Friday, May 27, 2005

It's All Monbiot's Fault

'In a letter sent to all Tory MPs last night, Mr Howard admitted that the board's package - drawn up by Raymond Monbiot, chairman of the party's national convention - "could have been better handled", a reference to the "take it or leave it" way the package was presented to backbenchers.'

And, as predicted, Iron Mike has agreed to decouple Monbiot's proposals for new leadership election rules from his other corporate restructuring proposals- particularly those inflammatory performance targets for MPs.

But Ray isn't about to take the wrap lying down. He popped up on the Today Programme this morning to say the fiasco is all Mikey's fault for announcing his intention to resign. Everything would have been cool if M had remained at his post to force the package through.

Boy, can he talk. Poor old Sarah couldn't get a word in as he rattled through his Powerpoint presentation. No wonder those MPs got so pissed off. It was like having Monbiot Jnr lecturing them on their personal responsibility for AIDS deaths in Africa.

And he explained why we can't sort it out any time soon. Apparently a leadership election under the existing rules would take months to organise because 'there are seventeen ways of addressing an Air Vice Marshall'.

Honestly, I'm not making that up. His point was that each and every one of those Air Vice Marshalls would need careful checking out in case they each got (and used) seventeen leadership votes. I mean, you know what those senior RAF types are like.

(Er, membership card has a membership number on it- presumably unique)

Anyway, it's obvious he's toast.

Meanwhile Tim Yeo turned up on Newsnight to continue his leadership pitch. He looked like a badly preserved Jorrocks, but his 'moderniser' (duh!) pitch was 'I want to talk about real Conservative issues like the environment...'

Fortunately, that rude Scottish woman cut him off.

Later, smiling in what he presumably imagined was an engaging way, he came back with 'I want to talk about why so many people come out of prison and then reoffend.'

Well, that one's easy Tim. As Mr MacKay used to say, 'it's because they're villains, you see Sir.'

Maybe what he meant to say was 'Why do so many people get let of prison when we know they're going to reoffend? I think the public deserves better protection.'

What do you think?


Anonymous Anonymous said...,9061,1493994,00.html

2:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The man in charge of drawing up the Conservative rulebook on electing a new leader today insisted there could be no early contest to replace Michael Howard.
After a week which has seen several calls from within the party for Mr Howard to step down in the summer - to allow a new leader to introduce controversial changes to the leadership rules and local associations - today the chairman of the party's national convention said a contest would take months.

Article continues


Kenneth Clarke, meanwhile, today refused to rule himself out of the race. Despite being twice defeated in prior leadership bids, he is quoted by the BBC as saying he is waiting to see if the party is "leadable" before throwing his hat in the ring.
Yesterday Mr Howard insisted he would stick to his original timetable of standing down at Christmas, having piloted in the new rules ahead of the autumn party conference.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the chairman of the party's national convention and author of this week's consultation document, Ray Monbiot, said a swift election was impossible under the existing rules.

"It is not just a question of snapping the fingers and saying 'OK, we will get a new leader within two or three weeks', because the mechanism isn't there to do it," he told programme.

He said putting the practical arrangements in place for an election under the current rules - which involves a final ballot of all party members in the country - would be "a matter of some considerable weeks".

The 2001 contest saw a series of parliamentary ballots of MPs - which narrowly knocked out Michael Portillo - before a summer long run-off between Iain Duncan Smith and Kenneth Clarke.

Mr Monbiot added that simply ensuring the Tory record-keeping was in order was a big process.

"We have to make sure that the records we are holding are consistent," he said.

"There are 17 ways of addressing an air vice marshal. If we don't make certain of that on the list of those eligible for a ballot, he will get 17 ballot papers so there is a lot of sorting to do."

He said MPs who were now demanding an early contest while complaining that there had not been time for a proper consultation on the proposed changes were being "inconsistent".

"They want the consultation but then they want to keep it shorter and shorter I don't think it is consistent," he said.

This morning a major Tory donor, Sir Tom Cowie, said Mr Howard should go "in hours or days" rather than months. A transport tycoon who contributed £400,000 to the Tories in the first fortnight of the general election campaign, Sir Tom told the BBC the party needed to "get back to the old race".

There is a suspicion that many of those calling for an early election favour the current shadow home secretary, David Davis, to become leader. He is currently the clear frontrunner, according to bookmakers. Other likely contenders who have yet to declare include Liam Fox, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and David Cameron.

This morning Mr Cameron called for a period of reflection in the party today, saying: "I think Michael Howard has done an excellent job for our party and he should carry on.

"Everyone agreed after the election that it would be a good idea to have Michael stay on as leader while we look at why we lost the election, look at the issues and review our policies.

"Let us do that thinking first and then a new leader can take over and talk about their view for Britain and what we can do in this country."

Although he is often said in political circles to be Mr Howard's preferred choice as his replacement, Mr Cameron refused to be drawn on which possible candidate he could support.

"The timescale Michael has set out is pretty clear," he said. "In late September the national convention will look at party reform and there will be a leadership election after the party conference. "I am sure there will be a range of different candidates to look at."

A longer timetable - as envisaged by Mr Howard - could favour the younger candidates such as Mr Cameron, who need to build their public profile before a contest.

The shadow education secretary was speaking as he visited the new Caroline Chisholm School in Wootton Fields, Northamptonshire, which is the first state-run school in the country to educate pupils all the way from ages four to 18.

2:41 PM  

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