Cameron steps into Tory leadership battle

David Cameron emerged as the key challenger to David Davis in the race for the Conservative Party leadership. Mr Cameron, 38, confirmed that a keynote speech on reforming state education was part of his campaign to win the leadership.

"I'm putting forward my ideas. If people like my approach and the policies I'm talking about then I should put myself forward," he said on the BBC Today programme.

Mr Cameron, who is seen by many Tory MPs as the preferred choice of Michael Howard to succeed him as the leader of the Conservative Party, faced an immediate whispering campaign by senior MPs.

"He will come a respectable second to David Davis," said a member of the 1922 Executive. "The view is that he's very articulate, and enthusiastic but too young. He needs to spend another five years in the trenches and will then be a shoo-in."

In a move widely seen as an attempt to stop the Cameron campaign gaining a bandwagon over the coming months, supporters of Iain Duncan Smith were said to have written to Sir Michael Spicer, chairman of the 1922 Committee, calling for a no-confidence vote in Mr Howard.

Their aim is to force Mr Howard to stand down and hold an early contest, which could assist Mr Davis. However, senior MPs said they did not have enough support to succeed. They require 30 names to call a no-confidence vote but they would need 100 Tory MPs to win the vote. "They may be pretty thick, but even they must have worked out that if they get the 30 names, they need 100 people backing it. There is no way that 100 people are going to vote down Michael," said one Tory MP.

In a pitch to the modernising wing of the Tory Party, Mr Cameron focused on the centre ground on education by calling for reforms to state education, rather than repeating the election policy for allowing parents to opt for private schools.

He was given the platform by the modernising Tory think tank, Policy Exchange, led by Francis Maude until he was appointed by Mr Howard as chairman of the Conservative Party to succeed Liam Fox, after the election.

"Politicians need to set out what they believe in, what their goals are, and what their compass will be. If you don't and if you don't stick to them you will get buffeted from one issue to another," said Mr Cameron.

"The principles I want to follow are clear: that a good education is a birthright for all; that discipline is the first requirement for every school; that the basics of reading, writing and numeracy are the vital building blocks for every child."

Mr Cameron, who has a seriously handicapped child, has also won popular support for his campaign to repeal the merging of classes for special needs pupils with other children.

The Education Minister Lord Adonis responded last week by announcing a Government audit of its policy on special schools, but yesterday Mr Cameron attacked it as "limited and opaque".

He said that it would not cover special schools for children with learning difficulties. "The audit should cover all special schools, should listen to parents, should look at the bias in the law and it should be open in its details and remit."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Author / Multimedia Writer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent