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David Cameron must make it clear that his leadership isn't a political exercise but a personal mission. By demonstrating a little anger and a lot of attachment he will demonstrate his authenticity.

Au contraire, he would simply demonstrate a new style of spin.

As Simon Heffer has observed, the Cameron experiment has been a 'stunt' from beginning to end.

This message is a very seductive one (writing as a floating voter), but the question will always remain (as it did with Blair for a while) whether he is speaking for a minority or majority of his party. You suspect from the crowd of disaffected windbags from old London clubs, and swarms of furious bloggers, that "moves to the Left" are at best tolerated and more likely actively plotted against, and only put up with to get back to power.

Then, will it be: blame immigrants, benefits make people lazy, lower marginal rates at the top, ****ing Boris everywhere ...

I like green tax instead of income tax - cut the lower thresholds, add 10p to a litre of petrol. Will he ever do that?

Ed

Did anyone ask Cameron what the rest of the Shadow Cabinet were doing ?

You suspect from the crowd of disaffected windbags from old London clubs, and swarms of furious bloggers, that "moves to the Left" are at best tolerated and more likely actively plotted against, and only put up with to get back to power.

And what about the disaffected left of the party?

The Conservative Parliamentary candidate at the last General Election in (Labour-held) Brighton Kemptown has just defected to Labour.

Brief edited extract from the Brighton Evening Argus: "Judith Symes (who) appeared on Tory leader David Cameron's A-list of approved candidates said "He (Cameron) has not gathered together a cross-section of society. Instead, elitism and exclusivity are at the heart of the party."

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/localnews

'Gun crime has still doubled.'

As I seem to find myself repeatedly pointing out, Conservative policy on this is exactly the same as Labour's, ie persecute the innocent. It shouldn't be any mystery why this doesn't improve ratings.

As a general observation, Conservative policies are simply aping Labour's but with a few tweaks. Of course this is uninspiring, what did they expect?

And for those who say, well we tried extreme policies at the last two elections and it didn't work - no you didn't. Hague fought 2001 on not joining the Euro, a popular stance which is now political orthodoxy. Howard's manifesto was a model of inoffensiveness, with immigration policy in particular theortetically almost identical with Labour's (although he claimed he would actually implement it, which was a serious difference). And as for Major losing in 1997 because he was a rabid right-winger, give me a break.

The portrayal of a decade of Tory extremism is a left-wing sham, a propaganda lie of staggering proportions which has nevertheless been staggeringly successful. Tories have lost support not because they've provided a too-radical alternative to Labour, but because they've provided no alternative at all. Why vote for ersatz socialism when you can have the real thing? And if you don't like socialism at all, why vote for either?

Giles, lowering income tax and hiking fuel taxes hits poor people who have to travel a long way to work.

It plays well to the Notting Hill set who don't mind paying a bit more to fill the tank of the Range Rover and can feel that they're helping to save the world but could cripple a single parent who has to drive to a child minder, then to work etc.

That is the problem with Cameron and his team, they are all from similar affluent backgrounds and don't seem to grasp the problems facing real people.

The other problem with so-called green taxes is what if they work?

What if everyone is encouraged by massive taxes on fuel to ride bikes.

No revenues, so other taxes have to go back up...

The whole idea of green taxes seems to be mis-thought out to me.

Giles 08:26:

You have been listening to too much left-wing propaganda; the picture you present is a caricature and not an especially realistic one either.

As for adding 10p to a litre of petrol, experience shows that increasing fuel taxes does not reduce usage, it just makes people miserable. The economy and people's personal lives are both based on routine use of petroleum motor vehicles. I agree this needs addressed, but there are no quick or easy fixes.

Alex, I couldn't agree more.

The left have set the cultural agenda for too long.

As an example, symbols of Communism and the images of Communist leaders like Stalin or Mao should be considered as politically incorrect as the swastika or other Nazi imagery, but oddly, considering that Mao and Stalin murdered around 100 million people between them, they aren't.

The left has re-written history in this country. More infuriatingly we've let them.

"As Simon Heffer has observed"

As Simon Heffer appears to think a platform based on a more extreme version of what resulted in a drubbing in 2001 and 2005 willl this time romp home, I think we can consider such observations to be similarly detached from reality.


Simon Heffer has been pointing out for some time that the Trust Fund Tories give an unworldly image to our Party. Norman Tebbit makes exactly the same point in today's Times.

