What's this?

It's my latest timeline, and if everything goes to plan, it will be the first one I actually finish.

What is this centered around?

Well, like all my other TLs, it is centered around politics.

The politics of where?

This will focus mainly on the UK and Canada, although I do have vague ideas of America and Australia, so I might end up doing those also (although, I'll need some help in regards to the Australian section).

What's with the name? You fancy yourself a wordsmith?

As you will soon see, Michael Portillo has a role to play in this TL.

Is that Canuck speak for "Prime Minister Michael Portillo"


Shouldn't we be starting now?

We should be. Let us begin.
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Looks interesting. Is this going to be a Portillo-screw, leading to the 2001 leadership being thrown a lot more open, or will he narrowly hold on in Enfield in '97.
Will be watching this.
Ah, in my timeline Portillo succeeds Margret Thatcher as Prime Minister in 1992, so it will be interesting to compare our perceptions of how his personality and premiership could have gone.
Update I: Conservative Party (UK) Leadership Election, 2001
After a disappointing showing in the 2001 General Election, where the Tories made a net gain of only one seat and failed to dent Labour's majority in the slightest, leader William Hague announced his immediate resignation (though it wasn't as if he had much choice in the matter), setting up a leadership contest. This contest would be the first of its kind, as due to reforms implemented under Hague, members would now get to vote directly for their preferred leader, albeit only after MPs had narrowed down the field of candidates to 2.

There were 5 candidates who ended up standing for the leadership: Michael Portillo, Iain Duncan Smith, Ken Clarke, David Davis, and Michael Ancram. Portillo, who had served as John Major's last Defence Secretary and had previously been the frontrunner for the leadership in 1997 before infamously (or famously, depending on who you asked) losing his safe seat in the most shocking result of the night, was once again the frontrunner for the leadership. However, the Michael Portillo of 1997 was very different to the Michael Portillo of 2001. The previous Portillo was a hardline Thatcherite (which was perhaps best exemplified by his controversial SAS speech), and was noted by the press as being a darling of the Tory right. This Portillo, on the other hand, had clashed ideologically with the Thatcherite Hague for almost his entire time as Shadow Chancellor. The new Portillo was running as a modernizer, saying the party must soften its image and reach out to women and LGBT people, however Portillo was just as much of a Eurosceptic as before. Portillo's platform was extremely polarizing within the party, and Portillo would struggle to win over MPs beyond his inital 49 on the first ballot, as much of the Tory right could not support him despite agreeing with his Euroscepticism, and much of the Tory left could not support him because of his Euroscepticism.

Taking what would 4 years ago been Portillo's slot as the right's candidate was Iain Duncan Smith. Smith had served in the Shadow Cabinet for the whole of Hague's tenure, first as Shadow Pensions Secretary and then as Shadow Defense Secretary, but he had never actually served in the cabinet, and indeed had only been an MP for 9 years. On top of his inexperience, Smith also had to deal with the baggage of his actions during the Major premiership, when he had been one of the main Maastricht rebels. After all, as Smith's critics were quick to note, how could a man who played such a role in dividing a Conservative government possibly unite his party and lead it to victory? It didn't help either that Smith was "lacking" in the public speaking department, to put it lightly.

Standing in contrast to Iain Duncan Smith was the Tory left's candidate of Kenneth Clarke (who had previously stood for the leadership in 1997). Clarke, unlike Smith, had served long stints in government, including as John Major's last Chancellor. Clarke, unlike Smith, was popular with the public at large, with opinion polling showing him to be the general public's preferred candidate, as had been the case in 1997. Lastly and most important of all, Clarke, unlike Smith, was a staunch Europhile. Indeed, this Europhila had held back Clarke in 1997, for if Clarke had not been such a passionate and devoted Europhile it is quite possible he would have won the leadership, as he was widely respected within the party (another area where he and Smith converged) for his time in cabinet.

The other 2 candidates standing for the leadership, David Davis and Michael Ancram, were not considered serious contenders to win, in Davis's case due to a lack of stature, and in Ancram's case due to his deep ties to William Hague.

