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.