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The despatch box

We're you thinking what the Conservatives were thinking? Did you believe the Lib Dems were the real alternative? Is Labour moving forward not back? This blog will focus on all things political. It will be irritating, agitating and maybe just maybe it will get you thinking.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Clash of the Davids?

There has been much written about the current leadership of the Conservative party - and I wouldn't want to bore people with the numerous comments, rumors and so on that are circulating at the moment.

If we are to believe the papers, and perhaps more importantly the bookies (and they usually get it right) whenever the contest happens, and whatever the rules are - it's going to be between David Davis and David Cameron.

As an ordinary party member I have to say that most people will not have heard of Mr Cameron - and won't really know what he stands for. There is a very interesting piece in this weeks New Statesman entitled "The birth of Blameron" which liken Cameron to Blair. The basic thrust of the article is that Cameron is trying to be a Tory Tony Blair. My one question is that does the party, and indeed the country need or want an updated version of Mr Blair?

My personal view is no we don't. Yes we all can learn the lessons of the Labour Party and how they had to modernise their own campaign machine and so on. And yes, image does count for something - though not as much as some people probably think.

Whether MPs, members or indeed both have a role in selecting a leader I think they should be looking for certain things. Someone with a track record, someone who can be a statesman yet "retain the common touch" which to me means they know what people are really interested in (and whether we like it or not it isn't the European Constitution or whether Peter Mandelson has more power as an unelected bureaucrat) , and quite frankly someone who has leadership qualities.

You can't learn them, you can't inherit them, you don't get them from a posh school - perhaps its the hand you're dealt with - but some people have it and others don't.

The New Statesman article comments,"

At about the time Evelyn Waugh was complaining about the modernism of his generation, a journalist confronted Brendan Bracken, Winston Churchill's slippery but plausible sidekick. He couldn't put his finger on what was wrong until something clicked, and in an indomitable voice cried: "You're phoney! Everything about you is phoney. Even your hair, which looks like a wig, isn't." Unless he can mature overnight by at least ten years, the same will be said of David Cameron."

Now I am certainly not in a position to comment on the merits of David Cameron - Im sure he is very capable. What I do know is that if we are choosing a leader for today - and that's what we are doing, we need someone who can inspire our activists and engage with the public. That means engaging with people not just in leafy suburbs in the South - but reaching out to the millions of voters who have deserted us in many urban areas in the North.

We aren't choosing someone who might be ready to win in 10 years - we need someone with the capabilities to win now. If you are looking for a winner then in my book it has to be David Davis.


  • At Friday, August 05, 2005 10:34:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    good post... thanks.

    my site: gifted and talented child

  • At Tuesday, August 09, 2005 8:58:00 am, Blogger Wat Tyler said…

    Jonathan- quite right. The point about Blair was that he could reach parts of the leafy suburbs Old Labour couldn't reach. But that's not our problem. We need someone who can reach the other parts- the bits that Old Etonians can't reach.

  • At Tuesday, August 09, 2005 9:19:00 am, Blogger Jonathan Sheppard said…

    It's interesting that the only negatives I hear about Davis is that he can be a hard task master or isn't always charming.

    Well I’m not sure that we want a leader who is "nice". What people want is someone they can connect with and who will put up a fight against this discredited government.

    Then on the charge that he isn't a moderniser. Well lets just see. I’m sure as leader we would see plenty of plans to modernise the party and bring it up to date.

    My personal preference for a leader is someone who will say what needs to be said. Someone who as you say, can go into those previously regarded "safe Labour areas" and have some credibility. Ken Clarke may have been the best leader in the past - that's another debate. Cameron may be a future leader - that is also another debate. The choice the party faces is choosing a leader who can deliver change, not just within the party, but for the country, by placing the Conservatives in a position to win power.

    The man to do that has to be David Davis.


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