Would such a U-turn be enough to beat David Davis?
After our thread yesterday on Ken Clarke’s bid for the Tory leadership comes a report this morning that the former Tory Chancellor is prepared to ditch his long-standing support for the Euro in order to position himself better in the campaign for his party’s leadership.
Many observers believe that Clarke’s support for the Euro and being ready in 1999 (above) to sit alongside Tony Blair on a platform on the issue cost him dear in the 2001 leadership campaign. Whether he would have beaten IDS in the ballot of the membership is not clear but he would, surely, have come a lot closer if he had been prepared to dilute his position.
According to Michael White in the Guardian a Clarke campaign for the leadership “..reinforced by a series of autumn policy speeches which could include a retreat from his commitment to the euro, will probably be to displace the second placed candidacy of David Cameron.”.
The White report goes on “…the one development that would cause him to withdraw would be if the Tory constitutional convention on September 27 – the day of Tony Blair’s Labour conference speech – decided against revising the leadership rules to give MPs, not party activists the final say.”
There’s little doubt that this news, if confirmed, will have an impact on the betting markets and we expect to see the Clarke price harden. You can still get 14/1 with a conventional bookie but we do not expect that level to stay very long.
The problem for Clarke is that this sort of policy u-turn could be portrayed in a bad light by the David Davis camp and we saw yesterday on the site how one of the people linked to Bloggers for David Davis was ready to rush in and put the boot into the former Chancellor. In fact some of the language used was possibly defamatory and for the first time in several months I had to moderate a comment.