By George, I think they've got it!

If Martin Kettle (one of the more sober Guardian columnists) is to be believed, it looks like the Tories may finally have worked out exactly what Tony Blair did to them in 1997. Though he makes an important distinction between the forces of conservatism massing on the banks of the Rubicon and actually crossing them, it does look like the UK might be on the verge of having its first serious opposition in eight, if they make the right choice.

Kettle reckons it’s got to be David Cameron. He looks a bit on the light side, but then so did Blair when he took over from John Smith. After presentation, the key will lie getting some decent sized kick ass policies.

If Cameron does get the post, he’ll need some heavyweights in his corner. Moderation will stop the drift to the right wing looney fringe, but so far as middle England is concerned New Labour do that better than the Tories.

  • slug

    “some decent sized kick ass policies”

    Sounds like they are going to dumb down, like Labour.

  • Keith M

    I’ve followed the three parties conference on evening news, and the only one that was in any way interesting was the Conservative one. It’s clear that both the Lib-Dems and Labour are in post election drift. Labour will get a boost when Brown takes over, but the Lib-Dems should adopt “The Road To Nowhere” as their theme tune as long as Kennedy leads the party.

    Before the Conservative conference, I hoped that Ken Clarke would be the next leader, but I have now changed my mind. Clarke looks too like yesterday’s man and I just think he would be too divisive a leader. He hasn’t helped his case for me with his opinions on the Iraq war. Why wasn’t he heard on this subject before his leadership bid? I can spot bandwagon jumping when I see it.

    Davis is simply IDS mk2, Rifkind is my kind of Conservative, but I just don’t see him making it. This leaves Cameron and I think he has really come through this week well. The 2009 election will be all about “more of the same” or a change and I think that Cameron is the best choice to offer change. As for policies, reversing the Labour stealth taxes and cutting back on the unproductive piublic srvice should be the focus of an Conservative manifesto. Forget Europe, the EU has got its own problems to solve.

  • Al

    Cameron lacks experience, and the conservatives run the risk of Labour destroying him in the first month of his leadership. The wise choice would be a sort of Clarke Cameron ticket where the old bruiser deals with the flack whilst Cameron gains experience to take over in the following election.

    Also Cameron seems to be modelling himself as a Blair Mark 2 and I am not so sure that the Blair brand is one I would want to copy just at the moment. The Electorate may not go for it. A young and openly conservative Blair or Gordon? In that scenario I could see drift of support from Labour reversing.

    Whatever happens I hope we at last get an opposition as this government is dire.

  • slug

    If one calculates that the Tories are unlikely to win and need someone to broaden their appeal outside the heartlands for next time, then Clarke is the man. Cameron looks promising, but is a bit young. He can replace Clarke in 5 years.

  • esmereldavillalobos

    The bottom line on all this is can you see any of the 5 prospective leaders appearing Prime Ministerial? Standing up to Chirac, GWB, Kofi Annan? Keeping us out of a war? Didn’t think so.

  • Brian Boru

    Whatever party wins next time, one thing is clear – once again 20% or so of the electoral will have NO representation in the UK Parliament due to the outdated and unfair electoral system. The UK could learn – and should learn – from the Republic of Ireland’s very fine electoral system which means that you don’t get governments elected with 66% of people having voted against it, like in the UK this year where 36% of the electorate chose 55% of the House of Commons (Labour).

    It is an equally unfair quirk of the Brit electoral-system that a part that got 24% of the vote (Lib Dems) only have 9% of the seats. Apallingly undemocratic. Not to mention in NI, where the DUP on 33% of the vote got 50% of the seats. They got double the vote of the UUP, but 9 times the seats. How democratic is that? It gives a totally misleading impression of how the vote broke down.

  • Daulta

    Slug’s got it in one. Brown is a sure a bet as you can make to win this time around. For Cameron to lose his first general election would be to damage his future as a potential prime minister.

    Clarke is the man to rebuild the Tories’ image in Britain. He has seniority and tenure, as well as a common touch. He’s not PM material, but he could do for Cameron what Smith did for Blair, that is, whip his party into shape for government.

  • Occasional Commentator

    Keith M,

    Clarke has been consistently and vocally against the war from the very start, there were many stories reporting it.

    I’d been following the Tories for ages and had pretty much decided I wanted Clarke or Rifkind, but after seeing Cameron for only a few seconds I could see him being PM. He’s a good performer on TV and that’s probably the most important thing.

    Daulta,
    Surely Howard has done a pretty good job whipping the Tories into line? This is a good time for Cameron (or anyone) to take over. Even if the Tories lose again, I think he could survive until the following election.

    While we’re on the subject of the Tory leadership election, I must point out that the last 3 general elections were lost by leaders chosen by the MPs, and that IDS actually won one of the elections he was allowed to contest, the 2003 council elections. See this for the proof of IDS’s victory. The Tories controlled almost twice as many councils as Labour, and had 1000 more councillors. What other elections did he contest? I don’t really know what point I’m trying to make here, but many people mistakenly think that IDS did worse than his predecessors.