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James Maskell

The Policy structure is patheticly organised. Cameron changes policy on the spot while setting up Policy Groups, some of which he will disregard because it doesnt fit in with his own priorities. Stand Up Speak Up is a fad that will last to the end of the year. In the meantime the CPF is a shell of its former self and with a much reduced CRD, the capacity to come up with policy outside of the Policy Groups has shrunk. The Party machinery and membership has been ignored in the search for ultra-populist policies. The entire structure is a fudge.


The credibility of the party has been lost with the comprehensive abandonment of policies that we had said we would implement if we had won the 2005 election.

David Belchamber

"There are three key components to a political offering: personality, policy, and process. Candidates for leading the nation must appeal to the voter on all three".

I am delighted to see you write in such terms and agree wholeheartedly with your identification of the the three Ps. Too little concern has thus far been shown for the last one: Process.

The Hubris Syndrome by Dr David Owen should be required reading for all conservatives, as it analyses Blair's behaviour and identifies the causes of his incompetence.

I have regularly stated here that Nulab could not organise the proverbial party in a pub and have appealed for evidence to suggest that the conservatives could. After the fiascos of the grammar schools and the list of A & E/Maternity unit closures, I wonder if we are going to be any better.

Michael Howard, in an open letter to John Reid just after he had become Home Secretary, told him that government was largely about "process", not eye-catching initiatives. He was right; are we ready yet to govern?


Very few politicians could run any form of process. Most have been to school, done their homework, passed exams, then moved into an office with a PC and a printer and a telephone with a secretary or two and fellow office workers of a similar ilke; married someone they met through work of friends and rarely moved out of that social circle.

Winston Churchill moved out of the circle of his parents' adultery and went off for adventure, he knew what it was to be hunted, to have bullets seeking his address, and to have to deal with people who had not especial regard for his status or class.

Like many of his ilke he left the confines of class and school and social status to get involved in adventure and risk. As such he had a better idea of the cross-section of humanity and the ned to inspire confidence if you are to lead; the necessity to lead by example and to prove by doing.

We don't have many with experience of combat today, and few who have had to survive on their inner convictions and strength of character. As such we don't have decision-makers with any concept of consequences and failures which must be fought through and brought to successful conclusions.

In short we don't have many politicians - or businessmen - who have been under-resourced and over-tasked - and subjected to the fear of failure and death. We have a few in Afghanistan and Iraq but they are soldiers and only a few.


The Conservatives' reaction, both that of DC and DD, to the growing problem of gun crime has been excellent. By involving people from such communities, 'Stand up speak up' and other fora can help to develop workable and deliverable policies.

CCHQ Observer

Tory decision-making, especially on policy and presentation, in the hands of one person - Steve Hilton. Hilton is the real Leader of the Conservative Party. He evens tells Cameron to shut up. The Shadow Cabinet does what Hilton, through Cameron and Osborne, tells them.

The Policy Groups are mere tokens and have no decision-making power. Their purpose is to create the illusion of a big tent and to keep potential trouble-makers, like Redwwod and Clarke, busy.

Lord Ashcroft is, in effect, the Chief Executive of CCHQ. He is taking charge of day-to-day operations. Ashcroft, however, has no say on policy. He implements Hilton's policy decisions in target seats.

Tony Lit should have described himself as representing "Steve Hilton's Conservatives". The sad reality is that our party has been hijacked by a Green.

Andrew Lilico

Without wanting to say that process is irrelevant (I don't believe that at all), my sense is that, in *electoral* terms (as opposed to in terms of, say, motivating our activists, or producing a policy formation process likely to be socially fruitful), the Conservative Party has focused far too much on process since 1997.

The public sees us forever worrying about whether we have the right leader, whether our leader should be elected by the MPs or the party as a whole, whether we have enough candidates that are women or from ethnic minorities or from public schools, whether the party members have enough say in forming policies, and many other such things, and as a consequence (rightly) sees us as vain and self-obsessed. Process is important, but as far as possible should be invisible from the public - they truly don't want to know.

I flatly disagree with the thought about Blair and Iraq. No-one frets that the decision-making process over Sierra Leone was overly centralised, or that Blair didn't listen enough to the public expressions of unease over Serbia (for there were such, at the time). And if Iraq had gone well, the demonstrations would now seem irrelevant. Similarly, if Blair had had fifty public meetings at which he took a vote, if he had had a national opinion poll taken, if he had formed a government of national unity before invading Iraq, people would still now hold it against him. The process was irrelevant. The decision and the outcome are everything.

Complaints about the politicial process - complaints that politicians "do not listen" or about public disengagement with politics or about over-centralisation of decision-making within the parties - all these things reflect (a) the luxuries of peace and plenty, meaning that people feel less motivated to vote because less is at stake (and that is the truth, for, whatever the opinion polls say, climate change and Iraq and other issues of public-interest-but-not-votes are just not in the same league as the defeat of Communism or the combatting of high inflation and thirty years of economic decline); (b) the weakness of the Conservative Party in responding to a centrist-aspiring New Labour Party, and the consequence greyness of British political debate; (c) the implications of forces such as globalisation, greater use of markets, and the European Union, which have, on the one hand, reduced the power of all politics (far more of liberty-expression is done in the Market and less through voting (and this is a Very Good Thing), and at the same time moved what political control remains away from where it is voted upon (Westminster) and towards where it is not voted upon (European Commission, Bank of England, UK regulators).

