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Andrew Lilico

Ah, but Louise, is the only alternative to the Cameron strategy a "lurch to the right"? I am sure you are correct to think that there are those agitating for this - and you are quite right to gainsay them. But there are others that do not want a lurhc to the right, but instead want Cameron to change strategy by focusing on an authentic presentation of what he believes in, rather than his focus being on what he thinks people want him to say.

We have spent the past ten years focused on trying to give the public what they wanted. We did not end up with our disastrous 2001 and 2005 election results by arguing for authentic Conservative positions. We ended up with those results because our Party leadership was *embarrassed* by authentic Conservative positions on the key questions - thinking them impossible to sell to the public - and instead focused on "safe" issues such as crime and immigation and Europe, with the result that our positionings were vacuous nonsense. The problem with Cameron is not that he has changed the Party too much - it is, instead, that he has not changed the leadership's approach nearly enough.

I see some attraction in the Editors' "and" theory, but even that only gets us so far. The key thing, in my view, is for us to stop trying to be populist (which has resulted in sustained incoherence since 1997), and instead focus on arguing for what we believe in. If the public believes that what we are saying is what we really believe will make the world a better place, rather than the latest thing they think we think they want to hear, then we will be treated much more seriously - we might even win.

Traditional Tory

PUERILE COMMENT OVERIDDEN BY DEPUTY ED - IF YOU'RE GOING TO COMMENT, THEN ADD SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE TO THE DEBATE. THANKS.

Peregrine

Louise is right to mention the consecutive local election wins as the only real polls that matter, all the others since have been either minor or imaginary. With reference to Ben's articles on Slim's understanding that for building morale small victories are important (a lesson previously stressed by Fuller and Liddell-Hart post-WW1), the modern media version of a defeat needs to be put into perspective. Real councillors in real local authorities that make real improvements to people's lives (however minor considering central restrictions) are going to show local electorates that we can form a Government that is effective; a slide in few polls (nicely timed to match Brown's charm offensive) is not a cause for concern but does create a good opportunity for doubters to have a good moan.

The current love-in between Brown and the media can only last so long and once the inevitable bad news stories start rolling in (even the BBC will have trouble hiding higher interest rates) then perceptions will start to change. I do, however, have some sympathy with Andrew's view that the strategy has to change. It does seem to me that Cameron's present focus is stessing "nice to have" and social issues but the economy is going to be is going to be the major issue after Christmas. For example the environment is a strong local issue, and one in which Conservative authorities have a good record, but I have doubts about how importantly this issue plays nationally with the swing voters we want to attract; this doesn't mean that we shouldn't have a strong policy just that the stresses need to be placed elsewhere.

Scotty

Louise, excellent article and I agree whole heartedly with the points you make.
Just wish that the media would give more balance to their reporting of our party by highlighting the many members and activists who support Cameron, the shadow cabinet, MP's and candidates.
Oh and if Mr Brady reads this blog, we expect Labour and the Libdems to misrepresent and talk down our achievements. But when one of our own does it in such a torrid week for the party in the media it is not only disloyal but bl**dy stupid.
We need a lot of hard working, motivated and enthusiastic candidates like Louise to WIN seats from labour and the Libdems at the next GE. They don't have the luxury of standing in comfortable safe seats for the party and they need EVERYBODY's support and loyalty.


Andrew Carr

I haven't read the entire Louise Bagshawe article because I don't need to. Indeed, the first couple of paragraphs reveal the delusion gripping the sychophants - and Bagshawe is surely one of the Chiefs.

The sooner the deluded are routed the better. In fact, until this happens we can forget any notion of winning an election.

The First Lord of delusion (and incompetence, insincerity and nous) is Cameron. Until he is replaced, carefully and with timing as many suggest, forget anything other than the false comfort of delusion.

Among the deluded nobody seems to have grasped that Brown is a formidable, competent Politician with a smattering of sincerity and bundles of nous. Yes, really - so what now Louise?

Finally, what I find "numbskulling" is that the 'lemmings' want Cameron to remain but don't think he'll win the next election.

Rigidity and fornication come to mind!

By the way - would L.B. please learn to write (nepotism and shoulder rubbing at play?).

Andrew Carr

TomTom

And the North? Well, amazingly, we now control more councils in the North West than Labour does.

How did The NORTH become NOrth-West ? Did your weather-vane shift ?

I don't think future Labour Governments will begrudge Conservatives controlling a few councils - I note that Bradford and Leeds both need LibDem acquiescence as Labour is the biggest party in both cities after two years of swings against the Conservatives towards LibDems and Labour.

It is astounding that Louise Bagshawe is such a cheerleader without leaving any latitude for re-focusing on what it is the electorate wants in different parts of the country - but it seems to be Producer-Interest and what suits the Party rather than the Voter.

