have to accept the fact.

    However, IF the Tory Party were a ship of the line,( which description at present does not fit), short merely of a figurehead, one fashioned in English oak; an effigy of substance, exuding a personality, behind which the crew could muster, confident of winning any battle , I would have to say,”Your oak is not yet sufficiently seasoned”,whereas that of Ken Clarke is.

  183. Ken Clarke’s unusually detailed speech “The Governance of Britain in the 21st Century is online at:

    Some quotes:

    “I believe that the way the Blair Government has been conducted has been wrong in itself and has done profound damage to the integrity and credibility of our political system”

    “Mr Blair has the poorest voting record of any peacetime Prime Minister since Winston Churchill in the early 1950s, who was kept away by ill-health.”

    “If we needed any further evidence of Mr Blair’s indifference to Parliament it came with the proposals for reform of the House of Lords. He did not want a second chamber that would have the credibility to challenge anything his government did. For him that meant a wholly appointed House, consisting in part of former Labour MPs despatched in ermine to the Upper House in order to make way for New Labour apparatchiks in need of a safe Commons’ seat.”

  184. Thank you Simon for the lead in to Kenneth Clarke’s speech.

    He is saying in much more detail , precisely what I, and others, have been saying for a long time. Everything about this speech points, at least to me, and other like minded individuals, to the inevitability of Kenneth Clarke’s assumption of the cloak of responsibility: the leadership of the Coservative Party.

    His reasoning is clear , his political direction is clear, and his path to the leadership, as far as can be seen , is clear. I give you, ladies and gentlemen; The Conservative Party’s Renaissance Man: Ken Clarke.

    Here is a man of substance,a no nonsense man with substantial goals, who , (providing there is not the possibility of scoring an own goal in the shape of bending towards federalism and the thereto necessary single currency), has my vote.

  185. Perhaps at this point I might give a FINAL TALLY of blogoshere commenter votes for the next leader of the Conservative Party?

    The votes are:

    KEN CLARKE 7 (supported by Macarnie, Murk, Paul, MarkGammon, Gert, Bryan, and Simon Holledge)

    DAVID CAMERON 3 (supported by Sabriam Murk, Pete, and Jack Target)

    [No votes for David Davis, Malcolm Rifkind, Theresa May or Liam Fox.]

    Of the non-candidates, appropriately our own Boris Johnson got 6 votes (jaq, Smylers, jo cottingham, John East, Lee, Field) and Ann Widdecombe got 2 (Lucy, Jack).

  186. Ok, I admit, Ken Clarke does speak well. He’s clearly identified the problem, and his solutions seem to be good too. This does contrast with Davis and Cameron (from their speeches), neither of whom seem to be focussing on the right causes or best solutions, and it is reminiscent of today’s typical politics of advertising.

    Clarke’s seems to be more sincere, and more mature. Clearly with a stronger backing of experience too.

    If any of the 3 are chosen then they’ll have my backing, and given the chance to vote I would probably choose Clarke.

    However, I want to hear what Boris has to say about why he’s going for Cameron, tell us Boris!

  187. Imagine; if this were the European Song pie fight, and Simon were Terry Wogan, the only viable comparison for Foxy would be that of the Norwegian entry some time ago: nul points.

    So:Norwegian spruce V English oak. The spruce , as we all know, is a soft wood, and appears in public at Christmas time, to be CTWPB shortly afterwards. Compare this with the oak:a permanent feature in the landscape. Voila! -No contest.

  188. Macarnie: Hmm. Never thought of myself as Wogan . . . maybe a first time for everything.

    Up here, surrounded by the Trossachs Forestry Commission Queen Elizabeth Park, we are keen to remove the Norwegian and Sitka spruce from the landscape to allow indigenous species like the oak and Scots pine to flourish in all their glory, and provide a basis for the renewal of the whole natural ecosystem.

    A metaphor for the Tory party?

  189. The all time favourite area for me Simon.Whenever I visited, and it was often,we stayed at (for me), a very aptly named motel,in Aberfoyle: run, and well run at that, by an Italian family.
    The tree population, ( for which I blame the reafforestation tax relief schemes , once so popular with television stars), did seem a little weighted towards the quicker growing soft woods, but I am sure that with the right guidance , coupled with time, the oaks and other indigenous hardwood trees will make a strong comeback. As will, as per your metaphor, the Conservative Party.

  190. Macarnie: The remnants of the Scots pine dominated ancient Caledonian forest are the most beautiful temperate woodland I’ve ever seen and it’s full of wild life. (Ironically the spruce plantations are apparently not very profitable anyway.)

    Apologies for wandering into Arcadia and off topic, but since I already have may I also mention that I am looking for two or three VOLUNTEERS for a (non-commercial) PODCASTING related project (basically a learning experience). Broadband is essential – there are no other qualifications. My email is Simon (dot) Holledge (at) skakagrall (dot) com.

    Macarnie: Perhaps you could also give me the address of the Italian motel via the address above?

  191. Things are getting very serious here at present:without wishing to trivialise the debate I find that there is a marked lack of Kevin B in this forum. Is a search party necessary? All exits from Whitehall are to be closely monitored, until a sign of life is observed.

    Should the Shardik of No.11 indeed take on the long slavered-over Joseph’s coat of many colours at present worn by the ersatz president, there should be much in the way of entertaining debate in the House.

    I can’t wait for the lampooners to go to town on Gordon’s lower lip swivelling characteristics. An academic,amongst other learned tomes , he wrote ” Where there is greed and values”, and he should know, he advocates State greed up until this day.More stealth taxes are in the pipeline; it seems there always are.He reminds me of the nursery rhyme , ” Four and twenty blackbirds” where the King is in the counting house. It lacks only the title Gordon I Rex.