The first ballot of the election was held on the 10th of June. As expected, Michael Portillo came in first, Clarke came in second, and Iain Duncan Smith came third. The question leading up to the ballot had been over who would come in last between Davis and Ancram and therefore be knocked out. The answer turned out to be neither of them, with both of them tied with the support of 21 MPs each. In such a scenario, the party rules called for continuous re-runs until one candidate was eliminated. Said re-run took place 2 days later, on the 12th of June, with Ancram coming last behind Davis, although both candidates lost support compared to the first round. Davis, upon realizing he had almost no chance at winning the leadership, dropped out of the contest. However, the bigger story was that Michael Portillo had picked up the support of only one more MP, compared to Clarke and Smith who picked up 3 more MPs each. It appeared Portillo had a large amount of initial support, but was few people's second choice. Indeed the media now, which had previously, like most everyone, considered Portillo the frontrunner and man to beat, began to speculate if Portillo would fail to even make the membership run-off.

It was under this cloud that the Third Round of MPs balloting would take place. Despite his polarizing nature, Portillo did just enough to make the members vote, coming in second and only one MP ahead of third placed Iain Duncan Smith. Clarke enjoyed a sizable jump in support between ballots, picking up the support of 20 additional MPs.

However narrow the margin was, Portillo and Clarke would now have to face each other in the first ever member's vote. From the very start of the contest, Clarke had been hampered by his staunch Europhila, and this was perhaps even more the case during the member's vote. Despite Portillo's polarizing nature, Clarke winning the leadership was unlikely, after all, those disillusioned by Portillo's more left wing traits knew voting for Kenneth Clarke would hardly make things better, with Clarke's europhila adding insult to injury. Thus on September 13th (delayed by 2 days after the 9/11 attacks), Portillo was announced as the new leader of the party, winning the member's vote by a margin of 58-42. Despite his hefty margin, everyone knew Portillo would have to deal with large amounts of internal discontent, having won the support of only one-third of MPs and having gained the support of only 5 additional MPs throughout the balloting. Such internal discontent would not make Portillo's suggested modernization any easier, but that was a problem Portillo knew he would face.

Did Portillo water his social liberalism a bit down during and after the leadership race. IIRC he was pipped by one vote for the final runoff because he refused to water down his plank which cost him the vote of one MP who ultimately made the difference in the end.
Interesting premise - I'll definitely be following this!

Did Portillo water his social liberalism a bit down during and after the leadership race. IIRC he was pipped by one vote for the final runoff because he refused to water down his plank which cost him the vote of one MP who ultimately made the difference in the end.

My understanding was that IDS' supporters were confident that he and Portillo would make it to the final round (after all, an MP who votes for David Davis or Michael Ancram isn't likely to vote for Ken Clarke) and so they tactically voted for Clarke to ensure that Portillo would be eliminated and therefore IDS would have an easier run against Clarke.
My understanding was that IDS' supporters were confident that he and Portillo would make it to the final round (after all, an MP who votes for David Davis or Michael Ancram isn't likely to vote for Ken Clarke) and so they tactically voted for Clarke to ensure that Portillo would be eliminated and therefore IDS would have an easier run against Clarke.

Yes I believe that was the case. I just remember that Portillo said (I think it was in his documentary on the fall of Mrs. Thatcher) that he was approached by one MP who was open to backing him but that he wanted some assurances he'd water down his reformist policies. Portillo refused and was pipped by a single vote in the end.
Liking the TL so far. Watched.
Oh yes, looking forward to a new TL to get my teeth into.
Interesting premise - I'll definitely be following this!
Thank ya kindly! Hopefully the rest of the timeline keeps your interest.

Did Portillo water his social liberalism a bit down during and after the leadership race. IIRC he was pipped by one vote for the final runoff because he refused to water down his plank which cost him the vote of one MP who ultimately made the difference in the end.
My view on it is that the race was so close that you could say any number of things cost Portillo the leadership and probably be right (the 2000 Election in America is another example of this). I've heard of the story of the One MP and I did consider taking that route to give Portillo the leadersip, but ultimately I didn't. I think if Portillo had run a better campaign (his OTL campaign was famously "lacking") he would have won the leadership (although like I said, you could say lots of things cost Portillo the leadership and be right, with how close the margin was), and that's what happens here.

Ken Clarke deserves better :p
That he does, but than so did Portillo. Who knows, maybe after LICAP you can write a timeline where Clarke wins the leadership.

