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Off-topic, but Ruth Kelly's Liberal Democrat opponent last year has quit the LibDems and may be looking to join the Conservatives: story here.

Tim Perkins was also Deputy Leader of Salford Liberal Democrats and stood in Bolton North-East in 2001.

Thanks for that Iain, I've added it to the newslinks.

I'll link to this speech when it is made public, I'd recommend reading it although I did my best to get all the main points in here.

Cameron is very strong on childcare etc, it would be great to slay this dragon of Labour's.

"Tim Perkins was also Deputy Leader of Salford Liberal Democrats and stood in Bolton North-East in 2001"

*cough*..and a current and founding member of progcon too!

Good work Tim. The last I heard he was having doubts about making the jump to the Tories, fearing that Cameron was not genuine. It would be great to see how he has been won over, as he is an intellgent man with balanced views.

..in fact it was Tim that coined the name "Centre for Progressive Conservatism" that you so roundly mocked Iain!

Still, he will be an asset, so I hope you win him over, well done.

Well, as a sister founding member of progcon too, I have to say I am delighted that Tim is now re-considering joining us.

I wouldn't be in the Conservative Party today, if it were not for progcon, I'm just saddened that Chad has left the CP.

Indeed, Tim would certainly be on my goldlist. He has shown vision, and principles.

The success of families and children should be what the Conservatives are known for. It's great to see Cameron dealing with these issues in non-moralistic preaching tones.

I'm writing a ToryDiary story on the defection - please use that to discuss it :)

He hasn't defected. Not yet, anyway.

"Closing the pay gap must be at the heart of our commitment to end inequality. "

Sounds suspiciously like statist intervention in the free market. On the other hand we're unlikely to win votes by proposing to dump the Equal Pay Act.

Good news about Tim Perkins. Would be interesting to know his views on various topics.

Quite right Iain, sloppy language on my part - and thanks again for the heads-up.

Sorry I haven't posted the story yet - I just spent half an hour on it and then lost it all as soon as it was finished!

Don't forget to mention progcon ;-)

Well if Tim has vision and principles, Chad, maybe you should reconsider. ;-)

He hasn't decided to join yet! Remember it was his wobble, his decision not to join when we did that raised my first doubts.

I think Tim will be taking a risk to join now, considering his concerns just a few weeks ago, but of course, I respect his opinion and would like to hear if he has changed his mind, or if this story is just lagging the info we knew some time back.

In fairness Chad, there is a considerable difference between joining a party when you have no affiliations, and defecting when you have a senior position in one party!

Interesting that the EOC's Ipsos MORI opinion poll that has been released today and quoted everywhere on the basis that the Tories have a lot of ground to make up on gender equality was carried out in October. Why delay releasing it? If the answer is because their 30th birthday is today, then why carry it out in October? All smells fishy to me.
October was the low point of Tory opinion poll levels and prior to Cameron's victory. Remember, his first promise on taking over the leadership was to ensure more women candidates. I wonder what the same poll, carried out today would reveal?

I agree Iain, as I noted I respect Tim entirely and of course it is a tougher decision. Tim had made up his mind to let his LibDem membership lapse some time ago, and joined ProgCon which was then operating as a political party in its own right (seeking to influence direction in the Tory Party from the outside in, not oppose it)

There was a real changed though, as he was initially the driving force in agreeing that the Conservative party had indeed moved close enough to the progcon agenda, and we all agreed to join the Tory Party.

Tim then changed his mind because he was concerned about Cameron's sincerity. Once I started feeling those same doubts, as I noted before, it helped me understand what Tim had expressed before.

If Tim has now been convinced that the Tory Party is the way forward, then I wish him luck as he really will be a great asset, but I would love to hear what convinced him of this, as it could be valuable and persuasive for many others too.

Yes, I predict from what I know of him that he will wait until Cameron has proven himself to his satisfaction, then join. If Cameron doesn't then he won't join.

I do think the place for progressive conservatives now, is the Conservative Party, and that it will be hard to find progcon types in splinter groups, who are much more likely to be at the far end of Tory.

As this article is about equality and includes A lists, Chad, let me make an observation. You may not like it, but many will not like it because they want a white male candidate. If you are off into splinter groups and parties, you will find those there, and you don't fit that. Be prepared for lots of hatred against gays too. Or at least, be prepared for strong reactions against the idea of same-sex marriage and things like that.

