The Davis Democratic Deficit

The Clarke camp will be jubilant to read that the BBC’s poll of voters showed he is the single most popular challenger, with 40% backing his candidature, way ahead of the rest of the field.

A further 12% said they were more likely to vote Tory if Mr Clarke were given the job. With only 10% backing Basher Davis, activists and MPs will be increasingly asking themselves – do we seriously want to win?

If the answer to that question is yes, than Davis’ lack of popularity is going to become an increasing problem, since he comes over poorly on TV, stumbling through interviews. No amount of baby kissing will change his harsh, hard-man image. He scores terribly with women voters and he scores terribly with swing voters. He is only popular with Tory activists.

Those MPs considering backing Davis’ for careerist reasons – since backing the leadership winner early and openly is the key to future preferment for second-raters – might want to consider how stunted and short their career might be. A career in opposition will not be fufilling. A career in government is a possibility under Clarke, but far less likely under Davis.

Its the IDS problem all over again – popular in the Tory ranks, unpopular in the country. Europe is a dead issue, in the next decade the Euro project is more likely to collapse than be joined by Britain. Clarke has accepted this, if he assures the Tory party at large that Euroscepticsm will remain party policy and the official religion, perhaps with the promise of an appointment of a hardline Eurosceptic as shadow foreign secretary or shadow chancellor than the black mark against him is removed.

As time progresses the only question that will be on the mind of wise Tories will be – do we seriously want to return to power?




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