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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 August 2005, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Who should be the next Tory leader?
Kenneth Clarke MP, Theresa May MP, David Davis MP, David Cameron MP
Former chancellor Kenneth Clarke has given his strongest hint that he will stand for the leadership of the Conservative Party.

His forecast that Britain will not join the single currency for at least a decade in an interview with the journal Central Banking may remove an obstacle for some parts of the party.

David Cameron's supporters have ruled out a 'dream ticket' with the former chancellor, citing differences over the issue of Europe.

Possible candidates also include Liam Fox, David Willetts, Theresa May, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Andrew Lansley, Tim Yeo and David Davis, who is the bookmakers' favourite.

Who do you think should be leader of the Conservative party? What should their priorities be, in order to win the next general election?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Theresa May has the best shoes, so give that tactic a try
Martin Noon, London UK
Haven't the Tories already tried these permutations before? Ken Clarke (from Maggie's Farm) - Michael Howard. David Cameron (Tory Boy) - William Hague. David Davies - (Right winger nobody had heard of) - Iain Duncan-Smith. Theresa May has the best shoes, so give that tactic a try!
Martin Noon, London UK

Forget Ken Clarke and David Davies, if these guys are elected it will be another 10 years in the wilderness. You cant have the old Conservative Party back, learn from the past mistakes, listen to the public and modernise.
Steve , London, UK

Obviously Boris Johnson is the only answer. Boris for PM!
Duncan, Cambridge

It's not just about ideas. A leadership contest is also a vote on personality and 'electability'. One criticism that has been levelled at previous Conservative leaders is that, despite their tremendous work for the Party, they were too young or old, or didn't have the right personality for the job of leader of the country.
Joe Carpenter, London

Unfortunately for this lot I think Tony Blair has that role sewn up already.
Mike, Ipswich, UK

As someone who's moderately interested in politics I think my reaction is a good indication of the problem the Tories face. Ken Clarke, Who, Who and Who?
Frank, Harlow, UK

Clarke deserves his belated chance to lead the party into an election
Gordon, Edinburgh, UK
I don't think it really matters who they choose, but Clarke deserves his belated chance to lead the party into an election. He should probably have succeeded John Major. Perhaps after the next election it will be time for William Hague to have another crack.
Gordon, Edinburgh, UK

William Hague as leader. He is the best orator and debater in the party. David 'two brains' Willetts as his deputy to provide the intellectual thrust (although Hague himself is no slouch in this department). I believe this would be more than a match for Blair/Brown or Brown/whoever.
Mark, St Albans, England

David Cameron is the only hope for the Conservatives. They need to modernise and Cameron is the one to lead the Conservatives into power at the next election. Along with shadow chancellor George Osborne, the pair could be the next 'Blair and Brown'.
J Patel, London, UK

Revitalising the Tory Party will come down to having a credible leader and only Ken Clarke can be that person. I am 30 and object to the idea that a party leader has to be under 45 for me to vote for them. I want to vote for someone with experience that I can have confidence in and who will be able to beat Brown when he takes over from Blair. Ken Clarke's record as chancellor marks him out as the right person to do that.
Tim, London

We need an effective opposition to make our political system work
Stephen, London, UK
We need an effective opposition to make our political system work. I hope that whoever wins will keep the Labour Party on its toes. It would be great if there was a realignment of politics throughout the EU (France/Germany/UK).
Stephen, London, UK

I believe that Sir Malcolm Rifkind should be Tory leader. He would be perfect for taking over the role of Mr Howard. If Sir Malcolm makes a promise, he'll keep it, he will be committed and dedicated to making sure that the Conservative Party will keep a high standard.
Scott Spackman, Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire, UK

I haven't voted in years but if Liam Fox became Tory leader this could change. He appears charming, intelligent and charismatic. Just what the country needs.
Sheila, Lambeth, London

As a 16-year-old Conservative Party member I would like Liam Fox to win. He has the character and flair to have a proper rapport with the public. In all honesty though only Ken Clarke has the right reputation to lead us to victory, not David Davis. Davis does not have the right speaking skills.
Paul Holmes, London

At heart I'm an alienated true blue. I stopped voting for the Conservatives during Margaret Thatcher's long reign. But today I saw David Cameron on TV and for the first time in several generations I have seen someone who really could convince me to return to the Tory fold. No mean feat. It just has to be Cameron.
Jenny Day, Saltash, Cornwall

