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30 Sep 2005 01:30:49

Friday 30th September 2005


Commentators blog: Charles Murray on America's persistent underclass

Leadership blog: This week's Good Week, Bad Week analysis, Edward Leigh "likely" to stand plus "The Power Of This Blog!"

Platform blog: Ben Rogers argues that "If anyone can, Cameron can"

BBCi: "Right-wing Conservative MPs have published a list of policies they want the next leader of the party to adopt.  The Cornerstone Group is calling for a flat income tax rate of 22%, a renegotiation of EU membership and the repeal of the Human Rights Act.  One of the group's most prominent members - Edward Leigh - said the leadership contest had been "dull" and marked by "vague aspirations".  The group says Mr Leigh is likely to enter the leadership race."

Stanley Kalms suggests that he will resign if Ken Clarke becomes leader (Guardian): "We've been battling with his views now since we started the no campaign 10 years ago. He is totally unacceptable as a candidate."

UKIP (in hopeful tone): Ken Clarke leadership "a real possibility"

Security 'tight' for Blackpool conference - BBCi

David Davis promises to include gays in agenda -


Leadership: 67 days until the next leader of the Conservative Party is elected... and how Ken Clarke's poll advantage disappears in dynamic YouGov analysis.


"It's time for a completely new party" - David Cameron in The Spectator.

The Times describes the Davis and Cameron launches as "strikingly similar" in messaging: "David Davis and David Cameron began rival Conservative leadership bids yesterday with a near-identical message that the party had to change to win back power.  Mr Davis, the frontrunner, said that the party needed “real change, not just a change of management”. Mr Cameron said that as the contest’s sole moderniser, only he could be trusted to introduce a different culture and identity for the Tories.  Their language resembled Tony Blair’s in his conference speech on Tuesday, during which he urged Labour to renew itself, but both Tories denied that they were trying to steal new Labour’s clothes."

The Telegraph's quick Davis Vs Cameron comparison.

The Scotsman records the contemptuous reactions from different campaigns to each others' launches: "Listening to Cameron was like listening to some vacuous PR man - it was revolting, it was disgusting, it made me want to be sick," said one.  And Mr Cameron's allies retaliated with scorn. "Davis looks old and boring, and he sounds a lot like John Major," said one.  Another shadow cabinet member described Mr Davis as "truly loathsome"."

The Times: "Sir Christopher Gent, one of Britain’s most respected businessmen and a lifelong supporter of the Conservative Party, is backing Ken Clarke in the Tory leadership battle."

Writing in The Times Patience Wheatcroft leans towards David Davis: "Change for change’s sake is pointless. Looking younger, friendlier, more welcoming or whatever else Mr Cameron has in mind will not win votes from a country increasingly fed up with a leader who is intent on looking all those things, even if it means employing the services of a make-up artist.  What the next Tory leader has to be able to do is to convince the country that he — or she — can do better at delivering change, in the public services and in society, than has new Labour. On that measure, Mr Davis will take some beating."

Gary Streeter MP to chair the International office at CCHQ -


In an interview with the FT Liam Fox offers vision of US-style tax cuts.


Walter Wolfgang - ejected from Labour's conference tells his story in The Independent: "My case is not important. But what happened to me when I was ejected from the Labour conference - simply for a one-word protest during Jack Straw's speech this week - tells us there is something deeply wrong with the culture of our Government under Tony Blair.  We have been lied to about the war. But not only that. The party has been manipulated so that it has not been allowed to discuss the issue properly..."

Telegraph leader: "It has taken the European Union four and a half months to decide on sanctions against Uzbekistan for the Andijan massacre... The EU has the chance to compensate for procrastination at its summit with Vladimir Putin in London next Tuesday. The Russian president has moved swiftly to strengthen relations with Mr Karimov following the latter's decision to withdraw basing rights from the Americans at Karshi-Khanabad; enhancing Russian influence in the "near abroad" tops the Kremlin's foreign policy agenda. EU leaders should tell Mr Putin that support for the Uzbek tyrant threatens stability in a region of mutual strategic concern, and can only damage Moscow's relations with the West. The question is: will they have the guts to do so? Dilatoriness over the Andijan massacre does not encourage optimism."