We lost in 97 due to sleaze and incompetence. We lost in 01 and 05 from the Right. It looks like we are about to lose again from the Left.

Any idea of our next tactical position ?

David do you seriously believe we received a drubbing in 2001 because of our policies?

Rather than simply Tony hadn't blotted his copybook, the economy was on track and the Labour Party generally hadn't frightened the horses - whilst we'd only been out of power for 4 years after an 18 year stretch culminating in sleaze and chaos.

The policies had sod all to do with it.

Alex, I think the problem of Hague and Howard was not that their election policies were right or left, but that they were just a shopping list of populist messages...It amount to an appealing package.

We lacked a positive narrative which chimed with people's aspirations and ambitions.

I want agree, I'd like to see a lot of passion in cameron's speech but not necessarily anger. I don't agree that we need people stories to illustarte his message. Most leaders do it now and it's all a bit corny.

So Cameron has £10 million for the election funds, I hope he does NOT think money can buy votes. Dont! start the Etonian silver spoon stuff, or say goodbye to being leader let alone ever a P.M

We have a few policies. The policies that have come out of the policy process arent Party policy yet. Perhaps we might be given some actual pledges and policies during the upcoming Conference...

We seem to be missing the point. Brown is out to destroy Conservatism. The Conservative Party is simply the vehicle for it. Until we can understand the threat he poses, we are done for.

David, given the nature of our campaign in 2005 I don't know if it is possible to say whether people supported our policies or not.

Our campaign was unremittingly negative and seemed to be based entirely around how much things would get worse under Labour with barely a mention of how they'd get better under the Conservatives.

An election campaign based soley around the premise of 'Vote Labour and an immigrant will rape your daughter' or 'Vote Labour and your Granny will die in a dirty hospital' can really be used as an effective indicator of what the public do or do not want.

"Norman Tebbit makes exactly the same point in today's Times. "

Yes, it's quite amusing to see him criticise the fact that Cameron has no real world experience, while proclaiming that of Brown, whose had no job outside being a Labour insider.

"David do you seriously believe we received a drubbing in 2001 because of our policies?"

Yes; they were unattractive and off putting. Same in 2005, when Blair definitely had blotted his copy book and still came away with a majority of 75.

The fact that it was the "Carlton" dinner says it all.... "public" schools and "gentlemen's" clubs, they just dont seem to see it do they......

Dave (only one who uses his given name)
Boris (actually Alexander)
George (actually Gideon)
Zacky (actually Frank)

its like an episode of Brideshead, and thats why the party loves it - misty eyed about foppish aristocrats - but also why the country has yet to be convinced.

Good gracious, the Shadow Cabinet has been seen- who is claiming the reward?

Their absence from the field of battle has been shameful in recent weeks. You can bet that next week the Labour spin machine will have spokesmen lined up for the media to knock down anything said at the conference. But where were our people this week?
Has David Davis gone to ground?
It is no good just making speeches to the converted- every member of the Parliamentary Party has to use every means possible to get out on the media and ram home a few home truths and what we stand for.

We badly need a big and articulate hitter

Surely this is not too much to ask?

It looks like crime will be the major focus of our conference and that, I think ,is a good thing. On the whole I agree with Cameron's analysis but we have to show in practical terms how we can offer solutions. At the moment I don't think that's the case.

With Conservative strength in the south, SNP support in Scotland and Labour's activist completely hollowed out...they lost 900 councillors in May alone! I just don't see how Brown is gonna win an election whenever it's called.

Particularly when the Tories can raise £250k in one night!

I was at the Carlton dinner too. I thought David Cameron was outstanding.

David, Blair won in 1997 and 2001 with majorities of around 170. We were as much of a busted flush in 2001 as 1997 and so had no chance so long as Labour seemed reasonable (which they did). I doubt if very many people can even remember what we offered in 2001. The point was Labour hadn't imploded so why change back to the party which had been in power for 18 years and self-destructed at the end?

In 2005 Blair's majority fell to 64 (not 75), a pretty hefty reduction. And yes you're right, his copybook was well and truly blotted by then.

Still, it amounted to progress by us didn't it, despite having possibly the most right wing leader and policies? Especially since it amounted to a decent recovery from all the IDS infighting and backstabbing.

I'm encouraged by this. Conference will set policy, Cameron sounds ready to fight and I like how he's taking Labour to task. We're up for it round my way.

