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30 Sep 2007 00:07:56

Sunday 30th September 2007

11.45pm ToryDiary: Ten quick observations from day one

3pm ToryDiary: Campaign north is making progress

12.15pm ToryDiary: Hague - You're no Margaret Thatcher, Mr Brown

9.30am ToryDiary: Highlights of David Cameron's interview with Andrew Marr


Selous Platform: Andrew Selous outlines ten pro-family policies

Columnist: Graeme Archer's Diary

Blog of the week

The blog of the Sky News political team is our blog of this week.

After yesterday's promise for help for two parent families...
The party announces plans to help first-time homebuyers

"The Conservative Party conference is due to get under way in Blackpool with a pledge that the Tories would abolish stamp duty for most first-time buyers.  Amongst a raft of new policies, leader David Cameron is expected to say that he would scrap the tax for first-time buyers on homes worth under £250,000." - BBC

"Conservative policies should resonate more loudly with ordinary people: there are few who do not share the fundamental Conservative instinct that individuals, rather than state officials, are best equipped to make the decisions which affect their own future. Mr Cameron must stress this core Conservative vision much more forcefully, while persuading voters of Mr Brown's failures. If he does, he might yet win." - Telegraph leader

Cameron urges Gordon Brown to stop dithering on Election timing

"David Cameron this weekend challenged Gordon Brown to “stop dithering” and call a general election as the Tory leader unveiled radical tax-cut plans ahead of a make-or-break party conference in Blackpool... “He should stop dithering,” Cameron said. “He’s got himself into a position where he either bottles it or he has given us a hell of a lot of notice of his intentions. We’ve had lots of time to hunker down and plan the election, which has been good. The machine is really ready for an election.” - Sunday Times

Full transcript of David Cameron's interview - Sunday Times

Heseltine_michael Michael Heseltine urges strong attack on Gordon Brown

"He should also unleash the dogs of war on the record of Gordon Brown and his Government. Educational standards are a scandal. Housing conditions for too many people are sub-standard and a growing number cannot get on the housing ladder in the first place... David Cameron has been perhaps a little too nice; he should now turn his fire on Labour's record of failure over the past 10 years." - Michael Heseltine in The Sunday Telegraph

Caroline Spelman tells The Sunday Express that a large part of the Tory £10m warchest will be used to expose Gordon Brown.

Also in The Sunday Telegraph, Matthew d'Ancona urges the Tory leader to retain his optimism.

The Conservative Party has not had time to process the policy reviews

"Time has been Cameron’s worst enemy. The policy reviews conducted over the summer needed to be sifted at leisure to gain maximum impact and provide a suitable policy platform. Undigested, they have added to the confusion about what the Conservatives stand for. The Tory leader also needed time to reassert his authority over his internal critics after the summer squalls. He now has to do it at supersonic speed this week. His tone should be commanding, but not angry." - Martin Ivens in The Sunday Times

Sayeeda Warsi: People who vote for the BNP have legitimate views on immigration and crime

The Shadow Communities Minister's remarks cause unnecessary excitement at the Independent on Sunday.

68 Association Chairmen respond to small Mirror poll on prospects

"Of the 68 Tory chiefs who responded, only 46 per cent believe he will win if Premier Gordon Brown calls a snap General Election. And 54 per cent could not bring themselves to back the man they elected as leader two years ago." - Sunday Mirror

After Gordon Brown used a US speechwriter this week:
Are we seeing the Starbuckisation of politics?

"The Starbucks effect is being felt in politics. Political conventions are starting to feel like high street coffee shops, serving up the same formulas: the intellectual equivalent of tall skinny lattes for everyone." - James Harding in The Sunday Times

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

29 Sep 2007 08:52:48

Saturday 29th September 2007

8pm ToryDiary: Stamp duty promise for first-time homebuyers as polls show reduced Labour lead

4pm Seats and Candidates: Maria Hutchings selected for Eastleigh

3.30pm Seats and Candidates: Stephen Mosley selected for Chester

3.15pm ToryDiary: Play Taxman Pacman!

11am Columnist Cameron Watt: Shame of the NHS


Platform: Nick Vaughan previews the challenges that need to be met in Blackpool

Interviews: Pauline Neville-Jones answers your questions

Brown enjoys large opinion poll leads after his Party Conference

"A special Populus survey for The Times gives Labour a double-digit lead, meaning that the Conservatives will arrive in Blackpool tomorrow for their make-or-break conference more convinced than ever that an election is imminent. A second poll, carried out by YouGov for The Daily Telegraph, shows a similar lead. The Prime Minister will meet allies this weekend to consider his options." - Times

"The Conservatives are now trailing Labour by 11 points, a new Daily Telegraph poll shows, leaving David Cameron on the brink of a landslide defeat if an early election is called." - Telegraph

