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Conservative Party Leadership Contest
Following the Conservative Party's loss of the General Election on 5th May 2005, Michael Howard announced that he would resign as leader sometime after the party conference in October but before Christmas. This announcement triggered a leadership contest, which has yet to be officially commenced, but which has nevertheless ever since been the source of speculation and manoeuvring by the potential contenders.
Astrologically, Howard's transits fit this time-frame perfectly. At the end of October (2005), and the beginning of November, transiting Neptune will make an aspect to Michael's Sun, signifying letting go of his leadership role. Towards the end of November and into December, transits of Saturn to various planets in his birth chart indicate a time of restructuring his life, reassessing which direction he wants to go in. Then, in the first few months of 2006 Howard will have several transits that symbolise the desire to explore pastures new.
The main caveat to this is that between June and September 2005, challenges to his leadership may well intensify, as transitting Pluto will be on his Sun/Uranus midpoint. Michael may not be able to hold onto his position, particularly around the last week of August and the first week of September.
Birth chart of the Conservative Party
There is no known record of a definitive birth chart for the Conservative Party as it currently is. The chart below is, however, an important chart to consider, and may well still be 'active.' I have not worked with it enough to draw firm conclusions either way, and so it is included here for consideration.
This is the chart for a major restructuring of the party in the 1800s. It has the Sun conjunct Saturn in Scorpio, opposing Pluto in Taurus, symbolising conservatism and the powerful land-owning elites that the party traditionally represents. (Margareth Thatcher's Ascendant and Saturn in Scorpio are both near to the Sun in this chart).
At the moment, transiting Neptune is squaring this Sun opposite Pluto aspect. This is consistent with a major leadership crisis: although the Conservative Party made some gains in the May '05 election, it has since recognised, more than ever, that it must reform if it is to be elected again after eight years in the wilderness, hobbled by its Thatcher legacy, and out of sync with modern liberal public viewpoints. However this transit will continue into 2006 and beyond, so if this chart is indeed still 'active', then it suggests that the Conservative Party leadership crisis is far from over, despite what the party members and general public may hope.
Note added 24th September 2005: From 1st October to 10th December Mars will be retrograde, and will oppose the Sun in this chart, then conjoin the Pluto in this chart. The exact dates of these aspects are 24th/25th October and 7th November respectively. These may well be dates to watch in terms of the leadership contest.
The Leadership Contenders
We will now examine the politicians who are currently (28th June 2005) thought to be the main contenders, one by one. They will be discussed purely astrologically, with no reference to policies, statements, or other factors that will and must come into play in the decision to choose a party leader.
Each contender has two paragraphs about them: the first discusses their transits for the last six months of 2005; the second discusses their links with the above chart for the Conservative Party (the comments about the party's chart should be fully understood before proceeding).
NB Birth times are not available for any of these politicians, therefore we are unable to use transits to the all-important Ascendant and Midheaven. Nevertheless, we can still ascertain a lot of useful information on the subject of our inquiry.
Note added 20th October 2005: When the contest formally opened, only five of the hopefuls shortlisted below actually stood: David Cameron, Kenneth Clarke, David Davis, Liam Fox, and Malcolm Rifkind. This article has been left intact, rather than deleting the writing pertaining to those who did not stand, out of interest and as a record of how the astrological information compares to how reality turned out.
From the end of October onwards David's popularity could soar. His 'marketing campaign' for any leadership contest would be best suited to this time period. Throughout July and August he may feel hemmed in and be chomping at the bit, however it's a time of consolidating and forward planning, rather than getting the show on the road. August to October could see him in a very confrontational/competitive mindset, and hubris needs to be guarded against. From the end of October onwards his appeal as a leader may become clearer; marketing himself before that time could prove disappointing or even undermining of his credibility. Cautionary notes aside, October and November hold the potential to be very good months for David, in terms of wielding power and influence.
On the plus side, David's Jupiter is trine the party's Venus-Mars conjunction, symbolising an easy connection with leadership of the party. His Saturn is trine to the party's Saturn, which again shows that he naturally falls into roles of authority within the party. His Pluto sextile the party's Sun bolsters this tremendously. However, his Sun opposite the party's Neptune, and the party's Sun conjunct his Neptune, hold both promise and problems. The promise is the potential for charisma and popularity by the bucketload. The problems are the potential for great disappointment, disillusionment, the possibility of deception, and the experience of undermining and being undermined. David's Mars makes challenging aspects to the party's outer planets, suggesting tense confrontations, show-downs, and a great deal of Machiavellian manoeuvring. Finally, his nodal axis close to the party's Sun-Pluto opposition indicates a close relationship with party power. This could be an astrological hint about a future role.