    Ken Clarke would be , probably ,the only one with enough experience to deal with the stealth of his pickpocketing ways.

    In observing Brown’s progress, I believe I can detect something of the reasons why Dickens, with his journalistic knowledge of Victorian London ;wrote the Fagin and Heep characters, when I observe the hand wringingly ‘sincere’ way he approaches fiscal problems. His character epitomises a combination of Uriah Heep and Fagin . He is , like oysters, not to my taste, but then , I never needed oysters either.

    Kenneth Clarke is a seasoned barrister, a bruiser, with much skill in infighting.I look forward to the future contests between, in the blue corner Ken PM : and, in the red corner, Gordon: leader of HM opposition. The best man will win.

  192. Mac

    I noticed a distinct lack of Kevin too – at least a couple of weeks.

    *Come along KevinB: we’ve clearly been missing you m8*

  193. David Davis talk in Tunbridge Wells today.

    He alighted from a helicopter in the grounds of the Spa Hotel – then spent an hour talking to tv and other members of the press. 150 Conservatives had lunch and then DD went round all the tables to chat in sotto voce. His talk was at around 2.30pm and by then a number in the audience were completely with heads lolled to one side in a zizz. Now what I wonder caused this.. something must have been very b-o-r-i-n-g…

  194. Probably, like many other families, The B family may have had to opt for a latish holiday.. He’ll be back.

  195. Cameron sounds OK. I might join if he won (and I’m only 50). Maybe Iraq was a mistake, but the democracy-as-the-solution idea had to be tried. Otherside it’s the clash of civilisations.

  196. At the risk of sounding like a right-wing Tony Benn, I think this, like all previous leadership contests, is a distraction from the Conservative Party’s serious ideological problems.

    Labour has stolen the clothes of the “One Nation” pragmatic Conservatives, albeit only as fancy dress to conceal the usual nonsense. In marketing terms, differentiation is the problem. Yet, the current candidates all seem afraid to differentiate themselves from Blair, whom they mistakenly regard as a political genius.

    However unhappy the voters are with Labour, they are unlikely to replace it with Labour wannabes.

    In our Parliamentary democracy, we depend on the Opposition to hold the Government to account and to impede its authoritarian tendencies. If we had a written consitution, we could laugh at the Conservatives’ impotence on our way to the Supreme Court to have the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 and other abominations struck down. As we don’t the Conservatives’ failings are a threat to us all.

    They are betraying our democracy by not providing an electable alternative. If they had some equivalent of Sir Keith Joseph to provide intellectual capital, it would matter less that they lacked a leader of Thatcher’s calibre.

    Boris is sadly unelectable as leader of the Conservative Party, but so was Keith Joseph – perhaps even more so. Actually their air of bafflement is quite similar and conceals, in both cases, a good intellect and sound political instincts.

    When the history of the Thatcher era is written, I think Keith Joseph and his Centre for Policy Studies will be seen as having been more influential than the Iron Lady herself. There is a role for Boris here, if he will lay aside his cap and bells for a year or so.

    The leadership candidates should keep quiet until they have agreed a common political programme. Then they should ask their party who among them is best able to present that programme to the Nation.

    The present fiasco makes it look like the Conservative Party believes whatever the most electable leadership candidate believes. If the electorate actually wanted unprincipled, spin-doctor driven, bullshit, New Labour would have a better brand. Personally, I think it is ready for some intellectual honesty and hard poltical principles.

  197. This seems to have died the same death as the leadership struggle itself. We haven’t even got to the final method of who has the final say in the choice of leader, whoever he / she might be.

    Is it beyond the imagination to suppose that one day ,perhaps, Theresa May could be Dyna Mite?

    If that doesn’t elicit a response , I give up .

  198. And the news is: no change in the election of leader system!

    From the Conservative Party press release:

    >Commenting, the Conservative Party Chairman, Francis Maude said:

    “I think it was very important for the whole Party to have the chance to look at the leadership rules before electing a new leader. Both MPs and the voluntary party have had that opportunity to do that – and they’ve decided to stick with the old system. It’s been a worthwhile debate and we’ll now get on with electing a new leader – hopefully in early December.”

  199. True enough Mac! let’s see how it all goes from here

    Simon is moving home at the moment so we are momentarily deprived of his thoughts

  200. Heard this AM that David Davis is visiting the Land of his Fathers to speak to the Tory faithful. That should be a short tour

  201. I see the Labour voters are having their conferences , debt consolidation and selling your birthright for a mess of potage being as it seems from the last 3 entries, high on the agenda.All of these are for Gordy bot to sort out. [Ed: unwanted spam now deleted Mac]

  202. There is a resounding feeling around those I know in favour of K Clarke stepping in as leader. I hadn’t supported him especially in any of his previous attempts but I do now.

    Let’s see how the race develops – we must be ready for whomever ends up as leader

  203. He is , in my opinion, the only one ( at present) with enough experience and pure , from the shoulder punching power , that the party will listen to. He has not , as far as I know , used tired Labour inspired rhetoric to say what he would expect for, and from, the Party, and in this case , a gopopd politician, like a good wine, needs time to mature: it’s time to open the bottle , while we have an acceptable wine menu.

  204. Of course we have to accept with recent stats showing that only 16% of party members under 45 and probably a disproportionate number (though not exclusivly) using this board, It is the silent majority that will carry the election. Ken Clarke probably has a majority on this board but David Davis carries the associations. It not the way I would want it but I’d imagine with the rule change not going through he is quietly confident.

