Conservative Diary

BNP and political extremism

27 Oct 2009 12:54:03

David Cameron reiterates Tory opposition to Tony Blair becoming EU President

Picture 14 I am just back from David Cameron's monthly press conference where he made several announcements.

Tim has already blogged on what Mr Cameron had to say about All Women Shortlists in response to my question about candidate selection.

Blair for EU President?
On the potential for Tony Blair to become EU President, he reiterated that he didn't believe that the EU should have a President and that he didn't support Blair in that role even if there is a President. If such a role had to exist, he would rather it were a "chairmanic" role rather than the "all-singing, all-dancing, all-acting" Tony Blair. He later said that William Hague had made the party's position on the issue of Blair clear and that he had himself always made his position clear whenever asked by visiting European politicians . The Mail's Quentin Letts asked what he thought a former leader like Blair should be doing. "I've got so many things to worry about, that what Tony Blair does with well-funded retirement is just too far down the list... I thought he was solving the Middle East? He could carry on with that for a bit."

On Lisbon, he repeated his previous commitment that if Lisbon comes into force, then new circumstances will exist and he would set out the position as to what to do about it then.

Looking at the disincentives to work
On the back of what he said at conference about marginal tax rates for the poorest in society, he said that some families' marginal tax is in fact over 100%, meaning that they would be better off on benefits than in work. He said that he was instructing George Osborne, Theresa May and Iain Duncan Smith to consider the disincentives to work created by the present benefit withdrawal rates and develop a "lasting and affordable policy solution".

Priorities for Government
On the basis that he wants people to be confident that change can happen under a Conservative government, he said he wants ministers to have "a clear idea of what they want to achieve and how to go about it". He has therefore asked every member of the shad cab to set out their reform priorities - "not a dream wish list or vague aspirations or vacuous pledge card promises" - but rather three, four or five key priorities for which he, as Prime Minister and the people could hold them accountable. With transparency being one of the most important things, he said that these priorities would start being published next week.

Peers' residences
Having led the way on dealing with the MPs' expenses issue, he announced that Lord Strathclyde has today written to all Conservative peers who claim expenses to clarify which is their main home.

Other issues which came up
  • He said he would not debate against Nick Griffin in an election leaders' debate - the debates should just be between the three main party leaders;
  • He said that the party will shortly be announcing two more all-postal primaries, as used in Totnes to select Sarah Wollaston;
  • He accused those attacking the new European Conservatives and Reformists group in Brussels as waging "a totally politically-driven campaign" based only on the premise that they don't like the fact that the Conservatives are now part of a group that doesn't go along with everything Europe does.  He dismissed the attacks on our sister parties and their leaders as "complete nonsense".
Jonathan Isaby

23 Oct 2009 22:00:17

Tories 13% ahead in post-Question Time poll

YouGovIn terms of the BNP...

  • The poll found the BNP on just 3% (compared to 2% last month);
  • 71% said they viewed the BNP negatively and 9% positively;
  • 22% said they would consider voting BNP and 66% say they would not do so under any circumstances;
  • 55% say the BNP has a point in saying "it wishes to speak up for the interests of  the indigenous, white British people";
  • 46% agree that "'Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, is not a genuine democrat: he would like to run Britain as a dictatorship if he got the chance'".
Tim Montgomerie

22 Oct 2009 18:36:40

Live blog of Question Time from 10.30pm tonight

Picture 7

22 Oct 2009 07:51:56

Tory and Labour "cowardice" on immigration is helping BNP, warns Nicholas Soames

Cowardice In an article for The Telegraph - jointly written with Frank Field - NIcholas Soames sets out the scale of the population challenge facing Britain and complains that the mainstream parties' failure to talk about immigration is a gift to the BNP.  Here are the two key quotes:

The scale of the challenge: "Statistics don't usually set the blood racing. But here are a few, published yesterday by the Office for National Statistics, that might shake you. In the next 20 years, the population of the UK will rise from 61 million to 70 million – and then go on rising. The bulk of that growth will be due to immigration, which will have added seven million – seven cities the size of Birmingham – to our population by 2034. In the next 10 years alone the British population will rise by four million."