Labour hold Robin Cook's seat in by-election - Independent.

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29 Sep 2005 03:48:22

Thursday 29th September 2005

Thursday_75pm updates on the leadership blog:

Crispin Blunt MP responds to's suggestion that Malcolm Rifkind's campaign team are encouraging DD supporting MPs to vote tactically for their candidate.

David Davis is confirmed as bookies' "hot favourite" and launches website.

David Cameron uses his website to clarify the direction and theme of his campaign.


Leadership - Liam Fox promises red meat to party's Eurosceptics with promise to pull Tory MEPs out of EPP


On the day that he and David Cameron launch their respective campaigns (see here and Sky News), David Davis uses a wide-ranging interview with The Times to say that he is open to bringing Lynton Crosby back into the Tory campaign team.   The Australian Mr Crosby has been a hugely successful adviser to downunder's John Howard but was a controversial co-architect of Michael Howard's unsuccessful 2005 campaign.

"To his fans he is the Tories' answer to Blair - clever, telegenic and bent on modernising his party. To his critics he is a ludicrously inexperienced, metropolitan toff" - The Guardian presents an extended profile of David Cameron

"Sir Malcolm Rifkind is considering throwing his weight behind Kenneth Clarke if he is forced out of the Conservative leadership contest, senior party sources have told The Scotsman."

A Telegraph leader welcomes Liam Fox's Eurosceptic commitment on the EPP: "Liam Fox promises to do something within his power as opposition leader this December: to withdraw the Tories from the European People's Party in the European Parliament."

Europe is an issue that concerns top Tory donor Stuart Wheeler.  Mr Wheeler threatens to stop funding the party if Ken Clarke becomes leader (see today's Sun). Mr Wheeler, a staunch Eurosceptic, gave £5m to William Hague's 2001 campaign.  Another Tory donor in the news is Lord Ashcroft.  Press Gazette notes his new book and its suggestions of "sinister and undemocratic" links between Labour and a Times journalist.


"Republicans should be worried about their White House prospects for 2008" writes Fred Barnes for The Weekly Standard.  He predicts that Hillary Clinton has "realistic prospects" of being America's next President.


British economy is weakest for twelve years - Independent, plus the World Economic Forum finds UK has droped further down the league of global competitiveness: "A survey of 117 countries published today found that the UK had the 13th most competitive economy in the world last year, a drop of two places from 2003. It was overtaken by Australia, the Netherlands and Iceland, according to the Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum, the Swiss-based think-tank." (Independent)

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28 Sep 2005 04:23:36

Wednesday 28th September 2005


Leadership blog - Ken Clarke moves into the prized slot of 'second-placed amongst MPs'


Five MPs sign a letter to The Times endorsing Ken Clarke.  Three of the MPs are 'new' endorsements and take Mr Clarke's tally of publicly declared MPs to 15 - overtaking David Cameron for the second-placed position.

The Independent interprets the rejection of Michael Howard's voting reforms as a boost to the leadership bids of David Davis and Liam Fox.

Also in The Independent, an editorial: "Michael Howard's effort to transfer the choice of leader to the parliamentary party has failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed. He failed to allow enough time to prepare for such a dramatic change from the rules only a few years old. He did far too little to garner and flatter his way to support from the key players in the party at large. He ignored the simple point that, while a change to election by MPs might suit those in the Tory strongholds whose seats were assured, it did nothing for the prospective candidates fighting to gain a seat, on whom the future success of the party rested.

A Telegraph leader welcomes Tory members' rejection of Michael Howard's disenfranchisement proposals and suggests four issues for the party to rally around: "First, would they shake up (and cut down) the public sector through meaningful tax reductions and a major localisation of power in health, education and law enforcement? Second, would they bolster family stability through fiscal reform - rewarding marriage, home ownership and saving? Third, would they reverse the trend towards Britain's involvement in the European state and so restore our status as an independent nation, trading with our neighbours but - across the range of social, industrial and commercial policy - governing ourselves? And fourth, would they work to restore not only Britain's independence but also its identity as a country at ease with itself, embracing the diversity of its population in a common sense of nationhood?"