  205. george f: If there is to be total reliance on the blue rinse girls , of course they will not pick the best qualified , he will be judged by his pecs and six pack magnetism. Another term in the Negev stares us in the face.

  206. Ken Clarke: Old school,knows what’s required. People feel more at ease with,what and,who they know.
    David Davis:Unfortunately has something of a Robert Kilroy Silk look about him, has also taken to handing out ‘trendy’ rubber wrist bands,which smacks of desperation. Not someone the public would feel at ease with.
    David Cameron: Seems like a really nice young chap. ‘Young’being the opporative word. Has some very sound ideas but feel it’s not the right time for him yet. Definately one to watch for the future though

  207. Karen: you appear to know wht’s what: let’s hope the party faithful are as positive as you. K.C., King’s Council: the only council for the defence.
    Le Roi est mort ! Vive le Roi!

  208. Wasn’t Blair the same age as Cameron when he came into power?

    Look at his honey moon period!

    I still think Clarke is the way to go though. I think his slightly more liberal attitude, and the fact that he “know’s whats required” – as Karen said – will appeal to voters returning to Tory or that are new to Tory.

  209. It’s been a great conference so far. K Clarke made me laugh in the conference hall yesterday. He was saying he hoped to be leader and then..: “Boy you’ve kept me waiting!” he exclaimed. We were crying out in the hope he would be given a chance and actually get the job this time

  210. A lot of the power to make that come true lies in the hands of his fellow MPs, and after that , the blue rinse brigade and all . Fingers crossed.In the words ( nearly) of that almost ancient song:
    “KC would dance with the strawberry blonde , and the band played on”. Let’s hope the band does play on his parade.

  211. I have been very much Clarke up to now but Cameron looks like he might actually be a realistic challenger I’m tempted.

  212. Dear Boris,
    Can’t believe you are so forthright behind Cameron. He put the toff in turnoff.
    I find it a bit arrogant that he’s standing for leadership at such a tender age. His speech – as usual- something and nothing. Unfathomable superrhetoic. Am I the only the person who thinks of a new car salesman or estate agent (Park Lane admittedly).
    Know this is a bit negative but not much of a CV either. Special advisor to Norman Lamont during Black Wednesday, and director of Corporate affairs
    at Carlton Communications at the age of 29. I worked at Central TV in Birmingham, a great tv powerhouse when they were consumed by Carlton in
    1993(a publishing company??!), asset stripped and subsequently went on to make programmes no one wanted to watch!
    Why are we going for a Blair clone when Labour are chucking one out.
    Boris naturally would be refreshing, but I think Liam Fox is the only person who can reach out to the wider public.
    Kind regards,
    David Howe.

  213. A word to the wise, if the wise are listening.
    The public are crying out for the Tory party to get their act together. They kept you in power all those years until it all went badly wrong and they decided that they had no choice but to teach you a lesson. Dear god, you should have learnt your lesson by now. For gods sake stop faffing around and pick a leader who can actually lead. For too long you have made the mistake of trying to (for want of a better term)sex up the tory party,become trendy. Forget it. The british public don’t want trendy. They don’t want a mirror image of Labour.
    Remember, ‘New Labour’same old problems.
    So please, please vote wisely. I’m sure that David Davis is a very nice man, but he’s no leader. As for David Cameron, well, we don’t want another case of ‘premier’ejaculation as happened with William Hague. No, there is only one man that fits the bill. Ken Clarke.
    With him at the helm and David Cameron in the wings, the conservatives could become the leaders of the british public once more. And if you play your cards right, for many years to come.
    ‘Old Conservatives’ New ideas. I can see the tag line now…..’Have we con-verted you’!

  214. Good tagline Karen M ! very clever —– and I think that a lot of what you say makes total sense

  215. Said it before and it bears repeating, Karen m has seen the light . It just needs turning on for the rest of the Party who,in the words of ‘Amazing Grace’, “Were blind , but now should see”.

  216. Very true Macarnie

    That was the feeling at conference. One lady went in with her arms crossed to listen to K Clarke – but despite her inclinations against him came out thinking that he was the only one who could it

  217. Just as a quick point on that tag-line, it is indeed very snappy! But I’m not sure that emphasising the “con” in “conservatives” is the best way to go about it…

  218. Good point Jack, but surely you’ve taken it out of con-text!
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  219. Sopmebody has to believe in the con in conviction. Have faith in one’s convictions ,and the Party will prosper.

  220. Well said Macarnie. And seeing as we’ve all done 8 years ‘hard labour’ that ‘faith’ should be stronger than ever.

  221. Just re-read my first post on this thread. Of course, I typed Charles Clarke instead of Ken Clarke, what a wasted opportunity for humour!

  222. Hi Murk

    I happened to notice and saw that Vicus pointed out in ever whimsical tone:

    Vicus Scurra said:
    September 5, 2005 09:21 AM | permalink

    Ken Clarke? Charles Clarke? What about Nicky Clarke, if what you are interested in is appearance. Young, trendy and hirsute. Or Michael Clarke – he is a promising batsman, but has only moderate success this summer: the experience of being jeered at by the whole of England should be excellent preparation for leading the Conservatives. Or Petula Clarke? Perhaps a little too trendy for the Tories

  223. ps Simon – *waves* wishing you well in your new house … got to get connected again soon

  224. Melissa: Thank you for remembering your old commenter.

    BT have finally released me from the prolonged state of offline limbo they dumped me in after denying the existence of my telephone line (a long story) and I now have a lot of catching up to do.

    Maybe I should now be asking questions rather than giving opinions?

    What is the current state of the leadership contest? I understand that Cameron is up, Clarke is maybe down a little, and Davis is down quite a lot. Is that a fair summary?

