Friday, February 06, 2009

A Tory Safe Seat in Pennine Country

David Curry MP may not be a household name, but he has been a distinguished and significant Tory representative in the Commons for many years. Unlike many colleagues, he has decided, a the age of 64, to stand down gracefully at the next election from his seat of Skipton and Ripon - set in beautiful Yorkshire pennine country. Curry was a consistent Tory left-winger; a sterling member of the Tory Reform Group and supporter of Ken Clarke, he was respected by many on the right despite his 'wet' economic views and pro-European approach. Michael Howard briefly made him one of his 'super spokesman' in his trimmed down shadow cabinet, while he also served as a minister under Margaret Thatcher. Curry's farewell notice is enthusiastic about current leader David Cameron, and it will be interesting now to see which way his constituency goes in choosing his successor. Whether local or national is of less importance than whether the new candidate - and putative MP - represents a reversion to a more right-wing, euro-phobic character, or maintains the progressive Toryism of Curry himself. I suspect Cameron would be better off if it was the latter; the temper of the Tory Party today leads me to believe it will, however, be the former. Such a choice will continue to raise the spectre of a reforming leadership seeking to govern an unreformed party.

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