Samuel Coates and I are currently in the USA – discussing the next steps of our BritainAndAmerica project with Washington bloggers, politicians and thinkers. Apologies for the reduced service this week – all will be back to normal very soon. We have only been able to watch the Greg Dyke business from afar but it has been a pretty disappointing business…
Here are my questions from the affair:
- Why did Team Cameron think Greg Dyke would be a good candidate to represent London Tories and other Londoners who want control of council tax and crime? Until falling out with Tony Blair over the Iraq war, Mr Dyke was a lifelong Labour supporter and major donor. Yet David Cameron apparently regarded him as "an ideal candidate".
- What are we to make of the eagerness of David Cameron and Francis Maude to seek a joint candidate with the Liberal Democrats? Mr Cameron’s aides apparently saw it as an "experiment in new politics" (quoted in The Independent). What other "experiments" are planned and are being hidden from MPs and members? ConservativeHome has long suspected that much of Project Cameron is about positioning the party for a deal with the Liberal Democrats in the event of a hung parliament. This hardly discourages us from that theory.
- Where does this leave the other would-be Tory candidates for London Mayor? The messages being sent out by CCHQ with bungled operations like this – and last year’s delayed contest – hardly help them to build credibility. This is what Ken Livingstone’s spokesman said yesterday: "What this shows is that whoever is eventually selected as Conservative party candidate for mayor has absolutely no confidence from the Tory leadership. When David Cameron says he has total confidence in them to run London it will be a total lie."
- Yesterday Greg Dyke appeared to distance himself from any possibility of standing as an independent. “I won’t be standing. I was approached by one or two people, and we had chats… I have no intention of standing as an independent, because I’d lose. Ken Livingstone would be difficult to stop,” he told The Times. If the party was going to propose a high-risk, joint candidacy arrangement with the LibDems, were they sufficiently sure of Mr Dyke’s commitment to the idea?
- Was David Cameron willing to abandon the proposed primary process if the Dyke-deal had come off? That is the suggestion in today’s Times.