It requires a very small swing for a hung parliament. If Brown goes for it, he'll be the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question for shortest PM

"We were as much of a busted flush in 2001 as 1997 "

Quite. Our policy platform was an illustrative result of that. Base, and unattractive. Hague was unfortunately too inexperienced to weather the storms from the right of the party.

"Still, it amounted to progress by us didn't it, despite having possibly the most right wing leader and policies?"

It was the least we could do; given the unpopularity of Blair, we should have done far better. The polciy platform just wasnlt there though, although you are right, it was a necessary shoring up job after the debacle that was IDS as leader. But that's the point-it was a core vote strategy, which will not win an election.

There is plenty of ammunition there, but we are making no use of it. Andrew Neil destroyed Chief Secretary Andy Burnham on TV yesterday over the £140 council tax cut for the armed forces ("is it new money, or not ?"). This is a classic piece of Labour swizzery, the likes of which Blair in opposition would have gone to town on. Yet for us up pops a very tired and lacklustre Liam Fox hours after the event, with no passion, no fire-in-the-belly, and no sense of outrage.

Our Shadow Cabinet, Grayling and Cameron aside, is truly lacklustre. We have a deadly combination of the lazy- Davis and Hague, the gauche- Osborne and Villiers, and the unelectable..........

Conference will speak on policy and contribute to the policy process. It will not set policy. Thats up to the Shadow Cabinet, who have ignored the membership on key issues before. My hopes for this Conference are very low indeed.

Looking at the Conference website theres an awful lot of green. Whoever is in charge of the Conference stage please do not make that ghastly radioactive green the backdrop to the stage.

We must hear bankable promises by the Party next week. Otherwise Cameron will not be able to shake off the assumption that we have no policies.

Mark Clarke, not much use to be outstanding in the Carlton club, when there is Conservative political vacuum outside it!

"Why are we behind in the polls? New Prime Ministers always get a boost...But the boost won't last"

So do new opposition leaders.

And Cameron is right, it didn't last.

I agree Bruges Group NG. Andrew Neil tore Burnham apart over the council tax pledge on the Daily Politics. Its not new money at all since its coming out of the MoD budget. Neil was well prepared for Burnham. More of the same please Andrew!

Nearly all candidates selected? Not in Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire and large swathes of the Midlands and the North West!

Boris presumably thinks that he has the Mayoral nomination in the bag and was schmoozing with the donors.

I could not vote for any of the useless clowns on the Primary ballot paper and abstained. Hopefully, Nick Ferrari will stand as an independent. He would get my vote!

DC's comments sound spot on. I'm sure he will build on this over the Conference.

It really does get boring reading all of the class prejudice on here though.

Paxman also made Milliband look quite, foolish and definitely out of his depth last night on Newsnight too

DC's comments sound spot on. I'm sure he will build on this over the Conference.

It really does get boring reading all of the class prejudice on here though.

"Five million are not in work"

Great to see that David Cameron is using the true figure of jobless in this country. Labour are gonig around and telling anyone with a microphone that we have 'More people in work' and are 'On the verge of full employment' Unfortunately many who don't follow economic events are prone to believe Labours blatant lies. So I hope the Conservative party and Conservative spokesmen when interviewed will continue to hammer home the truth about Labour's failed employment strategy.

David Cameron is right, there are over five million jobless in this country.

Gordon Brown is wrong, we are not on the verge of full employment.

I know it's unfashionable to say this, but I do hope that Cameron & Co. focus on the economy next week. It is reported that tax receipts are in decline and this could well be the defining issue if a credit crunch curtails consumer spending.

This will oblige Brown to raise taxes to reduce the size of the deficit which he has saddled the country with during his stewardship of the economy.

Does anyone else live in a safe Conservative seat like me? I have never heard so many natural Tories talking about staying at home or going for UKIP. If this is what it's like in Ashford, Kent, God help you in a marginal.

"Any idea of our next tactical position ? "

Group NG, nothing was going to change the position in 2001, the big missed opportunity was in 2005, and though Michael Howard did better, we should have done a great deal better. I am sorry to say the Conservative party lost the plot making Michael Howard leader, for nothing was going to over come the baggage he came with. Why David Davis didn't go for the leadership, or given the leadership I will never understand.

