From pantomime to farce

Share

It is in its early stages, but the Tory leadership contest is already beginning to resemble a pantomime. The sheer number of Tory MPs who seem to be throwing their hats into the ring is almost farcical. David Davis, Malcolm Rifkind, Kenneth Clarke, David Cameron, Liam Fox, David Willetts, Alan Duncan and Tim Yeo have all strongly hinted they will run.

It is in its early stages, but the Tory leadership contest is already beginning to resemble a pantomime. The sheer number of Tory MPs who seem to be throwing their hats into the ring is almost farcical. David Davis, Malcolm Rifkind, Kenneth Clarke, David Cameron, Liam Fox, David Willetts, Alan Duncan and Tim Yeo have all strongly hinted they will run.

Even names such as Theresa May and William Hague are being conjured with. Perhaps it would be simpler to list only those Conservative MPs who are not considering standing.

There is - of course - a large element of unreality about all this. Under the new Conservative leadership election rules (currently under discussion), each candidate would probably need the nomination of around 20 other MPs. There is no way that such a long list of hopefuls would be in a position to slug it out in the autumn, when the election is scheduled to take place. There are simply not enough MPs in the party. The list must be substantially whittled down by then.

What we are witnessing at the moment, of course, is jockeying for position. Potential candidates are attempting to set out their stall and explain the direction in which they would take the party. None of them wants explicitly to commit themselves to running - that would make them an early target for the rest. But they all hope to pick up enough political momentum in these early stages to carry them through to the finishing line. It is politics, pure and simple.

And indeed, some good has come of it. There is a genuine debate going on within the Tory party about its future direction. David Willetts, David Cameron and Alan Duncan have all made perceptive interventions about the role of Conservatism, specifically in the social sphere. And all the aspiring candidates agree that the party needs to "modernise" - although there is no consensus as to exactly how.

But the Conservative Party must be careful that this beauty contest does not descend into farce. The sooner the list is reduced to serious candidates the better. Some, such as Theresa May and Liam Fox, may have to accept they have insufficient support. Others with more credibility, such as David Davis, David Cameron and Malcolm Rifkind, need to clarify precisely what they stand for.

Michael Howard's early announcement of his departure and decision to reform the election rules may have been sensible, but the sheer length of time the process takes has relieved the pressure on the Government and has consigned the Tories to an extended period of internal struggle. While the Conservatives choose their leader, the position of official opposition - once again - lies tantalisingly vacant.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Newspaper stands have been criticised by the Child Eyes campaign  

There were more reader complaints this year – but, then again, there were more readers

Will Gore
 

People drink to shut out pain and stress. Arresting them won’t help

Deborah Coughlin
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?