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        « Don't take the nuclear option | Main | Message to Francis Maude - don't over do the focus groups »


        Danny Kruger

        The 44% Manifesto is totally spot on, especially the final section about uniting the modernising factions. The one good thing about this election is that it changes the internal conflict in the Party. Formerly the argument was between those who wanted the Party to change and those who didn’t. Now everyone agrees we must change: the argument is over how. And the good news is that both sides - the Soho mods (more liberalism) and the Easterhouse mods (more compassion) – are not that far apart.

        The two are certainly in tension (legalising drugs and downgrading marriage, as Soho might like, would not be good for Easterhouse). But apart from the totemic issues of sex and drugs their ideas for radical change are not that different. They agree the Party must have a less strident tone; more concern for those who are trapped in failing schools and hospitals; greater commitment to relieving poverty nationally and internationally; resistance to European integration based on global openness not domestic defensiveness; and – most of all – a confident, upbeat, ‘It’s morning in America’ kind of message. If the Soho mods can agree salvation does not lie in deliberately insulting the core Conservative vote in order to prove the Party has ‘moved on’; and if the Easterhouse mods can resist the urge to slag off people who don’t conform to the ‘traditional’ family ideal, the Party has it in it to revive.

        Peter Litttleton

        The 44% manifesto clearly provides a practical roadmap for the future directtion of our Party, one which perhaps many more of us could make note of. However, many of the steps are enormous, and in order to ensure a full recovery, each must be done properly. Once done we must unite around our achievement.

        Echoing the previous commentator, I would agree that not a great deal divides the modernising factions, or even modernisers and traditionalists within our Party. And I think it is important to keep this in context. Looking at the personalities in the campaign, both David Davis (seen as an arch traditionalist) and Alan Duncan (now widely viewed as a social liberal candidate) have a stong committment to significant reduction in taxation.

        To take the comparison further, I can see no major differences on public service policy. We all now agree that the public services need wide ranging reform, but I think we all accept that it would be political suicide at the moment to try and take this too far, for example proposing privatisation of the NHS. And on foreign policy, it is quite clear that the Conservative Party isn't going to commit to further European integration and all the groups appear to be generally in favour of a close alliance with the U.S.

        And in the end our differences come down to our attitudes to drugs and homosexuality. This being the case I really cannot see the need to split Party over such small issues, so far down the Public agenda. Essentially the differences are presentational, and this would need to be tackled by any leader.

        I believe it is very important that whichever leader takes control in the coming months, he or she will have to work hard to unite all wings of the Party, including leading members of each in his or her shadow cabinet.

        But instead of bickering over small issues, let us choose the most capable leader. In 2001 we chose Ian Duncan Smith, undoubtably on the basis of policy. This time we should choose the best performer with the public, who can take us forwards on an agenda on which we all broadly agree.

        Ellie Charnley

        Having read part 1 of the manifesto. I have to say that I agree with much of what was said. I definetly think we need some fresh faces. The floating voter is fed up with seeing the same old Tories. I was actually impressed by the election to the shadow front bench of two men who are in their thirties. When we were last in power much of our front bench and MPs were quite young. But these same people are getting on a bit now. It is true that most Tories are in their sixties and even older. Nothing wrong with that. But they will always vote Tory. We need the younger generation and a younger crop of Tories will engage them. We need to appeal to people with ambition and aspirations. Forget negative politics. It may have drawn attention to Labour's weeknesses but it also weakens us. Surveying what the public wants and not just Tory is a good idea. I sometimes think that our shadow front bench is out of touch. We have to be inclusive, warm and positive. That does not mean weak. Our strength will come from being positive, and showing that we can give people the opportunity to be independant from the state, and grow in their own wealth. This primary idea may be the way forward, then we will see exactly where our talent is and not just the same old familiar faces.

        John Moss

        Whatever we do, we need to end the ridiculous way in which we present our policies to the electorate. Currently, we agonise over whether we should cut taxes and if so, by how much. In truth, tax cuts are what you get if you do Conservative things.

        We should start from the premise that markets work and families work better. Because we believe this, we will extend choice in healthcare and education and require people to accept responsibility for the decisions they make. Because this will work better, Government will be smaller and taxes lower.

        For too long, we have been almost embarrased by our principles, especially in public. Whilst we need to be wary of the media and the BBC in particular, we must be prepared to argue from first principles, particularly when the evidence is there to support us.

        Derek Tipp

        I agree with what you say about appealing to a wider section of the electorate, but I would draw the line at open primaries for selecting the leader, as the party belongs to the members and those not in it could try to undermine it.

        It is also important that we put forward policies which we genuinely believe in, and not merely because we think they will attract votes. In another four or five years the voters may be looking for a change, though much will depend on what Labour does in this term.

        The campaign in this election was fought on the issues that the media focused on. I do not believe we could have done any better on policy. Unfortunately Michael Howard is not like by quite a few floating voters. The next leader must be someone who has a wide appeal.

        Alasdair Ogilvy

        The infatuation with the "centre ground" of British politics is dangerous. This ground is always shifting, and given that most voters are floating voters, if one includes those that do not vote in our postmodern low turnout elections, it is foolish to assume that the floating vote is above the notional centre ground.

        The centre moved left after Margaret Thatcher was ditched in 1970 and kept on moving left until Frank Field was told to "think the unthinkable" on public sector reform. Of course poor Frank frightened the Labour horses straight away and was sacked for his troubles, but it showed that a tiny shaft of light had penetrated the deep gloom of socialist orthodoxy.

        That marked the low/left water mark for the centre ground, and as the electorate has tired of this government and sees it to be inefficient, profligate and mendacious, the centre ground has moved to the right. Probably, the Conservative election manifesto need not have been so Old Labour tax'n'spend in its economic plans; socially it looks to have been about right - the Prime Minister wrote a Queen's Speech days after his underwhelming victory consisting of a raft of bills straight out of the Conservative campaign literature.

        If the Boundary Commission had been up to its task, we would have a hung Parliament to prove that the centre ground now lies closer to traditional Conservative territory than Labourland. The pendulum is swinging towards the Conservatives and they will almost certainly reap the reward at the next general election if they are standing where the electorate expects them to be standing. To move the party towards the centre ground (ie to the left) would be to move it onto ground soiled by this government and would be a huge mistake.

        Those who advocate shifting conservative philosophy to the left seek power for reasons of vanity rather than principle. I know its hard, but perhaps we should applaud the Woodwards and Jacksons for crossing the floor rather than trying to talk New Labour language to the electorate, but with a Conservative rosette on their coats.

        Graham Pritchard


        The belief that MPs will know their fellows better than the party members should hold true. This view backs the leaders election by MPs without the party members being consulted. This will be a bad move as all the conservative party needs to have their say about the leadership.

        My view is that the sitting MPs select 3 potential leaders to the party for the final selection.

        This way we shall have the MPs selecting the best available(in their view) and the party selects the leader.

        This should unite the party members and MPs and be the basis of the way forward.

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