Conservative Diary

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6 Sep 2013 14:54:17

“Just a small island … no one pays any attention to them..." (See graph)

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2013-09-06 at 14.50.39
(Hat-tip: Andrew Lilico, who sent us the graph.)

27 Jan 2013 23:54:52

"Stalking Womble" J Alfred Prufrock MP to challenge Cameron for leadership

From All Sunday Editions
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Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 17.24.05Panic bells were clamouring in Downing Street tonight and Conservative Campaign Headquarters was thrown into turmoil at claims that glamour-denuded, "post-political" and IPSA-impoverished backbencher J.Alfred Prufrock is poised to issue a historic challenge today to David Cameron for the Tory leadership.

Turqoise manifesto

One source close to the now Twitter-enabled MP said that he will issue his "Turquoise Manifesto" this morning, and that a list of supporters - who will be branded as "Candidate Champions" - will follow by lunchtime.  An intervention at Prime Minister's Questions is planned for later this week, with letters of no-confidence in Cameron to be sent by Thursday to Graham Brady, the '22 Committe Chairman.

Prufrock himself, however, denied the claim when contacted by ConservativeHome earlier this evening and asked for his comments on the story. "This is a very naughty conversation. You are being very mischievous," he said. "I supported David Cameron to become leader. I love him and want him to be leader for the next thousand years. I am going to end this conversation." He then hung up.


However, friends of Prufrock insist that "Albert is sitting on up to 60 no-confidence letters", that over 150 Tory MPs are "signed up in blood", and that a team of secret backers, known in the lobbies as "FrockHeads", have been stalking the tearoom gathering support.  "We have enough signatures to send Cameron to sleep with the fishes," one supporter said earlier today.  "Alfred is poised to throw his toupee into the ring."

Prufrock's "No Change, No Chance" manifesto offers a "Five Point Plan to Save Your Seat":

  • A flat tax of 15% & unyielding fiscal rectitude.
  • The "total defeat" of the Taliban and all British troops out of Afghanistan by the end of March.
  • Radical localism and an end to postcode lotteries.
  • "Compassionate help for the poorest people in the world - at no cost to the taxpayer whatsoever".
  • A free cycle lane for every school pupil.

Other populist manifesto features include "a real ale supermarket maximum pricing scheme".

Prufrock, who describes himself as a "a pragmatic Euro-realist sceptic", will also push for Britain to supplement its special relationship with the U.S with "a new strategic alliance with the Faroe Islands".  A plan to encourage annual school visits to the Molineux Stadium has been dropped. Asked by ConservativeHome for his views on same-sex marriage, a supporter said: "His position is a stroke of political genius.  He is both for it and against it."

Prufrock leads Telegraph leadership poll

A chaos-stricken Number 10 conceded earlier that it is facing defeat. "We can't think of anything unpleasant to say, because we've simply never heard of him," a senior Downing Street source admitted.  But Prufrock's allies hit back: "Albern is completely unforgettable, once you can remember who he is," one said. "Dull is the new cool."  Earlier yesterday, the Grummidge MP was narrowly outstripping Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph's Tory leadership reader poll.

Grant Shapps, the Conservative Party Chairman, claimed that "I have spoken to Aldrich, and can confirm that like all of us he is 100% behind David Cameron.  There's nothing to see here: just move along, now."  However, Prufrock sources claimed that in a re-enactment of the famous scene from "Spartacus", a crack team of 50 hardline "Frockheads" will stand in their places crying "I'm Prufrock!" during Wednesday's PMQs, before stripping to T-shirts bearing the slogan.

I'm Spartacus! I'm Prufrock!

Quizzied over whether their man is a "Stalking Horse" or a "Stalking Donkey", in the tradition of Sir Anthony Meyer, a Prufrock supporter described him solemnly as a "Stalking Womble".  Asked if he was aware that the leadership rules no longer require a stalking horse, the supporter paused for a very long time.  There is no sign that this fact has dampened the plot.  Nor that it will prevent us, since we're desparate for a splash on a rainy January Sunday, from writing about it.

27 Jan 2013 11:30:52

It's May 2018. Britain has voted to leave the European Union.

By Tim Montgomerie
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The date is May 2018...*


The exit polls were correct. Britain has voted to leave the European Union. The Electoral Commission has just confirmed that 53% of the British people have voted for withdrawal but only 47% voted to stay in. The Prime Minister, Edward Samuel Miliband, emerged looking shocked from Number 10 but said that his government would respect the people’s decision. He ordered his Foreign Secretary, Vincent Cable, to begin urgent negotiations on a new relationship with what, under the 2016 Treaty of Berlin, would soon be called the Union of Europe.

