Can Rifkind impede the Davis bandwagon?
With Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who returned to the Commons last month after an eight year gap, launching his bid today for the Tory leadership is there any chance that the former Foreign Secretary can upset the plans of the Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis?
His pitch, according to this morning’s Telegraph, will be to the more moderate opinion within the party and the main theme of his campaign is that the Tories can only win power again by appealing to the centre ground.
So far none of the other prospective leaders has managed to establish himself as the “non-David Davis” candidate and the question is whether Rifkind is able to do it?
A big strength and his big problem is that eight year gap.
He was away during the bad years and was not associated with the Tory support for the Iraq War. But being away has also kept him apart from the action and the Tory party at Westminster is totally different from what it was in 1997 when he lost his seat. And there is the question of him being from Scotland. The one crumb of comfort that the Tories got from May 5th was that in terms of votes, at least, they came top in England. How odd it would be if a Scotsman should replace a Welshman at the top?
There are signs by the way the Telegraph is reporting his move today that he could get sympathetic coverage – if not the formal backing of the paper – which would be an enormous help.
With the best conventional bookmaker price of 14/1 Rifkind is someway behind in the betting. It’s very hard to go for anybody but Davis although the standard rule of Tory leadership races – of which there have been many – is that the early front-runner never makes it.