    Is there any chance that the MPs will chose Clarke and Cameron for the membership ballot, indicating a possible Clarke victory, rather than Clarke and Davis, indicating a likely Davis victory?

  225. That is a fair summary Simon, although Cameron is already planning his first 100 days in office

  226. What is Cameron using, to plan his first 100 days in office? Which office? The same instrument he used to advise old Norm Lamont on the feasibility of joining the monetary system? He must be studying Old Moores Almanac, I think. One thing is for sure, Oracle or Miracle, he will not be the one to undo the Gord(i)on Knot.

    If by some fluke of misjudjgement by those voting for a leader, he should be chosen , the Sahara will be the home of the Tory Party for some time to come:a barren time indeed.
    I know that biblically , an eye for an eye was seen as acceptable, but a Blair for a Blair?

    Is the Party seeking to outdo the Labour Party ,in writing the longest suicide note in the history of British politics?

  227. I have just left my impressions of the Cameron speech under BJ’s Cameron entry.

    Listening to a few Tory Conference speeches it is interesting to note the implicit respect accorded Blair and the focus on attacking his ‘successor’ Gordon Brown. Perhaps this is a mistake? The public voted Labour despite Blair, not because of him. The last thing people want is a slick Tory version of the same thing. Nor is the Brown succession a done deal. I’m sure other contenders will appear when Blair is finally shoved so hard that he really does have to exit the political scene.

    [Most memorable line in the conference: Ken Clarke comparing Blair to a cuckoo.]

  228. Mac

    It’s the tv and media parade against other mediums…it will be interesting to see how the voting goes.

    Cameron is a good talker/clever performer/handsome and that counts for a lot these days. For many people these values are high on their agenda and like an oncoming wave they pick up momentum. To turn that on its head I go for the seasoned ripened good wine – I crave the old wise man mentality.

    A week/day is a long time in politics and people could be voting for the feeling of the moment … who knows?

  229. @ : I hope that the Party is not all at sea over the choice of future leader. You said that waves pick up momentum as they near the shore: that is because the water gets shallower, and if the public is so shallow as to let the sight of a,
    (your words), handsome face decide the future of the Party, it is shallower than Southport beach.

  230. I am trying to keep an open mind about Cameron. Interesting that apart from Boris, very few people around here seem to be persuaded by him. As an observer, he appears to me to represent a big and unnecessary gamble on the part of the Tory party. What would be the chances of the man succeeding and actually putting Blair/Brown on the defensive? 50:50? Maybe considerably less?

    It would be so much easier to let Clarke take over and then let Cameron work the TV studios and see how he got on.

    Melissa: If there are going to be five candidates, then there will be three votes in the Commons, right? When an MP signs up to support a candidate, as Boris is supporting Cameron, what is the commitment? For the first vote? For all the votes? Or is the level of support an individual matter?

  231. Simon

    Your suspicions are right. At conference Oliver Letwin made clear that although many MPs had declared support for a candidate, in no way did it indicate how they would actually vote on the day. They are all secret ballots

  232. Simon

    Am handing out an olive branch and will cease to be wavering in any way. Those on this thread know my views. I will continue to comment but now remain firm on my favourite as leader.

    All this is secondary in importance to reserving a strong sense of loyalty for the person chosen as leader and supporting him wholeheartedly in every way as far as possible. And so, I submissively give in at this stage and let the winds of politics blow all around me without seeking to alter the course of the raging seas and tempests that may lie ahead. All good fun really!

  233. We do get a vote at some stage.

    Next Tuesday the MPs knock one out and then another on Thursday. Then we – the members – get a vote on the two left.

  234. The contest is becoming difficult to read with Davis and Clarke losing ground to Fox and Cameron respectively.

    I believe (or should I say hope?) that the Fox camp are hyping it up and his support is less than claimed. If not, then there is a danger than the two right-wingers (Davis and Fox) might make it through (goodbye Tory Party!).

    Much depends on the first ‘eviction’. If Fox goes, then the centre/left are assured of one candidate. If Clarke (or Cameron, for that matter) goes, then the right have the choice of concentrating their vote on one candidate, or dividing it into two to try to close out the contest by excluding both centre/left candidates, thereby giving a real chance to Fox.

    My wild and imprudent guess on the first ballot is:

    Davis 60
    Cameron 50
    Clarke 47
    Fox 42

    Any other guesses?

  235. Come back Maggie Thatcher! Even at your age , you could sort this little farce out. Handbag the party into submission, amd make it see what is obvious to eveyone else. WE HAVE TO BE ELECTABLE IN ORDER THAT WE MIGHT BE ELECTED , and this is not the way to demonstrate that we are. As for guessing what an outcome such as Simon darkly prophesies ; it would probablky bring such dire negative consequences for the Party , that, not only will the Party in its present form not only shrink, ir might well disappear. I have, ( up to now), lost faith in the common sense of our MPs. The only way out now is for there to be an English Parliament, but even then , with this young inexperienced man at the wheel, it wopuld be doubtful if we could win even that battle.

  236. Macarnie: “The only way out now is for there to be an English Parliament, but even then, with this young inexperienced man at the wheel, it would be doubtful if we could win even that battle.”

    As you know I am in favour of an English parliament, however, returning to the politics of here and now, if Clarke does lose out on the first vote – for lack of lobbying and promising or whatever – then the Tories are left with only three options.

    Cameron would be the only one of the three that could offer any hope _at all_ of making the Conservative party once again a viable political player.

    If I were Alastair Campbell, I’d be covertly promising (future) knighthoods/lordships etc. to Tory backbenchers voting for Fox, and the Lib Dems will be cracking open the champagne if the eventual winner is either him or Davis.

