The first round of voting in the British Conservative Party’s leadership contest was held last night, and resulted
in the elimination of veteran Kenneth Clarke, the most left-wing of the
four contenders. Clarke received 38 votes, against 62 for David Davis,
56 for David Cameron and 42 for Liam Fox.

A second round of
voting, to be held tomorrow, will eliminate another candidate, and the
remaining two will then go to a nationwide ballot of party members.
(Check out The Guardian‘s coverage here: especially the updated coconut shy.)

Davis,
who started out as the front runner, was supposed to have 67 committed
votes beforehand, so things are not looking good for him, although
there may have been some tactical switching by his supporters to fellow
right-winger Fox in order to knock out Clarke. The more moderate
Cameron, who is expected to pick up most of Clarke’s votes, is now the
clear favourite.

Right-wing MPs are going to have to decide
which out of Davis and Fox offers the better chance of beating Cameron.
Then the membership at large has to decide whether electability is
going to outweigh doctrinal purity.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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