The key one that we can change is the weakness of ourselves. The truth is, in my humble opinion, that there is no process magic bullet to attaining political engagement and votes. If we want people to vote for us, we have to animate them with our ideas and sense of purpose. "Process without a purpose" isn't going to excite anyone.

Tony Makara

I for one welcome the moves by David Cameron and the Conservative party in trying to take soundings from beyond the world of politics. Tony Blair did much to turn people off politics, he rolled back democracy and people, even Labour supporters, began to feel disenfranchised and felt they were locked out of the decision making process.

The problem with politics is that it only attracts those interested in politics. That is party political block politics. We need to move beyond this.

Most people outside of the political bubble are excited and galvanized by single-subject issues. So I feel they way to engage more people in the political process is through direct democracy. This could be done easily these days with computer technology to tote votes registered. Votes could even be taken on local issues at local town halls. All it would require is that every voter be issued with a special voting card that can only be activated by password. Such a card could be used time and time again.

The danger is that if we don't reach out and try to engage people beyond the world of politics then democracy itself becomes a closed shop, where only those in the loop, understand what is going on and decide on what is going on.


Votes could even be taken on local issues at local town halls.

Local ? I wonder what that is - we have 550,000 people and one "town hall"

David Sergeant

From the point of view of the Conservative party's lack of success over the last 15 years I would respectfully suggest that a main problem has been too much concentration on the 3Ps.

Given that people seemed to not like us we resorted to simpering grins and avoided arguments letting Labour and the Lib/Dems get away with murder. In the process too many Tories came over like Simon Heffer, particularly during talk of public services and money, which would put anyone off.

Often when a Tory leader put their head above the trench and came out with a media friendly idea, in short order assorted Tories would appear in a welcoming media declaring the idea as too simplistic or the process not being thought out. (The same people rarely said this when Labour came up with eye catching intiatives.)

Every six months when panicky Tories have decided there is a crisis the answer proposed is always policy changes. Debates on this site have nearly always been about policies, never how you sell the policy. "Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your door" is a business approach that stopped working when printing was invented. (Worse is the obsession with"clear blue water". Labour moved towards us for gods sake, they should be the ones with the problem. And moving further right is courting suicide, like the last three GEs)

The Tory party needs to professionalise its marketing, which means more centralisation (I don't like it either but the voters do) and, particularly, a change of attitude from M.P.s. They need to not only sing from the same hymn book but regularly be seen doing it. They need to forget their selfish clinging to safe seats and realise they are part of a corporate whole. That Labour manages to maintain its corporate image is the biggest reason for its success.


That Labour manages to maintain its corporate image is the biggest reason for its success.

I disagree

David Sergeant

I am afraid Tom Tom just saying you disagree is not very enlightening. I guess you are provocatively trying to start a debate, so, at the risk of having missunderstood you perhaps I can give two examples of what I mean.

Voters did not mind what Willetts said about grammar schools but they were put off by the fact that supposedly important MPs could assult their leadership with teenage tantrums, but, what really blew it is when the "rebels" claimed a U turn. It wasn't a U turn but for Tory MPs to claim it gives the party an incoherent image.

Also, the business about hospital closures. Lansley is sure he got it right enough. That it looks as if he hadn't and damaging stories are circulating does not seem to bother him. He was right, never mind the party image.

My point is that the two incidents are, whatever you think of the policies and the other Ps, a question of corporate image as far as voters are concerned.

Grammar boy

David Sergeant wrote "Voters did not mind what Willetts said about grammar schools".

Utter rubbish. It has cost Cameron the votes of a dozen ex-grammar school pupils in my family. The polls suggest that voters minded too. The delusions of some posters here are amazing.


Voters did not mind what Willetts said about grammar schools but they were put off by the fact that supposedly important MPs could assult their leadership with teenage tantrums

I know of Labour voters who only voted Conservative because of their loathing of Labour education policy and Conservative support of Grammar Schools - you see Grammar Schools were the hope in The North. You take Bradford which has no State Grammar Schools and is 133rd out of 148 LEAs in England....and North Yorkshire which is 13th and has State Grammar Schools.

It was a touchstone issue for many who found nothing else about the Conservatives attractive but that one policy.

David Sergeant

Sorry to disagree Grammar Boy (I'm a grammar boy too) you might get a majority of people saying they like grammar schools but only a small minority when you ask for support for the 11 plus. I really don't understand you, for 18 years with a Tory government encouraging grammar schools there was only one very failed attempt to set one up. Sorry, 18 years says it is you talking utter rubbish. Please come to terms with the voters and educationalists.

Grammar Boy

David Sergeant obviously does not live in Kent, Bucks or Trafford where grammar schools are valued by parents. The 11 plus keeps the hoodies out and therefore combats bullying and drug abuse.

I can only assume that David Sergeant is on the Candidates List. Sadly for him, the Cameroons only want want Old Etonians, Oxbridge, wimmin and ethnic minority candidates in Parliament.

David Sergeant

"I can only assume that David Sergeant is on the Candidates List. Sadly for him, the Cameroons only want want Old Etonians, Oxbridge, wimmin and ethnic minority candidates in Parliament"

Never even put up for a council seat wack. Don't live in a grammar school area, just trying to be politically practical. I know, that's asking for trouble in the Tory party.

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