Rory's Week; Perhaps the PM Should Adopt Ariel Sharon's Latest Wheeze: Ditch His Recalcitrant Party and Create Another One. David Cameron Could Make a Good Partner

Article excerpt

With less than two weeks to go, it seems that only about half the membership of the Tory party has cast its vote for a new leader. One can only assume they don't understand the question.


They'd better hurry up. With the onset of winter, the spectre of bird flu and the shortage of suitable vaccines, the party's core support--the elderly--could soon be decimated. Perhaps the quality they most need in a leader is the ability to kill a chicken with his bare hands. That would be David Davis, then.

During my current tour show, I have a section where members of the audience submit questions, the idea being to get into some of the subjects we cover in Bremner, Bird and Fortune which don't lend themselves easily to stand-up. Asked how I voted in 1997, I began with my stock response that to vote against Tony Blair that year would have been to vote against hope. But then the parallels struck me. Back then, the Conservative government had grown tired and fractious, with a significant minority determined to bring the leadership to heel. Ministerial resignations and minor scandals had given an impression of sleaze and complacency, and people felt powerless in the face of creeping privatisation and market forces. Things could only get better, we were told. As it is, we should perhaps console ourselves that whereas it took the Tories 18 years to get to the state they reached in 1997, Labour has managed it in eight.

I wonder what Blair makes of the Israeli premier Ariel Sharon's latest wheeze: to give up on his recalcitrant party and create a new one. ("What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?") In seeking new partners, he could even give David Cameron a call, since the Tory hopeful has shown a willingness to support Blair's reforms, rather than oppose them for the sake of opposition. (Where's the point in that? They're Conservative reforms anyway, and supporting Blair against his party is by far the most effective tactic the opposition has at its disposal. When it comes to annoying Blair's backbenchers, nothing else comes close.)

In any case, such is the identity of interest between Cameron and Blair that they could happily coexist as party leaders, both competing for the centre-right ground. …