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27 Sep 2005 03:21:23

Tuesday 27th September 2005


Leadership blog - The unnecessary, untruthful and expensive effort to disenfranchise grassroots Tory members draws to a close

Pritchard_1Platform Blog - Mark Pritchard MP urges the Tory Party to get off the couch and return to serious frontline politics...


BBCi and The Telegraph note that today is the day when we learn how Michael Howard's successor will be chosen.  The Times reports that Barry Legg's 'Better Choice' campaign may challenge the result of the ballot because it hasn't been independently overseen.

Ken Clarke may be unable to attract new parliamentary supporters but thirty unsuccessful Tory candidates provide him with a generous letter of endorsement in today's Telegraph.  The letter focuses on poll findings that suggest KC is most popular with voters: "As candidates in this year's general election, we represented constituencies that our party must win if it is to defeat Labour at the next election. The electorate is telling us that the Conservative Party would be mad not to elect Ken Clarke to lead it.  As recent opinion polls have shown, people of all ages and backgrounds identify with him. He would inspire trust and confidence in a way no one else could. Ken is the man, as our Labour opponents admit, whom the Government most fears. We are supporting Ken for the leadership of the party and we urge others to do the same."

Mark Steyn does not put much faith in those polls that suggest KC is the electorate's favoured choice: "You can't poll the future. So I wouldn't put much stock in those surveys indicating Ken Clarke is the People's Choice for new Tory leader.  A party out of power for a decade naturally finds itself somewhat short of household names, and, as one of its last surviving big beasts, Ken lingers vaguely in the memory, the genial stout fellow on the telly all the time back in the 1990s. No, wait, that was Mister Blobby. Or Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies. Hey, maybe they'd focus-group even better." - Telegraph.  Steyn thinks that Ken Clarke's views on Europe, Iraq, tax and the family make him the "precise opposite" of what the Tories need.

Ann Winterton MP, infamous for her rugby club jokes, is in trouble again after reportedly saying the UK was "thankfully a predominantly white, Christian country".  BBCi reports the Cheshire Racial Equality Council as saying Ann Winterton's remarks were "highly offensive".


"The Labour party should learn from the success of the Republicans in the United States and motivate supporters by building a broader cultural movement to embed its values, the minister for Europe, Douglas Alexander, urged yesterday." - Guardian

Tony Blair seeks three more years to 'complete his reforms' - Independent


Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, writes a letter to The Guardian arguing that the LibDems are the real threat to Labour: "Labour's electoral strategy must be based on realistic examination of the facts. Unfortunately, Liam Byrne's article (There aren't enough urban intellectuals to win elections, September 22) fails to do this because it does not examine to whom Labour loses votes. Byrne's argument is that only the Conservatives can win against Labour at the next general election, both generally and in the key marginals. That is true but it is also beside the point because the switch of votes from Labour to Tories is not the only possible, or, indeed, the main one. Labour's vote goes down, risking its ability to form a government, not because it loses votes to the Conservatives but because it loses them to the Liberal Democrats.  In May 2005 Labour's UK vote fell by 6%, but only 0.5% of that went to the Tories, compared with 4% to the Lib Dems. For every vote Labour lost to the Tories, eight went to the Lib Dems. To put bluntly, it is eight times as important electorally for Labour to prevent someone switching to the Lib Dems as to stop them switching to the Tories. This reflects the trend in British politics for the Tory vote to decline and for the Lib Dems to rise. The electoral conclusion is clear - the key battleground is to win back the voters who switched, or are considering switching, to the Lib Dems."


Saudi Arabia demands end of corruption probe as price for arms deal with Britain - Guardian

BBC newsreader Philip Hayton quits after 'personality clash' with makeover-TV-presenter-turned-newsreader - Times

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