In a television interview with the BBC before the last General Election, David Cameron stated that he would not seek a third term as Prime Minister. Since then there has been much speculation about who will follow him, with many candidates appearing to start their leadership bids at the Conservative Party conference this week.
George Osborne, the Chancellor and Cameron’s ally is the early frontrunner and is the clear favourite to take the crown. He has received a lot of credit for his handling of the economy and is seen as the best political strategist within the Conservative Party. He is a man who at this stage would appear hard to beat.
A brief look at recent political history will show though that the front-runner rarely wins. In past Conservative leadership races the likes of Michael Portillo and David Davis have been defeated despite being big favourites. This is true in Labour leadership races as well where both David Miliband and Andy Burnham have been defeated in recent times. Politics is all about momentum and the danger of being a front-runner is that you gain momentum at the wrong time and burnout before the end of the race.
As of yet David Cameron has not indicated when he will step down. Therefore there is currently no clear time frame for his succession. This could be in a couple of years or could be 4 years away. In this period, a number of events could change the whole political environment. There is an upcoming European referendum, where Britain could vote to leave the EU and also there is the ongoing drama within the Labour Party. These things may change everything.
Osborne will face many competitors as well. Boris Johnson has desired the role of leader and potential Prime Minister for a long time and delivered a well-received speech at the conference. Theresa May also has a large support base in the party and is positioning herself as the darling of the Right. Jeremy Hunt and Nicky Morgan have also indicated they may stand. This is going to be far from a coronation.
If the race was held today, then George Osborne would win. However it isn’t. There is a long way to go in this race and there are many things which could yet happen. Osborne rightly deserves his front-runner status, but his win is far from guaranteed. Nothing is decided yet and this is only the beginning of what could be one of the longest leadership races in recent history.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Daily Mail