Tory Press Gets Tory Leadership Election Wrong (in 1975)

By Glover, Stephen | The Spectator, June 7, 1997 | Go to article overview

Tory Press Gets Tory Leadership Election Wrong (in 1975)


Glover, Stephen, The Spectator


It is generally agreed that the Tory leadership election doesn't present the party with much of a choice. Once Kenneth Clarke has been excluded for all the obvious reasons, objections against the other candidates pile up. That does not prevent them putting themselves around in the Tory press as the best thing since sliced bread. They have each written articles and been lunched by the high commands of our Conservative newspapers.

Things were much the same in February 1975 when Ted Heath was challenged for the leadership of the Tory party. It was said then, as now, that the choice was between pygmies. The Economist caught the general mood when it wrote in characteristically snooty vein, `Mrs Thatcher is precisely the sort of candidate . . . who ought to be able to stand, and lose, harmlessly.' In the Times Bernard Levin dismissed the 'makeweight' candidates of `Pryor [sic], Peyton or Howe'. Peregrine Worsthorne in the Sunday Telegraph was driven to recommend the charms of Lord Hailsham, while others thought Christopher Soames a safe pair of hands.

The first ballot took place on 4 February. The candidates were Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher and Hugh Fraser. Most people thought that Mr Heath would probably win, including Mr Heath himself. James Margach in the Sunday Times wrote that he had it more or less buttoned up. The Daily Mail's poll of Tory MPs suggested that Mr Heath would come first, though possibly not by a wide enough margin to obviate the need for a second ballot. A Harris poll in the Daily Express found that 70 per cent of Tory voters preferred him to any other candidate. Soundings in the constituencies produced similar results in favour of the incumbent.

Not one national newspaper supported Mrs Thatcher before the first ballot, or predicted that she would win. Although none was enthusiastic for Mr Heath, most came down on his side. The Daily Mail, then edited by David English, published a halfhearted leader in his favour. The Daily Express was more loyal. The Times berated him for his inflationary policies (`Mr Heath, whether elected or no, cannot offer a future for the Conservative party so long as he is the prisoner of his own past') but could not bring itself to support Mrs Thatcher. The Daily Telegraph wrote a leader full of submerged dislike of Mr Heath (`On some issues he is wrong') while conceding that `it seems likely that he will win.'

Only one important publication supported Mrs Thatcher before the first ballot, and thought it possible that she might be elected leader. That was The Spectator. In the issues of 18 January and 25 January its political columnist, Patrick Cosgrave, had backed her as the best person to revive the Tory party. On the eve of the ballot, the magazine pronounced that `Mr Heath is a burnt-out case whose good fortune will never come again'. Mrs Thatcher, by contrast, had 'a definite understanding of the kind of Conservatism which the nation needs' and could `articulate it forcefully and with courage'.

Mrs Thatcher got 130 votes, Mr Heath 119 and Mr Fraser 16. Mr Heath withdrew. It would be fun to suggest that The Spectator's support was decisive, but I doubt it. Mrs Thatcher had come first in spite of the Conservative press. Tory MPs were influenced by their own feelings about Mr Heath, as well as Mrs Thatcher's campaign, brilliantly masterminded by Airey Neave. Even after she had won the first round, the Daily Mail was the only Tory daily paper that could bring itself to endorse her in the second ballot, in which other candidates now joined battle. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Tory Press Gets Tory Leadership Election Wrong (in 1975)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.