>> Yesterday's ToryDiary on the YouGov/Telegraph poll

"After a good start, Mr Cameron has failed either to establish an attractive new identity for the Tory party or to re-establish its old One Nation identity. As YouGov's findings show all too clearly, a large majority of voters now see Mr Cameron as being as glib and insubstantial as Tony Blair had come to seem by his last days in office." - Anthony King in The Telegraph

"Close allies of Gordon Brown will tell him this weekend he will never have a better chance of crushing the Conservative Party after two new opinion polls gave Labour a huge, 10-point lead.  Mr Brown is to consult trusted advisers on whether to call a snap election but will not make a final decision until after he has seen the reaction to David Cameron's closing speech to the Tories' conference in Blackpool on Wednesday." - Independent

What can David Cameron do?

A Sky News feature highlights the elimination of dissent, policy clarity and strong leadership.

The Guardian suggests that Shipley's experience may have trailblazed a comeback trail for the Tories.

Do the Tories lack courage and consistency?

A leading article in The Guardian accuses George Osborne of "cowardice" on green taxation

A leader in The Times attacks the "vacuous" Tories

"What will the Tory party believe in next week, we might ask? Or next month? If you were to be taken in by Little George's drivelling hypocrisy, and were to vote for them, what do you imagine you would get? How quickly would they revert to another brand of Toryism?  One reason why Thatcherites like me respected Ian Gilmour, who died last week, was because he had the integrity to stick to his principles, whatever the consequences. The Tory party is now short of men and women of honour, and my God it shows." - Simon Heffer in The Telegraph

Blackpool 'Policy blizzard' expected in Blackpool

"With Mr Brown this weekend meeting allies over the timing of an election, Mr Cameron and his team are planning to calm Tory nerves with a blizzard of policy announcements for each day of the conference in Blackpool. The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is expected to deliver a video conference call to the Winter Gardens tomorrow before Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York, speaks." - Independent

Family tax promise to be financed by welfare crackdown

"David Cameron has put families at the heart of Tory policy by announcing a tax break for couples bringing up children.  The Tory leader's radical plan is designed to end the benefits anomaly which penalises parents who stay together.  An estimated 1.8million families would be up to £2,000 a year better off under the proposals, to be announced formally next week.  And the £3billion cost would be met by a crackdown on workshy benefit claimants, including "aggressive" penalties for those who turn down jobs and the privatisation of welfare-to-work programmes." - Daily Mail

BMA unhappy with Tory plan to renegotiate GPs' contracts

"The Conservatives on Saturday promise to renegotiate the family doctors’ contract to make them responsible for out-of-hours care and extended opening hours, as David Cameron underlines again that the National Health Service is his party’s “number one priority”... The British Medical Association accused the Conservatives of wanting “to turn the clock back” by restoring to GPs the responsibility for out-of-hours cover that their new contract removed from them in 2004. The answer lay in primary care trusts funding the service properly and not trying to find “even cheaper private companies to run it”, says Dr Laurence Buckman, who chairs the BMA’s GP committee." - Financial Times | BBC

The more voters see David Cameron, the more they'll like him

"The Principal Opposition, and its activists countrywide, who converge on Blackpool this weekend in an uncertain mood, should steady themselves and take heart. In David Cameron they have a leader who is not pretending to be something he isn’t, and whom the voters will not like less as they know him more. He and they stand for ideas and instincts that a country heading dangerously into the red needs badly. They face a Labour manifesto that if taken seriously would be unaffordable; an incumbent Prime Minister to whom there is less, intellectually, than the nation has yet tumbled; and who is emotionally the opposite of what he pretends. All the voters need to do is find Brown out, and all the Conservative Party needs to do is help them. Reality is on their side." - Matthew Parris in The Times 

David Davis interview

Davisinterview "Thanks to the leadership contest in which he was defeated by Cameron, we know that Mr Davis’s own agenda would be radically different: tax cuts, grammar schools, patient passports. So did he now agree with Tory policy in those areas? “Ronald Reagan once said, talking about the tensions and debates that go on inside parties, you know, if somebody agrees with you 80 per cent and disagrees with you 20 per cent, he is an 80 per cent friend and 20 per cent SOB. And I agree with that. You know, these people, I agree with the vast majority of what we are doing and where there are disagreements they are minor." - Times

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

28 Sep 2007 08:55:29

Friday 28th September 2007

9.45pm ToryDiary: Another 11% Labour lead

Worldcup7.15pm ToryDiary: Has James Purnell faked photos before?!

5.30pm ToryDiary: Tories will pledge abolition of inheritance tax and Thoughts on next steps for 'core vote' issues...

4.30pm CF Diary: New Youth Development Manager appointed

3.30pm ToryDiary: Thoughts on next steps for modernisation...

