She’s doing better than IDS in 2003
Yesterday was the 14th anniversary of what I considered to be one of the best political betting days ever where the best place to find out what was happening was to look at the prices on the Betfair Exchange.
After taking over from William Hague two days after 9/11 Iain Duncan Smith struggled for more than 2 years to maintain the confidence of his party and that all finally snapped at the end of October 2003. His opponents in the Parliamentary Conservative Party gathered up enough letters for a confidence vote. These were presented them to the chairman of the 1922 committee who then called the ballot for the following day.
That IDS was going to lose that confidence vote and be replaced, without the having to face an opponent, by Michael Howard all became apparent during the afternoon of the vote on Betfair. Suddenly on the next CON leader market all the money started draining away from the favourite at the time, David Davis and before the confidence vote was announced Michael had become odds on favourite to become Tory leader.
Then of course, the Tories were in opposition and not in government as now and a leadership election to replace Mrs May would be about choosing a new prime minister.
Remember that less than a month ago all the talk was of such a move against Mrs May in the period after conference. We had the suggestion that the party chairman under Cameron, Gavin Shapps, was collecting letters but clearly not enough MPs have been prepared to act now.
In the meantime TMay has had some tricky Commons performances particularly at PMQs where Corbyn had become much more sure footed.
But we’ve got to the end of October and the PM is still there with almost no talk of immediate confidence votes any more. She appears, and I write guardedly, safe for now.
The Tory party could be in danger of losing its reputation of being the most ruthless when it comes to failing leaders. Mrs May had a majority, called an election that wasn’t necessary, lost the majority and ended up having to agree the £1bn+ deal with the DUP.
She has been helped, of course, by the fact that there is no obvious favourite to replace her. Boris has become a diminished figure since the election and DDavis isn’t going to set the world on fire.
So Mrs May remains and that is something of an achievement. Congratulations.