Conservative Diary


3 Mar 2012 12:44:20

Cameron says he's taking the tough decisions to build a stronger, fairer Britain

By Tim Montgomerie
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Tory strategists want voters to think of two words when they think of David Cameron: Strong and Fair.


Voters already think Cameron is making the tough decisions. I don't have the exact figures to hand but a recent YouGov survey found that more than FIVE times as many voters think the Conservatives and Cameron are capable of tough decisions than think the same of Labour and Ed Miliband. That's a huge advantage.

Where more work needs to be done is in persuading people that the Conservatives are building a fairer Britain. This, of course, begs the question what we all mean by fairness. In his speech to a gathering of 400 Conservative activists in London earlier, Mr Cameron gave his definition:

"A society where fairness is real... not a free-for-all that lets people do as they wish… but an expectation that all will play their part… where what you get out depends on what you put in."

No surprise then that welfare reform was at the heart of the Conservative leader's speech:

"For years, political parties have played a short-term game. Park people on sickness benefits and take them off the unemployment figures. Push people just above the poverty line – in the pretence that you’re actually changing lives. This approach might make your government look better in the short term but you have betrayed the interests of those you’re supposed to serve. We’re choosing a different path. We're making work pay. Imposing a cap on the amount of benefits any one household can take. We're putting in place real sanctions for those who don’t work. With us, it is simple. Something for something, not something for nothing. No one should be allowed to take this country for a free ride. But you know what I’m most proud of in these welfare reform plans? It’s not the caps and the sanctions – anyone can see they need to happen unless, of course, you’re called Ed Miliband or are a member of the Labour Party. No – what I’m most proud of is the action we are taking to get people back into work."

The Prime Minister went on to claim that in public service reform, spending restraint and economic reform the Coalition isn't taking the easy path...

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19 Jan 2012 14:50:35

David Cameron's moral capitalism speech emphasises free markets and the Tories' popular capitalist roots

By Matthew Barrett
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Cameron banking speechDavid Cameron's much-previewed speech on "moral capitalism" is not particularly heavy on grand policy statements. Any policies on boardroom/executive pay have already been announced - earlier this month, Cameron told the Andrew Marr Show that shareholders should get a binding vote on executive pay scales, and that boardrooms should be more transparent. This is comparable to Ed Miliband's position, which the BBC summarised a few days before Cameron's Marr appearance:

"Labour's measures to tackle high executive pay include increasing transparency by simplifying remuneration packages. Companies should also publish a pay ratio between the highest paid executive and the company median average - and the government could publish a league table highlighting the biggest pay gaps. Accountability could be promoted by putting an obligation on investors and pension fund managers to disclose how they vote on remuneration packages."

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12 Jan 2012 13:34:29

David Cameron tells The House magazine he wants to use the boundary review to select more women candidates in key seats

By Matthew Barrett
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HouseCoverJan12David Cameron, in the latest edition of The House magazine, has given an interview to Paul Waugh, in which he suggests the Conservative Party should use the ongoing boundary reviews - and the consequent Party selection processes - to push for more women candidates. 

Mr Cameron says: 

"We’ve obviously got a Boundary Review, which is a very big issue so I don’t want to pile another new set of issues on top of that, but I think where there are opportunities, new seats, entirely new seats where we hope to take on Labour, or perhaps some seats where people are retiring, we’ve got to ask ourselves, the party needs to ask itself the question, ‘what are we going to do to help keep pushing forward the agenda of getting more good women to stand for Parliament and to get into Parliament. That’s a conversation we are starting now."

On a similar note, Mr Cameron was asked "Do you still have the ambition to have a third of your ministers as women? Is that still viable?". He replied:

"I do. Look, I’m very committed to the progress of getting more women standing for Parliament, getting more women elected to Parliament and when in Parliament, making sure that we have more women on the front bench. Obviously we are in a Coalition and we have two parties and that changes the arithmetic but I certainly want to do my bit."

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2 Jan 2012 08:11:02

Britain is a "fantastic" country. Cameron's upbeat New Year message.

By Tim Montgomerie
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Here is the full text:

"This will be the year Britain sees the world and the world sees Britain. It must be the year we go for it – the year the coalition government I lead does everything it takes to get our country up to strength.

The coming months will bring the global drama of the Olympics and the glory of the Diamond Jubilee. Cameras and TV channels around the planet will be recording these magnificent events. It gives us an extraordinary incentive to look outward, look onwards and to look our best: to feel pride in who we are and what – even in these trying times – we can achieve.

Of course, I know that there will be many people watching this who are worried about what else the year might bring. There are fears about jobs and paying the bills. The search for work has become difficult, particularly for young people. And rising prices have hit household budgets. I get that. We are taking action on both fronts. I know how difficult it will be to get through this.- but I also know that we will.

We’ve got clear and strong plans to bring down our deficit, which gives us some protection from the worst of the debt storms now battering the Eurozone. We have gained security for now – and because of that, we must be bold, confident and decisive about building the future.

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16 Dec 2011 19:33:33

David Cameron: "We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so"

By Matthew Barrett
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Earlier today, David Cameron gave a keynote speech to Church of England members at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, celebrating the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

It was an unashamedly moral and pro-Christian speech. A flavour of what followed came in the introductory remarks, when Mr Cameron said "we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so."

