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11 June 2010

Is David Davis the new hero of the Conservative right?

Davis rated as most effective right-winger in new poll.

By George Eaton

According to the results of a ConservativeHome poll, he may well be. The poll of 1,567 Tory members asked them to rate a selection of Conservative right-wingers based on two measures: 1) whether the person represented their views and 2) how effectively he or she did so.

David Davis won on both measures, with 70 per cent rating him as representative and 54 per cent as effective. John Redwood is rated as representative by 68 per cent but only 33 per cent believe he is effective. Daniel Hannan (whom I profiled for the NS last year) is seen as representative by 44 per cent and as effective by 38 per cent.

Davis’s success owes much to his decision to launch a series of public attacks on the coalition over the 55 per cent rule and over the planned increase in capital gains tax.

The former shadow home secretary is too much of a maverick to lead the party’s right and many of his colleagues see him as vain and lacking in judgement. But his straight-talking style, combined with his climate-change scepticism, make him a natural favourite of the grass roots. It was for these reasons that Davis topped our list of the “ten people Dave should fear”.

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I’m rather surprised that Boris Johnson, who also appeared on our list, wasn’t included in the poll. On several issues, most notably taxation and climate change, he is well to the right of the coalition.

In the case of Barack Obama and BP, we’ve had a perfect example of how Johnson is free to outflank David Cameron on the right. Here’s what he told the Today programme:

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I do think there’s something slightly worrying about the anti-British rhetoric that seems to be permeating from America. I would like to see a bit of cool heads rather than endlessly buck-passing and name-calling.

By contrast, Cameron’s first instinct was (understandably) to express sympathy for the US government:

I understand the US government’s frustration because it is a catastrophe for the environment. Obviously everyone wants everything to be done that can be done. Of course that is something I will be discussing with the American president.

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