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Friday 31 October 2003

Conservative Resurgence II - The Re-Discovered Country? [brit]

As Iain Duncan Smith contemplates his future this morning, the spotlight searches desperately for his successor; a man or woman who must kick start the ailing Conservative Party and more importantly, reset the democratic balance in the House of Commons by acting as an effective and persistent member of The Opposition.
In my mind, the democratic process has never been at such an all time low in this country; the Prime Minister's leadership methodology borders on presidential (some might say dictatorial), which is not the system of government we support here; it is therefore vitally important that The Opposition be led by someone capable of generating the debate, asking the questions and ultimately seeking the answers, that Iain Duncan Smith so singularly failed to do.
It is in all honesty, unrealistic to expect the Conservatives to rally sufficiently to win the next General Election, such is their inherent malaise at this time; instead, it is time for the party that has in fairly recent history become an out of touch political laughing stock to turn it's fortunes around by behaving in a manner consistent with an organisation seeking the ultimate political authority in this country.
Personally, I feel Iain Duncan Smith was rather hard done by; a man who, granted, wasn't the most charasmatic and emotionally charged individual - until his back was against the wall, by which time it was too late - but who nevertheless believed passionately in his cause and who was inevitably brought down by his own party; a party that collectively has something of a penchant for backstabbing.
Much as I hate to admit it, the Conservatives now need another Thatcherite figure, for regardless of your feelings towards her, Margaret Thatcher was one of the most powerful and influential figures of her time; whipping both the Conservatives and indeed the country into (some sort of) shape whilst increasing the UK's world standing a thousandfold. Is this person Michael Howard? I'm not entirely convinced.
As the moment there are three contenders, if the press are to be believed; David Davis (not a chance, too inexperienced and just doesn't have the 'ooomph' factor so desperately needed), Oliver Letwin (even less of a chance, given that this man's political compass is slightly to the right of Hitler) and Michael Howard; the bookies' favourite, and a man with serious political capital.
To wrap up, I'm interested in seeing the Conservatives sort themselves out for one reason only; we need a decent, strong, visible and viable alternative to New Labour - a party which will hold onto power by something approaching default if things are allowed to continue...


  1. You make it sound like a race still. The way I'm seeing it pan out, it virtually looks like the tories will appoint Howard and that there just wont be a leadership contest. I think the conservatives are very weary now and they'll get right behind Howard, which is a good thing.
    It's just a shame the morons had to have a string of blatantly inappropriate leaders up until this point.

  2. Well in a way, it is a race. It is no real secret that both Portillo and Clarke have leadership aspirations, and both are acknowledged as serious Big Guns - far more so than Howard. Until Central Office indicates otherwise, it's anyone's guess.. the idea of Clarke being nominated or winning scares the crap out of Labour; as it is they are deeply concerned that IDS was voted out - for at least with him opposite, and Kennedy warbling from the side, they were in a position of virtually unstoppable policy power.

  3. The bald fact of it is unless there's some miracle (or an even bigger set of howlers by Labour) the tories are not going to win the next election. That means nobody who seriously wants to be PM will stand for leadership. what the tory party needs is someone who can prepare the ground - a political John (Smith) the Baptist as it were. Someone who can get the party in a shape where it is 'electable', if not 'elected'. Then after the next election - maybe two years before the one after - you change leaders to the one you think winll actually win the election but who hasn't had the grief of sorting the party out.
    That being true, I think Howard is as good a choice as any. he plainly doesn't have the appeal to be PM, but he does have the political nous and intellect to turn the tories round - in fact IDS has already started the process. i suspect it will be howard this time, then some time around 2006/7 we'll get the one they think is right for PM - which will probably be Davis or Portillo ( I think Clarke might be too old by then).

  4. The Hutton Inquiry is going to play a big part in whether the public feels that Blair is re-electable. He said he'd only do two terms anyway, so if he carries the can for the years of spin and lies, the door is wide open for new-Dad Gordon B to trounce Michael Howard and breeze into office. And he won't need to move house either - that's surely a bonus to the taxpayer!

  5. Portillo has said he doesn't want the job, several times in fact. Clarke does and should do it but he's not a party uniter because he's pro Euro. There seems no indication he will stand and the BBC says it 'seems unlikely' as well. That is what lead me to the point about the affairs currently looking like an appointment of Howard rather than a leadership race.I certainly don't buy that various parties aren't running because they can't be PM for this election, that's preposterous. Losing this election I don't think would be a fatal blow to Howard, there's just no way they'll switch leader again. They're in opposition, they know how much work they have to do.Concerning the Hutton inquiry, I get the feeling that it'll end up being fairly wishy washy without major conclusions so I'm not sure that will be a major factor. I think think the public are left with no clear party to run to if they find labour distasteful. The Torys will probably crawl back a bit but they'll have to pull their socks up in many other ways first. One bit I did quite like that the BBC just said;Mr Howard pledged to offer a 'new kind of politics', giving credit to the government where it was due and not greeting its failures with 'gleeful pleasure'.Could this be a sign that the Torys have finally worked out that the British public don't want negative campaigning? That the fact Labour are in right now is everything to do with the fact that they promised everyone a better life rather than pissing and moaning about the other guy? Maybe, we shall see.Of course the Torys do have a limiteless supplies of ancient bastards that refuse to get in touch with the rank and file member of society below the age of 60... so it may all be moot.Update: Ken Clarke has ruled himself out. So it's a coronation of Howard then.