But as to the current situation, are, what are described as right wing policies that objectionable? I don't think so, for Labour are busily making them their own, and all polls indicate they, the policies, have resonance with the voters . The problem has been the language used, and the person saying them, something Cameron had an opportunity to make his own, regretfully he went out of his way to trash them, or abandon them, leaving Labour a clear field to Hoover them up.

But its not just policies that are the issue, for half the trick is to rubbish the Governments policies. Why should the electorate look to the Conservatives for solutions when the problems haven't been identified? In this we need Conservative politicians to apply some application and passion to attack Labours policies and record. But as we have seen in the last few weeks, Conservative MP's have been notable by their absence, when Conservative MP's should been out there spitting blood at Labour's discrimination of English people in the public services they receive, yet nothing, not a whimper. Osborne should have used Northern Rock to rip Gordon Brown's economic record to shreds. But what did Osborne call for? More information. MORE INFORMATION!!!? And yesterday Landsley put out an anaemic statement regarding Brown’s clean hospital plans, when he should have been blowing a gasket at Labours incompetence to give us clean hospitals and the thousands of people who have died due their failure.

Finnally as to passion, the last time the Conservatives were in opposition, Heseltine grabbed the Commons Mace and swung it round his head at some Labour policy, does anyone feel that we would get some similar passion from the current lot of Conservative MP’s, like Labour reneging on a referendum for the EU Constitution? No me neither. Though having condemned all Conservative MP’s, I would like to point out the John Redwood on Question time last week. Originally it did concern me that there was a high chance Redwood would put his foot in his mouth, and give the Conservatives more issues to deal with, but no, Redwood ripped into the other panellists over Zimbabwe, and the likes of Asdown backed down. You see conviction and passion takes you a long way, and gives you room to get heard.

I agree we need to broaden our base David. I'm just not convinced of the need to junk (or look as though we've junked) everything we've said in the past.

Our risk now is that we don't really stand for anything. And we're 11% behind in the polls.

Nearly all candidates selected? Not in Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire and large swathes of the Midlands and the North West!

Is it correct that these constituencies will have A list candidates imposed by the centre?

Malcolm Dunn, but will the Conservatives use the information Paxman dug out that the Labour Government has funded bat conservation in Burma (£120,000) more than money they have given to support the democracy movement? and so rubbish Labour's professed concern for Burma.

Come on Conservative MP's are willing to stick the knife into Labour?

Veritas, I'm not sure we need the votes of traditional tories in safe seats...great if we can hang on to them, but it's the floating voters and former Conservative voters in marginal seats that matter more.

Remember, Labour have ignored their core votes for years in the pursuit of middle England and it hasn't stopped them winning 3 elections in a row.

It's the economy....
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article2521482.ece

The highest level of public borrowing for any August since records began raised questions today over whether the Government can meet its fiscal targets as the economy slows.

Net borrowing climbed to £9.1 billion in August, far higher than the £6.5 billion figure expected by analysts and the worst for that month since comparable figures began in 1993.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the worsening picture was driven by lower tax receipts and a rise in core current spending.

Mike, we do need the votes of traditional tories in marginals though. If they stay at home, picking up some of the floating votes doesn't help.

Great comments from DC. If he repeats this and gets coverage at conference, we're doing well.

It's all very well the usual relentlessly negative whingers claiming that everything's lost - sorry to say it, 'Traditional' Tory, but we've heard it all before. Carping and criticising seems to come very naturally, but I don't think I've heard any positive and realistic suggestions instead. Constantly invoking Private Frazer's maxim of "We're all doomed" is wearing incredibly thin now.

As for Tebbit's comments - does it matter who's the heir to Thatcher? She was a fabulous politician for her time - not for now. It's a measure of the backwards-looking, navel-gazing tendencies of our party that people can only hark back to the 1980s, rather than look forward.

No change there...

No election analysis which ignores the biased boundaries and the loaded devolution settlement can be allowed to pass. I repeat what I have noted before - in 05 the tories won in England.

As for those contributors whose idea of reasoned debate is lazily to caricature the views of their opponents, they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Who said anything about "immigrants raping our daughters"? Who with half an ounce of common sense confuses immigrants with the issue of immigration? Even if the people currently pouring into our country were of unparalleled virtue and thrift, the flow would still be too great.

It is patronising and smug to smother the real concerns felt by ordinary families over the condition of their schools, the availability of housing and their prospects as wage earners with reach-me-down pythonesque jokes.

