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« The Dimbleby Leadership Debate - Part 3 | Main | Anyone going to the Frimley hustings? »


Alastair Matlock

Aren't you going to call win, lose or draw Editor?



I thought DC was smoother - he lost the 'rabbit in front of the headlights' look that he had on QT.

On policy - tax, patienty's passport, 24 hour drinking, drug classification - I agreed with DD every time.

The floating voter chose DC. I preferred DD's performance.


DC's performance was very good. Look, quite simply, he's another Blair. I can't find a single point of difference.

You either like that or you don't. I don't. But I admit it's done well.

James Hellyer

I preferred Davis. He was cogent and sounded like a normal person, while Cameron still seems to be reciting vast chunks of earlier speeches. He seems quite incapable of giving concise or punchy answers, and repeatedly talked over everyone to finish his spontaneous answers.

That said it was a better performance than gave on QT.

Henry Cook

DD was aggressive, DC stayed calm and looked much more comfortable than on Question Time.

Its much easier if you're not if about to take on the leadership of the party, because you can take firm, hardline attitudes - eg on 24hr drinking, drugs, tax policy. And then you can accuse someone who is trying to win among the public of being a flip-flopper because they are actually admitting that we need to think again about our policies. The Patient's Passport was a blatant vote loser, even if it came from the right principles - DD is silly to say we should fight on this policy again, but taking this position allows him to present DC as unprincipled. He is like a cornered animal, getting louder and more aggressive as his end approaches. A natural reaction.


David Davis performed extremely well and showed some real passion and principle.

Neverthless, the telling moment came towards the end, when a floating voter announced her support for Mr Cameron, having previously been undecided.

It seems that the public are attracted to Mr Cameron more because of his appearance and manner, and a perception that he represents a changing Conservative Party.

The question for Conservatives is whether our priority should be to fight for strong principle (Mr Davis), whether in or out of power, or whether we should support a highly talented but as yet unpainted canvas(Mr Cameron) - in the hope that he too will emerge as a passionate and principled Conservative -in order to attract floating voters thus winning the next election.

Whilst the choice may be easy for some, for those future Parliamentary Candidates in marginal seats, choosing principle over electability is a much harder decision.

John Hustings

"The Patient's Passport was a blatant vote loser, even if it came from the right principles - DD is silly to say we should fight on this policy again, but taking this position allows him to present DC as unprincipled."


Do you want a leader that will junk any policy he deems to be a "vote loser"?

Sean Fear

I don't actually think that the policy differences between the two candidates would be that great, particularly as none of them will be operating in a vacuum. The Conservative Party will still contain the same people regardless of who wins.

I just think that David Davis has a record of landing blows on Labour - and David Cameron hasn't.

Sean Fear

Is there hard evidence that the Patients' Passport was a vote loser?

young tory campaigner

certainly in some of the areas i was campaigning in, the patients passport was a vote winner. it was only the metropolitan elite who didn't like the idea of the state paying for private operations.

James Hellyer

Where I was people seemed to like it. For all too many it offered a way off the NHS waiting list by making provate treatment affordable to them.


Cameron did a lot better than in the previous televised debate. He still rambled a little though, and for goodness sakes, I wish he'd drop the "sharing the proceeds of growth." He might as well have it branded on his forehead.

Davis gave another competant, but uncharismatic performance.

Basically, I'm going with the swing voter. I'll be voting for Cameron, with reservations.

Alastair Matlock

I missed the first bit of the programme, but for the part that I did see I thought that both men set out their stalls and defended them very robustly. I am a Cameron supporter, of course, and saw nothing in today's performance that makes me want to rethink my position.

The Sunday Times mentioned that a poll had been carried out specifically for the Dimbleby programme. Did anyone happen to catch the figures?

Daniel Vince-Archer

Personally I found today's debate a little uninspiring. David Davis was sound if not spectacular (opening up the show by calling Jonathan Dimbleby David was a trifling error but clearly not the best way to start). David Cameron gave a performance easily better than his Question Time showing which, like his Newsnight performance, undoubtedly pushed all the right buttons for his supporters but did nothing to assuage my concern that a Cameron-led Conservative Party will be a NewLabourised Conservative Party. As Roy Walker used to say on Catchphrase, it's good but it's not right.


"School choice programmes have already been remarkably successful in America. Florida's under-performing schools, for example, started to improve dramatically once parents were given the power to take their children to a better school. It wasn't usually necessary for parents to exercise their 'power of choice' - only enough for the school bureaucracy to know that the parents and pupils were no longer the 'prisoners' of poor classroom discipline, uninspirational teaching or trendy educational theories."

The important thing about the patient's passport - like school choice policies - is that they shake up the whole system, potentially benefitting everyone. When the state can no longer monopolise customers/ patients/ pupils the whole system improves. The very possibility that parents might take their sons and daughters out of a school - or might take their mother's hip operation to a private hospital - encourages the state system to perform better.

Ed R

Superb performance from Cameron -- what a turnaround from Question Time! Clear, calm, firm. Davis ummed and aahed and seemed on the defensive for the most of the debate. It hasn't changed my opinion, because I supported Cameron before, but it's made me even more confident in his suitability as leader.


On tax, choice in public services etc - we are in danger, as a party, of adopting milk-and-water approaches to problems that require bold action.


So they don't like armed police but think they should wear body armour ! Have they ever seen ballistic body armour - you certainly cannot drive a car wearing it.

