Thursday, October 30, 2003

The Fix is in.

The King is dead, long live the King.

The Tories have tried election by MP’s and they’ve tried election by the membership, and now in their hour of need, they appear to have gone back to election by the magic circle.

If I was a Tory member, I’d be livid. You go through all this sh*t, and what do you end up with at the end of it, a leader with no discernable policy difference or extra electoral appeal to the current one. This judgement may be wrong, and Howard might be a more sophisticated politician than IDS, but at best, it feels like they're trading increased competence for massively increased baggage.

So why do the Tories seem to think their best political move is to remind us all about the Major years. Howard's the one remaining politically active figure of the Thatcher/Major years who is still easily dislikeable. Clarke and Portillo are re-invented, Aitken, Hamilton and Archer novelty acts, Rifkind, Laing, Hague, Redwood, Lilley, Dorrell are all in their different ways retired hurt.

Harry Hatchet recently ran a feature with pictures of Tory MP’s from the Thatcher/Major years as a reminder of why we should stick with Labour. Little did he know that nostalgia was shortly to become the new Tory election strategy.

In the Spectator today, Peter Oborne advises the new leader to bring back Dorrell, Gummer, Dorrell, Clarke, Portillo, Hague and Major himself.

Now, far be it for me to tempt fate, but these names have a certain ring to them. They may be big beasts, but they are big beasts with form. It would be like Christmas for the keen kids in Labour’s Attack unit. I can imagine them now, poring through hansard, giggling merrily at every cut, at every stumble, at every speech Howard gave introducing the poll tax, at every criticism of the minimum wage, of opposition to rights at work and social reform.

Oh wait, they already have. Why didn’t I get a copy, guys? Am I on the outs on the vast Labour conspiracy to dominate the blogosphere?

Well to finish, a couple of predictions.

First, The Tory grass roots might take this for the time being, but there will be fury underneath. At the first sign of Howard stepping away from the right wing agenda, watch the spark of betrayal erupt into the flame of outright rebellion. After all, it’s not as if the right wing head don’t have form in this regard- and they’ve nothing left to lose.

Second, the political strategy won’t change that much. This is Howard’s conference speech. Search in vain for a positive political idea that is not a total generalisation. The same is true of the previous years speech. The only suggestion I’ve heard is that he may want to water down the tax cut pledge, instead talking about identified savings only. This is no doubt sensible policy, but see above for the consequences.

<< Home

George Galloway- the T-shirt

With some irony, the ad on the top of my site at the moment is for "George Galloway is Innocent" T-Shirts.

The wonders of the free market. Ahem.

I hereby copyright the idea of printing T-Shirts with Comical Gall'y on the front (in true Beret and tache style) and "I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability" on the back and assign my copyright to anyone who isn't lazy.

Should be a great boon for next years Euro elections.

<< Home

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Something of the Nightmare?

90-75 is the final result in the Tory no confidence motion. IDS goes down respectably after what was, strangely enough, his best day as leader. His leadership will be swiftly forgotten. We'll see a lot of generous tributes, but for those of you who need to remember, let's be honest, IDS was a terrible leader.

IDS did better than I expected. He clearly held his core support, plus a loyalist group. Only 8 more votes would have secured it for him.

Already it looks as if there is a strong movement for the Tories to unite around Michael Howard. David Davis has already endorsed Howard, and the rumour is that Stephen Dorrell, Liam Fox and Oliver Letwin will do so later tonight. As Andrew Marr said tonight, there is something of the "young cardinals voting for old popes" about this.

So it seems that the Conservative party is looking to delay its next bout of fratricide until after the next General Election.

The Labour high command will be pleased if the Tories gather round a known and disliked standard bearer. At least it will make a change from them choosing unknown and disliked standard-bearers.

I have to ask my Tory correspondents to explain to me what is the benefit in all this. If your new leader is to be a right wing euro-sceptic social conservative who is unpopular amongst swing voters, why did you bother? A more competent unpopular politician is surely no great boon.

Perhaps I am missing the power of Howard's appeal. I hope someone more in tune with Tory thinking can explain it to me. At the moment it just seems like the men who would be king shrank back from further angering the Tory grass roots by appearing by being raised up by regicide.

Interesting nuggets gained from watching Sky and BBC News 24:

Iain Dale of Politico's handing out David Davis press releases after Davis's statement. Dale was a talking head on Sky News permanently yesterday and today- I wish I'd known in advance that he was a Davis campaign staffer as it would have helped parse his statements.

Teddy Taylor, Angela Browning and the like baring their teeth at the "plotters". Somehow I doubt that loathing will dissipate easily. The only question is, who will be the plotters they try and take down and how? Presumably those who clamber up the greasy pole as a result of this putcsh will be eyed with suspicion.

Amanda Platell says she's throwing away her Tory membership card- so every cloud has a silver lining for the Tories. Listening to her 3 minute straight to camera "leader" on the crisis, during which I think she called the plotters variously snivelling, gutless, vapid, pathetic and backstabbers, I had to wonder about Sky's commitment to balance. Especially when she then interviewed IDS loyalist Eric Pickles.

