How long has he got to prove he can make a difference?
There is only one reason why Tory MPs and Tory members want David Cameron as their next leader – they believe that he can lead the party to greater electoral success than the alternative. They desperately want to return to power and the inexperienced and relatively unknown Cameron appears to offer this prospect more than David Davis.
If Cameron is to lose the final ballot in the coming weeks it will be because the relative merits of him as an election winner compared with David Davis will have changed.
And the first thing the new leader has got to be seen to do is get the Tory poll ratings up. These have been stuck at about the 30% level for nearly a decade and a half with the party apparently unable to re-connect with many of the the millions who returned it at the 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 General Elections.
The challenge for a party leader is the relentless reminder at least four times every month of their party’s potential at a General Election from the new poll ratings that are published. And under new leadership they will be scrutinised even more – particularly in the early stages. There are four pollsters which carry out regular surveys and these were their latest figures – the starting point, if you like, for Cameron:
Populus CON 30: LAB 40 LD 21
YouGov CON 32: LAB 40 LD 20
MORI CON 29: LAB 39 LD 25
ICM CON 31: LAB 40 LD 21
If the Tory poll rating stays stubbornly at about 30% then the Tories can be ruthless – as Mrs. Thatcher and IDS will testify.
On the betting markets the Tory leadership developments have led to a slight move to the Tories on which party will win most seats at the next General Election. IG’s Binary spread-market now has the Tories at 36-42 (+2) against Labour‘s 58-64 (-2).