Why Delay is Good
Many commentators have suggested that Our Man might launch a pre-emptive strike whilst he has a lead over his rivals. The believe that delay will only help his rivals and so his strategy should be to try and speed things up. I think they are wrong.
Don’t upset the Apple Cart
The first reason that I think they are wrong is that whatever the final system of election is, the MPs will have a bigger say than they do now. Even within the current system, it would be possible for the MP’s to exclude the rank and file’s favourite. Look what happened to Michael Portillo. Any hint that our man is not playing fair, could upset many of those he needs to vote for him. If they feel they are having their hand forced, some may well vote against him out of spite.
Working For a United Front
The second reason is due to the fact that the Conservative party only stands any chance at the next election, if the party can show a united front. A leadership campaign that is bad tempered will reduce the chance of the party working effectively afterwards. A long campaign offers him the chance to focus on issues, not personalities and to build the confidence of those who do not see themselves as his natural allies.
After all to win the next election, he needs a united party. Our Man is too ambitious to do all this just to be leader of the opposition.
The Portfolio Advantage
One poll result showed that Kenneth Clarke was more popular with the voters than any other candidate. Many commentators, myself included dismissed this as Clarke being better known. The next few months offer Davis a great chance to be the party’s spokesman on a couple of issues that offer both airtime and a chance to take the moral high ground. Both the Religious Hatred bill and the id bill are great opportunities for the Conservative party to make trouble for the government.
The leader of that charge will of course be the Shadow Home Secretary, a certain Mr Davis. So by being able to pace himself, Davis can raise his public image, reach out to those in the party who are not sure and maximise his chances of offering to the party a period of peace following the election.
How he could better that by jumping early is difficult to see.