Cameron is addressing local prejudices against women candidates, I wish you could see that. You may not like the way he is doing it, but he is ensuring No Pref, No Prej as far as women candidates are concerned.

He is not positively discriminating in my eyes, he is levelling the playing field, because we have read about women candidates being rejected at local level "because they should be looking after their husbands."

Hi Christina.

In response to that I would just say two words: Fiona Bruce.

Open primaries are the way to bring out the best women, not centrally-picked a-lists, and many senior women MP's including Ann Widdecombe agree too.

If Cameron would actually let go a little, not to the associations, but to the communities themselves, I am sure many Fiona Bruce's will emerge, whereas a-list's can lead to party favourites like Priti Patel who would just not work well with local communities (based on the experiences of those who commented on having first had experience).

Hi Chad,

Well, why not campaign for these open primaries within the Conservative Party instead of trying to herd cats! :-)

Why should right wingers want to co-operate with a progressive conservative like you?

Why not start a Conservative campaign website calling for these changes you would like?

We did that before! :-)

If I thought it would work, of course I would.

We saw last summer that the progressive agenda was needed and there was an environment for change, however on this issue, which is essential to me, based on our no preference, no prejudice work, I do not believe the party will even entertain this, as it seeks to control the list.

Open Primaries are the real way to bring in women and other shapes and colours etc that really reflect their communities, but they involve cco losing tight control and letting democracy really flourish.

"Why should right wingers want to co-operate with a progressive conservative like you?
I agree, they probably won't, I'm a leftie rightie but that is not my aim. More later!


The way I see it, is that if this is an essential for you, then you may have some success - in time. Did you have Fiona Bruce and Anne Widdecombe on board?

Surely, the others outside the CP are nowhere near progcon on No Pref, No Prej matters, whereas the CP is. Even if they were, what are the chances of them gaining many seats?

If the A-lists fail, there is the chance. There is no chance outside the Party.

All I could find in the BBC about this speech was an obscure link in the Politics section.

The full speech is now on the party website.

What do you think of this emphasis of choice?

"Surely, the others outside the CP are nowhere near progcon on No Pref, No Prej matters"

100% agreed. But for me, this is not an issue I can pick the least worst option.

Maybe it's the latent hippy in me, but man, it's the way to go. Real localism, with local communities getting directly involved in selecting the right person, before a general election. We have seen that it works, as Fiona was unanimously praised on the goldlist.

Why not replicate that across the country, and really engage local communities in picking the right candidate to wear the blue rosette?

It took me a little while to convince people that progressive conservatism was the way forward, and we needed to do that outside the party first. I see open primaries in the same way.

Chad: Please remind me. When you say "open primaries" do you mean open to all Party members or to anyone who lives in a particular constituency. If the latter - no thanks - I don't want people from other parties choosing who should stand as my candidate.

Hi Rob,

I would suggest that it is no coincidence that the highest ranked candidate on the goldlist here, Fiona Bruce was selected by open primary.

Remember the candidate, should they win, will be representing the whole constituency, not just the party they stand for, and in this way, real localism is promoted as the consistuency will be voting for a person, not a rosette.

Chad: I would suggest that it is no coincidence that the highest ranked candidate on the goldlist here, Fiona Bruce was selected by open primary.

Or might it just be that she was the only one that most people had heard of! And you can't honestly regard the contributors to this site as an "open primary". Obviously, anyone could read the site and vote, but the vast majority of those who post here are connected with the CP in some way.

Hi Rob,

No, I wasn't I was simply noting that Fiona was offically picked by the party (not this site) by the open primary method (see her goldlist profile for full details), and of all the candidates paraded here on the goldlist, she was also the most popular.

Chad: Sorry - I should have read the Gold List blog before posting. (I normally ignore the Gold List as I don't think we are given nearly enough information to have sensible views as to whether particular individuals would make good candidates). I agree that this example supports your case for completely open primaries - but it's still not a risk I would be prepared to take nationally.

Why do people want to join a political party? I would have thought they would join to have a say in the party's policies, and in the choice of candidates. Unless members of the public are prepared to make a commitment to the Party, why should they be able to have a say in candidate selection? Or to put it another way, if the public can have these benefits without joining the Party, then why would anyone join?

David Cameron: "if, after a few selections, we find that an unacceptably low proportion of selected candidates are women we will take further action."