  237. Simon, to follow your lead, here is my guess on the ballot: (given that there are nearly 200 MPs)

    D D one quarter of votes
    D C close to a quarter of votes
    K C also close to a quarter of votes
    L F well under a quarter of votes

    the next round could see a large drop for D D

  238. Dear Boris,

    Hip Hop News has a story about the legal battle between Chicago’s R Kelly and New York’s Cam’ron over the rights to a tune they produced with a third rapper, Big Tigga. I know that you were almost overcome by the urge to breakdance at Blackpool, after having been there every other year since 1997, but I would counsel restraint. A musical form that seems to exist solely on the basis of lawyers, offensive album covers and murders by armed gangsters is inviting a reaction. At least The Beatles didn’t parade around with guns on the territory of rivals, though with Lennon having been slain and Harrison wounded by assailants who were insane, the survivors will still have to be vigilant. McCartney especially. I can’t imagine the mentally ill going after Ringo Starr- they’ve more sense of self-worth. Modern compassionate Conservatism might tip them over the edge, though.

    You may need to be reminded of the issue. Cameron’s main claim to prominence is his Blackpool speech- as an MP of only four years’ standing, he obviously isn’t experienced enough to be leader, in fact his constituency has only just recovered from the effects of What The Butler Saw. We are told that Howard regards him with approval, and placed him as shadow Health Secretary to avoid Labour’s heavy-hitters. That he had a central role in the recent campaign, with its indecisive strategy and poor advertising, isn’t to his credit- I can’t believe that the Conservatives expect to gain momentum from Howard Flight and Ed Matts. However, and whatever the general opinion of drugs and dolphin tattoos, ‘The Speech’ was unquestionably his hour. So let’s judge him on that.

    Cameron wants a civilised society which values the quality of life as well as financial success. However, his ‘excellent examples’ of urban regeneration, Newcastle/Gateshead, The Calls in Leeds and Brindley Place in Birmingham, contain at least one curiosity. Even the Newcastle Central Labour MP Jim Cousins, himself a former lecturer on town planning as well as the most acceptable local face of ASBO-Ritalin man, has doubts about Newcastle/Gateshead. You might have expected that a Conservative would stay clear of acclaiming a project so redolent of Labour quangocrats. The most valuable aspect of the Quayside development, the cleansing of the Tyne, was achieved by the local water authority’s sewer interceptor scheme, before privatisation, and maintained by severe penalties on polluters, otherwise the banks would stink of raw sewage like they used to. The other aspects are less inspiring- a wonderful journey into the use of government and Brussels grants to produce a larger law court, a new footbridge and a huge studio placed at the disposal of a London-based artist and his chum, who has a quantity of red-light surplus latex available. There is also a glass opera house, where J.G. Brown praised his ‘A Fish Called Cameron’ tax scheme. The rest of the development is undersized flats, exploiting the rise in land value, some restaurants and less than half-a-dozen offices, replacing empty office space a hundred yards upstream. Gateshead does have a scheme to use any further funding to create a centre of technical excellence, but years after the turn of the century this was still just a derelict site with a billboard on it. I’ve mentioned Newcastle’s Centre For Life in a previous post.

    Boris, if the wonderful journey of modern compassionate Conservatism leads you into supporting quangocrat conference centres disguised as regional music hall, and second-hand modern art exhibitions, then disenchanted ex-Labour voters may not want to join you on it. They might want new jobs, and some scheme that could protect existing white-collar employment from Asian competition based on lower living standards and vastly improved telecommunications. They might also seek reassurance that all this Blair-praising from Howard and Cameron is not just a form of shelter-begging from some new menace of the international political scene. If this is in fact so, you could always ask your candidate for Finchley, Karl Andrew Mennear, if you need some guidance on how to operate in a hostile political environment- of a talented year, he was the only Oxford graduate. A considerable personal achievement given that Byers and Cousins were on the education committee, and Alan Campbell MP was teaching at the same school, though hardly enough to justify a parliamentary career.

    Wellington had a boot named after him, and Gladstone a bag. What could we possibly name after Blair-Brown?

    Best wishes on your Wyre Forest venture,


  239. Anecdota: Latin? ‘Anecdota’ means ‘secret history’ rather than ‘anecdote’, right? Anyway I’m sure all kinds of insiders (journalists, researchers, ex-girlfriends etc.) are welcome here just as outsiders like myself are.

    Regarding Cameron, I also wonder how he would perform under pressure. The technique (which it was) that he used at the party conference was a kind of bonding with his audience. It might work on television but I can’t see it being successful in the Commons.

  240. Melissa: I’m flattered your expert take on this is similar to mine.

    Best case scenario: LF eliminated first round, DD eliminated second round, KC wins membership vote, but DC also gets respectable result.

    Worst case scenario: KC eliminated first round, DC eliminated second round, LF wins membership vote.

  241. Dear Boris,

    Edit: shadow Health Secretary should, of course, read shadow Education Secretary. Late night.

    “One of these days Justinian, if he is a man, will depart this life: if he is Lord of the Demons, he will lay his life aside.
    Then all who chance to be still living will know the truth.”


  242. It will be interesting to see if there is a detectable tactical vote today.

    Will some Davis supporters vote for Fox to try to get rid of Clarke? Will some Cameron people vote for Clarke to kick out Fox?

    Is Clarke being absurdly optimistic in thinking he and Cameron can reach the last round?

  243. Am at my desk with a cup of tea trying to be as relaxed as possible about the impending 1st round result due in about half an hour.

    My feeling is that the one who loses will be very upset but his spouse/partner will probably be very relieved. Such are the pressures on politicians.

