Conservative Diary

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Ten (male) pundits react to the Tory manifesto

CCP_Conservative_party_410 Nick Wood and Paul Goodman have penned their verdicts on the Tory manifesto for ConHome. Here are some other online observations...

Daniel Hannan MEP applauds a revolutionary document: "This is a revolutionary manifesto. I use the word advisedly: this programme would amount to a turning of the wheel, a setting upright of that which has been placed on its head, so that the state becomes once again the servant of the citizen rather than the other way around."

Harry Phibbs also likes the Power to the People message: "The 1970s sitcom character Wolfie Smith bellowing ‘Power to the People!’ from the streets of Tooting was not an obvious Conservative pin-up. Yet ‘Power to the People’ is not only David Cameron's mantra in this election campaign. It is also a traditional Conservative theme and none the worse for that."

Michael Crick accuses Cameron of not delivering decentralisation within the Conservative Party: "The sacking of MPs over expenses, giving no say to their local parties of constituents; the centralised A-list of candidates; imposing shortlists on local constituencies in selections since 1 January this year; controlling the order of the party lists for the 2008 European elections, and stopping activists from sacking Conservative MEPs; by-passing the Shadow Cabinet, and avoiding significant discussion or decision-making at Shadow Cabinet; centralised leaflet formats and wording; centralised and very detailed requirements of candidates for money granted under the Ashcroft strategy; making candidates get approval for articles, literature and even tweets; threatening councillors in East Surrey they would lose the party whip if they complained about the selection of Sam Gyimah; telling activists in Westminster North they had no option but to keep Joanne Cash as their candidate, or the local party would be disbanded; the huge influence of a small group of unelected individuals around David Cameron; the taking of the whip away from the Croydon MP Andrew Pelling before he had ever been charged with any offence (which he never was)."

Fraser Nelson on Gove's passion for education: "Gove impressed, as usual, speaking with fluency, authenticity and passion about the education reforms – and he even took an education question at the end, which is far better than watch Cameron wing it. You get the feeling from Gove that he does not regard education as a stepping stone to a greater career path, but that his mission in politics is to bed these reforms down. Blair had that in Adonis (which is why Brown moved him) and Cameron has that in Gove."

Michael White doesn't expect voluntarism to take off: "The collapse of voluntary action has been a marked feature of the past 30 years. Many of us have become two-income working families, earning money to survive or to afford the new widescreen TV and the second foreign holiday. It's hard to get people to serve as school governors, let alone to start whole new schools along Swedish lines."

Also in The Guardian, Patrick Wintour agrees: "tracts have been written about the relationship bteween citizen, society and state , but much Cameroonianism is predicated on the proposition that we – the big society – want to spend our time running football clubs, our parks, our schools and post offices. Much polling by Ipsos-Mori, notably by Ben Page, has been expended to show that this is not the case."

Philip Stephens wonders what happened to the age of austerity: "Mr Cameron seems to have suspended his commitment to fixing the public finances. The problem in the manifesto is not so much the sums do not at up; rather that there is an almost complete absence of arithmetic. And no, cutting waste does not do the job."

Bill Neely also thinks there's nothing on cuts: "David Cameron writes in his introduction “our economy is overwhelmed with debt” and “we’ve been honest about the actions we’ll need to take to deal with it”. Honest up to a point- the point of detail. The fact is there isn’t a single page in the Manifesto where the Tories set out in detail the cuts in public spending that everyone acknowledges will be necessary to tackle the budget deficit."

Julian Glover things the manifesto is an appeal to the left and centre: "Lots of Tories are urging Cameron to dump his happy talk, the Fotherington-Thomas optimism. There wasn't anything here for the Daily Mail or the Telegraph. Taking questions, Cameron didn't even bother to call journalists from these two Tory papers. But he did call the Guardian and the Financial Times."

The Economist's Bagehot reports that journalists expect the Tories to win: "I felt the most striking thing about the launch was the conviction of everyone I spoke to that the Tories were going to win. A couple of renowned centre-left commentators observed gloomily that it felt a lot like Labour in 1997."

I've written my reflection for tomorrow's Guardian. In the meantime here are my (and a few other) photos from today's launch.

Tim Montgomerie


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