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...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, September 23, 2005

Conservative Party Leadership

Have you noticed how certain stories get underreported, or even not reported at all on MSM?

Take the German National Elections this Sunday.

Almost nothing from even venerable sources like The Lehrer Report on PBS. This despite the fact that the Togolese Presidential Elections received not one but two days of panel-talk coverage.

What chance then, can the current Tory Party leadership watch have to be reported on? Very little, indeed.

So here I am today, filling in the shading for some readers.

After the elections in May, the leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, offered to step down after the unsuccessful attempt to lead his Party back into Number 10.

He'll probably be doing so after the Party conference, after 7 October, in just a few days time.

Right now, the Conservatives are ballotting 1,333 senior members of the Party, although Michael Howard has threatened to resign earlier than anticipated in protest, if certain antiquated rules are not changed.

MPs at present can choose 2 shortlisted candidates by 27 September, when the proposal to change the rules will take place.

Nevertheless, there are already candidates who have come forth to try to win the leadership. Here are their names with background sketches, combined with my opinion of their chances.


  • Sir Malcolm Rifkind

  • Age: 59
    Education: Edinburgh University
    Family Status: Married, one son, one daughter
    Tilts: Solidly left of the Tory Party
    Previous Posts: Transport Secretary, Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary (Major)
    Overview: Overly mild-mannered Scot known for threatening to resign a few times. Looks older than his age. Lost his MP seat in 1997. Regained it in 2005 (for my old neighbourhood of Kensington & Chelsea). Wants the Tory Party to move to a more centrist position than that which it holds now.

    Leadership Chances? Remote.

  • Edward Leigh

  • Age: 55
    Education: Durham University
    Family Status: Married, six children
    Tilts: Traditional values Conservative
    Previous Posts: Trade Minister (Major)
    Overview: Hulking blond backbencher with a florid complexion. Leading member of the Cornerstone Group, which stresses a return to family values, flat tax, and private insurance tax relief. Quite popular with many Tories for his aggresive personality.

    Leadership Chances? Darkhorse.

  • Theresa May

  • Age: 48
    Education: St Hugh's College, Oxford
    Family Status: Married
    Tilts: Pro-family moderniser
    Previous Posts: Former Tory Chairman, several Shadow Cabinet posts
    Overview: Known as the Imelda Marcos of British politics for her array of footwear. Very eloquent, able public speaker. Wanted to challenge perceptions the Conservatives were a "nasty Party". Encourages more women, and minorities represented within the ranks. Says there is a move away from daddy politics of economy and defence, to mummy politics of welfare, and public services.

    Leadership Chances? Slight. Only woman candidate. One to watch for the future.

  • David Davis

  • Age: 56
    Education: Warwick University, London & Harvard Bus. Schools
    Family Status: Married, one son, two daughters
    Tilts: Solidly right of the Tory Party
    Previous Posts: Ex-Euro Minister (Major), Party Chairman
    Overview: Working-class council house background, single mother. Euro-sceptic. Tough no-nonsense demeanour and reputation. Grandson of Communist Jarrow March (1936) leader. Enthusiast of "extreme sports", with 3 times broken nose to show for it. Right-wing, but having no special truck with either the modernisers or traditionalists.

    Leadership Chances? Leading Contender.

  • David Cameron

  • Age: 38
    Education: (Eton), Brasenose College, Oxford
    Family Status: Married, one son, one daughter
    Tilts: Moderniser
    Previous Posts: Shadow Cabinet Minister of Education (2005)
    Overview: Upper-middle class background, married to a baronet's daughter, has severely disabled child. Known as "The Tory Tony Blair" for his youthful dynamism, and desire to revamp his Party's image. Darling of Notting Hill set of young Tories. Likes hunting and shooting. Was adviser to then Home Secretary (1992), Michael Howard. Friend George Osborne is referred to as Brown to Cameron's Blair.

    Leadership Chances? Good. One to watch for the future.

    Other names include:

    - Tory Party stalwart Kenneth Clarke (65)
    - Liam Fox (43), Scottish Euro-sceptic with loyal following
    - Andrew Lansley (48), strong centrist, if Euro-sceptic

    If you are not British, it is almost impossible to translate the subtleties each candidate represents, or embodies in their life history.

    Americans, for example, who until recently had two very similar parties which differentiated themselves on just a few issues on paper -- moreover, whose members didn't come from opposite ends of the social divide --, parsing together these bits of information above is a daunting task.

    It is tempting to try to inject the sensibilities each of you have from your own countries towards what might be needed for the Tory Party leadership.

    Suffice it to mention, that it's not as easy as suggesting, say, if Tony Blair is like Bill Clinton, then maybe Britain needs a strong-on-morals right-winger like George W. Bush to bring in the fence-sitters or traditionalists.

    Our views are tied, as ever, to class not religion, race or corporativism as in America.

    Nevertheless, the next few days will prove fascinating.

    Who will the Tories choose as their leader, and will they choose someone who will be a viable candidate to break, at long last, the 8 year Labour Party domination on British politics?

    A momentous decision, indeed.


    • Great informative post.
      Nothing suprises me out of the Main Stream Media anymore. I do not expect anything other than lies and agenda. I get what I expect, so I am happy...

      By Anonymous Wayne M, at Fri Sep 23, 10:18:00 am GMT-4  

    • I would second Wayne's thoughts. Come check out my blog if you get a chance. Where did you emigrate from?

      By Blogger Eddie, at Fri Sep 23, 03:58:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Great informative post.

      Thanks, love. I appreciate it, and glad you liked it.

      I once told Jose jokingly that I take requests for blog topics, but I mean it! Knock yourself out (albeit to my shame I infrequently check my email).

      BTW, Wayne, did you write that book listed in your blog, Beyond the Shadowlands? :)

      Made me curious!


      By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Sep 23, 05:33:00 pm GMT-4  

    • I would second Wayne's thoughts.

      Thanks so much too, Eddie. :)

      Come check out my blog if you get a chance. Where did you emigrate from?

      I did indeed go to your blog, and already posted a feisty post which you may ponder over.

      I can't help it. I love France!...or at least, tolerate it. ;)

      I emigrated from the UK some 7 years ago.

      My parents preceeded me since the early '80s (I was allowed to be educated in Britain until then, although I did do 11th grade here in the US).


      By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Sep 23, 05:38:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Thanks for the concise rundown.

      By Blogger Ace, at Fri Sep 23, 10:50:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Really happy you liked it, Ace.

      And your dog, Zeke, looks fantastic. Or should I say, ace? ;)

      Victoria, the Dog Lover Par Excellence

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Sep 24, 12:55:00 am GMT-4  

    • What would a leadership race be without betting odds! here they are from ladbrokes:

      David Davis 1/2
      Ken Clarke 9/4
      David Cameron 9/1
      Liam Fox 12/1
      William Hague 25/1

      I'm not sure anyone who uses glamour shots can be taken seriously so David Davis at 1/2 seems questionable.

      Come to think of it they all have awful photos, or maybe you just chose the best ones Vicky.:)

      By Blogger Renato, at Wed Sep 28, 04:52:00 pm GMT-4  

    • Nice odds-making, Renato!

      And yes, of course, I chose the best photos.

      It took me AGES to find one that doesn't make Sir Malcolm look like a tired old puff-adder.


      By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Sep 29, 01:35:00 am GMT-4  

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