(For more information on David Cameron's chart, please click here.)
Note added 6th Dec 05: It has just been announced that David Cameron has won the leadership contest with 68% of the vote as against David Davis's 32%.
Ken's transits at the time of writing (28th June 2005) indicate someone who is, more than the other possible contenders here, very much in the mood for a new challenge, a new direction, and a fresh start. The problem is, he's at a point when his transition into a new phase of his life is going into reverse, in a way, and will not move forwards properly until Christmas/New Year. June, July and August are months to consolidate and plan ahead, but not to enter into competitions or seek increased power. He may, however, find the temptation difficult to resist, and around mid/late October he may be unable to contain any longer his desire to take charge. The solar eclipse early in October connects with several of Ken's planets, highlighting leadership and ambition, amongst other things. From October to December inclusive he is indeed due to turn a corner in his professional life, however the transits are not clear or emphatic during these latter six months of 2005 that the time is right for him to become leader of the party.
Ken does have chart contacts pointing to leadership within the party: his Mars is trine the party's Mars and Saturn, his Pluto is trine the party's Mars and Saturn. However his Sun is square the party's Neptune, which points to ambiguity and lack of clarity regarding him as a leader. This aspect connection reflects a potential for undermining and being undermined, of being let-down. It is the opposite of 'decisive and strong leadership' and as such has to be taken as a serious contra-indicator of party leadership success for Ken.
(For more information on Kenneth Clarke's chart, please click here.)
Note added 20th October 2005: As of 18th October Ken Clarke was eliminated from the leadership contest. At that time, he was in 4th place, with Liam Fox in third place, David Cameron in second place, and David Davis in first place.
The transits for David during November are very good for promotions and new job roles. The 'roots', so to speak, of his November transits begin in September, as transiting Uranus moves into a square with David's Saturn, the planet of vocation and achievement. Various shorter term transits occur within this period (i.e. September to November), also highlighting the potential for new horizons, and indicating that he is likely to be in a competitive mood. Whether this translates into becoming leader of the party, or into losing the battle and so moving on to pastures new, only time will tell.
David's Venus is just 2 degrees away from the Conservative Party's Venus, indicating a close bond. His Mars (leadership) is sextile the Party's Sun (the leader), suggesting that the party will be receptive to him in the top job, however there are not many supporting factors to reinforce this. David's Saturn is square the party's Mars, and whilst this can combine to create drive and ambition, it can also mean that David unwittingly hinders and frustrates' the party's momentum.
(For more information on David Davis's chart, please click here.)
Note added 6th Dec 05: It has just been announced that David Davis has lost the leadership contest with 32% of the vote as against David Cameron's 68%.
At the time of writing (28th June '05) Alan is likely to be in very competitive mood, feeling very confident - perhaps overconfident - and very keen to make some changes to raise his profile and increase his leadership role. During July, transiting Saturn will make a sesquiquadrate aspect to Alan's natal Saturn, and so he will be reviewing his achievements and direction, however because Saturn will also simultaneously square his Neptune there is the strong possibility of a feeling of disappointment and disillusionment. With transiting Jupiter in sextile to his Saturn during the end of July and throughout August, alongside Saturn on natal Uranus, this is not really a time to try to break out from his current position; rather it's a time to take stock, consolidate, and plan. From July onwards, well into the new year, transiting Uranus squares Alan's Mars, with the critical point being the third week of November. This transit shows a fighting spirit being awakened, and an impatience with conventions, limits, restrictions, and delays. Whilst this can make for a bold mood, Alan needs to control the energy carefully, because a lot of applecarts can be upset during transits like this. Alongside this transit, Neptune sextiles Alan's Saturn, indicating a desire for more ideal vocational conditions, but with the risk of losing what has been gained to date. The critical moment for this latter transit is the last week of October. Also during October, the solar eclipse picks up Alan's Sun, Moon, and Mars, emphasising leadership and visibility issues. With transiting Saturn in trine to his Sun from October until the new year, he is definitely in career-building mode, ambitious to make gains and get titles under his belt.
Alan's nodal axis directly lines up with the party's Sun-Pluto opposition, placing his development right at the heart of the party's system of power. With his Venus in trine to the party's Mars, his Jupiter sextile the party's Saturn, and his Uranus also trine the party's Mars, there is likely to be an easy enjoyment of leadership connections. However, his Mars is opposite the party's Mars, reflecting conflict and confrontation with the party's goals, and he has a cluster of planets - including his Sun - next to the party's Neptune, suggesting appeal as a leader, but with a hard-to-grasp quality with it. A string of tense connections between his Pluto and the party's chart indicates power struggles. He could be a useful reformer of the party, if the members can overcome feeling threatened by the changes he would want to make.