Various shadow cabinet members rushing straight out of CCO immediately after IDS's concession to.. ahem "confer" with friends and journalists.

One Tory MP is in North Korea and still voted. Surely the first Democratic vote in North Korean history. It must have been a bit odd for him to explain that he was deciding whether to depose his Dear Leader for incompetence. I wonder if the North Koreans reflected on this.

<< Home

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Confident Tories

There will now be a Confidence vote on Wednesday for Tory MP's on Iain Duncan Smith's leadership. IDS has said he will put his name forward to a renewed mandate.

What happens now?

First, There are 165 Tory MP's. The magic number is 83 (50% plus 1). That means there need to be another 44 Conservative MP's willing to vote for a motion of No Confidence for a leadership election to take place. (See below if you think I've got my maths wrong)

If that motion of no confidence happens, All Tory MP's can stand for election by nominating themselves, and a series of votes take place, eliminating the lowest candidates in turn. The votes continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then the vote goes to the membership. A decent summary is to be found here.

Of course, if the second place candidate withdraws at that point, the first place candidate becomes winner, though that is not in the rules, it will be bandied about.

Talking points you should know to impress:

Number of votes IDS got in successive leadership rounds last time: 1st: 42, 2nd: 42, 3rd:54.

Number of People who actually submitted letters: 29

The Shadow Cabinet members who stood next to IDS on his statement: Howard, May, Letwin, Ancram. Notable by their absence: Davis, Fox, Yeo.

Last Conservative leader never to face a General election: Neville Chamberlain. Last Tory Leader Not to fight a General election and not be Prime Minister: Austen Chamberlain.

Historical parallel: The 1922 committee is named after the backbench putsch against Austen Chamberlain. Perhaps it should now be renamed the 2003 committee.

Modern Tories: Tory MP's can e-mail their votes in the no-confidence election.

Memes to watch:

How bad is too bad? If IDS gets 50% exactly, or 55%. Will that be fatal? Currently, I think anything over 50% will do, but there may be a meme put around.

Who will rally round the leader? Forget the IDS core 42 supporters. What about the Davis and Ancram 30? (they got 15 each last time round) With those and a few former Clarke and Portillo supporters, IDS could be safe. Where will they go? Will they say?

Update: How bad will it be? Some Tories are speculating that in the privacy of the Polling booth, he will be humiliated. I've heard numbers in the below 30 range.

Also: PMQ's: What will happen? Probably the most interesting PMQ's since Major during the leadership election.

Thing I don't know and would like to:

Who is the leader of the Conservative party between the No Confidence motion and the crowning of the new leaders (As the rules state IDS has to resign immediately)? Is it deputy leader Michael Ancram, who may be a candidate for the leadership?

<< Home

Monday, October 27, 2003

Beware the IDS of March...

A shaft of comedy gold in the Tory leadership crisis. tory MP Peter Duncan has turned seer. What happens if IDS is overturned? Peter knows. Highlights include:
resignations and By-Elections; Tory Party splits; Lib-Dems moving into Second; Redundancies at CCO.

The saga ends dolefully:

"2nd February

New opinion poll gives the Liberal Democrats a 3% lead. Front page of 'The Daily Express' portrays a tombstone of the Conservative Party with twenty-five Conservative MPs' signatures etched onto it.

Woooooo: Well, it is almost Halloween.

No. This isn't a joke. This is a joke. hard to tell, I know.

<< Home

Plug a blog

I like it when Journalists read my site. I'd like it even more if they plugged my site and paid tribute to my overwhelming genius etc etc. I'm sure other bloggers feel the same way.

So if you're a journalist, why not plug a blog you read. Not mine, just a blog you enjoy reading.

Go on. Go on. Think of all us labouring away with only self regard and hit-counters to keep us going.

Anyway that's not what I meant to write. I meant to plug Clive Soley MP's new blog. For those of you who are unfamilar with Clive, he was the chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party and a member of Labour's national Executive until 2001. This is a position as important behind the scenes in the Labour Party as the now famous Sr Michael Spicer and far more important than most junior ministerial jobs.

Read a profile of Clive here. Read his blog here

<< Home

Tory Leadership crisis part XXXVVVIIII

It's like rubbernecking at a car crash.

So Instead of rubbing my hands with glee, I shall merely link to some Tory comment.

For the most cogent defence of IDS, read the ever perceptive Anthony Wells. He is angry at the plotters and posts the most cogent IDS defence I've seen over the last few days. He also makes an interesting process point about what this really portends in the short term:

"It would take three months, make no mistake. There is little chance of Tory MPs united round a single candidate - and the grass roots would be in flames were they to succeed in doing so and rob them of their say in the leadership. The election procedure can be shortened slightly ......but the time taken to compile up to the minute membership and subscription data means it will always take months rather than weeks. It would be suicidal to wish such paralysis on the party at this time."

The one thing I don't understand is what makes Tories think Howard or Davis (the two "front runners") would do any better. If we were talking about a Heseltine, or even a Major, I'd understand. But these people have all IDS's political liabilities.

IDS, Howard and David Davis. The three faces of the Tory party. The lurching zombie, the vampire and the street thug.

<< Home