News overnight from Britain is
that, as expected, David Cameron will start firm favourite in the
nationwide leadership ballot of Conservative Party members. In the
second round of voting by MPs he
topped the ballot convincingly with 90 votes to David Davis’s 57. The
third contender, Liam Fox, was eliminated after getting 51.

Cameron,
being younger and more moderate, is seen as the more electable
candidate, and after eight years in opposition, it is expected that rank
and file Tories will see electability as the biggest consideration.

They
will have no shortage of material on which to judge Cameron’s views.
For three years, as a candidate, then backbencher, then shadow
minister, he wrote a regular column for The Guardian, which has now helpfully collected his columns here. They make interesting reading; Cameron comes across as genuinely thoughtful and not afraid to throw out new ideas.

For example, read his column on the vote to go to war in Iraq.
Although I disagree with his conclusion, it’s a model of clear
reasoning, showing someone who thought seriously about the issue rather
than just following a party line – or at least someone who can give a
wonderful imitation of having done so, which is almost as good.

It’s
impossible to imagine party discipline permitting a Liberal Party MP
here to think out loud in this fashion, and it’s hard to think of one
who would be able to write so well if they did. Lynton Crosby
notwithstanding, the British are still ahead of us in some things.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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