BOROUGH council Conservative leader Myles Hogg favours Kenneth Clarke as his new party chief.
He feels the veteran politician has the experience needed to bring the Tories back to power after years in the wilderness.
And he feels Europhile Mr Clarke's recent speech, in which he said the euro and European Constitution were 'dead in the water', were not U-turns.
Cllr Hogg (Willaston and Thornton) said: 'Ken Clarke is the man if we want to be winning elections.
'He's got the experience, having been in the previous Tory Cabinet. He's a man who sticks up for his principles and has the respect of his peers.'
He said of Mr Clarke's pensioner status - he is 65, and will be pushing 70 before the next General Election: 'I've always said that age is irrelevant.
'After all, borough council leader Fred Venables has just stepped down and he was 82.
'As long as Mr Clarke remains fit - and it is a demanding job - then he will be fine for the job.'
Earlier this summer, setting out his stall as a leadership contender, Mr Clarke hit the headlines with his comments on
the euro and constitution. Cllr Hogg explained: 'He was not doing a U-turn on his policy, like some said.
'He was simply saying they wouldn't become issues in the time he would be leader.
'The Constitution is dead because of the present Government not giving the British people a referendum on it.
'As for the euro, Chancellor Gordon Brown has set five economic tests before we enter the single currency, which are never going to be fulfilled.
'That's all Mr Clarke was pointing out. He was simply recognising the situation as it is.'