(For more information on Alan Duncan's chart, please click here.)
From the first week of September onwards Liam is likely to be in competitive mood, ready for a challenge, and determined to win - and more likely to win, in fact, than prior to this date. From July onwards and into the new year he is likely to desire greater access to power and influence, and from the third week of November onwards he is more likely to be able to achieve this. From the end of July until mid-October impatience could propel him into verbal jousts with other leadership contenders (the lunar eclipse in mid-October is particularly relevant to the issue of competition and confrontation for Liam), and from August until the new year he is itching for a career change/promotion. The latter is likely to be more easily reached from the third week of November onwards. From September to new year, disappointments and deflation are more likely, however, and although from the final week of October onwards holds the possibility of increased appeal, the outlook is not so good, overall, until December/January.
Liam's Sun is in septile to the party's Sun, showing a relationship of mutual inspiration at the level of leadership. His Saturn is septile the party's Mars, again symbolising inspiration combined this time with ambition and focused drive. His Jupiter sextile the party's Saturn indicates natural authority, and his Pluto close to the party's node show a relationship to party power. However despite these links, overall the connections between Liam's chart and the party's chart do not emphatically point to leadership in quite so direct a way as other contenders.
(For more information on Liam Fox's chart, please click here.)
Note added 20th October 2005: As of today, 20th October, Liam Foxhas been eliminated from the leadership contest. At this time, David Davis is in second place and David Cameron is in first place with a clear lead.
Up until mid-August Andrew would do well to steer clear of issues pertaining to the leadership contest, and party in-fighting. In July he has an opportunity to consolidate his position, and from July to October he is likely to experience a very considerable urge for influence and power as Pluto conjoins his Sun. However it is not until the first week of September and onwards until the end of October that this power-hunger can be effectively satiated. September is a very important month for Andrew, career-wise, as transiting Saturn trines his natal Saturn, and transiting Jupiter sextiles his Sun. From September until into the new year he has itchy feet, vocationally-speaking, and from the third week of November onwards his frustrations and dilemmas about his direction can be resolved and begin to shift, although at first there is a likely to be a feeling of inertia and the heavy weight of responsibility as transiting Saturn will be on his Sun/Mars midpoint.
Andrew's Jupiter septiles the party's Sun, showing that he can motivate and inspire the members really well, and that they will naturally see him as a leader in this regard. His Saturn connects closely with the party's Saturn, Venus, Mercury, and Mars, and so there is a complex relationship of authority and responsibility. He could be seen as a natural authority for the party, however he could also be seen as ponderous, dull, or unresponsive. The strongest indications of party leadership are all present and correct, however: Andrew's Mars trine the party's Mars, his Venus trine its Mars, his Uranus trine its Mars, and possibly his Moon trine its Mars too (depending on his time of birth, which is unknown.)
Theresa's recent outspokenness about the Conservative Party's undemocratic method of choosing its leaders is no surprise, astrologically. transiting Jupiter is conjunct her Sun, which suggests confidence and outgoingness, and transiting Uranus is conjunct her Mars, which suggests a willingness to confront and be bold. transiting Saturn is trine her natal Saturn during July, suggesting a critical turning point in her career, and from August to October she is likely to experience itchy feet and frustration with her goals and her visibility. An ambitious mood occurs side by side with this, as transiting Saturn sextiles her Sun, and this ambition intensifies in October and continues into November. The new year starts with yet more assertiveness and desire to push herself forward. Whether or not Theresa stands in the leadership contest, she is certainly not going to be retiring into the background.
Theresa's Saturn is close to the party's Saturn, reflecting a natural connection with authority and executive roles. Her Jupiter is sextile the party's Sun, which is excellent for leadership. There is a bidirectional aspect to: Theresa's Uranus is trine the party's Mars, and her Mars is trine the party's Uranus. This is again good for leadership, because it shows an ability to get the group working together as a team organised to support the leader. Her Mars is also sextile the party's Pluto, which plugs her in directly to influence and power. However the downside is that her Sun is opposite the party's Neptune, which can indicate a feeling of being undermined or evaded, and so it can be difficult to grasp leadership decisively and hold onto it securely; with these aspects, leadership often slips through the fingers.
