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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 11:20 GMT 12:20 UK
Tory leadership watch: August

Follow the latest twists and turns in the Conservative leadership battle with our interactive guide.

Who's in the running?

David Cameron

Dr Liam Fox
Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Andrew Lansley

Theresa May
Tim Yeo

What are the rules?
The new leader is due to be chosen after the Conservative conference in October. A vote at the end of September will decide whether it is grass roots Tory members or MPs who have the final say.

30 August

Paperwatch The Times claims Ken Clarke has made 1m from his role as an "ambassador" for the cigarette trade. The ex-chancellor has been deputy chairman of British American Tobacco for eight years and BAT's annual reports show his yearly fee is 150,000 plus 21,000 in benefits in kind. Writing in the Guardian author Geoffrey Wheatcroft meanwhile says the Tories' deepest problem is Tony Blair. He adds: "If anyone personifies the problem it is David Cameron. In his speech last week he displayed his gift for eloquent statements of the obvious...". The Daily Mail says Mr Cameron's bid to succeed Michael Howard is under threat "as rivals begin fighting to pick off his wavering supporters". The paper suggests the competition will end being between David Davis and Ken Clarke. The Independent says Mr Clarke is to make great play of his opposition to the Iraq war. The paper quotes one MP, a Clarke supporter, saying: "The fact is that Ken got it right on Iraq and others got it wrong."

28 August: Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, pulls out of the leadership race and backs Ken Clarke. He asks his supporters, including those thinking of running themselves, to "follow my lead and back a winner".

26 August: Tory home affairs spokesman David Davis was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme whether Ken Clarke was more of a threat in the leadership race now he has indicated he thinks UK membership of the euro is unlikely in the next decade. He replied: "No I don't think so." The home affairs spokesman added: "We're in the middle of August. Most parliamentarians, I suspect, are elsewhere, they're not even here and they're the ones, by the looks of it, who are going to have the vote." Meanwhile, the Conservatives are balloting 1,333 senior members over plans to give Tory MPs the power to choose the successor to Michael Howard as leader - something which the Parliamentary party has already endorsed.
Paperwatch: The Guardian reports senior Tories as admitting the leadership race could be thrown off course by party activists who could vote to retain their say in who succeeds Mr Howard.

25 August: Ex-Cabinet minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind says that he would be honoured to be chosen to lead a Conservative Party which focused on its One Nation traditions. He told the ITN News Channel that if MPs weren't looking for the party to move in that (centrist) direction, then he would not be the man to lead it.
They are in their mid sixties, I am the same age as David Davis, we are the same generation
Sir Malcolm Rifkind

He also dismissed suggestions he was too old, saying that he was younger than many people think - being the same age as David Davis rather than Ken Clarke or Michael Howard. The misconception was because he had held senior roles in Government at a relatively young age. He was brimming with energy, said the former foreign secretary. Meanwhile David Davis has written an article in the Evening Standard newspaper calling on Tony Blair to axe the new (24-hour) drink laws proposals. It is clear the laws are a mess, and are opposed by the British people and many key professionals, he says. To press ahead "smacks of an arrogance of which many people thought even New Labour incapable".
Paperwatch: Jackie Ashley writing in The Guardian likens possible contender Kenneth Clarke to the late Mo Mowlam in terms of his popular appeal and warns Labour that he could well be the one to pull in the votes of "floating voters, disaffected ex-Tories and disillusioned ex-Labour voters". She suggests that as the last chancellor he could target potential weaknesses in the government's economy. "Clarke offers an authority based on personality and authenticity, experience and chutzpah" she adds and says he is, above all, "a communicator". Matthew d'Ancona in The Daily Telegraph clearly disagrees. He says David Cameron was right to shy away from a possible "dream ticket" scenario with Clarke. The former Tory chancellor is top at promoting "the cult of personality", says d'Ancona, adding that Clarke is "the man who puts the 'mess' in 'messianic'". The Spectator's Peter Oborne comments that David Cameron's supporters are taking notes on Tony Blair's "massive legacy" among voters. He says Cameron's style and delivery is "almost identical" to Blair's. But the writer ends by saying that it may be Kenneth Clarke rather than Cameron who has Tony Blair's main gift - of being able to reach beyond core party supporters to the wider electorate.

