Sunday press roundup, 28th August 2005

Sunday press roundup, 28th August 2005

Weekend words weighed
Printing press
The Conservative leadership election gets heavy coverage in today’s papers. The Sunday Times reminds readers that the left-leaning former minister Tim Yeo was still in the race, but has now dropped out to back Kenneth Clarke. Clarke is interviewed in the paper and, in a sentence that both his supporters and opponents are likely to enjoy, is quoted as saying: “I find it almost comic the number of people who tell me they would vote Tory if I were leader.” The Observer repeats another quote from that interview – “The Lib Dems are terrified of me” – and also predicts that Clarke will speak out during the campaign on his opposition to the Iraq war.

The once vaunted idea of a Clarke–Cameron “dream ticket” now seems dead, and the Sunday Telegraph has both the former Chancellor and the Shadow Education Secretary saying so. Pro-Clarke sources say that “Ken can win, with or without David Cameron … Something drastic would have to happen to stop him from running now. He is fit, robust and raring to go.” Those outside his inner circle would probably score him two out of three on that. A separate and more comprehensive interview with Cameron, which quotes him as rejecting a pact with Clarke (“I don’t believe that the right way of going about this is talking about doing deals.”) and, on the policy front, calling for compulsory community service for school-leavers. Melissa Kite’s article also describes a “thawing of relations” between Cameron and David Davis.

The Independent on Sunday has a short article making the point that Clarke is likely to run whether or not the system for electing the leader is changed.

The betting markets have upgraded Clarke’s chances to a 6/1 shot, while Davis is at 0.75/1 and Cameron at 4.2/1.

The main coverage of foreign politics in the British papers today is on the German general election, to be held on 18th September. The Observer covers the election and reports that 48% of Germans remain undecided on how to vote. In The Sunday Times‘s long profile of CDU leader Angela Merkel [split across two web pages], the paper sees the 4th September TV debate between Merkel and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder as key, and points out that the contrast between Schröder’s assurance with the media and Merkel’s more hesitant delivery could benefit either one of them.

The betting on Germany remains quiet, with Merkel still regarded as nearly certain to become Chancellor after the election.

Philip Grant
Guest editor

Mike Smithson is on holiday until 5th September.

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