Decisive Tory victory for Cameron

DAVID Cameron has swept to victory in the Conservative leadership election, defeating his rival David Davis by a margin of more than two to one.

By Graham Dines

Political Editor

DAVID Cameron has swept to victory in the Conservative leadership election, defeating his rival David Davis by a margin of more than two to one.

Mr Cameron, who was Shadow Education Secretary and has only been an MP for just over four years, received the backing of 134.446 members of the party to the Show Home Secretary's 64,398.

He becomes the fourth leader of his party since 1997 to take on Tony Blair, and immediately promised a new style of politics to woo back disillusioned voters.

His election was welcomed by MPs and senior activists across East Anglia as a sign that the Conservative Party was intent on reforming itself to take on Labour at the next General Election.

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The contest was sparked by the decision of Michael Howard to stand down following the Tories' disappointing showing in May's General Election.

Speaking after the result was announced at the Royal Academy, Mr Cameron said it was a “huge privilege and an honour and a great responsibility to take on this job”

Addressing the media and party members, Mr Cameron said: “I said when I launched my campaign that we needed to change in order to win. Now that I have won, we will change.”

He sought the support of every Tory MP, councillor and the broader party membership. And he urged the public to “come and join us” in a compassionate Conservative Party.

Mr Cameron said the Conservatives would “change the way we look” and he slammed what he called the “scandalous” under-representation of women in the party. Nine out of 10 Tory MPs were white men and that had to change.

Mr Cameron, who spoke without notes, just as he did in his pivotal speech to the Tory Party conference earlier this year, identified the big challenges facing the country as the economy, public services, quality of life issues, national and international security, and social justice. And he described Labour as “yesterday's men.”

The outcome was a huge personal blow for Mr Davis, who started out the contest as favourite but is generally though to have blown his chance by a lacklustre speech to the party conference in Blackpool.

Suffolk South MP Tim Yeo will not be a part of Mr Cameron's team, having told the new leader that he wishes to sit on the backbenches. Mr Yeo, who switched to Mr Cameron after Kenneth Clarke was eliminated from the contest in the MPs' section, said: “It was a decisive outcome which gives the new leader a clear mandate.

“David Cameron represents a new generation and will appeal to the people we need to attract to vote us back into Government.”

Mr Yeo said: “The turning point in the contest was the Davis speech in Blackpool. His supporters had been talking up his chances but he was unable to live up to this spin.”

Braintree MP Brooks Newmark said the margin of victory was the same as that in the MPs ballot, and that had to be good for the Conservative Party. “There is no rift between MPs and party members which shows the country we are united.

“Cameron is young, vigorous, very positive and has a 21 century outlook. He will appeal to those supporters who drifted off to New Labour and can see what a mess Blair and Brown have made of the economy.”

Suffolk West MP Richard Spring, who had been a supporter of David Davis, said: “The party has taken a generational step and there is a real mood that we want to win again. I expect a dramatic promotion of women in the next few days.

“Following the success of the televised Tory leadership debates during this contest, no Labour leader will dare turn down the opportunity to debate with Cameron at the next election.”

For Simon Burns, MP for Chelmsford West, the outcome means a breath of fresh air will blow through British politics. “David will be a strong leader of the party, doing what is right by the country, and not playing party politics with issues that affect each and every one of us.”

East of England Euro MP Geoffrey Van Orden said: “David Cameron's vitality, positive energy and strong principles are exactly what the Conservatives need to deal with a Labour Government that has been taking the country for a ride in the wrong direction and which has now run out of steam.”

Senior party activists were delighted at the outcome. Neil Stock, the Essex North constituency chairman, said Mr Cameron “knows what it is to be a Conservative and can look through 21st century glasses to reconnect us with the electorate.

“We need to be an effective opposition and credible alternative government and that's what David Cameron will deliver.”

Derek Brightwell, the Chairman of Suffolk Coastal constituency Conservatives, said he was pleased the outcome had been decisive, which would be an important factor in presenting a united party, “A politician needs luck and after Gordon Brown's disastrous showing in the Commons, this week it looks as though he will have that luck.”

For former Colchester parliamentary candidate Kevin Bentley, David Cameron was “the right man at the right time” to take on and beat Labour. “He will reach out beyond the party to an electorate hungry for change.”

Mr Cameron's first act was to appoint Patrick McLoughlin as Chief Whip, following the decision of David Maclean to return to the backbenches.

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