It isn't the colonels these days who are spluttering and harrumphing from some abyss of bigotry - it is the left and all its fellow travellers, right up to the "modernisers" in the tory party.

Nigel 11:33,

Based on this, what sense can you see in the official Tory policy of pledging not cut in the overall rate of taxation, *and* maintaining same amount of spending as Labour?

What profits are there to share when growth is falling?

In spite of the smoke and mirrors, I think Labour are definately vunerable on the economy. The growth we have experienced has been demand driven by debt. The interest incurred on that debt and extreme levels of government borrowing have created a huge wave of inflationary pressure which is only hidden because of the strength of sterling. Northern Rock, mass unemployment. Tax credit chaos. etc. Gordon Brown hasa lot to answer for on the economic front.

Now here’s a conundrum - what is Dave going to do about it?

I read this morning that police are patrolling a primary school in Chatham where recent Slovakian immigrants have been attacking British children. One third of that school have recently arrived from Eastern Europe.

Those British parents were not asked if they wanted that level and speed of immigration. Yet they are having to pay for it through their taxes and now through violence, aggression and insecurity on the streets.

This is Britain today and we need answers.

Tom Bradby said on ITV "IF THEY CAN HOLD IT TOGETHER AT THE CONF. AND NOT PLAY STAB THE LEADER IN THE BACK AS THEY SO OFTEN DO"
My dad was a senior policeman at the time of the minor's strike and played a full and active role[letter of grateful thanks from Maggie still much prized] my brother[still living at home] and all my mums family were striking miners. My dad " as previously seen on tv" [as a result of the Ripper enquiries] was well known to the pupils at my school, most of whom were caught up in it.
It would be nice to think that Mr Tebbit and Mrs Thatcher remembered people like us. I know they faced horribly difficult times but they didn't do it alone . [There is other stuff about the I.R.A, relatives in the armed forces etc but I'm not going into it] .
I feel sad that -whatever they think of DC-they don't seem to think much of us either.No one can doubt the intense dislike the trad.Tory movement feels toward Gordon Brown nor his determined intention to destroy it[us]. If this is what we can expect from experience perhaps its better DC lacks abit.
Mr Tebbit reminds us "she is afterall a woman"
For the record,I was a 16 year old girl.
I know it's out of bounds to take even a gentle swipe at some of our brave old guard, but I am not a cowering member of a stalinistic Labour party .I am a product of 18 years of Tory rule - some in difficult times - they made me able to stand up for the party and they can not undo that now.
Are my children to be the product of 18 years of Labour rule?
To put it gently and respectfully , some of the people who are currently hurting us are in the twilight of their lives . Who will pen their loving obituaries ? - those who stroked their egos for their own ends or those that the stroking was aimed to destroy?
The answer is simple - We will . Because that is the kind of people we are capable of being . Complicated! Fair. Decent. Couageous. Even if is is hard , when loyalty it is right , when it is needed we are capable of it. It is needed now . On Monday.

Judith Symes "defector of the week" lives in the Shadwell ward of Tower Hamlets as and not Brighton. Her home is a well appointed, riverside block, gated and loathed by Labour.

In the past couple of weeks the Tower Hamlets Labour Party have appointed a council working party, consisting of only Bangladeshi members, white members are excluded, which includes the Conservative and Lib Dem leaders.

In the recent by election in Shadwell ward, where she lives, Judith Symes declined to deliver leaflets even to her neighbours in her development, as she had also refused in 2006. At this election, the Labour candidate attended a meeting of a Bangladeshi group and stated publicly that David Davis wanted to "burn down a Bangladeshi old people's home". He was horrified when the details were leaked to us, published and included in several thousand leaflets (Judith refused to deliver those as well, obvioulsy her views on equality are very new.

This is the local party that she has presumably joined. Equality is certainly unimportant to them - I wonder how many meetings that she will last, but then if her record is anthing to go by, she wont be attending meetings, just selection committees.

Simon, if you'd read my post you'd see I was referring to the negative nature of our campaigining.

I must admit, having thought back, my recollection was inaccurate, I should have said 'Vote Labour and an early-released prisoner will rape your daughter'

Did you read any of our 2005 election literature? It was depressing and negative.