    All I know is that MPs are very maverick so expect to be surprised!

    At 5.20pm approx the result will come through on Radio 4 – I will stay fixed to my desk till then and only after that prepare to go home.

  244. First ballot:

    Davis 62
    Cameron 56
    Fox 42
    Clarke 38

    A sad day for Ken Clarke. Maybe some Davis supporters did vote for Fox, given that Davis was supposed to have 66.

    So what happens now? Most of the Clarke votes will presumably go to Cameron who should have enough to be first or second in the next vote, but will he go to the party with Davis or Fox?

  245. Well, the die is cast. Now Ken’s out of the running, you have to elect David Cameron. I have a couple of hopes:

    1. Ken Clarke will take the job that Cameron offers him (shadow Home Secretary?)

    2. Once the election is over, everyone sits down, shuts up and gets on with it. Nobody needs the kind of internecine bickering that brought on the Hague/IDS debacles.

    3. (OK, I lied about the couple) The authoritarian wing of the party needs to stop trying to interfere in people’s lives.

    4. When the subject of Europe comes up, stop banging on about little Englander flag-waving keep the pound and don’t kowtow to the Frenchies kneejerk blather, and spend more time talking about how that statist authoritarian behemoth is inherently opposed to freedom.

    When you make the average Englishman believe with every fibre of his body that he is more trustworthy than the government, and is better placed to spend his money than the government, and that when he sits in the pub thinking “somebody should do something about that” he gets up and does something, rather than looking towards Nanny, you’ve won.

  246. It felt like poor old Ken went to the gallows yesterday.

    Still, we must look forward and avoid looking back at all costs.

    Let’s now see how Fox fares – personally I like him as a character: very warm and bubbly

  247. @/Gracie: “It felt like poor old Ken went to the gallows yesterday.’

    Can we send Ken Clarke a note from the bloggers to say we all (well, most of us) supported him and we’re gutted he lost? (Maybe we should organize some flowers . . .)

    “we must look forward and avoid looking back at all costs.”

    I am a Cameron-sceptic but in the absence of Clarke I hope he wins.

    I imagine Cameron will get about 90 votes tomorrow with Davis and Fox splitting the rest, each getting about 55. (I can’t see any reason for tactical voting at this point.)

    The danger for the Tories is that the members may reverse the MPs’ vote and elect the surviving right-winger. If that happens the party are back in the situation they were in with IDS – plotting, back-stabbing, miscommunications, unrepresentative front bench and all.

  248. Sam: “[I hope . . . ] Ken Clarke will take the job that Cameron offers him (shadow Home Secretary?)”

    I agree.

    A Cameron/Clarke partnership would be the next best thing to a Clarke/Cameron one. (Cameron should also keep Michael Howard and Rifkind on board if he is elected.)

  249. Heard this evening that the general feeling amongst the cognoscenti is that Cameron will probably get so much of the vote that he cannot lose, no matter what the common members think. It is even proposed that he should take PM Question time next Wednesday. If it has to be, amen, but that would also be the end to my personal unanswered prayer.

  250. Macarnie: “Heard this evening that the general feeling amongst the cognoscenti is that Cameron will probably get so much of the vote that he cannot lose, no matter what the common members think.”

    There’s a suggestion that if Cameron wins with a significantly higher number than the person who comes second, then his opponent will be persuaded to concede and the vote won’t go the members. However I don’t see why Davis/Fox should be so co-operative.

    “You got the 3 ton. New horizons?’

    We could keep it going for the next Tory leadership contest – no, that’s unkind!

    The credit for 300+ belongs to Melissa, not only for tirelessly encouraging our comments, but also for her elegant re-date stamping skills which kept the topic current.

  251. Simon

    Well done on YOUR achievement

    You are, as ever, The Gentleman. It was of course your tenacity that kept us going – and still does.

  252. So it looks like Cameron picked up nearly all of Ken Clarke’s voters, and a few more Davisites defected to Liam Fox. No surprises there.

    I tend to agree that it would be a mistake for David Davis to withdraw now and hand Cameron the leadership – having made such a song and dance about the method of electing the new leader, you really do have to give the party at large a choice. I find it unlikely that they’ll chose David Davis, though.

    As an aside, your electoral system is philosophically flawed. If the desire is for the parliamentary party to produce two acceptable candidates for the wider party to chose between, you really need to select your two candidates by a Condorcet method.

  253. Cameron 90
    Davis 57
    Fox 51

    Well, my predictions (“Cameron will get about 90 votes tomorrow with Davis and Fox splitting the rest, each getting about 55”) were quite accurate!

    I think it’s worth noting that if another vote took place and the Fox votes were redistributed we would have yet another result. (In other words, the elimination of Clarke may have given us an apparently higher vote for Cameron.)

  254. Sam, what is the condorcet method – could you expand please?

    I am sorry that I am not sold on any of the remaining two, so will have to hope that ONE day someone fun will be elected leader. That would make it all a lot more interesting! Not sure why the leaders leave me cold …

    The Party doesn’t though and am still going for the blues in a big way.

  255. It would appear clear to me that the Conservative Party has not learned any of the lessons, which were abundantly, and obviously, clear during this election process . The people wanted Ken Clarke; Hush Puppies; cigars ,and a pro EU stance notwithstanding, as their next leader; particularly if backed up by that Maidens’ Prayer , the Blue Rinse voters? choice: the ‘Brylcreme’ Lad himself. It could have have been the ideal popular combination :BAT-man & Robin.
    However, it is not too late to contemplate a reverse role coupling, Robin and BAT-man ; the result would be , eventually , the same as, or as near to the same as not to make much difference. A mixed marriage , but a possibly happy one.

