Archer Adds Voice To Calls For Essential Reform
The former deputy party chairman Lord Archer has added his voice to those calling for reform to Tory Party leadership selection rules. In an open letter to the Sunday Times he said it is essential that the new executive of the 1922 Committee - which is elected on Wednesday - moved swiftly.
"This could be the first step to winning back power or it could be a rubber
stamp to put in motion a contest which has no validity in the eyes of the vast
majority of Conservatives, many of who worked just as hard to secure a
Conservative victory as those currently half-filling the Opposition benches."
The letter comes in the wake of calls for change from other senior Tories. Former Tory PM Edward Heath's article in the Parliamentary House magazine calling for Conservative change.
Robin Hodgson, the chairman of the chairman of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations has disclosed that he has approached the backbench 1922 Committee of MPs, which runs the contest, about changing the rules before the election.
Another development in the Tory leadership contest comes today in the form of a survey by the Observer newspaper. It suggests former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke has established an early lead in the contest - but only because the right wing vote was split among four other contenders.
The paper contacted 152 of the 164 Tory MPs of whom 82 were prepared to declare their voting intentions.
Of those 21 said they were backing Mr Clarke, followed by Mr Hague on 16, Michael Howard and Peter Lilley neck-and-neck on 14 each, with John Redwood on 12. Mr Dorrell was trailing with just five.
Although the findings suggest Mr Clarke could come top in the first ballot, he would be unlikely to gain the overall majority needed to win and one of the right-wingers could come through in the later rounds.
The Leadership Candidates have also been reacting to the proposed changes.