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Tony Makara

The Conservative party is always portrayed as being very discriminatory against those on welfare. Particularly single mothers. This is an area where the party is still losing many votes. The fact that the party is going to continue Labour's policy of trying to drive the disabled into work that largely doesn't exist is going to cost even more votes.

No-one objects to a more assertive policy with regards to JSA claimants, that is the regular unemployed, and the Conservative policy of expecting people on JSA to take work that is available is fair. However the party must understand that its policies aimed at single mothers and the disabled is seen as very unfair and will cost votes.


The leadership was correct too. Well done them for standing their ground.

Andrew Lilico

In my view, decontamination should only ever have been about style, not policy. Past policies that needed changing should have been changed, not denounced.

Tony Makara

Andrew Lilico, style is certainly a big factor. The fact that certain Conservative MPs would lecture single mothers on 'lifestyle' was very damaging. Particularly in view of the fact that most single mums do not chose to be single mums but either have a boyfriend who doesn't stick by them or they become a single mother after a marital breakdown. Incidently I believe 45% of marriages end in divorce, so are all the single mums resulting from that chosing a lifestyle? Of course once one politician comes out and makes disparaging comments about single mothers others join in with the kicking. This is bad PR of the worst kind. The sort of thing that led to the landslide defeat in 1997.

Moral minority

The Editor missed the commitment to "share the proceeds of growth", i.e. increase tax revenue in real terms, and to match Labour spending plans.

If Brown had had the Balls (sic) to call a general election in September, he would have won a decent working majority. Cameron has merely benefited from Brown's bottling and the incompetence over Norther Rock and missing data.

The real effect of "decontamination" has been to drive away thousands of traditional Conservative activists. They were educated at grammar schools, ran their own businesses and believed in meritocracy rather than PC quotas. The decontamination strategy was an attack on their values and principles so they have left the Party.

The long-term effect will be disastrous. Local associations in target seats are struggling financially, merging offices to save costs. Candidates don't have enough activists to deliver their leaflets and knock on doors.

If Labour is able to recover from Brown's terrible last quarter this year, the true effect of decontamination will be the loss of key target seats that would have been won if the traditional Conservatives had stayed on.

Sean Fear

To my mind, "decontamination" implied a lack of self-confidence, and far too much willingness to accept that our opponents' criticims of us had been right all along.

IMHO, it nearly proved fatal to the party, and culminated in the row over grammar schools in the Summer.

However, I do believe that there is a better balance now, in terms of both policy and style.

Michael Rutherford

Sean Fear, what are you talking about here: "IMHO, it nearly proved fatal to the party, and culminated in the row over grammar schools in the Summer."

After 15 years of argument over the European Union, do you honestly believe that the resignation of one minor front bencher with no career prosepcts was really significant? Yes, there were a few members upset about grammar schools. But speaking in terms of the local associations I campaign for, we lost no ACTIVE members as a result.

Nearly fatal, I think not.

While I'd agree that decontamination had to be more about style than policy, I think that's actually what it is. All we have lost is our most extreme and reactionary policies. It's been a massive success, I don't think there can be any doubt.

Tony Makara

When a party loses three elections back-to-back it has to realign its strategy. No individual and no organization is perfect. There is always room for improvement. Many young people are attracted to the party's social and environmental policies, these are the voters who will be deciding elections in the decades to come. Bringing them into the fold is vital. I believe most people in Britain support Conservative fundamentals, but many have been put off by the way the party has presented itself in the past. It really is as simple as getting the message right. A Conservative party that preaches "Look for a job or we will stop your benefit" is a turn-off, whereas a Conservative party that says "We will help you to find work so that you can have a decent life" sounds much better.

David Belchamber

Yes, a change of style was very necessary; I think that Michael Howard was correct with his key points (Controlled immigration, cleaner hospitals etc) and I wish in many ways that he was going to head up a government department when we get in.
Some changes in policy (such as the grammar school issue) were handled very badly and insensitively but, having said all that, we have more than turned the corner.
What we need now, apart from more policies, is to prepare for government and there was a very sensible suggestion from Ian Martin in the Telegraph last Thursday in which he suggested the creation of a "staff college" for the shadow government, since the tories are less prepared for government, in terms of experience, than at any time since the war. Martin suggested drafting in retired grandees from the civil service and former cabinet ministers.
Well worth consideration. Happy Christmas.


