A couple of days late with this one, I know, but I want to get this off my chest. What on earth does Malcolm Rifkind think he’s playing at, pulling out of the Tory leadership contest and saying he doesn’t have a chance? Of course he doesn’t have a chance; he never had a chance. By staying in the race and being the guaranteed first-round eliminee, he allowed the Tories to use the first ballot as an intelligence-gathering straw poll, to find out whether the four “serious” candidates had a chance (“serious” in inverted commas, owing to the presence of Liam Fox in the line-up), which is valuable for them, and he prolonged the contest for a week by requiring an extra ballot, thus adding to the gaiety of the nation. I could understand what he was doing if his pulling-out-and-backing-Clarke was necessary to get Clarke the extra support to keep him in the race for a bit longer. But as it is his withdrawal is much more likely to have the effect that Clarke’s knocked out on the first ballot, killing his candidacy far more quickly. If he’d really wanted to support Clarke, why not stay in the race, vote for KC, and tell his supporters (both of them) sotto voce to do the same?


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