I don't like the sound of that threat. CCHQ has tried to intefere with constituency autonomy before. They'd be foolish to open up this can of worms... Constituencies need to be persuaded - not cajoled - or have candidates imposed on them.

Cameron's speech sounds to me like he's calling for more government action. Whatever happened to the Tory concept of small government leaving people alone to get on with their lives? If there is a problem, the automatic reaction should not be to start saying "legislate, legislate! Government will solve the problem!".

"Providing financial support for the childcare choices that families themselves make; not using financial support as a stick to force parents into a particular choice."

Paid for with who's money? Surely families should provide their own financial support?

I guess I'm just having another one of my libertarian phases.

"I don't like the sound of that threat."

Neither do I. sounds very undemocratic. No doubt the leadership claim it is for the Greater Good of the Party.

The next Conservative government should abolish the Equal Opportunities Commission. This speech is more collectivist Cameronism. How about some real Conservatism Dave?

I agree with the Editor. What this speech seems to be about is enforcing equality of outcomes between men and women, which I would regard as profoundly unConservative.

It is pure socialism, Sean

Chad wrote:

"It took me a little while to convince people that progressive conservatism was the way forward, and we needed to do that outside the party first. I see open primaries in the same way."

No Chad. It was David Cameron and his team who convinced the Conservative Party that progressive conservatism was the way forward. We were on parallel lines. If it was behind it then the 5 core values would be talked about by Cameron, along with the "No Preference, No Prejudice" approach.

The change came from inside the Party and I was wrong in thinking that Party members were not ready for it.

You don't have a track record of changing the Conservative Party from the outside, it was done from the inside. Don't fool yourself.

Editor wrote:

"David Cameron: "if, after a few selections, we find that an unacceptably low proportion of selected candidates are women we will take further action."

I don't like the sound of that threat. CCHQ has tried to intefere with constituency autonomy before. They'd be foolish to open up this can of worms..."

Now, what if not enough women are chosen, what could remedy this without causing uproar?

Open primaries perhaps, as Chad suggests?

Richard: Paid for with who's money?

Paid for by the 'good' and 'serious' employers of course.

DC "So that people can work to suit their own families not the other way around" - so ok Mr Cameron if I want to be a female ppc, can I work from home, never have to come to London, do hours that suit my home life on a flexi basis to suit me and not my constituents or your party?

It's interesting that even the government's own recent commission on unequal pay did *not* regard discriminatory behaviour on the part of employers as being the main reason for overall pay differentials.

Flex-working will work for some companies and not others. And the closer you get to the top of any organisation, the less likely it is going to be feasible.

Exactly Sean!

"No Chad. It was David Cameron and his team who convinced the Conservative"

Um, Christina, I was talking about you, Tim and Donna, the people who actually joined progcon. That's what I meant about "outside the party".

oops sorry, hit enter and left it all italic.

"Open primaries perhaps, as Chad suggests?"

Instead of going all soviet-style centrally imposed and all that, if the assocations don't play fair, why not force an open primary and let the locals choose which is the best candidate from either the assocation or the a-list?

This would encourage fair play and avoid cco control freakery.

...when we do make commitments, we really mean them – and will then go on to do what ever is necessary to deliver them.

I know this is off-topic but surely the above comment by DC should reassure doubters that the Party will be leaving the EPP?

I think a better way to get more women and diverse groups into politics and to make our party more representative is to change the whole way we select to one where we "mentor and measure" on the job.


The sections of this speech concerning women MPs and equal pay make me wonder whether I'm in the right party. They seem to place equality of outcome above equality of opportunity, and betray unseemly centralist urges in our party leadership.

When even the government's commission on unequal pay didn't think that sexism was the cause of the pay gap, it beggars belief that Cameron would imply the opposite.

The sections of this speech concerning women MPs and equal pay make me wonder whether I'm in the right party. They seem to place equality of outcome above equality of opportunity, and betray unseemly centralist urges in our party leadership.

Very true. I expect Cameron's justification would be "it looks good to the electorate, especially women voters". Will no party make a case for small government and the abolition of the nanny state? I suppose the view is that the electorate don't like the idea of fending for themselves and will therefore not vote for a party that threatens to make them do that. Whether that view is right or not is another matter.

There's also the fact that the media would spin any refusal to act on this issue as "Cameron refuses to address sex inequality". If there's a problem (and in this case there's no evidence that there actually is) the consensus seems to be that "Government must do something!".

