Only Cameron will do

ON May 13, eight days after the General Election, I wrote in the EADT: “The Conservatives have to bite the bullet, skip a generation, and unite behind David Cameron.

ON May 13, eight days after the General Election, I wrote in the EADT: “The Conservatives have to bite the bullet, skip a generation, and unite behind David Cameron.”

Everything I saw and heard at the Blackpool conference reinforces that opinion. The young pretender to the Tory crown demonstrated just what the Conservatives need to pull them back from the electoral abyss they are facing.

It's true that Kenneth Clarke is the big beast in the Tory jungle. But at 65, his time has surely gone, even though he'd be more than a match for the Labour front bench during Commons debates. It would be highly ironic for Tories to choose a robust pro European while Labour's probable next leader, Gordon Brown, is verging on the Eurosceptic.

If Sir Malcolm Rifkind had been around 42 years ago, he would have been the natural successor to Harold Macmillan. A true One Nation patrician Tory, the former Foreign Secretary - who, like Clarke, opposed the war in Iraq from the outset - would take the Conservatives back to the centre ground, but he lacks parliamentary support.

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Dr Liam Fox, whose “rally round the flag” speech last Wednesday was unashamedly pitched at the majority rank-and-file Tory membership, is far too right wing to lead a progressive political party in the 21st century. David Davis's speech exposed his central weakness - that up against Blair and Brown in this television age, he would be left floundering and would lead the Conservatives nowhere.

Back to Cameron. His mercurial performance in Blackpool totally energised the party delegates, He's not a second Tony Blair - in time, he could prove to be an even better leader.

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David Cameron has what it takes to lead the Conservative Party. He's got a natural style and exuberance which will appeal to voters faced with dour and humourless Gordon Brown and Charles Kennedy at the election,

Yes, it will be a risk to elect someone who has been an MP for little over four years, but if the Tories are not prepared to take a risk, then they face another bruising election defeat and the prospect of ridicule in having to elect yet another leader.

That's not to say I claim Cameron will win the next election for the Conservative Party. But he could take them to a position of winning more seats than Labour, which I firmly believe is beyond any of the other candidates.

TORY Euro MP for the East of England Geoffrey Van Orden has written a pamphlet under the headline “The EU's defence policy is unnecessary, divisive and wasteful.”

Mr Van Orden, a former brigadier in the British Army, says that in a time of great insecurity, Britain's armed forces are still being cut. “EU involvement in military affairs is being promoted while a proven alliance, NATO, is neglected.

“The EU continues to build structures that merely duplicate NATO bodies while creating no additional military capability.”

Dismissing the prospect of military operations under the flag of the EU, Mr Van Orden says: “While many may question the nature of American military engagement in recent years, the closest possible security relationship with the EU continues to be a primary national interest for the UK.”

Copies of the pamphlet can be obtained from his constituency office, 88 Rectory Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 1RF.

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