TomTom

Louise is right to mention the consecutive local election wins as the only real polls that matter,

So Boris should storm home against Livingstone - after all London had no elections in May.....and Labour did not contest all seats owing to a shortage of candidates....

Bromley is the election result you should review most carefully

Tapestry

Don't confuse Andrew Carr's mind with the evidence. He's already made up his mind. He doesn't even need to read the articles he comments on.

If only the likes of Andrew could learn to make their point and yet not make comments disloyal to the leader, they would find their chances of influencing a government rather than an opposition greatly enhanced.

In fact Andrew looks like a mock-Tory or Labour-troll, mouthing loyalty to the great Gord. Those who have met Brown and Cameron can tell him there is no comparison. One of them knows how to communicate, and how to listen.

Andrew Woodman

An excellent article which reaffirms where we are and who we're supposed to be fighting. Louise is right to mention the local elections. My East Midlands association took Labour from 21 seats to 4 and added 15 of our own. A party on the skids does not do that. I don't expect the usual suspects here to believe that, as they don't accept their views are in the minority in this country.

Henry Mayhew - Ukipper / delusional conservative

Well, it is going to be an interesting ride for you Louise. An expensive and time-consuming journey of self-discovery. However, what is it American college deans say to cash-strapped parents? If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

We are all looking-forward to your post-GE article, and your articles about education when you have school-age offspring.

Og

Oh dear. Full marks for loyalty but not many for nous. Has she no political antennae?

Everywhere I go in this country, there are huge numbers of abstainers. And their beef? There is no commonsense party on the Right to vote for. Not far-right, just Right. All these voters used to be Conservatives.

I'm beginning to think that, far from decontaminating the Tory brand (in the eyes of a few floating voters, who seem to have floated away this past month or so), the leadership is finally pulling the plug on a huge percentage of the electorate (I'd guess 15%) who now view the Conservatives as effete metropolitan liberals with blue rosettes. It'll take a new party to attract them. Perhaps the Cameron catastrophe will deliver schism and the rebirth of the Right.

Paul

Cleary Louise Bagshaw understands which side her bread is buttered, but her sycophantic attempts to rally the morale of the troops won't wash. Cameron's strategy is a liability.

Ms Bagshaw claims: "...you cannot sustain a lead in the polls for a year, usually a sizeable lead, and capture 316 and 911 council seats respectively two years running, and not have wide, deep, national appeal." Rubbish! Has she never heard of floating voters? A sizeable proportion of the electorate is extremely fickle, and many may well have been attracted by the glossy image. However, there is no depth to this support. Contrasted with the change of PM, Conservative support has crumbled.

We really do need to get back to traditional Conservative values; those which the electorate understand.

Dismayed

Louise, where was your loyalty to John Major? You defected to Labour and are benefiting from the hard work and truly excellent results of your loyal predecessor. Andrew Griffith stuck with the party during the difficult times. He deserved to be reselected in preference to a former Labour defector.

I voted for Cameron and regret doing so. Instead of modernisation, we have a Blairite Conservative party that does not offer real change, just more of the nonsense that we got from Tony.

It is a question of sanction. I simply cannot support ANY party that will not cut taxes, proposes higher transport taxes, supports our socialist healthcare system, will entrench comprehensive schooling and has a racist and sexist candidate selection system (the A list and European process).

Voting Conservative will be futile once the EU constitutional treaty is signed. Already 70% of our laws (Theresa May's figures) are the result of the EU. That will rise to over 90%. Unless Cameron is willing to take us out of the EU, his administration will not be able to deliver Conservative government.

Mike A

I like the claim that Louise should 'learn to write'. I'd take that with a pinch of salt, Louise.

Take no notice of them, Louise.

You're bang-on right.

HF

What are the real challenges we face in getting elected? We already have the Cash and the Councillors. Most of the issues are not policy. They are how united we look and how well organised we are.

1. The Media. Answer = over to Coulson and the Shadow Cabinet.
2. CCHQ campaign organisation. Answer = now (I understand) under Lord Ashcroft's people, but is ownership clear Caroline Spellman?
3. Policy Discussions within shadow cab. Answer = over to the shadow cabinet to work full time rather than part time.
4. Organisation in the North. Answer = Under Hague but is he putting in the effort?
5. Effort of our Shadow Cabinet. Answer = We have to start measuring their effectiveness.
6. Discipline. Answer = let us give no space to people who spend more time criticising the party than our opponents.