This kind of big government soviet-style central quasi-diversity will descend into the ridiculous.

How many disabled people should be on the list? What happens if one wins, then dies? Would the shortlist all have to be disabled to maintain the party's fixed ratio to avoid criticism?

The only way to get candidates that are truly representative of their communities, is to involve the communities in their selection.

Politicians, whether cco or the associations really are not the right people to choose who should best represent communities.

They certainly don't seem to have picked any working class people either so far. Where are the plumbers? Although, admittedly plumbers are too smart and probably wouldn't want to take the pay cut.

Sorry but the bit that concerned me wasn't DC it was Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC, saying: ""The Conservative Party that David Cameron has inherited has little credibility among voters when it comes to these issues and he has a challenge on his hands to turn this perception around."

Sorry but I still think Civil Servants should leave politics aside - the EOC is a commission responsible for the implementation and enforcement of legislation. If Jenny or other members of the EOC want to be a crusading body suggest they resign and join a political party or private lobby group.

If research says the Tory Party is in this position, publish it without feeling you have to comment.

Same with Sir Ian Blair and numerous other public servants - keep to the brief, if you have opinions express them privately to Govt, MPs etc. There are too many Tony's cronies in these positions who don't seem to understand that they are paid to do a job not play political games.

rant over :-)

“”Many good employers offer generous maternity support. They understand the importance of a motivated, happy and loyal workforce. But we do need to provide legal protection to those who are not fortunate enough to work for those businesses.””

What on earth does Mr. Cameron mean by this? Does he think that more legislation is needed? An employee’s maternity leave entitlement is already very clear. And then we are seemingly enjoined to emulate the employment practices of Microsoft, Jet Blue and a ‘high tech manufacturing company’ in Mr. Cameron’s constituency. But most businesses are small and low-tech and Mr. Cameron must come to realize that the reality of running a small business in this country is lonely, demanding and, often enough, marginally profitable: offering the conditions of employment of these bigger companies would be a quick road to liquidation.

Blair could have made this speech and it would have been received as just another of his King Lear episodes.: “I will do such things, what they are, yet I know not: but they shall be the terrors of the earth.” I can only hope that the higher reaches of the Conservative party return to original, conservative thought – and soon.

The problem is that political placemen are just that, political. The likes of Sir Ian Blair got where they did today by playing politician's games. If being the "PC" PC won him the job, why would he change now?

"And all of us need to change our cultural attitudes to pay by being much more open. "


When I was 17 years old and working on a Youth Training Scheme, I was doing a better job than the other trainees and was offered a £10 per week raise. I went back into the main office and when asked openly admitted how much I'd been allocated, they'd only been given £5 so all kicked off - result to keep the peace I lost my £5 raise - kept my mouth shut after that one! Oh and it was nothing to do with being a woman!

What on earth does Mr. Cameron mean by this?

John, it's quite straight-forward what he means: workers do need certain rights and those rights do need to be protected by law. Some think that a Conservative leader would argue against workers having rights such as maternity rights. David Cameron didn't say anything about new legislation, but simply that he does support workers' rights. It's a change of style that I welcome for a Conservative leader to show sympathy for employees as well as for employers.

One would like to imagine that under a Conservative government there would be rather less employment leglislation than there is today.

Really Sean? Which legislation would you remove and how do you think it would be seen by the electorate?

"Really Sean? Which legislation would you remove and how do you think it would be seen by the electorate?"

Firstly, any companies that treated their workforce badly would find themselves with few applicants. As living standards rise and countries become more prosperous, companies can afford to give their workers perks. The problem with state-enforced perks is that they tend to be uniform and therefore don't take account of individual business needs.

That said, I take your point about the electorate. It's all very well to make the theoretical and practical case for laissez-faire capitalism but the electorate tends to be centrist when it comes to economic issues whether we like it or not. This calls for a more subtle strategy and an emphasis on cutting red tape and deregulation.

I'm not looking for specific commitments at this stage, Mark. But I'd like to know that philosophically, we are in favour of lightening the burden on business, rather than keeping it at its current level, or extending it.

My preference would be for gradually excluding smaller businesses (say those with under 50 employees)from the majority of employment and anti-discrimination law.

My preference would be for gradually excluding smaller businesses (say those with under 50 employees)from the majority of employment and anti-discrimination law.