    The Party needs , above all, to be seen as a party capable of Government, otherwise this exercise has been for nought, and a new selection process might, once again,soon be a source of pain for the faithful.

  256. Oh Lord, Simon! could you just wait a few months while I complete an A level in condorcet elections, then come back to you?

    Mac – I think the Tories are in all this for the game. For that is what politics is all about after all in an “I think politics is a game, therefore I am” sort of way. It’s all ludicrous to me. Thank goodness I can get down to the nitty gritty of actually helping to look after constituents’ concerns than all this king making!

    Long live politics in Westminster – boo to silly gerrymandering about leadershipbids – let’s settle it once and for all asap.

  257. Melissa: “let’s settle it once and for all asap.”

    Admirable sentiments! However this contest has been going on since 6 May and will last until 6 December: exactly 7 months!

    Surely this must be the longest leadership struggle in the history of British democracy!

  258. Since there has been a dearth of proposed policies , from either of the two gladiators left in the Conservative Party’s ring —- here is my starter for ten! Which will take it up?

    If I had heard the same announcement during the last period of Conservative rule , as I heard this morning from the Labour Government, I would have been deafened by the then Opposition’s screams of ” Elitism!”.
    For those not having heard the announcement, delivered in the usual nasal whine; the local education authorities are to provide pupil transport, ( presumably free), to a school, possibly as far as 6 miles away from the pupils’ places of residence, in order to ensure that the pupils’ parents have a choice of schooling commensurate with the ability of their offspring.

    Blair, always the opportunist to put his actions in a good light , says that other parents have the right to choose, as he did, when he cherry picked a school for his children, because , as he said,( perhaps not in so many words) , “A “bog standard” Comprehensive is not good enough for my kids”. One might well ask, why they were, and still are , not good enough After all; If Government words were currency, we would now have a very rich education system indeed.

    The cry of “Education;x three”, was loud enough then , and has been repeated often enough since : why,therefore, are all “bog standard” Comprehensives , even now,not up to the level required by the vast majority of citizens’ children, despite several years of Labour posturing,?

    Labour’s answer, as it so often is, to so many other problems, is to raise the level of local government spending, to seek to deliver the undeliverable. When will this deluded bunch of PC quacks get it through their collective heads that all children are not of a single educational ability? They may juggle the league tables as they will, but, since when is one non-academic qualification equal to four academic qualifications? This has been claimed recently, in order to enhance the supposed improvement of educational efficacy of specific schools. Another case of a fudged promise of an improved education policy!

    Undoubtedly the right results for some children, but the wrong way to make such a report, since it denigrates the value of the other children’s results.

    Of course these NV Qualifications matter,to argue otherwise would be entirely wrong. They are valuable and highly significant tools in the assessment of a future workforce, but they are not the same as GCSEs, no matter how the cookie crumbles.

    Specialist schools, and technical colleges used to be the norm for those sorts of qualifications, and a very good job they did too. Why does not the Government admit at last, since it now apparently advocate intelligence tests as a means of allocating school places, that this pseudo American ( junior high / highschool) model of schooling is not what is best for the British ?

    Bring back the school system based on ability; after all the Government, according to the latest news as I understand it, seems to be almost halfway there now!

  259. Macarnie has hit the nail on the bonce

    An honest approach to the problems we are trying to solve is required.

    Our educational and training systems need to cater for (a) a variety of requirements of society and (b) a variety of requirements on individuals.

    Not everyone is going to get everything they want.

    A vocational qualification in plumbing is different from an academic qualification in maths in a way that an academic qualification in maths is not different from an academic qualification in history.

    A 2.1 degree or better in maths from Cambridge University is different from a 2.1 degree or better in maths from Thames Valley University in a way that A 2.1 degree or better in maths from Cambridge University is not different from a 2.1 degree or better in maths from Swansea University.

    Mixed ability academic classes from some age in early double figures onwards don’t work. Either the brightest are neglected and cause trouble or the middle are neglected and cause trouble or the least able are neglected and cause trouble.

    Selection for once and for all at 11 may have been too harsh but there are a host of alternatives between that and mixed ability ‘egalitarianism’.

    Back in the good old days everyone knew their place and didn’t seek to rise above it. This pernicious myth has been replaced by the equally pernicious myth that anyone can do anything they want if they truly want it so failure in education is no longer the fault of the student. The truth less exciting than both of these is that usually people can do more than they think if they put work in and engage with the probelm, learn from their mistakes and reflect on them.

    I am a computer programmer and my qualifications indicate that I am a better programmer than my plimber. His qualifications indicate that he is a better plumber than me. We not equal. If you want a well desinged and tested piece of software then I like to think I am your person. If you want your boiler installed then Garfield is your man. I suspect I know who you would most like to see in midwinter when your pipes burst.

    I don’t think Garfield would like to be a programmer and I would rather listen to Margaret Hewiit or Harriet Hodge than be a plumber.

    We have moved on to a great degree from the age of deference to a position where it is possible to respect other people for their own achievements and ideas, even though they may not be our achievements or we disagree with the ideas.

    Why do we have to build an educational system on the premise of phoney egalitarianism rather than the real needs of society balanced, albeit imperfectly, with the needs of individuals?

  260. I’d be happy for my children (if I had any) to go to a British university, but not to attend any kind of secondary education here.

    The schools seem to be stuck in some kind of limbo between old and new, having lost the standards and virtues of the old traditional literary education without taking advantage of many of the possibilities that have been opened up by the revolution in the way we now access information. (I’ve even heard of one school board, run by a religious cult, that forbids students to use computers.)

    The A-level system was introduced in the 1950s and it has never been superseded, although it was apparent from quite early on that it was an examination for its own sake, rather than for the benefit of young people.