His speech touched on some key themes, highlighted below. 

Firstly, the Prime Minister paid tribute to the King James Bible's cultural contributions: "Along with Shakespeare, the King James Bible is a high point of the English language... Like Shakespeare, the King James translation dates from a period when the written word was intended to be read aloud. And this helps to give it a poetic power and sheer resonance that in my view is not matched by any subsequent translation."

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25 Nov 2011 15:00:45

Gove's praise for elitism

By Matthew Barrett
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Gove IDCC2
Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, gave a speech at Cambridge University yesterday. The Daily Mail were very impressed with Mr Gove's speech, calling it a "passionate rallying cry for a return to traditional teaching values". I've highlighted below a few passages readers will be interested in. 

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20 Nov 2011 12:09:53

Thatcher tops league table of best Prime Ministers

By Tim Montgomerie
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Lady Thatcher has been in the news this week given the impending launch of the Iron Lady movie (watch trailer). In the latest YouGov poll (PDF) for The Sunday Times, voters installed Lady Thatcher at the top of the league table for best post-war Prime Ministers:

  1. Margaret Thatcher: 27%
  2. Winston Churchill: 20%
  3. Tony Blair: 9%
  4. Harold Wilson: 6%
  5. Clement Attlee: 5%
  6. Harold MacMillan: 2%
  7. Gordon Brown: 1%
  8. John Major: 1%
  9. Edward Heath: 1%
  10. Anthony Eden: 1%
  11. Jim Callaghan: 0%
  12. David Cameron: 0%
  13. Alec Douglas-Home: 0%

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19 Nov 2011 12:23:49

Is Cameron strong or weak? Imperious or dismissive? Genial or bland? Calm or equivocal?

By Tim Montgomerie
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Matthew Parris is at his best in The Times (£) this morning. In a beautifully written piece he argues that at some point soon the British people will decide about David Cameron as they decided about Margaret Thatcher and John Major. Despite lots of evidence to the contrary they decided she was the Iron Lady. They decided that John Major was "hapless" and grey. Mr Parris writes:

"From the philosopher David Hume onwards, thinkers and psychologists have noted the human brain’s predilection for finding — in apparently random or even contradictory data — pattern, form and explanation; a predilection for reading a sharper picture from a scatter of data than the scatter may seem to insist. Political news is composed of such a scatter. Are we to draw a lion or a crab in that night-sky miscellany of points of light?"

What do voters think of Cameron? Parris lists two groups of words that seem to apply to the Prime Minister:

  • A good set... "Breezy, smooth, imperious, confidence, command, sleek, superior, genial, unflappable, cool, relaxed, calm. These (many would say) are kingly qualities: the attributes of a natural leader."
  • A bad set... "Vague, waffly, dismissive, windy, inactive, unclear, “don’t know what he stands for”, equivocal, bland, blank-seeming: some of these are potentially weakness words, others more suggestive of genuine bafflement as to a leader’s intentions."

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29 Sep 2011 08:17:34

What is Cameron's offer to the poor? What is Cameron's offer beyond deficit reduction?

By Tim Montgomerie
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6192391070_a632b31cb0 The latest edition of the New Statesman may boast an image of Margaret Thatcher on its front page, covered with kisses, but the main essay inside is a call from Philip Blond - the self-styled Red Tory - to form a post-liberal conservatism that is every bit as radical a departure from the status quo as Thatcher herself delivered in 1979.

Blond believes that Cameron's vision of the Big Society is the answer to the current crisis. He defines the crisis as a collapse in the social infrastructure that lies between the individual and the state. He agrees with Centre Forum's Julian Astle that Britain has long been run by a secret, albeit informal, club of thirty liberals - Cameroons, Blairites and Orange Book Liberal Democrats. I can imagine Peter Hitchens nodding vigorously. This, says Blond, has disastrous:

"Social liberalism, in freeing people from their obligations to each other and from nearly all conceivable constraints on behaviour, preached the progressive consequences of choice in anything from sex to fast food. Meanwhile, the variant of economic liberalism we were presented with seemed to provide endless credit on the basis of endlessly appreciating assets."

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22 Sep 2011 13:58:59

David Cameron's real foreign policy

By Paul Goodman
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Cameron FCO

If all one knew of foreign policy was gleaned from institutes, think-tanks, centres and specialist events, one might well conclude that it is shaped by theory - by rational people gathering together to apply grand designs to the world.  It would follow that David Cameron's speech to the United Nations must therefore be seen in that way - as the product of the application of ideas to circumstances, judiciously weighed over time.  So it's worth looking back at the history of the Prime Minister's engagement with world affairs, from which today's speech has emerged, in order to work out whether or not foreign policy emerges in this considered way.

Cameron was drawn deeper into it after his patron, Michael Howard, became leader of the party and leaned on his former special adviser for help.  Iain Duncan Smith had backed the Iraq war enthusiastically.  No weapons of mass destruction had been found.  Tony Blair was in political difficulty as a result.  The inclination of part of the party was that Howard should proclaim that Britain should never have fought the war; that of another to disagree; that of a third part to believe that it would look weak to first support the war and then oppose it.  But there was agreement that the policy pendulum between isolation and intervention had swung too far towards the latter.

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