12.45pm ToryDiary: "All passes have been cleared by the police"

11am PlayPolitical: Hazel Blears and the Conservative cookies

10am Seats and candidates: John Bercow readopted last night

ToryDiary: New Tory assertiveness and local by-election results may sow new seeds of doubt in Brown's mind

Owen_patersonPlatform: Owen Paterson MP writes a diary of his trip to the US and Dana Peters describes the Conservative Group for Europe

TheWrongMan: Brown's neglect of British farming

Columnists: Theresa May details how Brown's speech was nothing more than a rehash

A balanced, coherent vision

Interview with George Osborne - Telegraph

"David Cameron is preparing to move to core Tory policies on tax, marriage and crime and style himself as an heir to Margaret Thatcher - not Tony Blair. In a shift that will see him distance himself from green tax proposals, the Tory leader will use next week's crucial conference to try to reinvigorate his leadership before a possible snap election." - Telegraph

"David Cameron should open up his close-knit circle of advisers. He and his team need to continue on the path they have set out, but to widen its appeal to those who have felt excluded. This doesn't mean a reversion to the ''core vote strategy", but it does mean expounding on core principles a little more often and a little more volubly." - Iain Dale in the Telegraph

"Our interview today with George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, suggests the Tories are attempting to construct a balanced policy platform that maintains David Cameron's commitment to the political centre, where he believes elections are won and lost, while reassuring the Tory core that a party leadership with which many activists still feel uncomfortable remains committed to traditional values." - Telegraph leader

The power of oratory


"Mr Brown may be good at steadying a nervous, unsure country and convincing the voters that only he can deal with the dangers ahead, but to those who could be bothered to listen, he sounded pedestrian, pessimistic and patronising. Mr Cameron needs to show that he can inspire confidence in being British again and that we should be an optimistic nation, excited by the future. He needs to find the words to build his version of the Great Communicator Ronald Reagan's shining city by the seaside in Blackpool next week." - Alice Thompson in the Telegraph

Labour still doesn't understand the forces

"Des Browne has blown his only excuse for the state of the Armed Forces: not understanding them. But what minister who understands the Forces could cut manpower and force an infantry reorganisation in the middle of two bloody campaigns like Iraq and Afghanistan? His inability to wrest money from the Chancellor is not surprising. When the Prime Minister spoke the day before, there were not two complete sentences on the Forces." - Allan Mallinson in the Telegraph

Balls' attack on Tory toffness

"It suited the minister's purposes to pretend that the Tory leader believes so firmly in "privilege" that he wants to build new grammar schools. If only! In fact, he is so conscious of being upper-class - and so terrified of being thought to favour anything that smacks of elitism - that he refuses to throw his weight behind selective schools." - Tom Utley in the Daily Mail

Toynbee: Cameron should be a martyr for his progressive instincts

"if he ends up as the Neil Kinnock of the Tory party that's a noble role for which he too would be remembered with admiration by his party when he is old and grey. But if he turns back to the dark side, he will join his last four leaders in the dustbin of history." - Polly Toynbee in the Guardian

Election depends on Tory conference bounce

"Gordon Brown will see how David Cameron performs at the Tory rally next week before deciding on a November 8 election. The Prime Minister will call a vote if he thinks Conservatives are tearing themselves apart in Blackpool. He will today study polling data with key lieutenants in a Downing Street war room." - Sun

Sam Cameron: a profile


"For a woman who has for more than a decade been the creative director of Smythsons, a fast-growing and increasingly fashionable design firm, one imagines the role of silent, smiling consort will be at least as galling as it ever was for senior QC Cherie Booth or the former top PR executive Sarah Brown." - Guardian 

"1998 ghosts returning to haunt the junta

"The faces of the protesting monks are exactly like those who were killed in Mandalay during the 1988 uprising, in which I was one of the participants and a witness to the massacres. Back then, truckloads of battle-hardened soldiers fighting on the front were shipped into the cities and told by their commanders that the monks and protesters were urban communists." - Pascal Koo-Thwe in the Telegraph

"The junta’s belief in astrology in part reflects the capricious weirdness of a peculiarly nasty regime, insulated from the rest of the world and divorced from reality." - Ben Macintyre in the Times

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

27 Sep 2007 08:52:13

Thursday 27th September 2007

Hiding_2 5.30pm ToryDiary: Brown hides behind the UN as Burma's protestors join the list of the peoples failed by the "international community"

5.30pm PlayPolitical: Clinton the robot

3.30pm PlayPolitical: Now we see the violence inherent in the system!

1.30pm ToryDiary: Hague wishes he entered Parliament 200 years ago

10.30am LondonMayor: Some quick reflections on the mayoral vote

LondonMayor: Boris wins 79% in mayoral vote

ToryDiary: Brown's not so big tent

Interviews: Any questions for Pauline Neville-Jones?

