Leading article: The Tories cannot afford to make another foolish choice

David Cameron recognises the need to woo the centre, which is essential if they are to win the next election

Share
Related Topics

This time the race has been rather more exciting, with the field now narrowed down to two. After a poor start, David Davis is running a lively campaign. He performed well in Thursday's televised debate and is justifying his reputation for being a pugnacious character. And his opponent, David Cameron, showed his inexperience in the debate. Those who were predicting a Cameron landslide after he came top of the ballot of MPs may have been too hasty.

Yet while Mr Davis's performance was assured, his policy proposals do not bear close scrutiny. Four years away from a general election, Mr Davis proposes to cut taxes for the average British family by £1,200 each year. But who knows what state the economy will be in at that point? Proposing an exact figure now is not credible. His proposal to hold two referendums on "bringing back power" from Europe is also unrealistic. Has he considered the implications of tearing up treaties with our continental neighbours? It is a Eurosceptic fantasy to imagine that this can be easily done. The trouble with virtually all of Mr Davis's policy ideas is that they give the impression of having been formulated in a previous era. His conference speech in Blackpool failed not just due to his flat delivery, but also because of the absence of convincing content.

Mr Cameron is far superior in this respect. He is optimistic about his country, not negative. He has a more grown-up attitude on race and sexuality. He is sensible on the question of drugs too - and must stick to his guns over downgrading ecstasy. Mr Cameron is also conscious of the need for his party not to divorce its aspiration for a smaller state from the imperative of creating strong public services. He is no doctrinaire tax cutter like Mr Davis.

It is also encouraging that Mr Cameron takes the issue of climate change seriously, supporting a permanent mechanism to force through cuts in emissions. His statements on foreign policy are refreshing: it is, as he says, high time that the Tory party ditched its obsession with Zimbabwe and Gibraltar. In the light of all this, it is highly unfortunate his views on Europe are almost as regressive as those of Mr Davis.

In terms of tactics, Mr Cameron's aim of de-coupling Mr Blair from the Labour party is shrewder than Mr Davis's idea of lurching yet further to the right. Mr Cameron recognises the need for the Tories to woo the centre ground if they are to win the next election. The danger for Mr Cameron is that Mr Davis will continue to gain mileage by portraying Mr Cameron as an imitator of Tony Blair. This has the potential to do him great damage among activists. Yet Mr Cameron is also justified in pointing out that Mr Davis never shuns an opportunity to grab a headline - a classic Blairite technique.

The Tory leadership election is still very much open. The activists have a clear-cut choice. For the sake of the country, which desperately needs a strong opposition party, it is to be hoped they choose more wisely than last time.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Software Support Analyst

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a career in custome...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Recruitment Genius: 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Engineer - Managed Services Provider

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 2nd / 3rd Line IT Support Eng...

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Our representatives must represent us

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
MP David Lammy would become the capital’s first black mayor if he won the 2016 Mayoral election  

Crime, punishment and morals: we’re entering a maze with no clear exit

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot