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Tory hopefuls survive the Sundays’ test

October 16th, 2005
    But the News of the World has a splash about George Osborne

After the mounting speculation that at least one of the Sunday papers was trying to “find dirt” on Tory contender, David Cameron, the Shadow Education Secretary and betting favourite seems to have escaped unscathed this morning.

There is a big story, however, in the News of the World showing a picture of Cameron’s close colleague and campaign chief, George Osborne, with his arms round a woman described as a “cocaine-snorting hooker”. The shadow Chancellor denies taking drugs with her and points out that he was just 22 years old when the picture was taken. Several papers, including the Telegraph feature, Osborne claiming that there is a smear campaign going on and that this is pretty desperate stuff.

    But Osborne is not a candidate and from my 3am survey it appears that there is nothing in the papers about things untoward in Cameron’s past

There maybe articles that are not on websites yet but I have been unable to find them. There can be little doubt that a huge amount of journalistic investigation has been going on over the past few days focused on Cameron and it must be comforting to his camp that no youthful indiscretions are being reported. The Mail on Sunday, which had been reported to be digging hard, runs the Osborne story.

    So after a week of intense digging and mounting speculation all the tabloids have come up with is something about another Tory MP when he was 22 years old. This is pretty tame stuff.

The Observer, meanwhile, has Michael Portillo, urging Cameron to continue his policy of refusing to answer questions.

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer, who kicked this story off two weeks ago with his initial question to Cameron, says he believe he has done the Shadow Education Secretary a favour. “…The drugs bust-up is the first time that he has ever been tested in the sort of firestorm that politicians of the front rank must be capable of dealing with. One of the many great unknowns about him is whether he has the character, the grit and the deftness to cope with pressure at this level. If he cannot deal with this successfully, then he is unlikely to be much use to his party as a leader, nor much of an offer to the voters as a candidate for Prime Minister. His party needs to know whether he can hack it. So does the country. So does he. He may not think so, and I didn’t intend to, but by kicking all this off, I now think I may even have done him a favour.”

On the betting markets there has been a slight move to David Davis who is now below 2/1 on the betting exchanges. Cameron remains the strong odds-on favourite.

Leadership Betting
Best betting exchange prices; Cameron 0.84/1: Davis 1.97/1: Clarke 13.5/1: Fox 9/1
Best bookmaker prices; Cameron 4/6: Davis 11/5: Clarke 8/1: Fox 8/1

Mike Smithson






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