Monday, March 07, 2005

David Davis: "Plotting a Coup"

The least well kept secret in Torydom is that if Michael Howard suffered a damaging blow at the election, David Davis would make his move under the "Modern Conservatives" banner. The site set up by Davis ally Nick Herbert, a former campaigner with Business for Sterling, is in hibernation currently. I suspect that hibernation may not last forever.

Howard's cabal know this and the Mail On Sunday got hold of their "secret list" drawn up by Conservative 'kingmaker' and former minister, Francis Maude, who triggered Iain Duncan Smith's downfall and helped write Mr Howard's leadership speech. The list identifies 90 Tory MPs who Mr Maude's team believes can be relied on to rally round Mr Howard in the event of a leadership challenge.

Maude and Howard's Commons aide, Alistair Burt, are tasked with ensuring the 90 MPs carry on robotically backing him post-election. But 34 Right-wing MPs, including Davis and fellow leadership hopeful Liam Fox, the party co-chairman, are blacklisted under the heading 'Forget'. The Stop Davis list is, according to the Mail, all about keeping Howard as leader long enough to allow him to make way for David Cameron.

Right-winger Davis, the product of a one-parent family, and Old Etonian Cameron are deadly enemies. The 'Forget' list includes Davis's backers Derek Conway, Andrew Mitchell and Eric Forth. Others in the category are Right-wingers John Redwood, Ann Widdecombe and anti-EU MP Bill Cash.

Tory MPs listed as acting as 'handlers' for the modernisers are pro-EU MPs Stephen Dorrell, David Curry and Tory candidate Michael Gove, a Times journalist and biographer of Michael Portillo. Some truth perhaps in the germ of this story, but Guido suspects the machivellian hand of the Policy Exchange crowd in this story. Maude, Gove and some behind-the-scenes players in the Tory party use Policy Exchange as their base. A key problem for Cameron is that he is not really that popular with his fellow Tory MPs, who in any event will tell Howard and Davis what they want to hear.

By the way David, your website will be illegal once the election is announced. You and dozens of other MPs with websites ending in mp are not permitted under electoral law to campaign as MPs.

Where does George Osborne stand in all of this, I wonder?

I have no doubt that David Davis would assist in a clean sweep through Middle England thanks to his obvious appeal to the sort of people who spend their Sundays in B&Q but I doubt he would curry much favour with the wider electorate. You can skip a generation or rearrange the deckchairs all you want but the current leadership material in the Tory Party is hopeless. Even Sir Malcolm Rifkind would go down better than either of those.

There is, for the first time since 1997, a palpable mood for change with this government. Unfortunately for the Tories it will be Gordon Brown that offers it. As Simon Heffer said recently, no lefty he, the Tories' chances of gaining power and being able to do anything with it any time soon are as likely as a one-legged man winning an ass-kicking contest. And, yes, I did see the headline on the Sunday Express yesterday.

Did anyone actually believe that Sunday Express headline was not drafted by Labour sources?

The Tories should keep Howard post election - something he is keen to do so long as he makes progress at the election - the aftermath will need stability not yet another leadership battle. Wait two years, then select... wait for it, Alan Duncan. The Tories had the first woman PM, now they can have a gay PM!

Seriously, he is fresh, good on TV, clever, modern and a libertarian more than a Tory. An ideology that appeals more than class based Old Labour/Old Tory ideology and is forward looking, liberal and the antidote to New Labour's Nanny State and Big Brother policies. Given both parties believe in free enterprise nowadays, libertarian anti-state policies are the only way for the Conservatives to find clear blue water between them and New Labour.

The Sexpress article certainly panicked me, the mere thought of Tim Collins being allowed anywhere near a stapler at the DfES is enough to make me completely ignore all of Ruth Kelly's bizarre theocratic affiliations. And would Mr Collins be willing to serve under a Duncan leadership?

I think Tim and the rest of the Tories have had quite enough leadership from IDS.

Will Ruth Kelly be launching the LGBT History Month initiative? You know it'll be a great opportunity for her to reach out to the Gay voters who are suspicious about her missing those key votes.

Obviously its important that children should be given education on the place of lesbian, gay bisexual and trans-gendered people in history. The initiative will apparently mean that children will be learn about historical figures who may have been lesbian or gay.

Fact: 20% of school leavers are functionally illiterate.


At 4:23 pm, Blogger Richard said...

Not sure you could put Eric Forth in the Davis camp anymore - he was not a happy bunny following Davis' falling in behind Howard in 2003.

Then again, it depends who else is running, of course.

In any case, this is all academic for now. Probably more relevant is who will the ex-Blairites put up to stop Brown?


Post a Comment

<< Home