With the leadership of the Conservative party now in doubt as Prime Minister Macmillan steps down, it is clear that the British leader could have done more to help his party had he started grooming his successor earlier, Nadav Safran, assistant professor of Government, said yesterday.
The annual Conservative conference, now meeting in Blackpool, has become a behind-the scenes struggle for the party leadership. This struggle, Safran said, might result in the choice of a leader who is not the best man to remake the party's image, but rather the man with the most power in the party.
"If the British general elections were held tomorrow, there is little doubt that Labor would win very substantially," but with the elections months away, the Conservative party has a chance to stave off defeat, Safran said. To win back the favor of the electorate, he added, the Conservative party must "convey the image of new blood, and reverse the image of tiredness."
Reginald Maudling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, has been an outstanding exponent of the "new Conservative party," and seemed likely to lead it, but his power faded after not receiving timely support from Macmillan. The apparent front runner at the moment is Richard A. Butler, the Deputy Prime Minister.
Another potential Conservative leader is Lord Hailsham, the Minister of Science. Hailsham and Butler, however, are identified more with the "old" Conservatives, Safran said, and it will be harder for them to build the image of vitality and youth which the party seeds in order to win.