Coffee House

The post-Cameron long-list

3 March 2014

4:23 PM

3 March 2014

4:23 PM

Boris being Boris, he has managed to rule something out without actually ruling anything out at all. As Isabel noted this morning, the Mayor of London has said he will not stand for Parliament before 2015, and will remain in City Hall as promised until 2016. Which is not the same as ruling out standing in the 2015 election.

The latest Boris v Osborne twists have allowed speculation about a post-Cameron age to rise to the surface again, and having spoken to Tory MPs over the last few weeks, it is obvious that said speculation is never far from their lips. 2015 is still a white-knuckle fight, but that’s not to say plans are not afoot were it all to go very wrong for the PM.

‘There is no vacancy, but when the starting pistol is eventually fired I suspect Boris will be a contender along with up to ten other candidates,’ Mark Pritchard, the backbench troublemaker from The Wrekin tells me. ‘There will be a long list to choose from’. Pritchard caused a stir over the weekend when he tweeted:

And he’s not wrong. Just as when Alec Douglas-Home left No.10, there are those wondering whether an OE will ever cross the threshold of Downing Street again. It took 51 years last time, and given the flak that Cameron and his camp have got for their background, I would not be surprised if the Tories dodged that particular problem for another half century. It shouldn’t be forgotten either that Boris is not as universally loved by backbenchers as he is by the wider party. So what are the other names doing the rounds?


Those who are not in the Chancellor’s camp feel that George Osborne would likely go down with the Cameron ship, along with Grant Shapps who expressed an interest in the top job in a recent interview. This would leave Gove free to run – the Education Secretary has reportedly made it clear that he would not stand against the Chancellor. But if Osborne, lashed to the Cameroon mast, was out of the way, who knows what might happen there.

Theresa May has been naughty before, straying wildly off her brief, and No.10 are acutely aware of her ambitions. Team May have wound their necks in of late but her one-on-one sessions with backbenchers have not gone unnoticed. A female leader would, however, solve accusations of the Tories having ‘a woman problem’ in one very swift stroke.

Philip Hammond is another name at cabinet level that gets mentioned, but he’s hardly one to set the world alight. Nor is Owen Paterson, who was often seen as a beacon of the right when he was at the Northern Ireland Office. While his Euro and climate scepticism is music to the ears of a certain section of the party, he was not performing particularly well in his latest job (think badgers and flooding) even before ill health forced him to take things easy.

You have to chuckle at the emergence of Chris Grayling as a wannabe contender. If Tory associations are looking for a speaker for the rubber chicken circuit, I would advise calling the Justice Secretary, who’d be there like a greyhound. He’s going to face an uphill struggle to the top though, as one May supporter said over the weekend: ‘We’ve never had problems with a bald, right-wing headbanger leading the party before, have we?’

And what about a complete generational shift? There are plenty in the 2010 intake who fancy their chances – be they delusional or otherwise. Just how far will the rivalry between Liz Truss and Matthew Hancock push these two? And Priti Patel is seen by many on the right as their dream candidate. A strong, ideologically sound woman from an ethnic minority background, Patel has the appeal of a broad church candidate, but some of her colleagues are feeling very let down due to her overnight transformation into an uber-loyalist since being offered a role on the No.10 policy unit.

One name that keeps being mentioned to me as one to watch is Dr Philip Lee. The good doctor has been busy wooing colleagues recently, and ever so helpful friends of his have whispered of his ambition to throw his hat into the ring should the vacancy arise after the next election. If I were a betting man I would put my money on Sajid Javid. The loyal Osbornite is highly tipped from high. But then, of course, there is no vacancy.

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Show comments
  • AnotherDave

    Of those mentioned, I quite like Ms Patel and Mr Paterson. But I’m currently planning to vote for UKIP, so I’m not the target audience. 🙂

  • HookesLaw

    Pritchard has clearly got a chip on his shoulder and for those who set store by these things (one way or the other) he has a great many more PR qualifications than Cameron (or indeed I suspect anyone else in parliament).

  • Rockin Ron

    The next leader of the Conservative Party will be a woman.