A gift to Nick Griffin: "Gordon Brown's 6,435-word address to the Labour Party conference last month contained a mere 83 words about immigration. At the Conservative conference, David Cameron offered a mere 58 words out of 6,387. So much for the new era of honesty in politics. Politicians' failure to address what voters have always regarded as one of their top two priorities (the other is the economy) has opened the door to the BNP. Nick Griffin does not owe his opportunity to peddle evil views on tonight's Question Time to some faulty judgment of the BBC. His vote in the European elections earned it for him. And that opportunity only arose because of the political cowardice and irresponsibility of the two main parties – but particularly of the Labour Party. Poll after poll shows BNP support coming from ex-Labour voters who believe their party has deserted them on immigration, and failed to represent their interests as underdogs in what until recently was a country characterised by unparalleled prosperity."

Read the two MPs' full article.

MIGRATION WATCH UK Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch makes similar points in this morning's Daily Mail:

"Eighty-four per cent are worried about our population hitting 70million in 20 years or so, including two thirds of our ethnic population. Seventy-one per cent are worried about the impact of immigration, including 45 per cent of the ethnic communities.  You might have thought that the political conference season was the perfect opportunity for the main parties to address these concerns and suggest policies to tackle them. Yet immigration was hardly mentioned. What an amazing gulf there is between the political class and the people.  The beneficiary, of course, is the BNP, which has been left with a wide-open goal. Nick Griffin, due to appear on Question Time this evening, must be delighted."

Join ConHome at 10.30pm for a live blog of BBC1's Question Time with Nick Griffin.

Tim Montgomerie

Grayling-Red-Tie 10.15am: I've been asked to publish the section of Chris Grayling's speech from the Manchester Party Conference which referred to immigration:

"Ladies and Gentlemen. There are two other big priorities for a Conservative Home Office. The first is our immigration system. For twelve years it has been a complete shambles. Uncontrolled immigration. Widespread abuse of our student visa system. Human traffickers exploiting the vulnerable for profit. So let me make things clear today. A Conservative government will be robust in the way it controls immigration. There will be no open door to Britain. Instead we will have a system that treats people fairly and decently. That welcomes those who should be able to come and live here. Like the Gurkhas who have done so much for our country. But we’ll close the gaping hole in our student visa system. We’ll crack down on the traffickers. Britain will have its own, specialist border police force. We will set an annual cap on the number of people who can come and live and work here. I will not tolerate more of the chaos of the past few years."

20 Oct 2009 15:58:56

Britain's leading military chiefs sign up to James Bethell's vital campaign against racism and extremism

The Left are ill-equipped to fight the kind of extremism represented by the BNP. The Left are often embarrassed about British history and British institutions. Their war against poverty has been unsuccessful. Their policies on immigration are ineffective.

Margaret Thatcher showed in 1979 that a strong Conservative Party can ensure that extremism can be defeated. If the centre right is proudly patriotic, tough-but-fair on immigration and genuinely one nation in its social policies the racist extremists are left stranded with nothing but their poisonous and hateful racism.

I was very glad to help start the NothingBritish campaign a few months ago as a genuine small 'c' conservative attempt to oppose the BNP and other extremist organisations.  We launched with this video.  But it is my friend James Bethell that has taken NothingBritish forward and he is responsible for the double page spread in this morning's Sun that attacks the attempts by the BNP to use our military for their ends:

SunSpread The BBC reports on the campaign here.

I congratulate James on what he has achieved so far and am grateful for the military chiefs and soldiers who - in a non-partisan way - are backing this new effort to stop the BNP infiltrating Britain's greatest institutions. NothingBritish has a lot more in the pipeline. Follow it on Twitter and please bookmark its website.  If it is a campaign that you can help please get in touch.

Tim Montgomerie

14 Oct 2009 08:44:07

A job description for a BNP-beating Conservative

WARSI SAYEEDA NEW 3pm: CCHQ confirm that Baroness Warsi will be the Conservative panellist next week.