Malcom Rifkind is a far better politician than anyone else in the party
A Legge, Leeds, UK
Well if it's David Davies that makes them completely unelectable as far as I am concerned. I would consider voting for them under Ken Clarke, and Malcom Rifkind is a far better politician than anyone else in the party. He was far better at handling the press in the last election.
A Legge, Leeds, UK

Norman Tebitt please, he's old, but at least he says it like it is.
Christian Tiburtius, Reading, UK

They need to attract the middle vote - I think only Clarke can achieve that. The others are far too right wing to get my vote. I can't stand Labour, but they are simply better than the Conservatives at this point.
Salik Rafiq, Blackburn

I'd desperately like to see Liam Fox become leader as he can reinvent the Tories in the same way Blair did for New Labour. What is essential is that the new leader appeals to the floating voters, rather than the party faithfully, if they are to regain power.
Matt F, Bristol, UK

Please - anyone but David Davis. He is the archetypal boring grey Tory. At least Ken Clarke has a bit of charisma about him. But nobody can beat Boris for personality and, let's face it, that's all that's needed to get on in politics these days.
Will, Cambridge

The only candidate that stands up for the grass roots members is Theresa May. All party members who want to protect their rights should vote for her.
Chandra, London

Where are the people of stature and presence they need to get their core supporters behind them?
Richard, Dundee
As a life long voter of Conservative persuasion I find the current crop of candidates uninspiring and lacking the dynamism that the Tories need to entice people like me to continue to support them. Where are the people of stature and presence they need to get their core supporters behind them?
Richard, Dundee

If the Tories want to get elected they should allow their individual members to develop their own policies I think it is time for the Tories to have sensible policies. Only Ken Clarke will fit the bill the others are far too right wing.
Charles Jaggers, Glynneath, Wales

Someone not of pensionable age. Would be nice to think they could manage a few terms to try and get some stability in the party rather than constant change.
Kerry, Milton Keynes

cies and decide to what extent they share them, rather than trying to choose a leader to tell them what to think! Haven't we had enough of the presidential model from the current dictatorship?
Robby, Saffron Walden, UK

I would personally like to see David Davis be the leader but this isn't realistic. The only option for the Tories would be Theresa May who is creeping up on the blind side slowly to surprise everyone. A woman prime minister worked very well for them in the past so I remember.
Terry, London, UK

It really doesn't matter. No messiah can save them until they have a message people want to hear. I expect that they will lose ground from now on until the Liberal Democrats become the true opposition. Good thing too!
Alex, London UK

They should bring back William Haig, the only effective leader they have had since Thatcher. Clarke would make an able deputy.
Graham, Stockton

These candidates are more of the same who will not be able to connect with the under 40 generation
Paul, London UK
I think they are all as much the same. The Tory party is still not listening to the nation, they want someone fresh with new ideas that can challenge the Labour party. These candidates are more of the same who will not be able to connect with the under 40 generation. Sorry Tory party, but you are still not getting the point, you need to be middle right not far right to win!
Paul, London UK

Margaret Thatcher seemed to have found the quality of leadership. None of the candidates are in the same league.
Tom Davies, Herefordshire

I have always been a "Tory" voter from 18, I am now 34. But the party needs a swift kick in the pants. People are concerned with education, health, high taxes and low standards of public services. We need a much better public transport system integrated with the car but not reliant on the car. A government that takes a long term view and not just the short term. We need a leader who is forward thinking and can appeal to the people - Ken Clarke is not such a person but I struggle to think of any one who is in the Tory party currently. We also need a leader who will kill off political correctness in the name of a return to common sense.
Carl Thomson, Stoke on Trent Staffs

None of this bunch would ever get my vote
Andrew Jackson, UK
Michael Portillo is the only Tory leader I would vote for. I loathed him when he was in government, but have since realised what an intelligent and sensible chap he is. But none of this bunch would ever get my vote, even versus four more years of Tony's cronies.
Andrew Jackson, UK

Anybody but Ken Clarke. He would make the Tories electable!
Adam, Stoke, UK

What a great leader Kenneth Clark would make. A nice guy and a super intelligent one too. Personally, I would like to see Baron Coe as PM. He has done more for Britain than Blair ever has, winning gold medals for his country. I always vote Labour, but am sick to death of Blair, who has little to do with Labour anyway.
Peter, Edinburgh

David Davis is the one leader who could unite the Conservative supporters in the country which is where it matters - Clarke will split them. Cameron is just another young wet.
Bernard Stone, Bradford, England

If the Tories have a real desire to regain power and attract the many votes of middle England they have lost, then they have to choose Ken Clarke.
Mat, New York, USA