    The page below is an interview with five 17-year olds in San Francisco about their internet habits:

    It would be interesting to know what five average British kids would say in a similar interview. Maybe not much. How many British kids could do a Powerpoint presentation? How many even own a computer? I guess they would all be clutching mobile phones!

    [sorry, this all off topic . . .]

  261. Simon: I don’t see this as too far off topic, because the new leader elect, in whichever guise he may come, ( and one of them IS already in the Education ministry in opposition), will have to tackle the problem of Educational limboism which currently afflicts this Government.

    This pack of squabbling mutiple committee fans, unlike the Scots and Welsh, are not even able to make a final decision on who may smoke where.

    How on earth can we expect a FINAL final decision on a workable,acceptable, education policy to be made, which will be in everyone’s interests , not only of the students, but the disenfranchised parents@ These were recently driven to demand tax rebates for non-delivery of an acceptable system of school allocation.

    Should not, in all fairness, Labour’s erstwhile excelsior cry of,
    ” Education ;education ; education “, now more correctly be ,” Education? Obfuscation! Alienation!

  262. It would take a monumental effort to drag secondary education out of the early 1990s (1980s?). It’s not just a matter of re-vamping curricula and updating facilities, it’s to do with changing the mentality of teachers, examiners, civil servants etc. who have a vested interest in the existing outmoded system, not to mention the religious groups. Even if modernizing education were possible – and I see no evidence that either of the two main parties can do it – it would take a long time.

    Ken Clarke was right is saying that opposition to Labour right now should focus on the economy and reforming the way the central government functions. Issues such as the health service, education, crime etc. have to come afterwards. It will be easier to deal with them after the processes of government have been cleaned up and made more efficient.

    I see that Davis “and most of the Tories” voted in favour of the Terror Bill and the 90-day detention today. Why? I thought the Tories were against 90-day detention. Was I wrong?

  263. Condorcet isn’t really all that complicated. I know it looks complicated, and one can spend a great deal of time proving that Smith sets exists and the like, but the basic idea is simple.

    In a Condorcet system, a voter ranks the candidates in order of preference. Ranking candidate A above candidate B is interpreted as the statement “I would prefer candidate A to candidate B”.

    Condorcet systems tend to elect compromise candidates – one can easily imagine an election with three candidates – a socialist, a free-marked capitalist, and a centrist “it depends on the situation” type. Now suppose that 40% of the electorate are “right wing” and about 40% are “left”, with 20% in the middle. In a FPTP system, you’ll elect whichever of the socialist and the capitalist got the most votes. In an STV system, you’ll eliminate the centrist first, as he’ll have fewest first preferences, and again select whichever of the two extreme candidates got the most votes.

    Assuming that all the socialists would rank the capitalist worst, and vice versa, a Condorcet system would tell you that 60% of people preferred the centrist candidate to the capitalist, and 60% of people preferred him to the red, and elect the centrist.

    Condorcet methods also have the advantage that they are difficult to vote tactically in. Whilst you can construct situations in which it is to the advantage of the rational voter to vote other than his true preferences, they tend to be highly artificial and rely on detailed knowledge about how the rest of the electorate will order low-ranking candidates. In a practical election (even one of limited scope amongst 200MPs) the way for a voter to get the best result according to his preferences is to vote for the candidates in true order of preference.

    Now, I will admit that counting a Condorcet election is more complicated than counting a FPTP or STV one if you’re going to do the count by hand with a table covered in bits of paper. If one enters the ballots into a computer, all counting methods are trivial.

  264. Sam: Re Condorcet, I am mightily impressed – even though (or perhaps because) maths has always been my weak point.

    Nevertheless I wonder how you would convince the Tories that Condorcet voting is not a cunning ploy invented by the Liberal-Democrats?

  265. Mac

    Whatever happens, we’re less likely to go to the dogs with a Conservative Leader in power than with the current status quo. Am feeling quite philosophical about it now.

  266. Melissa: “we’re less likely to go to the dogs with a Conservative Leader in power . . . ”

    Well, this doesn’t look any more likely now than it did six months ago. Perhaps the only elections that the Tories are sure of winning are their own.

    I don’t know whether you saw the Private Eye cover with David Cameron? About 200 messages ago I speculated on how the press would caricature the winner. I think they’re working this out now (references to Little Lord Fauntleroy etc.)

  267. If the Gods of Politics decree that we will meet at Harringay, that’s where we will eventually have to go.

    I totally agree that a leader is needed, and toute de suite,but presently I tend to think I that we are a little like the waters of the Nigara River, destined for the fall.It is a strange fact the the Niagara is Iroquoin word for Bottomlands, and I do not relish ending there.

    One can only hope that the present cloud of despondency will lift, and prove that silver linings are sometimes best delivered in a dark envelope. It would, of course , mean that the envelope would have to be opened, before we found what is inside, and Cameron is keeping his plans pretty much under wraps.

  268. Surely there must be a sufficiency of ammunition currently being delivered by the tribulations,
    ( but apparently no trials), of Blunkett, to enable damaging salvoes to be delivered to the Labour Ship of State.
    If Cameron or Davies wishes to show their metal, this is the time to do it. Let battle commence head on, starting with the carronades, and then swing broadside on and finish the job with the rows of cannon, before coming alongside; using the grappling irons, and finally boarding to take the prize, with cutlass at the ready.

    Labour is not Redoubtable :there is no able sniper on the yardarm. However if either of the two budding C-in-Cs wish to emulate Nelson, and win the day, he should remember, ‘England expects.’

    Either way, thank goodness I am not playing Hardy!

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