    • Noa

      The choice of leader should not be limited by dreary conventional gender boundaries. Are there no transgender candidates in the Millbank closet?
      At the very least, a cross-dressing gay?
      Or is the Conservative party forever doomed to rot in sterile convention, unaware of the needs, dreams and aspirations of a whole new generation of intersecting fellow humans?

    • BarkingAtTreehuggers

      Wot? Green Gove will ‘rebrand’ once more?

  • @PhilKean1

    Jees !

    We might as well all get our coats. What a poxy list !

    Might I remind the speculators that continuity is not an option. The key to winning a majority is to get disaffected Conservatives back fully supporting and fighting for the party. That means no Liberal-left, no boot-lickers, no Europhiles, no professional politicians and no traitiors.

  • GAM

    Pritchard is risible, engaging in the type of classist attacks that should be reserved for the Left. The idea of Matthew Hancock is absurd: will the party vote for an oily, Westminster Bubblian? I hope not. It’s surprising that Andrea Leadsom isn’t attracting more attention: hard hitting, no nonsense, clever grammar school girl.

  • agneau

    Hammond? Supposed to be a long list not an exhaustive one. The Churchill Insurance dog would be better than Shapps – or is Churchill another one of his aliases?

  • Lady Magdalene

    Osborne would be the death knell of the Party. And the idea that Grant Shapps is PM material is hilarious.
    On recent showing Dominic Raab has better credentials than most.

    • sarahsmith232

      Agree completely. Grant Shapps, who on earth would believe him impressive enough to lead, bizarre! By far the most impressive contender is Raab, but why no mention in the article? It would be act of derangement on the part of the Tories to go for Johnson, yet another Toff, over Raab. Johnson’s nothing but a popular celeb’, he’s not a real politician. Here’s to hoping, fingers crossed they get the right man.

    • Noa

      I have regard for Douglas Carswell, but his honesty is his weakness, that and his relative inexperience. But he is not in the magic circle.
      As for Dominic Raab, his book ‘The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights’ demonstrated a man who was capable of identifying the issues and problems created by New Labour socialism, but was not ultimately prepared to address them.

      • AnotherDave

        I’d like it if Mr Carswell won, but I don’t see it happening. Mr Hannan though? That might be possible!

        • Noa

          Is it likely that he plans to give up his lucrative MEP seat and fight a general election on an anti-EU and party leadership platform?

      • sarahsmith232

        Haven’t read the book, when you say ‘socialism’, do you mean he wasn’t prepared to mark himself out as a person who believes that the welfare state has run out of control, has helped no one, instead has destroyed working-class communities, so solution – dramatically cut back welfare state?
        On Carswell, I don’t know, yet another Toff type, is that wise? They take some getting used to. When I first saw him speaking he came across as some absolutely bizarre, weird form of alien life. Slowly, v.v.v slowly, they start to seem a bit more human, but it’s a job, it takes a while, is it worth running the risk of unnecessarily alienating so many people for him? Personally, i’m going to have to go with a no on that.
        I think Raab cuts it, he gets the job done, was thinking to myself, you know, I think what’s needed with a new leader is one that can explain an attractive to mid-England voters policy agenda sort of visually, if you know what I mean. People are going to be able to tell that he represents their interests ’cause he explains that he’s one of them, thinks like them, appreciates them, with his appearance, you know, body language, way of speaking, presenting himself to the world. Blair pulled this off in ’97, his big election mantra ‘education, education, education’, meant didely squat in policy terms but it didn’t need to ’cause people saw Blair as something which represented them and projected whatever it was they wanted it to mean onto that. Same deal with Obama ‘Change you can believe’, empty, nothing to it but that’s it’s appeal, when chanted by someone that they’re convinced represents their interests they’ll believe it means all that they need it mean.
        I think Raab can pull tht off, he represents majority thinking, is charismatic, people will know he can ‘bring change you can believe in’. This isn’t something Johnson could manage.
        anyway, enjoy your day.

  • Frank

    Sajid Javid?????????????????? Ha ha ha, even funnier that suggesting Grant Shapps.
    This article captures everything that is wrong with the tory party, what a dearth of talent.

