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Why no Tory can lecture another on leadership challenges

17 March 2014

The continued speculation about who in the Conservative party is putting the most effort into preparing their leadership hat to throw into the currently non-existent ring is quite amusing. But it also means that those involved will struggle to have such a moral high ground when they need to lecture backbench colleagues for getting overexcited about potty-sounding leadership challenges after the European elections.

Boris and George Osborne may be engaged in a strange fight about who is gaining the most currency with backbenchers so that they’re in the best possible position post-Cameron, while backbench unrest will be focused on Cameron’s own position. But the problem with this hysteria, where the Boris camp suspects Osborne is doing better and then ramps up its own efforts, which is then met with a redoubling of the rival camp’s efforts, is that it suggests that ministers are being similarly disloyal to their leader, regardless of whether they’re after his job once he’s departed on his own terms.

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One MP watching the latest intervention from Michael Gove whispered to me at the weekend that:-

‘He’s moving the camps away from Cameron. They know we are doomed and so they don’t want to be tainted with failure. It’s all about isolating and blaming Cameron so that post-2015 Osborne and his allies can be viewed as having been sad and unwilling partners in Cameron’s elitist court’.

Even if that is not the attitude of the Gove/Osborne alliance, it makes it much more difficult for the party leadership to denounce troublesome backbenchers as ‘disloyal’ when those at the top are hardly giving the impression that they’re entirely focused on getting David Cameron re-elected as Prime Minister of a majority Conservative government.

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  • southerner

    Hook’s very quiet when there’s a story or two about the un-conservatives infighting / generally stabbing each other in the back.
    Must be waiting for the official line from CCHQ.

  • No Good Boyo

    Following his comment today about how we love to pay 40 percent tax, I suspect Osborne’s prospects of succeeding Dave are non-existent.

    “It makes them feel successful”!!!!!!! Does he think we all stand around in pubs boasting of our tax rates, or something? He hasn’t a clue, not a solitary clue, about the peasantry.

  • andagain

    I’ve always thought that the goal of the Conservative Right is to put Labour in power. Everything makes so much more sense when you assume that.

  • John Baptiste

    They can have anyone they want. I turned my back on the Tories in 2012, I wont be going back to them.

  • Daniel Maris

    Like cats in a sack about to be drowned…

  • Kitty MLB

    Are we to foresee a little roundhead type skirmish, with the charming
    and obscure Mr Gove and the William Blake Like Chancellor distancing themselves from
    trouble and enchanting the backbenchers whilst Byronesque Boris is scratting
    his blonde mop.
    Whilst Caesar is still hoping he will get a majority ( thank God these elections are not in March)
    Although I am not a Cameron supporter and think he has caused havoc to the foundations of the Conservative party and I myself have very little to do with Cameroons of any form. I do feel we should be very careful, if Cameron loses
    we may have a Balls and Cable leadership ( as someone here as said Milipede’s
    days are also numbered) Cameron is a naïve fool , but without his little Lib Dum
    shield he can be managed , unlike the danger of Labour.

  • Rockin Ron

    The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 3:

    24″If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25″If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26″If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!…

    • Fergus Pickering

      We used to prdict things using Bibles.

      • Daniel Maris

        By their fruits ye shall know them.

      • Rockin Ron

        The Bible is a reliable guide and we can still turn to its timeless wisdom to guide us daily. Much more so than politicians or any other ‘fixers’ around today.

        Psalm 146v3-4: Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. 4When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

        Hebrews 4v12: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

        • Fergus Pickering

          The OT is a reliable guide to Jewish Religious practices a long time ago. The NT is a relible guide to the teachings of Christ. Quoting verses is not a reliable guide to anything.

          • Rockin Ron

            We agree the OT and the NT together are reliable guides. Good. Jesus accepted the Old Testament and quoted from it numerous times. For example:

            Matthew 12v38-40:

            Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” 39But
            He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves
            for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah
            the prophet; 40for
            MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the
            heart of the earth.…

            • Kitty MLB

              A religious man as well.Hope Cameron is,
              must say farewell, a word that must be- hath been-
              a sound that makes us linger; yet farewell.

  • Monkey_Bach

    Seeing Tory grandees sharpening their daggers and getting ready to stab David Cameron in the back shows better than a thousands words could say that they know that they’ve lost the next general election and will need a new man/woman at the top for 2020. Could Iain Duncan Smith step into the breach perchance? Just joking!

  • ITB

    Is a Conservative loss at the 2015 GE really a foregone conclusion?

    If it were, thus making Cameron’s position untenable, I’m not sure who would be a preferred choice for party leader.

    Politics looks a much easier game to play if in opposition, but the ensuing 5-year fixed-term parliament will be challenging for anyone. I don’t think GO or Gove are likeable enough to the wider electorate and I’m not sure Boris’ buffoonery could carry him for that long.

    • Rockin Ron

      Who will replace Cameron?
      Step forward Owen Paterson.

      • madasafish

        How to lose the 2020 election.

      • Daniel Maris

        He’s going to look pretty stupid in 2020 when the Germans have a low cost renewable energy economy and we’re stuck with nuclear white elephants.

        • Kitty MLB

          Not Jesse Norman though, I hope not.
          Maybe Graham Brady, Dominic Raab, or the two
          older chaps in the leader that never was David Davis or
          maybe the very capable and handsome John Redwood-
          or is 63 years of age.. considered too old.

        • AnotherDave

          What low cost renewable energy would this be?

          • the viceroy’s gin

            …the one the faeries are going to deliver soon. Or hadn’t you heard?