Theresa May is worth considering
L. Davidson, Belfast
The Cameron/Clarke dream ticket would probably be the best option at the moment. However Theresa May is worth considering and maybe the Tories could find a place in their leadership team for the withering insights of their media friendly "most popular Tory in a decade" Derek Laud, who definitely struck a chord with the under 30's in "Big Brother". I don't think David Davis is the man to lead the Tories into government.
L. Davidson, Belfast

The problem is that any good policies the Conservatives have are stolen by Labour. If they're to win the next election they've got to be radical enough to distance themselves from Labour and that might mean one shift too many to the right wing. Would love to see Boris Johnson in power though!
David,

Whoever is leader, the two main parties will still have very similar policies. Both support war, privatisation, indirect taxation, the gradual erosion of the public realm and welfare and the double standards of Bush's foreign policy. We need a party which doesn't dance to the tune of the tabloids or big business, elected by PR, of course (and maybe led by Will Hutton).
Geoff Kerr, Todmorden, UK

Ken Clarke is far too liberal and independently minded to win the nomination. What is needed is a good strong centre right man like Davis. With the ongoing support of much of the media he will win.
Bob, Welwyn

Do the Conservatives really need another leader? The Labour Party has had a Tory leader for some years now (as well as Tory policies). Why not just accept him?
Edwood, Malvern UK

Ken Clarke for leader and then PM
Mohammed, Berkshire
Clarke is the only candidate of prime ministerial calibre. The others are at best capable of only being a good leader of the opposition! Ken Clarke for leader and then PM.
Mohammed, Berkshire

Whoever it is they will need to prove to me and the nation that Tory policies don't favour the rich at the expense of the poor. Which is what the last election manifesto blatantly did. If they don't change their policies I couldn't give a monkeys who's the leader - I won't vote for them.
John, Bristol

Derek from Big Brother... seriously he would be more popular than any of this lot, and most of the youth would already know who he is
Richard Staples, London

Ken Clarke is a good bloke, but once a Europhile, always a Europhile. He cannot change his stance on Europe no matter what he says, so if he became leader, I would always be wondering what he was "really" up to. David Davis is the man for me - he is down to earth, middle-right and displays genuine Conservative values.
A. Howlett, Stockport, Cheshire

The Conservatives need to learn from Labour's time in the wilderness and find their very own Tony Blair figure. I don't think that anybody seriously believes that this means David Davis, but it does mean Kenneth Clarke. How much does this excuse for a popular national political party wish to regain power in the foreseeable future?
A. Sellar, Edinburgh, UK

Theresa May is the only possible leader - the last thing the party needs is another white, middle aged, balding, grey haired man to take over. Theresa May is modern, trendy and fashionable and would, in my opinion restore the party to government.
Ian, Surrey

Surely it has to be David Davis. A common man with uncommon abilities
Jonathan Sheppard, Chesterfield
Surely it has to be David Davis. A common man with uncommon abilities - with the skills and ability to highlight the current failings of this discredited government. It would certainly be a fool who writes off the Conservative Party.
Jonathan Sheppard, Chesterfield

Definitely David Davis. He's not associated with the failings of the last Tory Government and is not wet behind the ears. Ken Clarke did all those popular things like stick VAT on domestic fuel bills. David Davis is more likely to position the Tories behind a flat tax.
R Fawthrop, West Wickham Kent

A Clarke as leader, Cameron as shadow chancellor declared now would end a damaging contest in its tracks. So I guess we won't be hearing that. Instead Cameron's nearest and dearest will persuade him that he can do it now and on his own, shame. What is it about the wilderness that the Tory party enjoys so much?
Henry, London, UK

Boris Johnson would be the perfect candidate to revive interest in politics in general. A real character with good common sense values and ideas who says what he thinks. Who cares if he seems a bit daft sometimes? At least he would add a bit of humour and sparkle at the despatch box.
David, England

The Conservative Party has one chance to beat Labour at the next election and that is Ken Clarke. He was a successful chancellor who could challenge a Labour government who are about to experience difficult economic conditions. However, as long as the Conservative Party remains obsessed with an anti-Brussels agenda they will not have the sense to choose Clarke.
Graham Smith, Leeds, UK

Only Clarke can get the Tories back in power. He has political conviction and will be a breath of fresh air. All those people who are tipping Davis have short memories - uncharismatic dull grey leaders do not win elections.
Vaqas Farooq, Birmingham

Malcolm Rifkind - if he comes back to his Edinburgh constituency and throws out Alistair Darling.
Bryan, Edinburgh

