Practice makes perfect: Conservative M.P.s in Britain last week dumped their third leader since forcing out Margaret Thatcher in 1990. The mutiny was smooth and quick. After the hapless Iain Duncan Smith who had failed utterly to exploit Prime Minister Tony Blair's Iraq problem was shown the door, the normally intrigue-prone Tory M.P.s quickly rallied behind one man: shadow chancellor Michael Howard, 62, who seems likely to become leader this week unopposed. But can this football-loving lawyer do any better than Duncan Smith?
Howard, the son of Jewish immigrants, has sharp elbows and broad experience in government. He held Cabinet jobs both under Thatcher and her successor, John Major. A quick-witted barrister with an excellent memory, he can give as good as he gets from Blair in the Commons.
After six years in the desert, the Tories are working on some voter-friendly policies to go with their thirst for power. But historically, a change in leadership doesn't do much for a party's fortunes. As the party of older, wealthier, town-and-village Britain, the Tories badly need to broaden their appeal. Howard, with his reputation as a Thatcherite right-winger, isn't the obvious choice for that particular job.