Monday, September 19, 2005

To Everything There Is A Season

A comment you sometimes come across in the blogosphere goes along the lines of:

'We have now had three leaders from the right of the Party, all of whom have been electoral disasters, all of whom promised to lead the Party from the centre before indulging in some kind of 'core vote strategy'. More of the same really should not be an option.' (htp Disraeli)

Of course, we've actually had five sequential leaders from the centre-right of the Party (for reasons explained by William Rees Mogg this morning). But we take the general point.

To answer it we need to understand a critical difference between DD and his three immediate predecessors. For different reasons, those three all came into the leadership unprepared. Hague was expecting to be leader one day, but not so soon. I doubt that IDS ever really expected to be leader, but stood because it was his duty to save the Party from the Europhiles. Howard...well, he was on Maggie's list of seven potential leaders, and actually ran in 1997. But he was soundly defeated , and almost certainly didn't really expect to get another bite.

Davis in contrast has been preparing seriously for this moment for some time. Indeed so extensive have been his preparations that some have accused him of o'erweening ambition, and marked him down because of it.

But he will be our first recent leader to have properly taken the time to size up the challenge and map out the way forward. He's already charted the broad outlines of a radical reforming social agenda, based on opportunity not dependency. And he's already assembled a strong core of guys around him, who will be loyal through the tough times as well as the good.

Davis will be a leader of a very different hue from what we've grown used to- tough and single-minded, fully prepared for the challenge ahead, and with three to four years before the next election. He will surprise many with his commitment to tackling social issues. But he will do so from a distinctively Conservative position, rather than the ineffectual managerialism of New Labour.

Davis is in his political prime: experienced and prepared, but still possessed of the drive and energy for the long haul ahead. Now really is the time. Both for him and the Party.
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