Five years ago when the former Tory leader and Prime Minister David Cameron had promised an In/Out referendum it seemed unlikely that Britain’s membership of the EU was in serious danger but a whole series of events gradually led to this enormous day in Britain’s history. First was the decision of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties to match the Cameron pledge and agree to give the British people a say in the second half of this current parliament. Both parties resisted for a few months but repeated opinion polls showed that a substantial majority of voters wanted a referendum. Former Deputy PM Nick Clegg moved first in the autumn of 2013 (his penultimate party conference as leader) and the Labour leader felt compelled to follow.

The all-party consensus meant that Europe was not a big issue at the 2015 General Election. The election was fought on the central issue of the economy and a sluggish and patchy five year performance from the Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition. Following the Barack Obama script, Labour fought a campaign promising to increase taxes on the rich and soften austerity. A difficult winter in Britain’s hospitals had raised the potency of Labour’s most potent issue and Andrew Lansley’s controversial NHS reforms reforms were blamed by a sophisticated social media blitz, orchestrated by the 38 Degrees online campaigning group. The Tories actually gained 1% in their share of the vote – compared with 2010 - after running a powerful tax bombshell campaign against Labour. They were undone, however, by a collapse in the Liberal Democrat vote which meant the party lost more seats to Labour where Labour was the second-placed candidate than they gained directly from the Lib Dems where they were the challengers. Labour received 300,000 fewer votes than the Conservatives but because of Britain’s controversial electoral geography Labour became the largest party in the House of Commons. The Liberal Democrats, led by Tim Farron, agreed to put Mr Miliband into Downing Street in protest at a Tory election pledge to replace the Human Rights Act.

Continue reading "It's May 2018. Britain has voted to leave the European Union." »

20 Jan 2013 13:36:29

Exclusive: EU memo to the Prime Minister from his Political Adviser

By Paul Goodman
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From: The Political Adviser to the Prime Minister

To: The Prime Minister

Date: 20/1/13


EU Strategy

You asked for a brief summary of your EU strategy in advance of your speech later this week.

  • The promise of an In/Out referendum under a Conservative Government late in the next Parliament will draw much of the poison that has plagued the party over the EU issue since Margaret Thatcher's Bruges speech - by making it clear to those MPs and party members opposed to EU membership that in such circumstances they will have an opportunity to campaign for a No vote.
  • The pledge may not prevent UKIP from making advances in this year's County Council elections or indeed next year's European ones.  However, it will, in the different circumstances of the 2015 general election, help to squeeze UKIP's vote - since you will be able to argue that all voters will achieve by voting UKIP is to let Miliband, who is opposed to a referendum, into Downing Street.
  • It may be that the next election does not return a Conservative majority in the Commons, but that you none the less continue as Prime Minister of a Coalition Government.  If this Coalition contains, as now, the Liberal Democrats, you will be in a position either to drop the referendum guarantee as part of a new Coalition Agreement if you wish, or to proceed with it if you wish and if our partners agree.
  • However, it may be that the next election does indeed return a Conservative Commons majority, or you lead a Conservative minority Government - in which case a renegotiation can proceed.  We are agreed that it would be wiser to dine a la carte than table d'hote from the menu drawn up by Fresh Start and others, and that it is wise, given present uncertainties, not to be too specific about how much renegotiation you intend.
  • The Cabinet has already been informed that its members will be required to support a Yes vote in the event of an In/Out referendum: I see that James Forsyth has reported this in the Mail on Sunday today.  As we correctly anticipated, Cabinet members opposed to Britain's EU membership will have calculated that the referendum is a long way away - indeed, that it may not happen - and thus will not resign, at least before the next election.
  • This returns us to the subject of renegotiation.  Essentially, the main factors you will want to bear in mind in due course is a) How much our EU partners, in particular the German Government, want to be helpful; and b) How hard you wish to push in order to maximise your chances of winning the support of Euro-sceptic Cabinet members, MPs and party members.  As I say, we should wish at this stage to maintain maximum flexibility.
  • It may of be that in these circumstances our EU partners do not want to be helpful, and that you will have no particular wish to push them hard.  However, it is likely that they will wish to give you some help if - as is the case - you maintain your position of support for Britain's EU membership.  You will then be able to return to Britain after the renegotiation claiming "game, set and match" (drawing on the precedent set after Maastricht).
  • It may be that members of the Cabinet resign before the referendum which follows, in order to campaign for a No vote - joining many MPs and party members in so doing.  However, you will rightly be able to maintain that you have consistently supported Britain's EU membership, and we can be confident that you will be joined on the campaign trail by the leaders of Britain's other two main parties.
  • After all, your mission since you first became party leader in 2005 has been to modernise the Conservative Party.  It is fair to say that there is a marked crossover between those MPs and party members who wish to see Britain leave the EU and those MPs and party members who have proved an obstacle to the modernisation project.  Their humbling would speed the emergence of the New Model Conservative Party of which we have long dreamed.


6 Jan 2013 16:58:32

Boris is (again) GQ's most influential man in Britain (and nine other things you need to know about its list of top 100 men)

By Tim Montgomerie
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Screen Shot 2013-01-05 at 16.21.53

Cover boy - Boris sporting a very nice silk and patriotic handkerchief in his suit pocket.

