I think we would all take more of an interest in the Tory leadership struggle if we had a better idea of the people involved, most of whom are little more than names to the general public. So here, as a public service, is a complete list of the main candidates.
All party leadership elections in Britain have to have at least one Welsh or Scottish candidate, or at least one whose name sounds as if he might be Welsh or Scottish. Labour's great mistake in the Eighties and early Nineties was to have leaders who were clearly very Welsh or very Scottish (Neil Kinnock and John Smith) but who had extremely English names (Neil Kinnock and John Smith), which confused everyone, so they'd never have got elected. David Davies sounds from his name as if he should be very Welsh, but shows no outward symptoms of this condition. Voters may well find this confusing.
Portillo is one of Britain's favourite character actors. He made his name in the role of a stern, far-right, anti-immigrant martinet, though he has also starred as quite the opposite, as the son of an immigrant (and even spoke fluent Spanish for the part). More recently, he has played a variety of more attractive roles, such as a political casualty who bounces back after an election disaster, and a born-again liberal. Startlingly, he also recently created the role of a single mother and won plaudits for it. Whether he would be convincing in the role of Tory leader is something we may never know.
John Redwood has not yet declared himself, although he certainly will do so, as no Tory leadership contest is adequate without him, or indeed with him.
Oh, another thing about David Davies. He is said to have a safe pair of hands. Nobody knows what this means.
It is customary for at least one of the leading Tories to have a strangely exotic name, which doesn't look, you know, quite English. The names of Portillo and Rifkind spring to mind. Typically, they never become party leader, but they do get a lot of work on radio and television.
Still talked about as a possible Tory leader, though one would have thought that electing a well-known tobacco salesman and jazz broadcaster was promoting quite the wrong image.
Mr Howard appears so often on television to explain Tory policy that many people think he is the Tory leader already. Will he dare to jeopardise this happy situation by actually running for the leadership - and losing?
Iain Duncan Smith
IDS is so anxious to prove himself tough that he may yet throw himself into the race to replace himself. Unfortunately, IDS has not yet realised the difference between acting tough and being tough.
An Anonymous Donor
One of the most generous contributors to Tory-party funds has declared himself so upset by their incompetence and mismanagement that he intends to stand for leader and thus be able to handle his own money that he gives to the party. For tax reasons, he cannot reveal his name at this juncture.
Yes, him again. It occurs to me that nobody has ever become Prime Minister bearing the same name twice. It has worked for science-fiction writers (Harry Harrison) and singer/whistlers (Ronnie Ronalde), and broadcasters (Magnus Magnusson) and I once knew a man called Dick Richards, but politicians? Just a thought.
Mr Blair has had much experience running a business-oriented, neo-conservative, warmongering government, and if he is jettisoned by his own side in the near future, he could do a lot worse than jump into the hot seat of the Tory party ascendant. Indeed, why not get IDS to take over New Labour at the same time? If nothing else, they could send in the cameras and make a great TV series called Party Swap.
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