11.30am: It appears that Sayeeda Warsi will be the Tory rep. at the New Statesman is delighted: "I had been full of despair upon hearing the news that Bonnie Greer would be on the panel, along with the boring, uninspiring, middle-aged, middle-class white duo, Jack Straw (from Labour) and Chris Huhne (from the Lib Dems), and wondered why the BBC bosses and the three main parties seemed so unconcerned about the lack of a British-born ethnic-minority panellist or a British Muslim panellist to face off against the racist, Islamophobic Griffin." Read his full post.


Unlike Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, I support the decision to give Nick Griffin (an elected MEP after all) a seat on BBCTV's Question Time although I share his anger at the inappropriate slot given to two senior BNP activists on Radio 1 last week.  Bonnie Greer will also be on the QT panel.

Labour has decided that Jack Straw will be its representative on what is likely to be a ratings-busting edition of the Thursday night programme.

Who should be the Tory on the panel?  It's a question that The Times asks this morning.  The Times' answer is William Hague.  Citing his performances at PMQs from 1997 until 2001 and his more recent successes on Have I Got News For You?, The Times concludes that he is simultaneously "a safe pair of hands, but he can also throw a punch."  I don't quarrel with The Times' assessments of William Hague's strengths but I don't think we should honour Mr Griffin with such a senior Conservative. I think Jon Cruddas MP would have been a better choice for Labour but he's probably too much of a loose cannon for the Brown leadership.

I'd rather set out three ideal characteristics of a BNP-beating Conservative (applicable not just to Question Time but generally):

  • He/she should have a clean record on expenses. Expenses-gate was a massive boost to the BNP.  As with Guido, every story on the BNP website about MPs is illustrated with troughing pigs.
  • They'll be a 'full spectrum Conservative'. The BNP thrive when the mainstream parties appear to be indifferent to immigration, don't appear to love their country and focus their politics on swing seats rather than those communities most under pressure. The BNP couldn't flourish in a Britain with a pro-poor, tough-on-immigration and patriotic Conservative government.
  • Don't gang up on the BNP. The BNP love to present themselves as if the world is against them. A BNP-beating Conservative won't be afraid to bash Labour for its failures on poverty, immigration, housing and the broken promise to hold a referendum on Lisbon (the EU Constitution in all but name).

Whoever is the Tory representative I hope they'll spend some time with my friend James Bethell.  James is the driving force behind and he has spent more time thinking about these extremists than almost any other person on the centre right.

Tim Montgomerie

30 Jul 2009 14:29:26

Immigration and the BNP

Atlocover0810BIWRTLR How do you beat the Far Right?  (Not that I approve of that term).  It's a question asked by Catherine Mayer within the cover story of the latest issue of Time magazine.  She overviews the strategies...

  1. "Deny far-right leaders the oxygen of publicity? Tricky — they have a democratic mandate.
  2. Confront them? That risks casting them as martyrs, victims who tell unpalatable truths.
  3. Expose the racism that often underlies professions of patriotism? Well, yes, but that assumes voters choose far-right parties in ignorance of their views, rather than because they strike a chord.
  4. Steal their nationalist thunder by taking tough lines on issues such as immigration? This smacks of capitulation to the very ideas critics seek to defeat."

I completely disagree with Catherine on strategy (4).  Of course we don't match the BNP etc's policies but they are succeeding - in part - because they are addressing issues ignored by the main parties.

Continue reading "Immigration and the BNP" »

2 Jul 2009 08:59:08

A patriotic plea to David Cameron

Dear David,

I don't know if you've seen it but there's a very depressing survey reported in today's Daily Mail. This graphic captures the ignorance of undergraduates about their nation's history:

Michael Gove is quoted in the report as saying that he wants to "completely overhaul" the schools curriculum to restore a focus on knowledge and ensure pupils are given a proper grounding in science, maths, British history and literature (more background here). I really, really hope so. It's difficult to love a country that you know little about - particularly if alternative histories (imperial guilt etc) grow up to fill the vacuum. My second exhibit is the video below. In the video Diane Leech explains why she voted for the BNP in last month's elections. She struck me as a very decent person - sending provisions to our troops abroad and desperate to vote for a party that wanted to celebrate not just British history but also St George's Day and Christmas Day (rather than, I presume, some politically correct 'Winterval').