It's that time of year again when GQ names the one hundred most influential men in Britain. I've read it so you don't have to. In no particular order of importance (or silliness) here are ten observations on the list...

Continue reading "Boris is (again) GQ's most influential man in Britain (and nine other things you need to know about its list of top 100 men)" »

24 Dec 2012 08:49:00

Prufrock's Christmas Carol

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-12-22 at 14.06.40

The witching hour was gone; the iron tongue of Big Ben had tolled twelve, and only the mice were stirring in Room 101, Portcullis House.  Apart, that is, from its occupant - J.Alfred Prufrock, MP for Grummidge West, who was finishing off his pre-Christmas constituency correspondence.  Through thick lids and gummy eyes, Prufrock peered at the draft before him with the scrupulous care of a Mayan High Priest examining a calendar:

Dear Canon Heffer (it ran),

Thank you for your e-mail about same-sex marriage.  While I wish to deny to no-one the happiness that marriage has brought to me, I am extremely mindful of the points that you make about religious freedom and, indeed, our Judeo-Christian heritage.  I will therefore reflect carefully on the points you make before deciding how to vote.  As you request, I will also alert Maria Miller, who as say is responsible for forthcoming legislation on the matter, to the point you highlight from the briefing supplied to you by Anglican Mainstream - namely, that "the rectal lining is unable to withstand penetrative activity".

Yours sincerely,

J.Alfred Prufrock MP

Continue reading "Prufrock's Christmas Carol" »

30 Nov 2012 18:12:29

Is Boris the Kevin Pietersen of politics?

By Tim Montgomerie
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Picture from KP's Twitter account.

This from James Crabtree in the FT (£):

"At first glance the hefty, Eton-educated politician would seem to have little in common with the prickly South African-born England cricket star, currently midway through a tour of the subcontinent. Yet, look more closely, and the parallels are striking. Both have huge egos, a function of the undeniable skills each brings to his respective field. Neither are what you would describe as team players, while both also have a knack of irking their captains: Mr Johnson’s antics drive Mr Cameron to distraction, while Pietersen was recently suspended for disloyalty. The chastened cricketer is now being “reintegrated” into his team and scored a match-winning innings in the last Test match. But there the similarities must end – at least until Mr Johnson has a crack at the captaincy himself."

To be continued...

27 Nov 2012 11:26:50

"Goldfinger" Cameron V "007" Gove

Screen shot 2012-11-27 at 10.39.36
By Paul Goodman
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"Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it's enemy action" - Ian Fleming, Goldfinger.

David Cameron wants Britain to stay in the EU.  Michael Gove would vote for it to come out.


Mr Cameron believes that UKIP members are "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly".  Mr Gove says that UKIP is a mainstream political party.


When do we get the enemy action?

22 Nov 2012 12:58:18

Roll up! Roll up! The Michael Gove Spectator awards jokes roll on...

By Paul Goodman
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Michael Gove's remarks at yesterday's Spectator awards were well-reported earlier today (and were covered yesterday on this site by Matthew Barrett).

Less well-reported have been the follow-ups - taking their inspiration from the Education Secretary - that have been doing the rounds in Westminster and on blackberries this morning.  These include:

  • The David Davis Memorial Balaclava for services to the whips office and the leadership. Winner: Patrick Mercer MP.
  • The Nadine Dorries Honorary Burqua for shunning the limelight.  Winner: Lord Oakeshott.
  • The Titus Oates Public Responsibility Award, first class honours: Tom Watson MP
  • The Lord Lester Ceremonial Wig for services to the European Convention on Human Rights: Nick Herbert MP.
  • The Gollum Memorial Loincloth for loyalty to master under pressure.  Winner: Liam Byrne MP.

There will doubtless be more.  Readers are invited to contribute.  I'm under no illustion whatsoever that ConservativeHome personnel will be spared.

12 Nov 2012 07:30:40

We already have OFFA. Now its time for OFUC - to boost the number of Conservatives on public bodies

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2012-11-09 at 09.19.18

Quoting figures from the Public Appointments Commissioner's Annual Report, Tim Montgomerie recently highlighted the worsening under-representation of Conservatives on public bodies.  Look at the table above: ten times as large a percentage of appointees are declaring a Labour political background as a Tory one (and the Liberal Democrats are doing even worse).  The trend over ten years is clearly worrying from a Conservative point of view.  Some signed-up Tories blame Downing Street for not getting a grip; some Ministers blame signed-up Tories for simply not applying. ConservativeHome is doing its bit, running pieces by Roger Evans and our own Harry Phibbs on how to apply for appointments.

As I read them, something began to nag at my memory.  A fact?...A figure?...A name? A name!  That was it. Les Ebdon!

Continue reading "We already have OFFA. Now its time for OFUC - to boost the number of Conservatives on public bodies" »