Sorry Sean you can't do this, what about the poor guy with 52 employees he'd soon have to contract, the extra legislation to take on those extra three people wouldn't be worth the growth.

Mark, one of Britains remaining USP's for business is our flexibility, remove it and we become just another 'EU state'.

Under the circumstances how keen would the electorate be to adopt both the employment legislation brought in by the Labour party and the proposed changes to maternity/paternity rights if they as tax payers had to fund all the costs (I'm not just talking about the 92% of the basic maternity costs - but the true cost associated with covering these benefits). If everybody wants these social benefits then surely it should be the Country as a whole that pays not just those employers who engage staff and toe the line.

As for just one regulation I would remove immediately it would be the vicarious liability on companies for adults at staff parties.

a-Tracy, just to be clear, I'm not advocating the introduction of any new legislation. I'm simply saying that if the Conservative party wants the support of employees as well as employers, it has to spend part of its time standing up for them. I can’t think of any specific employee’s rights that I would want the Conservative party to stand against. By the sounds of things, Sean can’t either.

Although the compensation / liability culture does affect the workplace, it’s present everywhere else too – so I don’t put it in the “workers’ rights” box. You're absolutely right that ridiculous liabilities need to be dismantled via legislation to limit the compensation claims that cripple everybody in doing anything.

Mark, where do you stand on the removal of the opt-out (don't forget the staff choose whether to opt-out or not) of the maximum 48 hour week (other than for the self-employed who will be able to please themselves). Is this legislation (that is moving through to implementation) to protect employees rights or remove employees rights?

One reason why it's hard to offer specifics, Mark, is that so much employment legislation is set at an EU-wide level, and thus Parliament has very little control over it (and so repatriating powers from the EU would have to take place prior to reforming employment law)

Things that I would like to see are:-

the abolition of legislation established under the working time directive;

repealing the reverse of the burden of proof in discrimination cases, and removal of the concept of indirect discrimination;

reverting to a two year qualifying period for unfair dismissal and redundancy cases, and revoking the power of the Secretary of State to multiply the level of compensation in redundancy cases;

provision for employers to recover costs from employees who bring unsuccessful tribunal claims;

Ending compulsory trade union recognition.

I disagree with removing the opt-out from the working time directive but, as I understand it, that will be blocked when it goes to the EU Council for approval.

Sean, I don't know the facts on the rest of your list, but employees have a right not to be discriminated against and to be treated fairly at the end of their employment. I haven't seen any evidence that these laws are actually limiting businesses. To campaign for the repeal of these laws would be played out as Conservatives against working rights - and for what benefit?

The general legal principle is that the person making the allegation must prove it; that principle is reversed in discrimination cases. I think that is unfair. It is hard to prove a negative, and benefits the professional litigant. Unurprisingly, the number of claims for discrimination has increased markedly since this particular law change was brought in in 2001. Bringing such a claim is the sensible thing for the disgruntled employee to do.

WRT indirect discrimination, I don't see why, for example, a small business that recruits on the basis of word-of-mouth, should face the possibilty of a claim on the basis that some section of the community might thereby be overlooked.

The problem with employment/discrimination leglislation is that it seeks to impose the kinds of bureaucratic procedures that can be afforded by the public sector and large companies right across the board. Most employers can't afford to employ personnel officers and lawyers full time to ensure that they're compliant.

Why does nobody stand up for freedom of association i.e the right to discriminate? If I own a business, why should the government tell me who I can and cannot employ? If I happen to want a purely Oriental workforce then why shouldn't I be able to hire one?

Would you actually do that Richard?

It's more likely that if Richard is running a small to medium-sized business he doesn't want to have the employment decisions he takes being second-guessed; or having to provide a detailed audit trail to justify them; or having to conduct a quasi-trial when he wants to discipline a member of staff.

That is what employment and anti-discrimination leglislation means when it is worked out in practice.

I thought the Conservative Party was in favour of small Government!!

Small business do not need all this legislation, it should be an agreement between the employer and employee.

On the question of positive discrimination for Women, it is ridiculous. I would feel "second class" if the only way I could get adopted was because I was a woman. It should be a level playing field, with the best person being selected, regardless of gender, ethnicity etc.

"Would you actually do that Richard?"

No, I'd rather work for a large corporation and get a guaranteed fat salary!

Plus if it was known that I was discriminating the chances are I would get boycotted - this is the way such unfair discrimination ought to be dealt with, not by running to the government shouting "legislate!".

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