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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Contender: David Davis
David Davis
Davis: Initially bookies' favourite to win

Date of birth: 23 December 1948
Job: Shadow home secretary
Education: Bec Grammar School, Tooting; Warwick University; London Business School; Harvard Business School
Family: Married, one son, two daughters

On his party's future: "Modern Conservatives will show that we are not in politics for ourselves. We are not here to defend privilege or accept the status quo. We have a real purpose to change Britain and improve lives."

What the press say: "He has got self-confidence, ruthlessness, ambition and a keen tactical sense, all necessary qualities for leadership. What is unproven is whether he has the team-making and strategic skills," Andrew Rawnsley, The Observer.


His Communist grandfather was one of those who led the 1936 Jarrow march. He was born to a single mother on a council estate, went to a comprehensive school and a redbrick university.

He also counts Alastair Campbell among his better friends.

Just the sort of background that might once have qualified someone to be leader of the Labour Party (old version) or a trade union.

Mr Davis has trumpeted that background, and his time living in northern England, during his leadership campaign.

He has presented himself as the "Heineken" candidate who can reach the parts of Britain the Tories have failed to reach in recent years.

Mr Davis has a reputation as a tough right-winger - but says he wants to use right-wing ideas to solve social problems in the tradition of One Nation Conservatism.

CV: David Davis, 56, shadow home secretary
Key Quote: "Let's stop apologising and get on with the job."
Best joke: "Gordon Brown has given up Prudence and he's taken up with Patience but the neighbour's wife does not want to move house."
Ovations: 17 rounds of applause and a one-and-half minute standing finale, although some of the audience kept going longer
Speech length: 19 minutes, 50 seconds
Name drops: One Thatcher, one Ronald Reagan, one Churchill
Nick Assinder's verdict:Is Davis still the front runner?

His action man image is aided by a three-times broken nose - once when playing schoolboy rugby, once in a swimming pool accident and finally, apparently, in a fight on Clapham Common.

He is also a former member of the Territorial Army's SAS and an extreme sports enthusiast who enjoyed cart wheeling out of aircraft into parachute jumps, mountain climbing and flying light aircraft.

Although Mr Davis is principally seen as a Eurosceptic, opponents of the Maastricht Treaty point to his role as a whip in pushing the treaty through the House of Commons in the 1990s.

Council estate

Mr Davis is the son of a single mother and was adopted by a Polish Jewish print worker with strong trade union links.

His grandfather was a committed communist, while his family lines link him to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some of his formative years were spent growing up on a south London council estate.

Mr Davis was elected to the Commons in 1987, joining the whips office in 1990 before being made a junior minister for public service in 1993.

In 1994, he moved to the key post of minister for Europe at the Foreign Office, a post he held until the 1997 election.

His profile was raised during the 1997 to 2001 Parliament when, during William Hague's leadership, he stayed away from a frontbench role, preferring to take on the government as chairman of the powerful Commons public accounts committee.

He stood for the Tory leadership in 2001 but withdrew after coming fourth out of five in the first round of voting, switching to back Iain Duncan Smith.

He was appointed chairman of the party in 2001 but was famously sacked in his absence by Mr Duncan Smith in an episode which caused some deep frictions inside party ranks.

He has served as shadow home secretary since 2003. During this time the Conservatives have claimed the scalps of Labour ministers David Blunkett and Beverley Hughes.

He has also been assiduously building up the sort of public profile that will be needed if he is to lead the Tories to election victory.

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