Does yesterday make the Gordon-David show a touch less likely?
After the events of this week the one almost sure thing that you can predict about the next General Election is that Oxford University’s stranglehold on UK politics will be broken.
For the first time since Stanley Baldwin in 1935 an election looks set to be won by someone who was educated at a University other than Oxford. The only exceptions in the past 70 years, Churchill and Major, were not graduates.
Although Gordon Brown looks very good to take over at Number 10 the Edinburgh graduate must be concerned by Tony Blair’s message that he is going on for most of his third time. If a week is a long time in politics then three years looks set to be an eternity and many things can happen that could blow the Brown succession off course.
For the Warwick alumnus, David Davis, yesterday’s decision to leave the final decision on the Tory leadership with the grassroots could make his task that much harder. Not only does it add to the time-scale but dealing with an electorate of 300,000 Tory members is much more challenging than getting support from 197 fellow MPs. The polls show a sharp turnround in the view of the Tory membership since the contest started in May.
Now next week’s Blackpool conference and the beauty parade will give the membership and the media the chance to look long and hard at the credentials of each of the contenders – a context that might just hinder the Shadow Home Secretary.
Davis’s backstop could be the support he enjoys amongst MPs. They could vote that the short-list of two to go to the membership ballot should not include Ken Clarke (Cambridge) . But if Clarke has a good conference and the polls continue to go his way then surely his Westminster colleagues will be less likely to stop his name going forward to the final vote.
The relative lack of support in the media might cost Davis dear. He should have been like Tony Blair and been out courting editors for years – but if he has been doing this it is not yet showing through.