Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Party Lines

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Party Lines

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes

There is only one story at the Conservative annual conference in Blackpool this week and that, of course, is the leadership contest.

As the political heavyweights (and some welterweights) fight for a place in the final ballot, delegates and activists are eager to show which side they're supporting.

T-shirts with "I love DC" fill the main hall, Ken Clarke's face pops up from glossy personal manifestos wherever you look and David Davis's supporters have "It's DD for me" emblazoned all over their chests.

But the battle is showing signs of getting a little dirty ( after David Davis promised MPs he'd scrap party conferences if made leader.

"This could be my last visit to Blackpool," Hexham MP Peter Atkinson said as he arrived in the North-West.

We know Blackpool is never top of the Tory list in seaside places to visit in October but enticing them with the prospect of ditching the week-long autumn conference in favour of two weekend summits could be seen by many as somewhat underhand.

Mr Davis is just one supporter short of securing the 66 MPs needed to guarantee a place in the final round, but many are now predicting one of the largest majorities ever seen in a Tory leadership contest. We wonder why.

* MICHAEL Howard has felt a little redundant this week as his successors jockey to take over his job as leader.

However, he did find time to kick-off the annual football battle between journalists and MPs, with hopes that he'd end his leadership on a high.

Like the party's performance at the General Election though, the result was a major disappointment for Conservative Central Office staff ( with the lobby reporters thrashing MPs and researchers 8-1.

Perhaps he should take advice from some of his younger colleagues in the Commons, after one backbencher was seen wondering round the Winter Gardens gripping a book entitled Explaining Labour's Landslide. …

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