Is the former spin-master just playing games?
In a Labour view of the Tory leadership candidates in the Times this morning Alastair Campbell makes a scathing attack on Ken Clarke, dismisses David Cameron as a toff, and ends up concluding that David Davis will be the likely winner.
It should be noted that Campbell and Davis are known to be on relatively good terms although the former Number 10 PR boss states that the Shadow Home Secretary is “.. is politically and emotionally incapable of taking the Tories to the centre ground”.
What are we to make of Campbell’s view that Ken Clarke is “..the one Labour should most relish getting stuck into”? The former Chancellor is attacked for his position on Iraq and for being “…lazy and prone to leave the detail to others. The laziness shows up in his speeches, made for headlines not argument.” This is something, of course, that no New Labour politician in Campbell’s time could ever have been accused of – saying something just for headlines – perish the thought!
You cannot but think that Alastair might be protesting too much about Ken Clarke? Is he the man Labour does not want to face?
Campbell’s overall conclusion is that whoever gets the Tory job “….is likely to go the same way as Major, Hague, IDS and Howard: defeated by new Labour because he fails to understand it is a real and sustained political project.” Although Campbell would say that wouldn’t he and that nothing he writes or says about the Tories should be taken at face value has he got a point? Is the Tory task almost impossible? Are they doomed to their fourth successive defeat?
Michael Howard, meanwhile, is putting the pressure on his MPs to support the plans to take the power of selecting the leader back from the membership to the parliamentary party. With the poll Tory members showing Clarke ahead it is hard to say which system would favour which candidate.
Tory leadership betting prices
Conventional bookmakers best price: Davis 4/6: Clarke 8/4: Cameron 8/1 Betfair betting exchange: Davis 0.73/1: Clark 2.5/1: Cameron 12/1 BinaryBet spread market. Davis 49-56: Clarke 25-31: Cameron 7-11