By Tim Montgomerie
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With the Conservatives up to 13% behind in some national polls and further behind in London - a traditionally Labour-supporting city - it will be a massive political achievement if Boris Johnson wins next week's Mayoral election. Boris' nine point plan should be enough to enthuse Conservative voters but anyone still feeling demotivated should remember who will be representing London on the world stage if Boris doesn't get a second term.
Four years ago when I was working with Iain Dale, Donal Blaney and others at the 18 Doughty Street internet TV venture, we produced a video to remind people of the kind of Far Left people Ken Livingstone regarded as his friends and allies. That video has been re-released for this contest. Please watch it and pass to friends.
VISIT BACK BORIS TO HELP IN THE FINAL DAYS OF THIS VITAL CAMPAIGN.
By Matthew Barrett
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It's the August Bank holiday, and what better way of enjoying politics this afternoon than watching this set of videos of the peerless Charles Moore discussing Lady Thatcher - whose authorised biography Moore is writing. He is interviewed by Peter Robinson, of Stanford University's Hoover Institution:
Remember John Major's 1992 soapbox?
Earlier today David Cameron went to Lewisham College and took questions from students. It was lively. Raw. Real. It certainly reminded me of Major's 1992 engagement with voters. It was retail politics. There was nothing stage managed about it. At about eight minutes in Cameron spells out some home truths about freezing public sector pay and spending cuts. A straight talking Cameron is a good contrast with an evasive Brown. If you can't watch it all fast forward to the last minute. It's good stuff.
What do you think?Cameron is promising to more of these things.
Jonathan Isaby's pick: As we pointed out earlier in the month, the Prime Minister has committed a number of gaffes during the year. But the top prize surely goes to Gordon Brown for that cringeworthy YouTube performance promising action on MPs' expenses, complete with weird smile and odd body movements. It was even the subject of the following day's sketch by Simon Hoggart in The Guardian. Watch it again here:
Tim Montgomerie's pick: I was on holiday in the Lake District when I first heard Anthony Steen's interview for Radio 4's World at One. My mouth fell open and stayed open! Steen blamed "jealousy" for constituents' anger at his claims for trees on his country estate. He said that the public had no right to know what he did with taxpayer-funded allowances. If Peter Viggers' Duck House most symbolised MPs' abuse of expenses the Steen interview did most to typify MPs' arrogance.
> Previous Pick of 2009 was for The Best Blogger.
Jonathan Isaby's pick: My choice for backbencher of the year goes to the independent-minded free-thinking Conservative backbencher who took a bold, brave, yet thoroughly correct stand in tabling an historic Commons motion in May this year:
"That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker and calls for him to step down; notes that Mr Speaker has failed to provide leadership in matters relating to hon. Members' expenses; believes that a new Speaker urgently needs to be elected by secret ballot..."
Through that simple motion - allied with his outspoken musings on his blog and in the media on the matter - Douglas Carswell played a pivotal role in causing the resignation of the much discredited Michael Martin, the first Speaker to be forced from office for over 300 years. For that alone he deserves this accolade.
Tim Montgomerie's pick: I'm picking a big beast backbencher from the Lords, former Chancellor Nigel Lawson. Like Peter Lilley, in the debate on climate change Lord Lawson has been a brave and persuasive advocate of a strategy of technological adaptation rather than avoidance. His position was set out in his important book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming. In the aftermath of Copenhagen's failure his new think tank - The Global Warming Policy Forum - proposed a 'Plan B' that would revisit climate change science, end UK unilateralism on emissions and would pursue policies that would enrich rather than handicap the developing world. The famously unassailable Chancellor may have been wrong about the ERM but he's on the money on climate change.
Ministers decide and advisers advise but what happens when advisers start campaigning publicly for a change in policy and when they start attacking ministers?
Home Secretary Alan Johnson decided that recent remarks by Professor David Nutt, Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, overstepped the line.
He had said that ecstasy was no more dangerous than riding a horse and accused former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith of "distorting and devaluing" his Council's scientific research with her decision to toughen the classification of cannabis.
The Conservatives - who also disagree with the ACMD position on cannabis - backed the decision to sack Professor Nutt. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling issued this statement:
“This was an inevitable decision after his latest ill-judged contribution to the debate but it is a sign of lack of focus at the Home Office that it didn’t act sooner given that he has done this before.”
As faith in politicians declines there are many who will transfer their trust to independent voices or to an "expert class". This is understandable but independent voices are not always what they appear. The Conservative government will inherit a quangocracy stuffed with Labour appointees. A sensible Tory Party will want to replace many of these appointees before they cause trouble and block policy. Careful distinctions will need to be made between genuine experts and, for example, the educational establishment and its bias against traditional teaching methods.
PS Amanda Platell adopts the irresistable headline about the "Nutty Professor".
Last week Labour figures lined up to rubbish The Sun after it endorsed the Conservatives. Notably Harriet Harman and Tony Woodley:
A very good source within News International has told ConservativeHome that the Murdochs are "furious" at the "juvenile" reaction. The Sun was always going to be favourable to the Tories over the seven or so months until the General Election now that it had chosen to back David Cameron (Friday's coverage being a taste of what to expect). The Labour reaction, however, means that Britain's biggest selling newspaper is now much less likely to give Labour good coverage. The reaction proved The Sun's point, my source said; Labour has lost its maturity and seriousness.
The sensible reaction would have been one of disappointment and a promise to give Sun readers many reasons to vote Labour and to seek opportunities within the pages of The Sun to outline those reasons. The hysterical Labour high ups have thrown a lot those opportunities away.
The former UK Defence Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister was speaking on BBC1's Question Time.
Heseltine's view is an increasingly popular view. I readily agree that the UK-US relationship is not perfect but it is special. Our nation's fight together. We are the leading investors in each other's countries. We share a language and so much culture. Our intelligence services are closer than any in the world. Britain remains a power that punches above its weight and that makes Britain matter to America.
With apologies to CCHQ for copying their style of broadcast but we couldn't resist it!
Great minds think alike! On the day Frank Field MP writes for ConservativeHome about the need to reform the teaching of history in British schools CCHQ has begun its own week of online features dedicated to the party's history. Click here to explore the various features and stay tuned to the Blue Blog for entries throughout the week from the likes of Andrew Roberts, Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind and yours truly.You can download quotes from Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher as ringtones for your mobile phone.That video recording Tory history has also been reworked. It's well worth watching again: Tim Montgomerie