Tony Makara

Good article. David Cameron shouldnt be judged in the short term but in the context of a long-term strategy. Davids idea is to create a broad based appeal that reflects the ideals and aspirtations of modern Britain. Unless the Conservative party goes into the next election with a broad appeal it will lose. People may scream that this is pure populism and, in truth, it is, but populism reflects the majority view and that is democracy. David Cameron wants to govern for the whole of Britain.

malcolm

I read the article with interest but probably agree more with Stefan Shakespeare than with you Louise. The Cameron strategy has many positives and it is true that many people who used to be repelled by the Conservative party are willing to listen and vote for us.
However he has spent little time talking about many of the subjects dear to many Conservatives and this I believe has led to some of the unrest that we have seen recently. This is both unnecessary and unhealthy for the electoral success of the party.We will only win with the united support of both left and right.

Sean Fear

Thanks for the article. I don't think a "lurch to the Right" would work, if only because it would just not be credible with Cameron as leader.

I don't want Cameron to go. He is clearly more popular with the public at large than any Conservative leader in recent times, and we won't get anywhere by forming another circular firing squad, as we have done so often since 1997.

Nevertheless, I do think he's made some basic errors, over the past 18 months. Firstly, our supporters have been unnecessarily alienated on occasions. Secondly, Gordon Brown has been totally underrated; conversely, Tony Blair has been overrated, and emulated, just as he was going out of fashion. Thirdly, there has been a predelictions for stunts of various kinds. They may generate publicity, but they detract from seriousness.

Andrew Lilico

[email protected]0:08

But the British voter is far too sophisticated to be taken in by populism. Populist politicians are well-liked, but not respected or trusted, and they don't get elected. You confuse "what people want to hear" with "what people will vote for". Polling respondents may say they want their rulers to follow them, but when it comes to it they vote for rulers that will lead them.

Dismayed

Yougov for the Daily Telegraph in July 2003 when IDS was Leader.

Conservatives 37%
Labour 34%
Lib Dems 22%
Other 7%

See http://www.yougov.com/archives/pdf/OMI030101017_2.pdf

IDS was kicked out after turning round the poll deficit he inherited from William Hague. Cameron is now performing much worse than IDS in the polls at the same time of year. Is it time for more MPs to write to Sir Michael Spicer? If they are consistent, they should!

Andrew Lilico

Further to my last post - it does not follow from this that we are likely to get elected by not paying attention to the issues that concern people. We must speak to the issues that (a) are of concern; (b) where people believe we can do something about it; and (c) where we do, in fact, have solutions. So we must not waste our time on issues that are of concern but over which voters think we have no control or over which we would in fact have no control. And we also must not waste too much time on issues that are not important.

But on the key questions, speaking to the real issues that are of concern and where we can make a difference, we must offer our solutions and argue for them, accepting that they may not be instantly popular, rather than asking the public what they want us to say.

Frank McGarry

Louise, Graham Brady did bot "attack" Cameron. He merely said that he was not yet attracting enough support in the North of England.

All your talk of "strategy" I find as incomprehsible as the description of Cameron as a "centrist".

We all (82%) want Cameron to stay on as Leader. We all want him to succeed. But we would all also like to know what the "strategy" is. We would all like to know who Cameron is and what he stands for.

Up to now his only discernable strategy has been to keep his strategy (and his views)a secret. Sticking to a strategy of keeping his views to himself is not an option for much longer.

When David's policy reviews are complete and we are given an idea what a Cameron Conservative government might actually offer, then we will be able to see for ourselves whether this can be characterized as "centrist" or Conservative.

Adam

Regrettably a candidate toeing the party line who daren't tell it as it is. The reliance on local election results by Louise is a red herring. The party in government often gets a kicking in local elections especially one which has been in power this long. The important poll is the national one and in 2005 we were stuffed. The Bromley, Ealing & Sedgfield elections all point to where we are in the polls. If we had a general election now, despite Louise's hollow attempt at being a cheerleader and trying to show a great deal of bravado we'd get stuffed again. Its not about changing strategy in terms of policy only but more importantly about being effective in opposition and holding the govt to account. This is where we are failing. For example on the NHS, after wasting billions Brown orders a review and we give no response. We bang on about the environment but when the floods came we didn't 'wade' in on the govt's lack of preparedness and ended up actually on the back foot etc etc. Its not only about Cameron but the shadow cabinet as a whole and cchq who are all way off the pace at the moment.

John Trudgill

I would not put too much credence in the local elections of May 2007, however impressive they were. A lot of people in my area voted Conservative, and actually told us that it was "one on the nose for Blair" or "to clear up local government hereabouts." They were very guarded on DC, and it was clear that they were not over-impressed. Several said that the vote was temporary, and the come the General Election their normal loyalties would apply"

Michael McGowan

I agree entirely with Malcolm and Sean Fear. The Tory Party has to do a lot better than simply sell itself as a marginally better manager of the left's "solutions". If it cannot do at least that much after ten plus years in opposition, then the centre-right in this country is clinically dead.

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