Anorak News | Howard’s Way Ahead

Howard’s Way Ahead

by | 30th, October 2003

‘“HOW sad!” laments the woman in the Austin cartoon on the front page of today’s Guardian. “Just when everyone knew who he was.”

‘I told you I’d win a vote of confidence’

The “he” is Iain Duncan Smith, whose ousting as Tory leader occupies more space in the papers than his combined 777 days as the party’s leader elect could muster.

As the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland puts it, ”As if tuning into a penalty shoot-out or the OJ Simpson verdict, people wanted to be near a radio or TV set seven o’clock last night – just to see the moment of public execution.”

Adding to those 777 days, other vital statistics of the IDS reign are found in the Times.

Readers learn that yesterday 90 Conservative MPs voted against him in a vote of confidence and 75 for.

The paper concludes that the quiet man needed just eight MPs to change sides for him to have held down his post until the next General Election, or until another vote of confidence.

The suspicion is, though, that this was something of a Tory fix. They did not wish to humiliate their leader or to see him crushed.

The figures from the poll seem designed to foster an impression of IDS the unlucky man rather than the final undoing of an untalented parvenu.

For this theory to hold water, it would rely on some degree of Tory unity. And there is evidence of such a phenomenon in the Independent.

We learn that the new Tory leader will not be chosen after some drawn-out bloody battle in the streets of Cheltenham but be something more akin to a coronation.

David Davies might, as the Independent writes, “believe he is the Tory leader-in-waiting” but he has announced that he will not be running for the top job this time.

Indeed, with no signs of Michael Portillo or Kenneth Clarke, there was a moment yesterday when it seemed that no-one would stand as leader and the Tories would muddle on as some co-operative.

But Michael Howard is now the paper’s choice. He’s also the choice of David Davies.

And the choice of anyone, who, if the Times’ assertion that he’s the man “Blair fears” is true, wants to unsettle (or indeed unseat) Tony Blair.

So hello, Michael. Look out, Tony. And close the door behind you, whatsyername…’

Posted: 30th, October 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink