The political transformation of Michael Portillo appeared complete following his party conference speech last week.
The change that began with his electoral defeat, and continued with his spell as a hospital porter, was cast by the media as an extraordinary but largely credible 'volte face' (Daily Mail, 4/10).
Portillo surprised observers with his conversational, Blairite style and call for Tories to be open to all races and sexualities. While this met with stoicism from the party faithful, it guaranteed him positive headlines: 'Toughie Portillo is new Mr Softie' noted the Sun (4/10), a view echoed by the Times, Independent and Guardian.
Portillo's presidential style did little to quell suspicion about his leadership aspirations, however. 'A naked bid to replace (Hague) as party leader' shrieked the News of the World (8/10), while the Observer and Sunday Business positioned him as the 'heir apparent' (8/10).
Only the Daily Telegraph disapproved: 'Labour has a chancellor who is thought to want his leader's job, and it is not an example the Tories should follow' (4/10).
Analysis and commentary by Echo Research.
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