    • Fergus Pickering

      No it isn’t a foregone conclusion by any means.

      • ITB


      • Kitty MLB

        It maybe, O wise one.
        Is this a dagger I see before me, mine eyes are made the fools o’
        other senses.

  • George Igler

    Never underestimate the willingness of the Tory party to knife a leader who appears weak. Westminster politics always comes down to which leader will preserve an incumbent MP’s seat.

    With an electorate on the Right wanting more red-meat, perhaps the Cameron brand of instagram government seems limp in evolving electoral realities.

    In any case, surely this jockeying is to be expected, psephologically all the numbers point to a Tory loss at the next GE, which will force a leadership contest anyway.

    • AnotherDave
      • Monkey_Bach

        I think people call it “grasping at straws”.

    • Fergus Pickering

      What on earth is ‘instagram’? What does it mean, if anything?

      • monty61

        Get with the 21st century, grandad.

        • Kitty MLB

          Who are you, one of Wodehouse’s bright young things.
          instead of an antique from the days of Lenin old comrade

      • Daniel Maris

        Are you a judge? Should we refer to you as m’lord?

      • AnotherDave

        It’s a picture sharing website.

        In this context? Suggesting Mr Cameron is a shallow, fad following adolescent ?

        Sierra Hull OMG!!!!!

        • Fergus Pickering

          Thank you, sir.

    • Kitty MLB

      We are indeed a wise old sage George.
      How we compare thee to a summers day, all those years ago with the weak,
      bonkers and destructive Brown, who was really dangerous and just left to wreck.
      Cameron appears weak because of the situation he happens to be in,
      you show strength in how you deal with that situation.
      Does zombie like Milipede come across as strong?

  • Frank

    If Dave goes down, Gideon will follow him out the door. They may not realise it, but the public seems them as one. It is the same for Ed Balls. It is suggested that he now realises this and is prepared to give his wife a clear run at the top job (Laugh? I cried). Gove should therefore focus his fire on Boris. Not a great adversary, as Boris is bound to drop a brick before too long.

    • ITB

      “They may not realise it, but the public sees them as one.” I think this is a good point well made.

      If the Conservatives fail next May to get back into office, it surely indicates that the electorate are tired of the incumbent government’s deficit reduction/austerity politics.

      As Chancellor, I don’t see how GO could think it possible to separate himself from Cameron.

      • Makroon

        It is not ‘next May’. It is May 2015.

    • Kitty MLB

      We cannot lose George, If Cameron goes, he goes alone.
      He must leave the iron chancellor who unlike Cameron is a real

      • ITB

        You may be right, but I can’t stop picturing GO at the London Paralympics when nearly an entire stadium booed him. That was quite extreme behaviour.

        I have heard GO being referred to as a master strategist though so it would be interesting to see him at the helm.

        • Kitty MLB

          Indeed George is a master strategist.
          He wanted the last election just to be about the economy , lovely George wanted to be straight with the electorate. Yet Cameron
          stuck with the sunny uplands of the big society.
          I think it was Lord Lawson who said George could be the iron chancellor, unfortunately he was stuck with the incompetent
          Lib Dems and we know the rest.

  • Hello

    If there is a Gove/Osborne alliance, then it is certainly Gove that is the PM in that alliance. His bid is meticulously planned. Did I read him saying that Osborne had that “extra spark of charisma and star quality” required for a leader? Was that a cruel joke? If there is one thing that Osborne lacks it is star quality.

    On the other hand, it might just be part of their Ukip strategy for Gove to appear to be positioning for a leadership bid. It probably is.

  • AnotherDave

    The thing I wonder is, why is this happening _now_?

    Are the cameroons expecting a bad electoral result this May to trigger a leadership contest?

    UKIP are expected to push the Conservatives into third place in the EU Parliament elections, but what about the locals? Does CCHQ think they’re going to place third there too?

    2013 locals: Con 25%, Lab 29%, LD 13%, UKIP 22%

    ComRes EU poll: Con 21%, Lab 28%, LD 8%, UKIP 30%

    • Hello

      “Are the cameroons expecting a bad electoral result this May to trigger a leadership contest?”

      No, they’re saying they expect one in order to give everyone the opportunity to consider just how unadvisable that would be.

      • Fergus Pickering

        UKIP will win nut there is no reason to supose Labour will be second. Why should they be? Because Millipede thinks so?

      • Kitty MLB

        Good afternoon, Hello. Yes Cameron will be absolutely slaughtered
        in these May elections, and UKIP will be outstanding, as you
        would expect, but this is not a general election.
        Am I being a ignorant buffoon, can this actually cause as leadership contest. Poor Cammy, I wonder who will take over.

        • Hello

          Hello Kitty. I shouldn’t think it will cause a leadership contest, I think the leaked “concerns” about that are just a catch-all for post-May rebellions.

          • Kitty MLB

            You have spoilt it for me now. I was looking out
            for a possible Brutus.
            I hope when we do eventually endeavour to find a new leader, he will not be a hand wringing Cameroon and
            have gravitas.

            • Makroon

              Cameron and Osborne are close. One must suppose that Cameron does not want to be PM beyond (say) 2016, and has ‘tipped the wink’ to Osborne.
              The fact that (unprompted) he said he “wants to serve a full second term”, (very Blairesque), kind of confirms it.

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …it confirms that Dave is severed from all reality.

                In 13.5 months, his head is going to serve a term, mounted on a spike.

  • ITB

    “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.”

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