Seriously Editor, I am glad you at least know where David Cameron was this week as the electorate could be forgiven for thinking that the whole of the Shadow Cabinet were either on holiday this week, or too busy with their outside interest occupation and their part time directorships to worry about the tax-payers who pay their wages.
This Country is completely void of any opposition.
Now this is not a personalised attack on anybody so I hope it will not be deleted or overwritten. It is a fact that nobody can deny.
I listen quite avidly to news and I have only heard on opposition politician open their mouth this week.
Then you wonder why Conservatives are so far behind in the polls.

I see that Lord Tebbit is now the latest to show overt disloyalty - I assume that he will be advising us to vote Labour next.

I recall what he said in the eighties about those who criticised Mrs T- clearly standards in discipline then no longer apply as far he is concernec.

Thank you Lord T- one of the party dinosaurs
who inhabit the Lost World.

Doubtless also the BBC and other broadcasters, encouraged by the Labour Spin Machine will give Lord Tebbit's remarks the coverage it does not deserve

Perhaps the BBC should be rebranded-
The Britsh Brainwashing Corporation.

Thank you Effie- I have been saying this for months yet noone in Central Office appears or wants to hear.

They are living in a bad news free zone believing that our conference will save us.

It really is quite pathetic and a betrayal of us members and supporters who want rid of this spin led lot claiming to be a " New" Governement.

"Thank you Lord T- one of the party dinosaurs
who inhabit the Lost World."

The cult of personality that has emerged around Thatcher is thoroughly depressing. It outstrips even that which developed around Churchill, which contributed to some extent to Eden's poor showing.

Re: Mike Christie @ 12:01

True - it was depressing. But the "negative" quality of the campaign arose not from opposition to foolish policies but from the shame-faced, shuffling and sidelong way in which it was expressed. In other words, saying "No" to something does not need to be done in a curmudgeonly mutter. It should be given decisive, Johnsonian bite. In addition, the position should be given in its strong, positive form. With immigration, for example, we should not just say "No" to the inflow but give a strong, patriotic "Yes" to a society which replenishes itself with children of its own. Of course it is at this point that we see how far we are from Burke's vision of society. He saw it, if you recall, as a contract between the living, the dead and the unborn, moving through time by means of generation. It is not a society which tries to import the future. No society which does that can survive for long, but in the socialist dominated context of today it is difficult to say so. That, however, is the conservative party's duty, else it does not deserve the name.

'Alex, I think the problem of Hague and Howard was not that their election policies were right or left, but that they were just a shopping list of populist messages'

I think that's more or less right. They didn't adopt any principled or well-thought-out ideas at all, let alone fight for them. I'm quite sure that Hague only adopted his anti-Euro stance because polls said it had more support than any of his others. But this populism could not and did not offer a true alternative to Blairism.

We keep getting told that it was extreme right-wing policies that lost 2001 and 2005, but no-one has produced any actual examples that stand up to examination. Howard on immigration certainly doesn't.


@ Iain at 11.15

I disagree with you about Michael Howard.

He will go down in history as our John Smith, someone who saved the Party from the knackers yard after the disaster of IDS and Theresa May as Party Chairman (shades of Spelman there). A little remarked upon fact about the Howard legacy is that dozens and dozens of Labour MPs, particularly in the South of England, are now sitting on very small majorities of a 1,000 or under. Even a half decent Opposition should be able to turn these Blue I would have thought. Are we confident about taking Dartford, Sittingbourne, and Thanet?. No.

I do agree with you about passion though. John Redwood was good, and Chris Grayling yesterday was the first Shadow Cabinet member in ages who actually challenged Labour with some fire-in-his-belly. The only other Tory who has impressed me in recent weeks is Malcolm Rifkind, with his response to the Thatcher/Brown meeting.

Osborne's response to Northern Rock was just lamentable, and demonstrated once again that he is woefully out of his depth.

Question for all Tories:

Who is likely to persuade floating voters that in 4 weeks time he could be a credible Chancellor of the Exchequer-

George Osborne.....or Malcolm Rifkind ?

Therein lies our main problem.

Have to agree with Bruges Group.
Osborne is too lightweight and only there because he is Dave's mate. Osborne has to go.
That more than anything is what allows our opponents to paint DC as out of touch.
To compensate for DC's youth/inexperience the Shadow Chancellor has to be a senior figure - either Hague or Rifkind would be perfect.

Simon@12:46

You said that "contributors whose idea of reasoned debate is lazily to caricature the views of their opponents, they should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Who said anything about "immigrants raping our daughters"?"

