Mr Dale was chief of staff in David Davis’s campaign to replace Michael Howard in the 2005 leadership election. Mr Davis started the race as bookies favourite and won the first ballot ahead of David Cameron, Liam Fox and Ken Clarke. It would be Mr Cameron who won the race in the end, winning the second ballot and the member’s vote.
Mr Dale explains: “Leadership contests are all about personality, David Cameron won largely because of one moment.”
He was referring to a speech at the Conservative Party conference where the future Prime Minister spoke without notes and spoke of modernising the Party by attracting younger supporters.
Mr Dale went further: “Now, you look at all the other candidate and you think which of those are capable of having that kind of moment and I think a lot of Tory MPs will probably come to the conclusion it may well be Michael Gove.
“Michael is unpredictable, but he has the sort of brilliant mind that can produce one of those moments, it might be that one of the others could do too”.
He further went to explain he thought the race for the second position on the ballot would likely be between Mr Gove and Jeremy Hunt.
He told host Emma Barnett: “I don’t see the numbers working for the others, but hey, we’ve been wrong before.”
Fellow guest Sir Craig Oliver, who was Mr Cameron’s director of communications said the race for second place amongst MPs agreed the race for second was “the really interesting thing”.
Boris Johnson is the bookies favourite now, but he was in 2016 also and pulled out after Mr Gove announced he was running, splitting the Brexiteer vote.
Mr Gove finished third in the first ballot, seeing off the challenge of Mr Fox but having consistently finished behind Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom, he was eliminated after the second ballot.
Mr Gove’s campaign has been undermined by an admission he used cocaine in the 1990s but the Environment Secretary finished third in the first ballot with 37 votes, two more than what he was publicly endorsed with.
This is just six votes behind Mr Hunt but well behind Mr Johnson who secured 114.
The eliminations of Mark Harper, Ms Leadsom and Esther McVey means 30 votes will definitely be up for grabs for Tuesday’s second ballot, with MPs needing 32 to stay in the process.