14 October 2005

Result of Tory leadership election.

Tuesday: Ken Clarke eliminated in first round. Thursday: A majority of Clarke supporters back Liam Fox, therefore making sure he just pips David Cameron to second place by 2 votes. December: Tory party members faced with such a pathetic choice, elect Fox over David Davis. Fox moves party to the right and once again employs wedge issue tactics using race and abortion and they lose the next election as a result. Yippee!

At least, this is what I hope happens. It certainly wouldn't surprise me. It may be obvious to the rest of the country that Cameron is their best hope, but don't forget this is Tory party members we are talking about, they don't live in the real world and their average age is 107*.

*Artistic licence used here but its not far off.


  1. Why would Tory voters choose Fox over Davis? (And if the last round is Fox vs. Davis, you can rely on Davis' team to dredge up Fox's many and allegedly not all heterosexual sexual escapades, as they've made an issue out of Cameron's druggy connections).

  2. Interesting. Didn't know any of that. That would be an amazing revelation about Fox if it was true, isn't he anti-gay?

    I was thinking maybe the right wing media could get behind Fox as the most Thatcherite candidate with his doctor background playing well with the Tory members. But maybe you are right.

    I think though there are probably enough rightwingers (who will vote tactically) to keep Cameron out of the members ballot. They know he could easily win against Davis.

    Like the Portillo vote in 2001, Fox could come through as the IDS candidate.

    Davis 67 votes
    Fox 66
    Cameron 64
    Abstentions 1

    Thats my prediction.

  3. That would be an amazing revelation about Fox if it was true, isn't he anti-gay?

    Yes, but so was Michael Portillo (much more so than Fox has ever been, actually).

    I'm almost certain the rumours are as baseless as the ones that dogged Gordon Brown for many years, and have the same cause. It's my understanding that, like Brown, Fox has essentially been a closet playboy, dating various quasi-celebrity women but not being public about these relationships, rather maintaing a dour and Presbyterian image. That makes the relationships seem more sordid than they were, and, as with Brown, being unmarried and apparently completely unattached for many years has led to rumours, within certain circles of the party (though not, apparently, the Cornerstone mob), of homosexuality. The Davis camp could easily start circulating those rumours a little more publicly, just as a spoiler (as with Cameron and drugs, it'll lead to pleas for privacy, then non-denials, then finally disclosure of the truth that still leaves people wondering). Of course, if any opponent did circulate such rumours, they could easily backfire (if Portillo stood a real chance of winning the membership vote in 2001), but Fox has been running as the faith-n-flag candidate, trying to under-cut Davis and would end up looking like a hypocrite. I first heard these (the gay one presented purely as a rumour, and one that was probably untrue but could still harm him) about three years ago, when I suggested to a University friend who'd joined Conservative Future that Fox could be a future leader. I don't think there's really anything sleazy there, anything that would play in a general election for instance, but it's the context of Conservative candidates trying to out-moralise each other to win-over Conservative voters that makes them significant.

    I think you're right about tactical voting - if Davis' vote is large enough in the first round, I can see a chunk of his supporters switching to Fox to block Cameron. But I just can't see Fox defeating Davis with the membership. The contest between IDS and Clarke was characterised by a clear policy difference (on Europe - not really on anything else, though the fact that they differed over Europe led to Clarke being characterised as a One Nation, socially liberal Tory - something not supported by his voting record). A contest between Davis and Fox would not be similarly characterised. There's no great policy difference between the two, as far as I can see - both are Thatcherite, Eurosceptic, authoritarian (but opposed to ID cards, at least as long as Labour is doing 'em), believe in family values and market forces, cutting taxes and cutting benefits, etc. (I'm not actually sure that David Cameron isn't also all of these things, but he's got the image of a "moderniser", of someone who is thoroughly in-tune with modern Britain as Tory activists like to think of it). It's going to come down to personality and class background - a re-run, I suspect, of the contest between Heath and Maudling, only down a notch in class terms. Davis derailed his campaign with that speech at the Tory conference, but he can easily come back from that with a little coaching and preparation. I just can't see Fox competing.

    This could, of course, be wishful thinking on my part - polling suggests that Davis would be the most unpopular of the four with the general public (presumably because he falls between so many stools), and if he's leader at the next election the Tories will lose seats (possibly falling below their 1997 low). Also, a Davis leadership could spur Rik Mayall to bring back the brillaint Alan B'Stard character.

    Something that occured to me this evening: Are Cameron's repeated references to marriage being the best environment to bring up kids, subtle digs at son-of-a-single-mum Davis?

  4. Anon, Thanks for your comments.

    If Camerons' reference to marriage is a dig at Davis it is very very subtle.

    Maybe you are right about Davis winning against Fox. It would be close because they are so similar in policy, but I thought Fox's anti-abortion stance, his doctor background and his clearer speaking might give him the edge with Tory members over Davis. But I wouldn't argue, Davis could still win it.

    However, I think Cameron has been finished off. I remember how Portillo's past was used against him to keep him out of the members' ballot and it seems the same is happening to Cameron. Its a shame in the sense that he was the most 'human' candidate and his stance on drugs reform is encouraging, but in terms of the rest of his policies he seems typically Tory.