6a00d83451b31c69e201156f5db2e6970c-500wiHow did it come to pass that Diane Leech and so many other voters decided that the BNP was the only party that loves this country?   Boris Johnson has, of course, celebrated St George's Day in style.  Michael Gove is asserting a real interest in the teaching of our nation's history.  The Union Flag is now on all Tory election literature. Thanks for that and thanks for signing your pact with the Ulster Unionists that has made the Conservatives the only truly national party. I really think that one of the high points of your leadership.  Liam Fox wants to renew the Military Covenant. I'm convinced there's a big theme here that the party is underplaying. Just because Gordon Brown has used Britishness in a cynical way does not mean that there isn't something real here. I'd love to see patriotism as a big part of our manifesto and a big theme of our Manchester Party Conference.  Could you make it happen?  And there's nothing more important within this narrative than teaching history.  Let me repeat (once more!) Iain Duncan Smith's words (from March this year) which I think summarise what should be the Tory mission for the next decade:

"At the end of the Thatcher years Britain was transformed. Europe’s sickest economy had become its strongest. The recipe had been low taxes. Simple taxes. Effective regulation. Privatisation. Free trade. Reform of the trade union movement. Intolerance of inflation.

They were necessary things to have done and I don’t say that lightly. They saved Britain from terminal economic decline.

 But somehow they didn’t create a nation that was quite at ease with itself. Margaret Thatcher knew that herself and used her memoirs to regret that she hadn’t been able to initiate ‘Social Thatcherism’.

As we rebuild our economies from today’s tough times we are going to need simpler taxes and open markets but the lesson of the 1980s is that those things won’t be enough.

When the next period of conservative government ends I want the British people to remember us for other things too. For helping parents to stay together and to spend more time with their children. For a nation where every one has a second chance. For building schools that reinforce the values of the home. For respecting and nurturing the skill of craftsmen. For protecting woodland and other habitats of rich natural beauty. For helping a new generation to understand their country’s history.

That’s the conservatism that will help make my country strong and contented again."

Thanks for reading this.

Best wishes,


Tim Montgomerie

16 Jun 2009 17:13:01

Eric Pickles warns that BNP could become a "very serious force" which "must be confronted"

Eric Pickles Party chairman Eric Pickles spoke at a Westminster Press Gallery lunch today and it is remarks which he made about the BNP have attracted the most attention.

According to the BBC report, he revealed that the Tories had "collaborated with Labour to take on the BNP at the recent elections - by making sure they stood candidates in areas where they were expected to do well and tipping Labour off when it was felt they were gaining support".

Yet he apparently accused Labour of "student politics" and "dog whistle tactics" for having put out contradictory messages on immigration to the electorate and Labour supporters.   

But his main message was that the mainstream parties had to confront the BNP:

"They are going to be a very serious force in British politics and the mainstream political parties have got to get their act together and start confronting them. We have got to start working in those areas where they have got contact, harder than we have ever worked before. That's the way you are going to defeat the BNP - you have got to take the BNP on. They have filled that vacuum which Labour retreated from so long ago."

Jonathan Isaby

> Before the European Elections ConHome launched 'There is nothing British about the BNP'. It will be developed in the weeks ahead.

15 Jun 2009 20:44:23

How low can Labour go?

Labour HQ is sending out recruitment emails which bracket the Conservative Party with the BNP.

A recruitment letter passed to ConHome quotes "Brendan from Durham" explaining why he joined Labour:

“You can’t ride the fence when the Tories and BNP are gaining power.”

Harriet Harman signs the letter.

After the last week's dishonesty from Brown we now have this despicable tactic.

Tim Montgomerie