October 29, 2003

iDs-Day for the Tories

Today is the day that the Parliamentary Conservative Party decides the fate of its leader, Iain Duncan Smith. He has to get the support of 83 MPs to remain leader. If he does that, he will be secure in his position for the next year and probably lead the Tories to their next election defeat.

My money is on IDS not getting the required level of support. If he doesn't get 83 votes of confidence, he is out and cannot stand as a candidate in the next round.

I like IDS. I agree with most of the things he says. I think he is right on most of the issues. I think he is the wrong person to be leader of the party. I'm sure he made a fine army officer, but this is one group who will not follow him in to battle.

A lot of it is down to style. IDS doesn't excite anyone and in this age of television and sound bites, boring just doesn't work. In matters of policy, he hasn't found the right poltical battleground on which to set up an effective Opposition. No one knows what the Tories stand for and how they are different from those faux-Tories, New Labour.

This dissarray in the Conservative Party has even led the Liberal Democrats to shift their Shadow Cabinet right-ward to prepare to take the role of HM Opposition. It is, after all, conceivable that the LDs could win more seats at the next election than the Tories. If that happens, the Conservative Party will disintegrate.

The problem with dumping IDS is that there is no one strong enough to re-group the Tories and look like a Prime Minister-in-waiting before the next General Election. The only person who might pull it off is the person who will probably not stand for the leadership, Michael Portillo. Portillo knows that the next election is like to be lost and the leader will probably do a William Hague and resign in the aftermath. He can then come in an do what he had hoped to do the last time.

I don't particularly care for Portillo. He has gone all lefty and squishy, especially on social issues. He is particularly vulnerable to the gay lobby. I do realise that he is probably the only Tory that the nation, which itself has gone a bit lefty and squishy, will be willing to elect.

I don't want to eat any of my words, so I will wait until this evening before I write off IDS. Stranger things have happened. Any way you look at it and whatever happens in the leadership struggle, it is still a long road back for the Tories. Let's just hope there's not a bridge washed out along the way.

Posted by david at October 29, 2003 03:50 AM | TrackBack

I'm afraid I think you're right about IDS. He just doesn't come across well enough on 'the box' for today's voters.

Posted by: Havdala at October 29, 2003 05:41 PM

IDS is out. 75 to 90. This was a lot closer than I thought it would be.

Posted by: David Holford at October 30, 2003 12:29 AM