It does not matter in the long run whether you believe that under Cameron the Tories have been decontaminated or contaminated. In the long long if England, its culture and inheritance is to survive as we know it, the electorate will come to realise that it will have to vote for politicians who advocate some of the policies that are the held in common by UKIP, BNP and the English Democrats; some have started to realise it - they are known as Traditional Conservatives - in point of fact they have never changed. The Tories whether they are "Modernisers", "Progressives", "Decontaminated"or contaminated with Lib/Dimmery will be irrelevant to the needs of England, unless Cameron turns out to be a Right-wing conservative - who knows (no-one).
And on that happy note we, hopefully, can all look forward in the future to a, genuine (none of this Lib/Dim "Progressive" stuff) Conservative New Year.
Happy Christmas everyone.

David Sergeant

It is worth wondering why "decontamination" was necessary when the electorate liked our policies. As the point has been made, it's how you say it. E.g. I doubt if any sensible, or decent, person would want to be associated with a party supported by "moral majority". So, for example;-

Stick up for the party. I personally think Black Wednesday could be sold positively but no attempt was made to put a positive party view. How many Tory supporters thought "I won't bother voting this time if they can't be bothered to defend themselves"? And what story are the poor slobs doing all the hard work supposed to give out at the doors? And, unbelievably, we end up with Brown taking the credit for the result!

Be persistent. It's no good making a point and then moving to the next one. E.g. having a brilliant start at the last GE about dirty hospital, it wasn't carried on to clobber Labour's management of the NHS by drawing attention to the low priority target for hospital cleanlyness. Even now we have individual shadow spokesmen scoring quick points about lost discs without anyone drawing attention to how this demonstrates that Labour have wrecked the Civil Service organisation. (As a final thought the Telegraph education increased spending statistics for the highest Labour authority are still less than the Conservative government's increases.)

I could another 20 examples, but won't. Happy Christmas.

Matt Wright

Re Moral Minority @11.17. This is a misrepresentation of the issues. There are a tiny number in total terms of traditionalists who have left the party but the problems MM refers to (funding membership etc) are affecting pretty much all parties and indeed many organisations. People are generally not joining things or are leaving formal organisations. As to the sort of traditionalists MM talks about, I strongly suspect some would leave if there was any change and the insinuation that candidates can't get leaflets delivered because of this is truly laughable. In my experience these were often the people who had the "best" excuses when help was requested or were so old that, bless 'em, they couldn't help,


John Ionides


There is a real dilemma over e.g. single mothers, and I realise that you come down very strongly on one side but I think that you should also consider the other POV more generously.

At the level of the individual, the break-up (or should that be break-down) of a relationship that leads to single parents is clearly a distaster. When presented with two people who clearly no longer love each other or want to be together there is a clear case for advising them to go their own ways; they have one life after all, so why expect them to spend it in a way that is manifestly unfulfilling?

From the point of view of society as a whole, however, the position looks rather different. There is clear evidence that children brought up by two parents have, on average, a significant advantage of those raised in single parent families. And knowing how much time and energy it takes to raise a child I am not surprised in the least by this.

So we have a paradox. If we want to strengthen society it appears there is a case for strongly discouraging single parenthood; if we want the best for individuals it appears as though we should let people go their own way. Clearly these positions cannot both be true.

Personally I tend to come down on the side of wanting to maximise the strength of society as a whole. Now, you may well say that this is harsh on individuals, and to some extent this may appear to be true although I would say that the laws of mathematics are on my side. I would also see it as prioritising wisdom over intelligence - something we are remarkably unwilling to do.

One other point that warrents further investigation is how we resolve this above paradox. To my mind, the missing elements in this matter are modern expectations of relationships and child-rearing, combined with the de-socialising effects of modern lifestyles. One of my pet hates is the idea of "Mr Right" (or the "prefect woman"), which might be a romantic ideal but reinforces the myth of perfection that we all want to chase, and which neglects the need to work on and develop relationships.

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