Malcolm is currently (June '05) experiencing his second Saturn Return. This means that transiting Saturn has returned to the exact position it was in when Malcolm was born. The first Saturn Return occurs around age 29, and the second around age 58-59. This cycle 'divides' a person's life into three phases: birth to nearly 30, 30 to nearly 60, 60 to nearly 90. Each Saturn Return marks a turning point personally and professionally. So, we can tell from this that Malcolm will have been contemplating over the past year or so what to do with his time and career in future. His possible contention of the leadership role fits in with this, and it will most probably influence his campaign, if he decides to put himself forward. The solar eclipse in early October picks up Malcolm's desire to wield power and influence. The lunar eclipse in mid-October highlights his desire for authority and a position of executive responsibility. From mid-June until mid-September he is another politician that has itchy feet career-wise, however this is not the time for him to move forward with certainty. August/September's Jupiter Return - when transiting Jupiter returns to the position it was in at Malcolm's birth - could very well present new opportunities for him to achieve success, however until the final week of October attempts to market himself as a leader could prove disappointing. After this time, things should improve, but caution is still required. From September onwards, transiting Saturn conjunct Malcolm's Pluto reflects either a consolidation of his power, or a waning of it; from the third week of November and on into the new year, I'd expect the latter.
Malcolm's Venus in trine to the party's Mercury, Venus, and Mars is tremendous, as is his Sun trine to the party's Jupiter, and his Sun septile the party's Mars. These reflect his senior position in the party during the Thatcher years. However, with his Mars square the party's Mars-Venus and opposite the party's Jupiter, uniting the party is not likely, and presiding over an increase in in-fighting is more probable.
Note added 20th October 2005: On 11th October Malcolm Rifkind pulled out of the contest and placed his backing with Ken Clarke. Unfortunately for them both, Clarke was elinimated from the contest a week later.
Building up to July, David is turning a corner in his professional life, as transiting Saturn makes a trine to his natal Saturn. This coincides with other transits that indicate a major re-assessment of his role, purpose, and goals. Throughout August and September he is likely to be feeling more competitive than usual, and more interested in pushing himself forward. However from the time of writing (28th June '05) up until the last week of October he is likely to feel somewhat rudderless or ambivalent about where he is going and what he wants. From that time onwards, clarity is likely to come. Up to and including the third week of November he may well chop and change his mind, or contradict himself with his statements. November and December are key months for him career-wise, and in terms of gaining and wielding power and influence.
With his Saturn close to the party's Saturn and Mars, and his Sun close to the party's Pluto, David is naturally connected with the power and authority of the party. However, his Sun is opposite the party's Sun, and therefore he may sometimes find himself in opposition to the leadership. His Jupiter in square aspect to the party's Sun again connects him with the leadership, but has an element of tension and conflict to it, rather than being a relaxed and easy association. His Pluto in square to the party's Saturn could make him a good reformer, but he is likely to be perceived as a threat to the status quo, and so the party may not allow him to utilise the more positive side of this connection.
Note added on 20th September 2005: David Willetts officially announced on 16th September '05 that he will not be standing in the leadership election and will instead be giving his backing to David Davis.
Several of these potential contenders have Saturn-Pluto aspects in their charts, and thus they resonate with the fascism/civil liberties issues that have been to the fore in the UK since the World Trade Centre/Pentagon attacks in the USA on 11th September 2001. This is not necessarily a 'good thing', given the contentious and harmful raft of legislation that the UK government has introduced in recent years: bans on peaceful protests, national ID databases on children and adults, and so on. (For more information on the Saturn-Pluto cycle, click here).
At the time of writing, most commentators are predicting certain victory for David Davis, although it is acknowledged that David Cameron is very much in the running too. Purely as a matter of interest and nothing more, here are a bookmakers odds for the above list:
Davis, David 1/2
Cameron, David 7/1
Rifkind, Malcolm 12/1
Clarke, Ken 12/1
Fox, Liam 16/1
Lansley, Andrew 20/1
Duncan, Alan 25/1
Willetts, David 33/1
May, Theresa 66/1
Noted added 20th September 2005: Results of two opinion polls released in earlier September show David Davis and Ken Clarke as the two main contenders. Willetts has withdrawn, Clarke and Fox have formally announced that they will stand, Cameron and Rifkind are expected to be definitely standing with formal announcements due shortly.
As always, only time will tell which of these people will declare, once the selection process is publicly announced, and therefore which of them - if any - will win the contest. We still cannot be sure that Michael Howard's preferred time-scale will come about; it depends on whether the power-hungry can contain themselves for a few more months. For the time being, all eyes are on these possible contenders, and we will watch this space to see how the potentials unfold into actuality.
This article was written on 28th June 2005 and published on 29th June 2005, with updates as noted above.
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