Would a “back me or sack me” move stop the whisperings?
I don’t know what the look on David Cameron’s face was like when he heard the Ealing Southall result in the early hours of yesterday but could it have been as bad as this Daily Mail picture taken at the count in Stafford at the 1997 General Election when he lost a Tory seat to Labour. Ealing Southall, like his first bid to become an MP ten years ago, must have really hurt.
For with the polls going against him and the Tories continuing with their appalling by election record his leadership is going to be put under great pressure over the summer as we head to the conference season.
Why doesn’t he pre-empt his opponents and seek to restore his authority by resigning and seeking a fresh mandate from his party in a new leadership election?
He could make the vote a referendum on the new direction that he is seeking to take his party and a victory would reinforce his position. His message could be “the way we have been going is the only one that will make the party an electoral force again – if you don’t want it then choose another leader”.
To make the contest a real one, in contrast with the Brown stitch-up, he should say that he would not stand in the way of any members of the shadow cabinet who wanted to put themselves forward.
Such a move would get him into the headlines again and could impede the Brown media honeymoon.
Of course there’s a risk but surely better to take the initiative and do it this way than let the party take its own measures against him. The Tories are wonderfully brutal in dispatching leaders they consider to be failing.
This, of course, has echoes of John Major during the 1992-1997 parliament. The difference here is that the Tory leadership election rules have changed and the final choice is down to a mass ballot of the membership. If the members don’t want him then so be it. But best for him to be taking the initiative.
My guess is that he would win easily.
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