    • sarahsmith232

      Agreed, Sajid Javid and Grant Shapps, dragging the bottom of the barrel, or what.

      • Noa

        To which one could add the unmentioned (and unmentionable) Adam Afriye. Now surely beyond er, the Pale.

        • BarkingAtTreehuggers

          and the reason for this remarkable opinion piece would be what? Because the named has offered precisely what any frothing at the mouth UKIP gran would lust for? The mind boggles.

          • Noa

            Because he dared to challenge the leader. Still you should seek help, quickly.

            • BarkingAtTreehuggers

              I gather – given that you have now finalised your final version of your response to me – that you are a man of principles, but then you are not.
              The mind boggles again, ahaha!

        • sarahsmith232

          Tee Hee, yep, agreed. Bless that one, but the poor unfortunate wouldn’t have a hope. I wonder what the deal was with him being kept from view in the run up to the 2010 election, who knew something that ticked so many of Cameron’s PC boxes had already been elected in 2005? I’d never heard of him pre him kicking up so much fuss. Why? What is it about him that it was considered best to keep as far from public view as poss?

  • madasafish

    I would not vote for any of them: for reasons which should be obvious to anyone who actually wants the Tories to win GEs .

  • Chris Bond

    Like the crew of the titanic voting for a new captain after the iceberg hit.
    The iceberg being UKIP in case that was too subtle for LibLabCon voters who don’t realise the whole British Government is an EU run sham now.

  • jamesbarn
    • Chris Bond

      LibLabCon, the Guardian and the BBC now on suicide watch apparently.

    • saffrin

      With New Statesman commenters still in denial about UKIP being as much a threat to them as Cameron I notice.

  • monty61

    Oh dear. Not terribly inspiring. Philip Lee? Grant Shapps? Surely we can do better than that.

    Agree though that Boris is rather old news – clearly ‘the party’ haven’t caught up with the fact that 1) the wider public are sick of him 2) he’s been exposed several times now as not terribly good when it comes to doing anything and especially in being decisive. In a few yearsBoris will be as much of a leadership has-been as Hague or Portillo.

    In this field my money is on Theresa May.

    • AnotherDave

      It always surprises me so see Ms May in these potential Conservative Party leader lists. To me she looks like a non-starter.

  • Adrian Hilton

    You missed one, Harry – a rather prominent one, as well. Dominic Raab
    has more appeal and media profile than David Cameron had back in
    2004, a year before he became party leader.

    • saffrin

      Until you realise Dominic Raab grew up in Buckinghamshire to a Czech father who came to Britain in 1938 as a Jewish refugee.

      Not exactly 100% Brit is he?

      • Adrian Hilton

        Yes, I knew all of that (I can read Wikipedia, too). I first met him when he was working for Dominic Grieve here in Beaconsfield. But I have absolutely no idea what you mean by “Not exactly 100% Brit”, unless you’re making some facile anti-Semitic or racist point. He’s a thoughtful Conservative of deeply impressive intellect. His parental heritage is irrelevant.

        • saffrin

          What I mean by 100% British is a Christian whose parentage goes back many generations.
          As opposed to your take on British, being anyone with the right paperwork.

        • HookesLaw

          No idea what he means? I do and so should you. He is a 100% racist bigot.
          Why else should this pathetic individual worry about someone whose father came to Britain in 1938? How many years ago is that? But of course when you mention the magic word Jew it all becomes clear.

          Farage is doing his best to make nastiness acceptable and saffrin’s post is just about as nasty as they come even by the rapidly lowering standards of what the increasingly miserable Spectator is prepared to stomach. He clearly thinks he is posting on some far right white supremacist aryan superiority blog. Maybe he is right

      • sarahsmith232

        Are you just bored and in the mood to provoke? Was it that there just really wasn’t much on the telly an hour ago so you thought you’d post such an idiotic prat comment? Or are you really that far gone that you’d rule out the most impressive one of the bunch (and not mentioned in the article, why the Spec?) ’cause he’s half Jewish/is Jewish. Either way, dearie, you’re obviously quite the little saddo.

    • sarahsmith232

      Agreed, I’m Team Raab as well, def’ their best hope, yet no mention in the article, strange.