Fox will have to run like he is being chased by the hounds. Cameron’s cheeky try-on will keep his profile high, but in all likelihood he, like Fox, will have to drop out and the battle will be between Davis and Clarke.
The Clarke proposition is that he can win against Brown and would have had no truck with Iraq, the Davis proposition is that he is sound on the issues, tough and he too can win against Brown. The Davis camp needs to stem the flow of right-wing Tories willing to hold their nose and back Clarke, the Clarke camp needs to overcome the suspicions of Euro-sceptics. Both will be seeking to land blows on Brown and Blair in public to demonstrate their mettle.
The Davis camp will put it about that a Clarke led Tory party will be divided and re-energise UKIP’s electoral threat, Clarke will point to his popularity amongst voters the party needs to win over. Davis needs to raise, or at least prove, his potential popularity.
Hague, who as Guido has reported before has little love for Davis, will it is now rumoured back Davis – Guido is not convinced, he could as equally back Fox, but is does seem that he is being courted by Basher. Hague’s endorsement would carry some weight since Hague is popular in the party. He potentially could be used in the media as the anti-Clarke attack dog, taking a more-in-sorrow-than-anger approach of pushing the “he’s unsound and past it” line.
Guido reckons its going to be KC versus Basher and you can forget the other contenders, the only question is – which ship will they jump on?