Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Duncan-Smith is out. No surprises here, really, although he did better than I was expecting to get 75 votes.

The surprise is that David Davis has chosen not put himself forward as a leadership candidate:

"One possible rival, David Davis, has already said he is backing Mr Howard in the leadership contest, saying he had decided to turn down requests to run himself....Mr Davis said his decision to "step aside" for Mr Howard was designed to prevent more infighting. 'I recently have had a lot of people come to me and suggest I run for the leadership ... enough to make me think I can win. However, a long and protracted leadership contest would worsen these deep divisions and faction fighting and make the sort of problems we have had in recent years even worse in the run up to the next general election."

Given his reputation as a political bruiser and his stated belief that the Tories have gone too far in their efforts to modernise, I find this statement rather odd. I wouldn't be surprised if, inspite of protestations to the contrary, some sort of deal has been done and Davis emerges as a senior figure in Howard's shadow cabinet. Perhaps too, he's concerned that he and Howard might compete for the same vote thus allowing a moderniser, Clarke or Portillo to sneak in. What does seem clear is that with most senior Tories lining up behind Howard this should be a relatively short and painless transition. Unless, of course, it goes to the Conservative party membership in which case anything could happen..

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