24 August: It's a busy day for David Cameron as he talks tough on terror in a speech at the Foreign Policy Centre. He likens the battle against Islamist extremists to the fight against Nazis in the 1930s. He also wants more done to ensure all Britons are encouraged to learn English. It seems the tricky issue of Europe is definitely ruling out any potential love-in between Ken Clarke and David Cameron.
I have a particular issue with Kenneth Clarke in that ... we don't agree about the issue of Europe
David Cameron

Talk of a "dream ticket" deal for the Tory leadership has been strongly ruled out by Mr Cameron, who says this is one issue on which the two men will never agree. Meanwhile, the shadow education secretary has given a speech on tackling terrorism, but only after discussing his thoughts with leadership rival David Davis.
Paperwatch: The Evening Standard focuses on ex-deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine's comment that Mr Cameron might "welcome" the opportunity of playing understudy to "professional bruiser" Mr Clarke. The paper says the clear implication is that the shadow education secretary is "a mere kid on a scooter, over-reaching himself by running this time". According to the Daily Mail, Mr Davis is "laying plans for what he expects will be a straight fight" for the leadership with Mr Clarke.

23 August: Ken Clarke, for a long time the highest profile pro-euro Conservative, strikes a noticeably cooler tone as he says the single currency has failed to deliver increased productivity in Europe as he had hoped. His comments are interpreted as signalling that he is likely to stand for the leadership - his pro-euro stance is blamed for him failing narrowly in the 1997 and 2001 leadership elections. Supporters of leadership challenger David Cameron say they have ruled out the possibility of a "dream ticket" deal with Ken Clarke. Mr Cameron's team believe they can win enough votes without Mr Clarke and say the two differ over Europe.
I think that Ken is capable of landing punches on this government in a way that I don't see anyone else being able to do
Lord Heseltine

However, ex-deputy PM Lord Heseltine is among the backers of the "dream ticket" idea. He says Mr Clarke is "the most popular Conservative around", describing him as "head and shoulders ahead of any other candidate". He adds that Mr Cameron is "an extremely personable guy" who might welcome a period very close to the top "where he'd gain the experience of a professional bruiser which Ken is".
Paperwatch: The Sun says Ken Clarke has suffered a broken nose during a bird-watching holiday in Germany. According to the paper, Mr Clarke claims he slipped on a gangway.

22 August: The most prominent candidate is Theresa May who went on the offensive against the Government on the Today programme. She said ministers' letter asking for a boycott of Zimbabwe's cricket team was "too little too late" and questioned its timing, coming a year after England played them, and with no imminent match between them in the near future.
The point about condemning evil is to take the tough decision at the critical point, when they can have the most effect
Theresa May


Paperwatch: The Times says that the Eurosceptic right of the party are dissatisfied with the line-up, with the 25-strong Cornerstone group apparently hoping to see if Bernard Jenkin or Edward Leigh "will carry the torch for the right". On The Independent's opinion pages Bruce Anderson says Ken Clarke is too "complacent, too self satisfied and too arrogant to rethink his position in the light of new circumstances, and ought not to be a serious candidate. He also says that David Davis has 60 backers, but also as many pledged opponents. Mr Anderson also questions whether on issues of substance Mr Davis is to the right of David Cameron, who, he said, is about to step up his campaign. In the Guardian Roy Hattersley, an ex-Labour deputy leader, says the UK is close to becoming a one party state because of the failings of the Conservatives. He pours scorn on the candidates, saying they lack positive ideas and then adds "whoever becomes the next Conservative leader... is never going to be prime minister".

18 August: David Cameron has refused to rule out a "dream ticket" pairing with Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke in the race to replace Michael Howard. Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Today programme the education spokesman said Mr Clarke was a "huge figure" in the Conservative Party. "I certainly don't rule anything out but I think it is much better at this stage to put those ideas and talk about the challenges facing the country and what the Conservative Party needs to do to meet them and how they need to change," he said. There was speculation of the two politicians joining forces earlier in the summer with Mr Clarke taking the senior role.
Paperwatch:Meanwhile in the Spectator, Peter Oborne comments that Kenneth Clarke is definitely going to throw his hat in the ring. He includes the caveat that Clarke's candidacy relies on the party ratifying changes to the leadership rules, due to take place in September. He writes that Clarke's emergence is "disastrous" too for Cameron, he says, suggesting that the shadow education secretary might now lose out in the contest to secure the crucial votes of "30 or so still uncommitted Tory MPs". The David Davis camp however remains confident and it is now likely he and Clarke will emerge as the two frontrunners, says Oborne.

