Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Tory Leadership Trials go on and on; and on, and on.

The third Party leadership contest in four years grinds on and on with less and less sign of any consensus. As happened last time, the time before and the time before that the Left wing of the party is unable to mount a unified challenge - because of ego.

".... if he (Clarke) gets it (the leadership) your party is finished..." says an anonymous commentator on a previous thread.

My own views are well known on this issue. Much as I want us to clearly move to the middle ground, an area to which Mr Clarke amply fills, I don't want Ken Clarke as leader for the Conservative Party.

Why not? Well, for one thing he was on the bridge of the good ship Tory Party, fighting with the other officers and crew for control of the wheel when we so spectacularily ran aground in the early 1990's. Why on earth we would want to reward anyone from that era (and I include the Redwoods, Rifkinds, Willets and any others left over from that dark period) by putting them in charge is beyond me. How would Marks and Spencers shareholders react if the board responsible for their disasterous fall from grace in the late 1990's were still there, still in charge and still arguing about who shoule be CEO?

The country have told us again and again that they don't want this generation of politicians in charge - even Michael Howard himself concedes that his association with the past was one of the biggest reasons why we didn't do better on May 5th.

So that is one good reason to choose someone else.

'But he is so popular' say his supporters, but they mistake 'celebrity' status with popularity. Yes Ken is the 'most famous' Tory on the media circuit and by and large the media love him. But that warm glow will last, oh, five minutes or so if he does win the leadership, and then what?

Then we have yet another 'temporary' leader -only this one without the support of the majority of the members- allowing his shadow cabinet colleagues to carry on blatantly jostling for accession in 2009 or 2010.

We have a leader who will undo almost all of the progress we have made in separating the Europe issue from the left/right arguement.We have been close to proving that Center-Right politics does not have to include being pro-European; but under Ken Clarke it would be.

We have a Parliamentary party who, by choosing someone who will be nearly 70 at the next election, are virtually admitting defeat already (because if we were serious about winning, Kens health and age would be a huge issue in the election- a Prime Minister in his 70's in this day and age?... you've got to be kidding!).

And lastly, we would be admitting that all those under 35 year old voters who have never voted Conservative (who we desperately need ) are written-off as a generation, because I haven't yet met anyone under 40 who can relate to Ken Clarke in any way whatsoever.

Just because he has thrown his large hat in the ring does not mean Ken Clarke will win; in fact I am certain that he wont. But it does mean that the Left will be split and that will allow a right winger success again.

No wonder David Davis has a warm glow about him at the moment.


Anonymous said...

I myself would like to see Rifkind given a go.
Clarke would have been the right answer in 2001, but that was because Rifkind wasn't there. Clarke wouldn't be a bad leader, and even Davis would be better than IDS (worse than useless) and Howard (who seemed to have decided to make the Tory Party the 'Nasty Party' for the last election).
I think Cameron needs a little more experience, and i'm not sure about Liam Fox.
Rifkind may have been there in the 1990's, but then so was Davis (a whip if I recall), so had been Howard and so had been IDS (even if all he had done was muck about). Hague didn't have a senior position in the 90's, but that didn't help him much either.
What the party needs is someone who knows what he/she wants to do, has a sense of direction and who has the clout to take on Blair and his successor - more importantly they have to have the ability to win power and then do something constructive with it.
I think Malcolm Rifkind is the best qualified of those who have said they will stand.

Marcus Wood said...

I wish I could agree, Malcom Rifkind is a nice man (though a bit arrogant I think)but I stick to my view that he belongs to a past generation, he is too closely associated with John Majors Government.

I accept Cameron is a bit 'new' but he would have been in Parliament for ten years by the next election...

Davis has an unbroken track record of success in Westminster (hasn't really put a foot wrong so far) and has a business background. I know David best of all the candidates so am probably biased.

I just wish he wasn't labelled as a 'right winger'.

GaffaUK said...

I don't think dismissing Ken Clarke because he was in the cabinet in the early 90s exludes him from being leader of the Conservatives. You wouldn't have Thatcher in 1979 as she was education secretary under Heath's troubled stay at No 10 in the early 70s.

The problem is that the Tory party has torn itself over Europe and despite being an effective minster and Chancellor - the Tories cannot forgive Clarke on his pro-Euro views. Meanwhile the country has moved on and the votes have gone elsewhere including mine. Vote another dullard if you wish to remain as an ineffective opposition.

Marcus Wood said...

It's not just a question of Europe with Ken anymore. Europe is not the big issue it once was amongst Tories and as a result Ken could be in with a good chance this time.

But what would happen in 2009 in the lead-up to a General Election? The Labour Party would ruthlessly exploit the fact that Ken would be 75 at the end of that Parliament and all the talk would still be about 'who will the Tories elect to replace him' - a potentially disasterous distraction.

GaffaUK said...

Winston Churchill was 80 when he stepped down as Prime Minister and Reagan was 78 when he finished his 2nd term as President. Both of these men were seen as more successful that many of their younger counterparts. I really think age is a smoke screen here.

I'm am 33 years old and I voted Tory once but a candidate rarely gets more votes just because they are younger than their opposition. The young that you are trying to attract aren't stupid. I suggest modernise your policies rather than your leader's age.

Would you suggest that all business leaders that are aged 65 or over should resign over the next 5 years?

Marcus Wood said...

You make fair points, and I don't want to give the impression that I oppose Ken because of his age, what I am saying is that our opponents at the next election will exploit his age and especially the age gap between him and either Gordon Brown or, as I think is highly likely, Tony Blair who imo is going to find a reason to stay on 'one more time'. My main objection to Clarke is just that he was one of the main players in the internal warring during the late 1980's and early 1990's that did the party so much harm; he has a track record of putting 'Self' above 'Party' and that naturally makes me very wary.

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