Columnist Louise Bagshawe: Vote Labour

Platform: Robert Halfon introduces Conservative Friends of Israel

Hntory127t £1m boost for David Cameron

"David Cameron was boosted by a £1 million donation from a businessman angered by Labour's failure to tackle violent crime.  Sports shop tycoon Dave Whelan has pledged to hand over the cash within 14 days if a general election is called." - Guardian | Yorkshire Post

The Telegraph has a profile of Mr Whelan.

Will the Tories behave in Blackpool?

"The Conservatives are in a febrile state, yet the possibility of an imminent election means a public civil war in Blackpool becomes less likely. Surely even the Conservatives can keep their mutinous instincts at bay if they sense that the following week they will be fighting an election. Here in Bournemouth journalists cannot wait for the drama of Blackpool after the forbidding unity on display over recent days. At the same time, cabinet ministers speculate mischievously about whether the next unofficial leadership contest for the Conservative party will get under way at that even stormier seaside resort. I wonder whether they will be disappointed." - Steve Richards in The Independent

Will there be pass troubles in Blackpool?

The Scotsman is reporting that journalists will have to queue for their passes... raising worries that the accreditation troubles of last year may return.

Osborne 'über-moderniser' interview

"George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, has distanced himself from Conservative “über-modernisers” and defended a decision to campaign on the issue of immigration.  Mr Osborne publicly revealed the tensions at the heart of David Cameron’s leadership in an interview on the eve of the Tory party conference in Blackpool." - The Times

Fraser Nelson - who was Mr Osborne's interviewer - is surprised at the fuss: "George was just stating the obvious, making it refreshingly clear where he personally stands in a party which is openly in the middle of a policy debate..."

Redcupch_2 ...Fraser was writing on the Spectator's Coffee House blog which has just had a facelift - Take a look!

The ToryRadio and the Henry Jackson Society websites have also been refreshed.

Parades for our troops

"The Government has bowed to pressure and urged local councils to give troops a proper welcome home... Gerald Howarth, a Tory defence spokesman who has championed the idea of welcoming local troops home, said he was pleased at the Minister's response.  Mr Howarth, MP for Aldershot, Hants, worked with Rushmoor council to put up banners in the town to salute those returning from Afghanistan." - Telegraph

>> Yesterday's ToryDiary: Tories in Hampshire lead the way in thanking our troops

"They were not responsible for the deceits of the Labour Government. They can't be faulted for the failure to find any Weapons of Mass Destruction, or the failure of the Pentagon to plan for the aftermath of the war.  They were sent out by our democratically elected Government to fight for what they honestly construed to be our good and our safety. Some of them have fought harder and longer than any British soldiers since the Second World War.  Many have sustained injuries more terrible than in the past, for the simple reason that modern medicine allows them to survive.  They are owed the thanks of all of us, and I am sure the public is more than willing to give it. " - Boris Johnson in The Telegraph

EU referendum campaign

100,000 people have signed The Telegraph's petition.

Mariella Frostrup - after appearing as a star turn at the Labour conference - has backed The Sun's campaign.

Jack Straw attacks Tory commitment to the Union

"David Cameron’s policy of "English votes for English laws" might seem like a neat and tidy solution to the so-called "West Lothian Question", the debate about whether Scottish MPs should be able to vote on matters only affecting England, but in practice it would lead to constitutional chaos and the break-up of the United Kingdom." - Telegraph

Labour in Bournemouth

Brownheadline "Gordon Brown was accused last night of rehashing old phrases from Bill Clinton and Al Gore without attribution in his first speech to a Labour conference as Prime Minister.  An analysis by The Times has found strong similarities in both words and structure between Monday’s address and speeches made by the two Americans – both former clients of Mr Brown’s close adviser Bob Shrum."

>> This Danny Finkelstein story was blogged on TheWrongMan yesterday.

"Home owners and "have-a-go heroes" defending themselves against burglars and muggers will have greater protection from prosecution, under an urgent review of the law to be unveiled by Jack Straw today." - Telegraph

BrownqaQuentin Letts yawns through Gordon Brown's Q&A: "He talked and talked and talked, about Darfur, citizens' juries, 'York-shyre' and unlocking everyone's talents. The conference fell asleep.  It was all an exercise in spin, the very thing of which Labour's attack hounds accuse David Cameron.  Mr Cameron, however, might have made it all rather more suave and self-deprecating. He might at least have left women thinking, 'hmmn, nice haircut.'  Mr Brown just left them thinking, 'zzzzzzzz.'" - Daily Mail

We can't be bothered to love or loathe him - Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail reflects on how quickly the nation has forgotten Tony Blair.

Please use this thread to highlight other interesting news and commentary...

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