17 August: "I called for a debate...and if you have a debate of this kind it is obvious not everybody is going to agree with each other." That was Michael Howard on the Today programme steadfastly refusing to be drawn into the spat between leadership rivals Sir Malcolm Rifkind and David Cameron over whether it is OK to criticize the party's past failings. Mr Cameron, if you recall, warned against "trashing the brand" after Sir Malcolm called the past eight years of Tory leadership "deeply defective". Mr Cameron is Mr Howard's former policy chief and has long been reckoned to be the Tory leader's chosen successor. But Mr Howard also thought enough of Sir Malcolm, a former cabinet colleague in the Major government, to promote the former foreign secretary to the front bench within days of his return to Parliament. No wonder he is staying out of this one...
Paperwatch: A tale of two Michaels in The Guardian, which contrasts BBC man Michael Buerk's recent ruminations about a world lived by "women's rules" with Tory leader Michael Howard's thoughts on multiculturalism and the need for a stronger and more cohesive British identity. Both men could be accused of "burying themselves under the covers in the hope that 21st Century Britain will go away", the paper says in an editorial, but unlike "grumpy old man" Mr Buerk, Mr Howard has "some useful and interesting things to say" about British society, it adds tartly.

16 August: Conservative chairman Francis Maude tells the e-politix website the party is still seen as "intolerant and preachy".
Paperwatch: Friends of David Davis tell The Guardian's Michael White it would be "too dangerous" for him to take sides on proposed changes to the way the next Tory leader is elected. Constituency chairmen will decide in a vote on 27 September whether to back Michael Howard's plan to give the final say to MPs. If they refuse to endorse this plan Mr Davis is thought to be "unstoppable", Mr White writes, but Mr Davis's supporters are split on the issue. Only if members agree to the rule change will Ken Clarke enter the race, he adds.

15 August: Paperwatch: Flamboyant Big Brother evictee Derek Laud - dubbed "the most popular Tory in a decade" by the show's presenter Davina McCall - has been quick to scotch rumours he has designs on the other big popularity contest of the summer.
As a Tory party member, for me Theresa May is the only real candidate
Tim James, London

Asked if he has what it takes to be Tory leader, Mr Laud replied: "I don't have ambitions that modest." But that has not stopped Mr Laud, a former speech writer for Baroness Thatcher, offering a few words of wisdom to potential leadership contender David Willetts. "Derek helped out during the general election campaign and asked if we could meet for a chat,'' Mr Willetts told The Sunday Telegraph. "He has been cut off from the world for 10 weeks and so was keen to find out what's been going on in the Tory party, while I wanted to know what's really been going on in the Big Brother household. I won't tell you who had the more spicy tales.''
Sir Malcolm Rifkind has his eyes on the shadow chancellorship should his leadership bid fail, The Daily Express reports.
Latest betting: David Davis 8/13, David Cameron 4/1, Ken Clarke 10/1, Liam Fox 14/1, William Hague 22/1, Malcolm Rifkind 25/1, Andrew Lansley 25/1, David Willetts 40/1, Tim Yeo 40/1. (Source: Politicalbetting.com)

14 August: An interesting little spat appears to have broken out between leadership rivals David Cameron and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
The next few months will decide whether we have a future
Sir Malcolm Rifkind

Speaking on BBC News 24, Mr Cameron, a former PR chief, warns Conservatives against "trashing the brand" arguing "you do not get anywhere in life" by endlessly criticising your own party. His comments come after Sir Malcolm, in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, appeared to attack the party's recent leadership, saying "the last eight years have been deeply, deeply defective....There is no excuse that is convincing as to why a party that has been in opposition for eight years should be flat-lining". Mr Cameron's own assessment of the Tories' failings - the general election campaign was too right wing and concentrated too much on crime and immigration - does not, it seems, count as "trashing".

12 August: Could Bill Clinton be the answer to the Conservatives' problems? That's certainly the view of Tina Wyles, from South West Bedfordshire Conservative Association when asked how the Tories can win back the votes of women.
Women are the influencers,
Carole Hegley
South West Beds Conservative Association

"He had charisma, he could communicate in a way that reached all people and he had the X-factor," she says. In the last election, the Conservatives won an estimated 32% of women's votes, compared to Labour's 38%. But leadership hopefuls may be shy of appealing too much to any feminine instinct just yet for it is MPs who have the final say in the leadership battle - and they are overwhelmingly male.

