Conservative Diary

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Two must-learn lessons for David Cameron

Lesson1There are reports in this morning's newspapers that some senior Tories believe that the party's austerity message is the explanation for the Conservatives' modest decline in the polls. I'd like to see evidence for that. The Tories haven't come close to setting out tough-enough spending plans and that is why 73% of party members fear larger-than-necessary tax rises from a Tory government. It's at least arguable that a failure to say more about the broad strategy for reducing spending is causing the softening in the Tory vote. [I emphasise "broad" because it's not necessarily detail that voters want]. On Tuesday I blogged the PoliticsHome poll that suggested a very strong correlation between the weakening of the Tory position and the Europe announcement. It's vital that CCHQ does not choose the wrong explanation for the, I repeat, modest decline in our support.

LESSON2 The biggest event in conservative politics for some time has happened downunder. Malcolm Turnbull lost the leadership of Australia's Liberals - mainly because of his support for a very expensive climate change bill, drafted by the country's left-wing government.  Turnbull lost the leadership for other reasons, too, but this was the main factor. Scepticism about combating climate change is widespread in Tory ranks. Look at ConHome's polling of Tory members. Look at this week's Spectator. Read Charles Moore in today's Telegraph. Read the Mail's 'no more hug-a-husky' leading article. The next few years are going to be difficult enough for the Tory leadership without gung-ho policies on global warming. What we need is the kind of 'other-benefits environmentalism' that Greg Clark has so far been careful to advance.

Tim Montgomerie


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