Miles Kington: Churchill, Disraeli... we dig all those cats

Someone who's passed on might have a better chance of uniting the Tories than anyone still alive
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Fantastic Liam Fox

Bland, Boring and Banal. These are three of the epithets which threaten the existence of Fantastic Liam Fox, but the way in which he contrives to escape them makes for one of the most exciting children's stories ever, or will do if he actually does manage to escape.

Dr Cruikshank

A crusty old Scottish country doctor who may turn out to be the saviour the party is looking for, embodying as he does the values of pre-Beveridge medicine. He is a breath of fresh air at Blackpool, moving throught the crowds with the odd Celtic imprecation, curing the occasional attack of croup or ingrowing toenail, but mostly dispensing home-grown wisdom like "Least said, soonest mended" and "Stop picking at it, laddie."

Joshua Rifkind

Can sheer willpower eliminate all traces of a Scottish accent from a Tory politician's voice? That's the task that has preoccupied Joshua Rifkind all his working life, although even friends concede that he has been less than successful, as the operation has left him sounding like what has been described as a "Morningside Dalek". In political terms he is said to be somewhat to the right of Greyfriars Bobby, but nobody is quite sure what that means.

Kenny Clarke

One of the great modern jazz drummers of the century, Kenny Clarke went to live in Paris in the 1960s, though he doesn't think his association with Europe will harm his chances unduly. "The Tory party has moved on, man," he says. "I think they can dig Europe now." Does he think the fact that he died in 1985 will affect his chances? "I think the Tories respect the past even more than the present," he says, puffing a posthumous cigar. "They like dead people more than live people. Churchill, Disraeli, all those cats. So I can see where someone who has passed on might unite them more than anyone still alive. Especially a giant like Kenny Clarke. Yeah."

Dai Davies

Davies has two huge advantages. He is the first Tory since Willie Whitelaw to have both names begin with the same letter. And, hold on, what was the other? Oh, yes - he has a shock of white hair while still looking young, or at least ageless, the so-called John Birt/Alastair Darling/Chris Patten effect. Talking of Chris Patten, why isn't he in the race? Also, he has a Welsh name, which appeals to the Welsh, but he is clearly not Welsh, which appeals to the English.

General Hague

Still remembered as the youngest ever leader to lead the Tories to defeat, General Hague is even now talked of in some quarters as a possible solution to the problem and may well surprise everyone by coming back to lead them to defeat again. At the moment he makes a lucrative living making witty speeches about the art of defeat and being paid far more for them at private dinners than he ever was in the House, so it is hard to see why he would be tempted, except for reasons of pride, ambition, revenge, etc, etc.

Captain Night-Time Howard

Although Captain Night-Time Howard has resigned as party leader, he has not yet gone, and the procedure to find a successor is so complicated and so little understood that observers fear that after the dust has settled and the smell of cordite dispersed, Mr Howard may well triumphantly emerge through the smoke in his top hat and flashing eyes, and still turn out to be party leader after all. This would almost certainly lead to calls for a new resignation procedure to be put in place and a stake to be put through Howard's heart.

Miles Kington's book 'Someone Like Me; Tales From a Borrowed Childhood', is published by Headline at £16.99. To order a copy at the special price of £15.50 (free p&p) call Independent Books Direct on 08700 798 897, or order online at