11 August: Will he or won't he? Speculation has been rife about Ken Clarke's leadership intentions since he dropped the first of many hints that he might stand two months ago. Now it seems the former chancellor is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice and ditch his highly public support for the euro - the "poison pill" that arguably ruined his two previous leadership bids - to make one more pitch for the crown. That's according to The Guardian, which quotes one shadow cabinet member as saying a Clarke candidacy "would pull the rug from under" David Cameron. The man himself is currently on a bird watching tour of Europe and is unavailable for comment. An announcement is expected upon his return next week.

10 August: The shadow cabinet changes so often you would struggle to recognise more than a handful of them. So says Lord Howe, Tory grandee and former Chancellor, who doesn't hold back in his assessment of the contenders currently vying for the top job, in an interview with the BBC News Website. David Davis? "not a very thoughtful person". David Cameron? Too young. What is needed is a little of "magic" that characterised Margaret Thatcher's election as party leader, the peer opines.

9 August: Conspiracy theory time. The Conservative constitutional college vote on reforming the way the party elects a new leader will be held on 27 September it has been revealed - the same day Tony Blair addresses the Labour Party conference in Brighton. If the Tory reforms are rejected will they be accused of trying to "bury" bad news?
Howard Flight is not happy about proposals to discipline Conservative MPs who cause the party "adverse publicity". The former Arundel and South Downs MP knows better than most what it is like to be on the receiving end of party discipline. He had the whip withdrawn at the start of the general election campaign, for suggesting the party was not being candid about planned spending cuts. But Mr Flight, who has been tipped for a return to frontline politics if his friend David Davis wins the leadership race, maintains his sacking was against the existing party rules. He warns the Conservatives are in danger of becoming "overly authoritarian".
Paperwatch: Former leader Iain Duncan Smith, writing in The Guardian, warns the party it can not rely on the economy turning sour - and Gordon Brown's reputation crumbling - to make voters return to the fold.

7 August: Paperwatch: Dark horse candidate David Willetts has appointed a chief of staff to organise his leadership bid, reports The Sunday Times. "PR guru" Penny Mordaunt tells the paper Mr Willetts has enough support from MPs to mount a bid "if he wants it". Meanwhile, The Sunday Telegraph suggests Lord Coe, fresh from fronting London's successful Olympics bid, might be persuaded to have a tilt at the Tory leadership. Although, the item adds, the former athlete may think twice, after seeing "tension that the job can bring out in a man during his thrice-weekly judo sessions with William Hague when he was the party leader".

5 August: Paperwatch: The Economist offers a "parable of the supermarkets" contrasting the way Labour have overtaken the Tories in recent years. It contrasts the performance of the Tories with that of Sainsbury and compares New Labour to Tesco. "It took a hard look at what the Tories were offering, copied their best policies and ditched the unpopular, old-fashioned socialist range it used to stock." The leader suggests the Conservatives should try to become the low tax party of the many if they want power.

4 August: Spread betting millionaire Stuart Wheeler - one of the Conservative party's biggest donors - says he has invited each of the leadership contenders for a slap-up meal. Mr Wheeler's cunning plan is to quiz each hopeful on their vision for the party before deciding which of them to back. The Tory tycoon believes the party's MPs should be given the final say and pledges to keep the money rolling in regardless, "unless I gamble it all away..."
Liam Fox reacts to George Galloway's description of Iraqi insurgents as "martyrs" as "a particularly bilious outburst" even by the Bethnal Green MP's standards.
Paperwatch: Will Self writing in the London Evening Standard says children's storybook monster the Gruffalo is a "composite nasty" of the Tory leadership contenders ("the voice of Malcolm Rifkind...the humility of David Davis")

3 August: Paperwatch: David Davis tells The Daily Telegraph the government should scrap its "outdated" policy of multiculturalism.
Latest betting: David Davis 8/13, David Cameron 5/2, Ken Clarke 14/1, Liam Fox 14/1 (source: politicalbetting.com)

6 May - 2 August: Michael Howard reacts to election defeat by saying he will quit by the end of the year, once rules for changing his successor are changed. Contest is yet to start so no-one openly declares candidacy - but rush of speeches or interviews outlining "vision" swiftly identifies hopefuls. Follow the links in the candidate profiles above to read key speeches.




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