I corrected my point to being about early-release offenders rather than immigrants, but the fact was that it wasn't a lazy caricature of the views of our opponents but a reasonably accurate summing up of a miserable election campaign that said lots about how terrible life would be under Labour and almost nothing about how it would be any better under the Conservatives.

I think we actually agree that the 2005 campaign was fairly terrible. My main point was that the campaign was so poor at getting across what our policies actually were that the 2005 result could not be taken as any judgement on the policies themselves.

Bruges Group NG, Howard was inexorably linked with the last Conservative Government, which voters voted to get rid off, and he came with the baggage of 'something of the night about him', there was just no way the electorate was going to give him or his policies a hearing with that.

As for Malcolm Rifkind in place of George Osborne, I hadn't thought of that, it would certainly give the position more weight, for its hard to believe what was going through the minds of Conservative HQ to have Osborne in the Shadow Chancellors position, someone who has no relevant training, no relevant experience, and no political weight. As I have said before all the people involved in financial services have to have qualifications and passed exams, yet here the Conservatives are expecting the public to put all their economic eggs with someone who has a modern history degree, and worked as a free lance journalist for a short time.

I agree with Alex Swanson that it is the lack of principled well thought through ideas, which are stymieing the present party leaders. But they have had two years to work things out - if we don’t hear a coherent policy next week then …

Michael Howard, as Bruges Group says, did a terrific job from a standing start. He left a platform on which to build but foundering now seems to be the order of the day.

If someone doesn’t get a grip fast then we shall suffer more Bromleys. Under Brown the country really is going to the dogs – we have every chance. Let the right man seize it.

"Osborne is too lightweight "

I also see Osborne’s failure to master his brief as Shadow Chancellor as a significant part of the reason for current Conservative woes.

We all knew Brown was going to be the next leader of the Labour party, so it was imperative that the Conservative Shadow Chancellor did some damage to him before he moved on. Osborne didn't, even the time he was gifted information by the Times about Brown being warned about the damage his pension raid was going to do, Osborne managed to flunk , for the Commons reports suggest Brown swatted him aside. So no damage done to Brown before his coronation, no damage done to Brown during his pre-coronation ramble around the country, and Brown gets the PMship with the best Chancellor ringing in his ears, a position he has built on from there.

Two very encouraging things have happened in the past two days:

1) Cameron has a full-on open letter in today's Sun newspaper slagging Brown quite supremely, getting angry, and pledging an EU treaty referendum. The Sun is totally on side with this issue. It's a start.

Well done Mr Coulson...

2) Cameron has sat down with MPs, so he's keeping them in the loop. The party needs to be communicating with each other much more - like a successful marriage.

But most importantly, Cameron asked for the meeting not to be leaked - and it wasn't.

Totally disagree about Malcolm Rifkind.Happy to serve under Margaret Thatcher as were many other career minded politicians then years later criticises her for wearing the wrong colour dress to Downing Street.Very intellectual.
As for Michael Howard.I totally agree he did a lot to get the part back on course.He reduced Labour's majority and made many seats far more marginal.It will be such a shame if that is squandered.I fear it will be

Well I hope it was worth the shadow cabinet going into hiding since their hols. If they DO know the tories will loose hands down, can they please let us in on it.

So Thatcher,Tebbit and co are all dinosaurs who should shut up.Hmm,the dinosaurs ruled the earth for a very long time and as i recall Thatcher,Tebbit and co were pretty succesful in the eighties.They were in government,they were changing this country for the better,they believed in what they said and got on with it popular or not and for the most part it worked.Give me the dinosaurs any day

Think you are correct about Osborne. He has failed very test to date. What's worse, Darling is no heavyweight, so it's even more inexcusable. He needs to be ditched and pronto. How about Michael Fallon as a replacement. He was outstanding over Northern Rock.

A better balance...??

Hague - Shadow Chancellor
Rifkind - Shadow Foreign Secretary
Osbourne - Chairman & Election Co-ordinator

How about Michael Fallon as a replacement. He was outstanding over Northern Rock.

I was thinking exactly the same thing.

He's my MP and he's brilliant, knows the Treasury and the economy etc inside out. He was extremely good on Newsnight during Northern Rock and has the reassuring 'Father figure' presence about him people look for in a chancellor.

I can't be the only person who feels that Mrs T has got this sadly and very very wrong.

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