I want Ken Clarke. His "blokeish" charm is well documented - but he is a man of real substance and character. Just look at his position on Iraq for example. If you asked Tony Blair/Gordon Brown who they'd least like to face at the dispatch box they'd say Ken Clarke.
David Merritt, Herts

The Tories have to decide what their true ideals are
Griff, Cardiff, Wales
The Tories have to decide what their true ideals are. At the moment they seem torn between different ideologies such as Thatcherism, individualism and one-nation conservatism. Add to that mix the knee-jerk tendencies of their grass roots and it's no surprise they cannot agree on a leader.
Griff, Cardiff, Wales

Though I am not a Conservative voter, I value a strong opposition party in parliament. The Conservatives have failed to provide this since 1997. Who could make the Tories an effective political machine again? David Cameron sounds like he's the candidate that Blair and Brown most fear, and at least Cameron seems to be taking the argument forward: Rather than harping on about immigration, Europe, crime and taxes (Yawn)!
Nathan Kirkwood, Bedford, UK

I'm one of a rare breed, I expect - a young Conservative voter (I am very proud to say I have never, and will never, vote for Blair or any of his cronies). The party needs to update its image and that's not by having a leader who is out of touch with the "man on the Clapham omnibus" (or should that be Northern Line these days?) but should be someone young(ish) and progressive (which, unfortunately rules out the devastatingly funny Boris Johnson) - I say vote for Derek from Big Brother!
Emma Richards, Weston-super-Mare, England

It has to be Boris Johnson, of course! The party badly needs a hit of personality, that's what the majority of voters will look for after all. The big fella is the one!
Howard Spencer-Mosley, York

There's no point in resurrecting has-beens. The Tories need vibrant new blood - someone who is in touch with the real problems of day-to-day life in the UK. They need to be clear about exactly which principles they stand for and not just choose those which they think will be popular vote winners.
Liz, Worthing

Theresa May would do the best job as she is a moderniser with good democratic principles sticking up for the rank and file members. She also has a good appeal beyond the party itself.
John, Essex

The party needs to be led by new blood
Glyn, Essex
Please not Ken Clarke. The party needs to be led by new blood - bring on David Davis! I agree with the comments on this page that William Hague took the job too early. If he ran again the media would "kill" him (and the party if he won) for sport. Shame as people that are in the know, including Blair, recognise him to be a formidable politician - no wonder the left spin machine took him out!
Glyn, Essex

I am still amazed at the number of comments in regards to the Tory's being so unpopular. At the last general election, they actually had more physical votes that Labour in England and it was purely that the constituency boundaries had been skewed in favour of Labour that they actually won. The sooner the party and Tory voters wake up to this, the sooner we'll get rid of these fake plastic champagne socialists. And Ken might well be the man to explain this.
Sam, London

It is symbolic of the mess the Conservative party is in that neither Ken Clarke nor Theresa May are front runners; the only two that would convey the true Conservative Party to the electors; making the Conservative Party electable once more.
GP Russell, Peterborough, England

I think that all candidates are a bit lame and actually maybe it's time the Tory party followed the Whigs and shut up shop.
J, UK

The Tories need a 'big hitter' like him to bring them out of the wilderness
Vivien, Herts
I think it should be Ken Clarke. The Tories need a 'big hitter' like him to bring them out of the wilderness. I can't think of anyone else that can hold a candle to him, except Portillo, and he's not in the running.
Vivien, Herts

There is only two possible contenders Ann Widdicombe and William Hague, we need one of these at the helm if we are ever to see a successful Tory government again as in Mrs T's day
Kieran, Brighton

Not Clarke for definite as he stands on the left wing of the party and as such will not provide enough "clear blue water" between Labour/ Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. A Clarke victory would cause problems with the activist base as most will be to the right of him! One name not mentioned in your list would be a second chance for William Hague. He took the job too early last time in my view.
David Burch, London

Boris Johnson of course... At least the man says what he thinks!
John, Southampton, UK

Not even the great Ant & Dec could bring an ounce of popularity into the Conservative Party at the moment. I'm afraid the three main parties are cloned from one another like dolly the sheep. None of the candidates exhibit the formidable 'killer instinct' that Margaret Thatcher utilised so well as leader.
Rod, Swansea

The Tories don't have anyone that has a chance, particularly not Clarke, he should have stepped down as an MP years ago. The worst crime in British politics is that they can produce no credible alternative to the Blair and Brown dictatorship. They're legacy will stay with us for generations.
Chris, UK





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