Be really nice and bulky, and very warm with those Kevlar plates fitted

Alastair Matlock

Editor, I sympathise with your concerns, but surely you are forgetting that DC will not be setting party policy alone? That will be done within the Shadow Cabinet and in consultation with the wider party. I'm quite sure the requisite boldness will be there when needed. We must not forget that politics is as much about perception as policy - everyone knows that our policies are fairly popular until they are identified as 'ours'. It's perception that's done for us the last three elections and that is what we most urgently need to address. As Sean Fear has said above, I don't think there is much difference on policy between the two candidates - the difference is in presentation and tone.


The Conservative Party has has suffered three ignominous election defeats in a row. Those who think that Gordon Brown somehow represents 'Old Labour' and will transform Labour's election prospects overnight into those of the Labour party led by Michael Foot, are deluding themselves.

The Conservative Party has all but been wiped out outside the south of England.

Whatever you may think of conservative ideas --and evidently Davis in many respects is closer to conservative orthodoxy than Cameron is-- the rather elementary point is that we need to make some changes to WIN again, because only in power can one implement one's ideas. Cameron is someone who ancenstrally is a Conservative, and joined the party of Margaret Thatcher. He is clearly a Euroskeptic. His best friend George Osborne gave a brilliant, rousing, and very conservative speech at the party conference, while is looking into the flat tax.

Cameron is not 'New Labour' -- he is simply not willing to be slaughtered by New Labour for the fourth time.

Discussing DD is by now completely irrelevant. DC is the next Conservative part y leader.

We need to focus on energizing the Conservative Party and fighting for our ideas in the new framework of a Cameron-led Conservative Party.

The surest way to sideline traditional conservatism is by not engaging loyally and not supporting Cameron whole-heartedly.

Hopefully Liam Fox, William Hague and many other principled conservatives will play prominent roles in the Shadow Cabinet and in formulating policy.

But we need to win. That means we need to act like one party, one team. And it means we need to want to be LED.

Cameron is the man. Deal with it.

Mike Smithson

A PLEA. Please get those DD votes in there. I've got a big bet on DC getting less than 66% and every vote could count.

I think today's debate really set out the dilemma for activists and if I was in the Tory party it would be a very hard call. DD is more bombastic and will attack Labour more - but is this the best way forward for the party?

A concern about Davis is tendency to tell lies. I highlighted on PB.C his untruthful statements about the betting odds while at the conference; to claim the credit for Blunkett's first departure is going well over the top; and a couple of days ago he was claiming that the sample in the Populus poll on which the pro-DD figures were based was greater than the YouGov survey of Tory members.

Blair repeatedly tells lies to get out of tricky positions and DD seems to do the same. Not good.

Al G

And I've dealt with it, he is going to win, he is our new leader and I think thats great. Obviously, I would have prefered Davis but I feel we had a choice between the highly electable and the hugely acceptable.

However, as time goes by the need for a more radical tax policy grows. Tax freedom day gets further and further away from New Years Day and that means that economic freedom is being eroded. We need, and this is a matter of principle not an electoral consideration, to fight for that freedom to be restored.

That means tax cuts, not sharing the proceeds of growth.

Interested Observer

The editor is at risk of conflating the benefits of school choice and the Patient's Passport.

The purpose of the Passport is to expand the capacity of the NHS in as a cost-effective (for the state) manner as possible. The 'shaking-up' of the system is an incidental component. If 'shaking-up' was our goal, the answer would be an immediate move to a system of social insurance.

School choice, however, is not driven by capacity constraints. It is not an undesirable mechanism. Choice does drive up standards - in this case, academic standards. What the US and Sweden share, however, is an aversion to selection. I still do not see how choice and selection co-exist without compromising the purity of one or the other
I firmly believe we need a debate in this party

(ooops ... pressed 'post' by accident.

What I meant to finish by saying was we need a debate over whether the purpose of an education system should be purely academic, and the success of that system measured solely in academic performance. Clearly literacy and numeracy are essential - it is shocking so many leave primary without the basics. But should we be measuring schools solely on GCSE A*s when so many pupils are (a) not academically inclined and (b) probably better served in the long-run by focusing on vocational courses. IDS, in his leadership campaign, highlighted the Dutch system which allows pupils within the same school to follow very different curricula based on their skills and aptitude. Sadly we didn't build on that - something for DC to look at, perhaps? Certainly more sophisticated than a kneejerk response of school vouchers and grammar schools which are mutually contradictory in the first place.

Barbara Villiers

No, Goldie, I won't 'deal' with it. What a bullying lot you Cameroonies are.

And what a bunch of wusses (as bullies usually are) why is passion called aggression if it is Davis? And I seem to have attracted a great deal of ire when I suggested that Cameron was less than truthful about his past yet Mike calls Davis a liar and everyone is silent.

What the frankly desperate wing of our Party forgets is that in the end, it is principles, not flash that will win the day. We didn't win the last two Elections (in 1997 we simply didn't deserve to win)because our policies were incoherent and re-active as opposed to pro-active. We focused too much on immigration and what a s..t Blair was (tell me something I don't already know. To elect a leader because you think he might appeal better to the public at large is incredibly shortsighted - you have no way to assess the public's mood two, three or four years down the line. The public are a fickle bunch.

All together today was fairly evenly matched but Cameron was given to blathering a succession of sound bites but he succeeds in making it sound agreeable. Davis got in a few good swipes and simply reinforced my belief in him.

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