Conservative Diary

After Cameron

31 Jul 2012 18:47:00

Another sign of Boris’s growing self-confidence

By Peter Hoskin
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BorisHe’s astonishing, really, Boris. After having the Olympic crowds chanting his name, it seems he’s now going to pull off another remarkable feat: court Rupert Murdoch, in full view of the public, at the Olympics. It’s being reported that the Australian tycoon and his wife are guests of the Mayor’s at the swimming on Friday.

Team BoJo have been quick to point out that it’s a long-standing invitation, and that other guests will be present. But it’s hard not to read this as another example of Boris’s intellectual self-confidence. He is already the politician who stood up for bankers and attacked the 50p rate. Now he is the politician who is willing to sit next to Mr Murdoch.

Boris’s friends and opponents will be watching keenly — because if he can pull this sort of thing off, and remain popular, what can’t he pull off? There are, of course, a thousand obstacles in the way of him becoming party leader. But, thanks to the latest ConservativeHome opinion poll, we already know that he is the grassroots’ choice to succeed David Cameron. The blond tide is swelling.

Continue reading "Another sign of Boris’s growing self-confidence" »

2 Aug 2011 07:38:08

The buoyant popularity of William Hague

By Paul Goodman
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Screen shot 2011-08-02 at 06.38.59

This being the holiday season - or the silly season if you prefer - the Sun has a frivolous item today.  For further details see above, or follow the link to the story, which declares:

"Brits give party leaders an end-of-year savaging today - branding David Cameron and Ed Miliband SNAKES and Nick Clegg a SHEEP. And a YouGov poll for The Sun shows the nation is so fed up with the trio that it thinks NONE of them ought to have a holiday."

And so on.  But if you are read a bit further, you will come across the following:

"Of the three main parties' top 18 figures at Westminster, Foreign Secretary William Hague is the ONLY ONE to win a net positive rating."

And, yes, there is a doleful-looking Hague at the bottom of the page, coming in none the less at plus 11 in response to the question: "Do you think the following are doing well or badly in their current jobs?"

Continue reading "The buoyant popularity of William Hague" »

28 Jul 2011 08:11:24

George Osborne grows up

By Paul Goodman
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Osborne silhouette

During the mid-1990s, George Osborne tried to enter journalism.  It didn't work out and his future was uncertain, but he got out of his difficulties.  He was taken on by the Conservative Research Department, before being promoted to work as a Special Adviser.

His Secretary of State, Douglas Hogg, was engulfed by the BSE crisis, and the Conservatives were destroyed in the 1997 election.

But Osborne got out of that one, becoming William Hague's Political Secretary.

Hague was humiliated in the 2001 election.

But Osborne got out of that one, too.  He became the MP for the safe Tory seat of Tatton.  (He was fortunate that the independent MP for the seat, Martin Bell, kept his promise not to stand again for a second term.) By the 2005 election, he was Shadow Chief Secretary in Michael Howard's Shadow Cabinet.

Howard lost the 2005 election.

Osborne got out of that one, too.  Soon after the election, he was appointed as Shadow Chancellor, a post he continued to hold under the leadership of the man whose leadership campaign he ran, David Cameron.  In so far as anyone was Cameron's Director of Strategy, it was Osborne.

Cameron failed to win the 2010 election outright.

And Osborne got out of that one, too.  Soon after the election, he was appointed as Chancellor.

Continue reading "George Osborne grows up" »

24 Jun 2011 14:11:03

George Osborne's four laws of political success... as chosen by William Hague

By Tim Montgomerie
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George Osborne was Political Secretary to William Hague from 1997 to 2001. They have been close ever since with Osborne helping Mr Hague write jokes for his old News of the World column.

Last week the Chancellor celebrated his 40th birthday. Unfortunately ConservativeHome's invitation was lost in the post but we have learnt that William Hague gave the 'happy birthday speech' and set out what he described as George Osborne's four laws of political success.

  1. Law one: Work out, ahead of anyone else, who will be the next leader, stick to them like glue and become indispensable. William Hague remembered how, shortly after he became Tory leader in 1997 this young man appeared in his office, started drafting speeches and before he knew it, a certain George Osborne appeared to be writing all of his speeches.
  2. Law two: Don't just study your opponent's policies but get inside their minds by studing their deepest moral processes. Anyone who spends time discussing politics with George Osborne knows that he spends enormous energy examining the tactics of colleagues and opponents. One friend of Osborne recently noted that George Osborne had a high regard for John Bercow. Not for the Buckingham MP's beliefs or conduct in the Speaker's chair but quite simply because of his "genius plot" to succeed Michael Martin and the way he executed his plot with meticulous attention to the concerns of the MPs he needed to win over. A focus on character was certainly evident in George Osborne's tactics against Gordon Brown when they faced each other as Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor after 2005. Osborne decided that getting under Brown's skin and exposing his style of politics was as important as undermining his policies. By understanding how Brown operated the Tories were able to anticipate his premiership.
  3. Law three: If you have to take a risk make it worthwhile. Osborne is more tactical than strategic but when he makes a big move it tends to really matter... running to become MP for Tatton when there was always a risk that Martin Bell might stand again... announcing the abolition of inheritance tax... appointing Lynton Crosby to run Boris Johnson's 2008 mayoral campaign...
  4. Law four: Don't forget the first law, just because there are two others!

In his speech George Osborne joked that the most important reason for becoming Chancellor was to avoid going down in history as the man who was political strategist to William Hague.

23 Jun 2011 07:51:23

Looking forward to 2018 and the Boris versus George fight for the Tory leadership

By Tim Montgomerie
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It is, of course, absurdly early to speculate but we're allowed a bit of fun ever so often, aren't we? In yesterday's Telegraph Benedict Brogan looked into the distance and to the battle to succeed David Cameron. If all goes well we're looking at 2017/2018 when Cameron stands down as Tory leader after seven or eight years at Number 10. The expectation is that the two leading contenders for the Tory crown will be George Osborne and Boris Johnson. Let's take a quick look at their strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities...



  • If the economy is restored to health he'll be the Chancellor that fixed the British economy
  • David Cameron will probably give his friend unofficial backing in any leadership election
  • He is currently seen - by grassroots Tories - as the most effective Cabinet minister and the Tory Right are warming to him as the government's tough man
  • He has a loyal, impressive circle of ministerial and kitchen cabinet advisers including Philip Hammond, Greg Hands, Rupert Harrison and Matt Hancock
  • Has a good relationship with the newspaper editors and leading Conservative commentators including Matthew d'Ancona, Daniel Finkelstein and James Forsyth are Osborne-ites


  • If he beats Ken Livingstone again he will be a proven winner and a proven winner in London - where Conservatives often stumble
  • On crime, Europe, grammar schools and tax he voices the views of most grassroots Tories
  • He has a formidable team of advisers including Lynton Crosby, Guto Harri, Anthony Browne and Edward Lister
  • He's "Boris" - with a rock star image that transcends politics

Continue reading "Looking forward to 2018 and the Boris versus George fight for the Tory leadership" »