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Nominations closed on Thursday for the Conservative leadership election. Here the FT presents its cut out and keep guide to the candidates.

David Cameron:

Age: 38.

Educated: Eton, Oxford, Conservative Research Department.

Profession: Conservative.

What’s he done? Well cannabis, we think, and who knows what else. He’s keeping mum.

And what’s he done in politics? He made a super speech to his party conference.

What’s will he do if he wins? Modernise the party. We’re not exactly sure what that means. It might involve smiling more. As to the rest, he’s keeping mum.

Upsides: Extensive experience in government.

Downsides: It was working for Norman Lamont during the ERM crisis.

Has he done anything else? Did I mention that speech.

Outside of politics: Six years heading corporate affairs for Carlton Communications.

Career since: MP for Witney 2001, Michael Howard’s head of policy co-ordination at last election.

Which policies did he co-ordinate? He’s keeping mum.

Who’s backing him? Jolly nice Conservatives, rich kids; old Etonians and people who backed Portillo in 2001.

Who’s running his campaign: George Osborne.

His upsides: Extensive experience in government.

His downsides: It was all for Douglas Hogg during the BSE crisis and then John Major.

Positives: Might be the Tory Tony Blair.

Negative factors: Might be the Tory Tony Blair.

Other positives: Speaks almost as well as William Hague.

Other negatives: Might lead the party almost as well as William Hague.

Greatest achievement to date: Well there was that speech.

Catchphrase: What do I think about that, George?

Best reason to back him: The other three candidates.

David Davis:

Age: 56.

Education: School of hard knocks, Warwick, London Business School.

Profession: Pulling himself up by his bootstraps.

What’s he done? He was in the SAS, you know (territorials).

And in politics: He was the whip who forced through the ratification of the Maastrict Treaty. But he’s keeping mum about that.

What will he do if he wins? Attend speech classes. Will also modernise the party. We’re not sure what that means. It won’t involve smiling. As to policies, he’s keeping mum.

Upsides: His humble background. Looks authoritative.

Downsides: Might be completely useless.

Has he done anything else? Europe minister; ran the public accounts committee, was shadow secretary who forced ministerial resignations.

Outside of politics: A real job at Tate and Lyle.

Who’s backing him? Old mates, rightwingers, careerists, modernisers gambling that he’s not as neanderthal as he seems and people who backed Portillo in 2001.

Positive factors: John Major’s everyman appeal

Negative factors: John Major’s everyman ability.

Greatest achievement to date: Still being in the contest after his party conference speech.

Catchphrase: We’re keeping mum on that one.

Best reason to back him: The other three candidates.

Kenneth Clarke:

Age: 65.

Education: Nottingham High School, Cambridge

Profession: Lawyer

What’s he done? Chancellor, Home Secretary, Education Secretary, Health Secretary, trade and industry minister and Paymaster General.

What will he do if he wins? Give up his directorships; refight the 1997 election; and try to keep mum about Europe.

Upsides: Proven heavyweight. Extensive government experience.

Downsides: Massively overweight. Experience mostly involved beating up doctors and teachers and driving through VAT on fuel. Also, might split the party.

Has he done anything else? Helped sell cigarettes in Burma.

Who’s backing him? Tory left-wingers, Europhiles, Michael Portillo.

Positives: Jolly old bloke.

Negatives: Stubborn old sod.

Greatest achievement to date: Still smoking and drinking and wearing suede shoes.

Catchphrase: I’m the only big beast in the jungle.

Beast reason to back him: The other three candidates.

Liam Fox:

Age: 44.

Education: St Bride’s E Kilbride, Glasgow University.

Profession: Doctor.

What’s he done? Hung out with popstars.

And in politics? Junior foreign office minister, Tory chairman, shadow health secretary. The brains behind the patient passport. But he’s keeping mum about that.

What will he do if he wins? Hang out with more popstars. Hold a clear right-wing Eurosceptic course while modernising and refreshing the party’s image. We’re not sure how he’s going to do both. He’s keeping mum about that.

Upsides: Young, articulate, good-looking was a doctor. David Cameron with policies.

Downsides: Knows he’s young, articulate and good looking. David Cameron without popular appeal.

Has he done anything else? Met Betty Boo once.

Who’ s backing him? Foaming right-wingers, Scots and William Hague probably (but he’s keeping mum about that).

Positives: Can get you front-row seats for Natalie Imbruglia in concert.

Negatives: More me too than U2.

Greatest achievement to date: Grovelling apology to the Spice Girls for racist, sexist joke about them.

Catchphrase: It’s time to stop apologising.

Best reason for backing him: The other three candidates.

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