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This is a good moment to recall the MP stage of the 2001 Tory leadership election when Portillo missed the cut by just one vote

June 19th, 2019

How IDS got into the members’ ballot with fewer than a third of the MP votes

The very first time the CON leadership election procedure that we are seeing at the moment was used was in 2001 in the aftermath of Tony Blair’s second successive landslide general election victory.

The longstanding favourite and the person expected to take the crown was Michael Portillo who had lost his Enfield seat at GE1997. He returned to the Commons in a by-election and seemed on course for to become leader in 2011. I’ve long felt that if he had he would have given Blair a run for his money in 2004.

The Wikipedia panel above shows the dynamic of that election process. As can be seen Portillo came top in the first two rounds of MP voting but then lost it at the final MP hurdle by a single vote.

In the membership ballot IDS easily out did the pro-EU Ken Clarke.

That Duncan Smith became leader after getting fewer than a third of the MP votes always meant he would struggle with the parliamentary party. Two years later he lost a confidence vote and was kicked out of the job.

Michael Portillo left politics and developed a successful career in TV.

Mike Smithson