My money on the chap after Cameron would be the current Education bloke....
Unlike most of his colleagues, he has had a proper job — he was a successful businessman in property and manufacturing before joining the Tory front bench, and has made a reputed £9 million fortune.
Which makes him £9 million more qualified for Cameron's job than he is..
Cameron, in fact none of the current party leaders have ever held down a proper job. Cameron had a middle managers role at Carlton Comms for a while before he was fast tracked skyward by Tory central office. But nothing that would give him experience of running the Country.
Hague had his chance in opposition, but I think he could easily stand again after the time spent between defeat and assuming his current office.
The only thing I can see myself though really is Boris stepping up to the plate, as much as he says he doesn't want the job, I can see him being the popular choice (especially with the younger voters who see his "antics") for the role.
Never under estimate a quiet man.
Hammond has become too powerful by his own quiet, clever manipulating for Cameron to afford to be shown to be angry with him over anything. The members of the Tory party and many Tory MPs' have had enough of Cameron, he's a Whig who's been wearing Tory clothes and is now exposed as such. His espousal of homosexual marriage has touched a deep chord in many people, a feeling that marriage, the oldest institution known to man, is being wrongly tampered with for the benefit of a very vocal but very tiny minority. It's one politically correct step too far. As the poll tax brought down Margaret Thatcher and ushered in John Major so homosexual marriage could bring down Cameron and usher in Hammond. Margaret Thatcher had a power base within the Conservative party that Cameron has never had, and it still couldn't save her.
People feel disconcerted by Cameron's friends, they feel he and his louche, and very possibly soon to be jailed, friends regard them, the voters, with amused contempt. Hammond is far too astute to have such friends or associates.
Look at the face of Gove and then at the face of Hammond and ask yourself with whom the voters will feel more comfortable, and more secure. Its not Gove. Hammond reminds people of their vision of what they would like the local doctor, or bank manager etc to look like. In short a figure a of comfort and solidity, a man who can be trusted.
He's also the right age, people have had enough of the young and inexperienced moving into ten Downing Street, Blair being the first, Cameron the second, there won't be a third for many many years. That scuppers Gove. They've also had enough of the flashy and the vulgar, that scuppers Boris Johnson, at least for a decade and more. They've also had enough of an out of touch if ever in touch, languid Old Etonian clique seemingly running everything; one former member of the Bullingdon Club will not be succeeded by another for a very very long time. If ever. Boris Johnson also carries too much personal baggage with him, people will accept that baggage in the mayor of London not in a prime minister.
The era of the professional politician is drawing to a close, that scuppers Hague. With the voters discomfort with homosexual marriage comes a discomfort with those who are perceived as being possibly of homosexual inclinations, put brutally, possibly not one of us, political correctness will preclude much open remarking but Hague's night in the same room as his male aide will count heavily against him, poor judgement will be the phrase used.
That leaves one man, Hammond. A man who has had a life before politics and a successful one too.
With Hammond comes an aura of financial competence, of solidity, of quiet certainty, and of trust.
Hammond may very well be the next prime minister. And of a Conservative government not a coalition.
Based on? I'd be interested to know where you've got your opinion that the bulk of the British public would vote against someone simply because they were gay, bisexual or believed to be in the closet regardless of their talents as an actual politician.