I wonder what you have planned for Canada..
For that my friend, you will have to wait and see.
Update II: Australian Federal Election, 2001
After only 2 years of being, John Howard's premiership was dealt a terrible blow in the 1998 Election. His coalition suffered a swing of more than 4.5% against it, and lost 14 seats. In hindsight, the election was a sign of the things to come. The Coalition lost all but one state election held between the elections of that election and the next, and they consistently trailed Labor in opinion polling.

And so came election day, the 10th of November 2001. Despite the Coalition's attempts to attack Labor on the "national security" issue following the September 11th Attacks, Labor won a substantial majority on a swing of 16 seats and a 2PP vote of over 52%.

Australia 2001.png

I haven't been very active on this site lately, so apologies for the late update.
Update III: Canadian Alliance Leadership Election, 2002, and Calgary Southwest by-election, 2002
Stockwell Day's leadership of the Canadian Alliance had been, to put it bluntly, something of a catastrophe. Mere months after he had risen to leadership in the summer of 2000, an election was called, and activists within the newly formed Alliance were hopeful of a decent and respectable result. Although a victory was considered out of reach, there was hope at least of knocking the Liberals down to a minority, possibly a weak one if things went very well. With the Liberals starting out the election only a handful of seats above the 151 needed for an overall majority, it was certainly possible. Instead, the Liberals solidified their majority, with Day coming under intense criticism for his conduct during the campaign. He had performed poorly during the English language leadership debate, and had come off as airheaded instead of charismatic. Additionally, Day's strong conservative bent thoroughly irritated those in the Alliance who were more moderate. Things only got worse for Day in the spring of 2001; multiple MPs, having either been expelled or resigned from the party's caucus, banded together in Parliament as an unofficial Anti-Day alliance that would cooperate with the PCs.

Under these circumstances, in the fall of 2001 Day caved to intense internal pressure within the party and resigned to trigger a leadership election in which he would run (the election was scheduled for Spring 2002). Day's strongest challenger came in the form of Stephen Harper, former Reform MP for Calgary West, and President of the National Citizens Coalition, a right wing think tank. Also running for the leadership were MPs Diane Ablonczy and Grant Hill, but their chances were considered extremely slim by most prognosticators.

Going into the March 20th first round, most watchers were predicting a victory for Stephen Harper, possibly a first round victory. After all the chaos the party had experienced during Day's tenure, it was hardly an unreasonable claim to make. So it was something of a shock then, when not only did Day top the ballot, but he won an overall majority, thereby avoiding any further rounds and being re-elected as Alliance leader.


Immediately, pundits began to wonder how exactly such an upset had happened. Perhaps Day's struggles with PR and Caucus management had endeared him to party membership, for after all, this was a party that prided itself on opposition to "elitism". Maybe Day's Socially Conservative views helped him among the mostly Western-based Alliance membership. Or maybe it was simply a case of complacency (as pundits were quick to note, far fewer votes were cast in this election then had been cast in 2000).

Regardless of the cause of Day's win, won Day had, and he would continue on as Alliance leader for the foreseeable future. Of course, this did not make the rogue Alliance MPs (now calling themselves the Democratic Representative Caucus and formally aligned with the PCs in the House of Commons) anymore likely to rejoin the party, but Day was more concerned with celebrating his hard fought election victory.


The Calgary Southwest by-election of 2002 was triggered by the resignation of sitting member and former Reform founder and leader Preston Manning in early 2002. The election was scheduled for May 2002, and as it so happened would be the first real test of Day's leadership following his re-election. Despite Alliance having won the seat handily in 2000, the Progressive Conservatives were confident they could take the seat with their candidate, Jim Prentice. Prentice was, like almost everyone else in the PCs by the year 2002, a Red Tory. The Alliance on the other hand, went with lawyer and Conservative activist Ezra Levant. The New Democrats selected as their candidate former Moderator of the United Church of Canada Bill Phipps, although his odds of victory were seen rightly as been very small.

From the beginning, the race was thought to be close between the PCs and the Alliance. In the end, despite this being Alberta, Ezra Levant was just a bit too right wing for the voters of Calgary West, and Jim Prentice won the seat by a 3% margin on a swing of more than 25%.

Interesting - I'm guessing the Alliance/the right in general aren't going to do as well as OTL at the next federal election in Canada.