Who will be the next Tory leader?

A ConservativeHome survey reveals the runners and riders.

Who will be the next Conservative leader? That's the mischievous question posed by ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie in today's Guardian. Montgomerie, who I recently profiled for the New Statesman, surveyed more than 1,500 Tory members in attempt to offer an answer. The full results haven't been published yet but Tim has revealed the results from the "Influentials Group" [centre-right journalists, think-tank heads and parliamentarians] within the ConHome panel. As he explains:

Participants were asked who could be the next Tory leader if (for unspecified reasons) Cameron is forced to quit before the next election and who might be Tory leader if he steps down after the next election, sometime during the next parliament.

William Hague (20 votes) was the top choice to take over from Cameron in this parliament, followed by Boris Johnson (19), Michael Gove (16), Jeremy Hunt (12), George Osborne (12) and David Davis (10). Of note, is the low support for Osborne [whose stock has plummeted since the Budget] and the absence of a genuine leader-in-waiting.

Asked who could take over from Cameron in the next parliament, respondents were far more likely to name MPs from the 2010 take. But rather than figures such as Matthew Hancock [Osborne's former chief of staff] and Rory Stewart [only named by two or three panellists], those surveyed tipped women - and four women in particular - for the top. Priti Patel received 12 votes, with Andrea Leadsom on 10, Anna Soubry on eight and Liz Truss also on eight. As Montgomerie writes, "it's as if the party is yearning for another Thatcher."

Michael Gove was the third most-popular choice to take over from Cameron in this parliament. Photograph: Getty Images.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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Who will win in Manchester Gorton?

Will Labour lose in Manchester Gorton?

The death of Gerald Kaufman will trigger a by-election in his Manchester Gorton seat, which has been Labour-held since 1935.

Coming so soon after the disappointing results in Copeland – where the seat was lost to the Tories – and Stoke – where the party lost vote share – some overly excitable commentators are talking up the possibility of an upset in the Manchester seat.

But Gorton is very different to Stoke-on-Trent and to Copeland. The Labour lead is 56 points, compared to 16.5 points in Stoke-on-Trent and 6.5 points in Copeland. (As I’ve written before and will doubtless write again, it’s much more instructive to talk about vote share rather than vote numbers in British elections. Most of the country tends to vote in the same way even if they vote at different volumes.)

That 47 per cent of the seat's residents come from a non-white background and that the Labour party holds every council seat in the constituency only adds to the party's strong position here. 

But that doesn’t mean that there is no interest to be had in the contest at all. That the seat voted heavily to remain in the European Union – around 65 per cent according to Chris Hanretty’s estimates – will provide a glimmer of hope to the Liberal Democrats that they can finish a strong second, as they did consistently from 1992 to 2010, before slumping to fifth in 2015.

How they do in second place will inform how jittery Labour MPs with smaller majorities and a history of Liberal Democrat activity are about Labour’s embrace of Brexit.

They also have a narrow chance of becoming competitive should Labour’s selection turn acrimonious. The seat has been in special measures since 2004, which means the selection will be run by the party’s national executive committee, though several local candidates are tipped to run, with Afzal Khan,  a local MEP, and Julie Reid, a local councillor, both expected to run for the vacant seats.

It’s highly unlikely but if the selection occurs in a way that irritates the local party or provokes serious local in-fighting, you can just about see how the Liberal Democrats give everyone a surprise. But it’s about as likely as the United States men landing on Mars any time soon – plausible, but far-fetched. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.