Conservative Diary

International conservatism

17 Jun 2013 08:18:13

Caveat emptor - Boris is not a standard issue Conservative

By Tim Montgomerie
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Boris Johnson is the only Tory politician to have won a major election in more than twenty years. He won in traditionally Labour territory. Twice. Once in the middle of a period of Tory-led austerity. His popularity with the general public is exceptional. The bounce he enjoyed after last summer's Olympics has been sustained according to a ComRes poll in yesterday's Independent on Sunday. He enjoys a favourability rating of 44% compared to Cameron's 23%. In the absence of a compelling alternative the Tories would be making a good bet in choosing Boris as their leader at some unknown point in the future. If the party does ever choose him as its leader it should go into the arrangement with its eyes wide open, however. As I argue in today's Times (£) Boris is typical of a number of centre right politicians who have prospered in normally left-of-centre jurisdictions... and that will upset some Tories.

4 heads

Boris is similar to other centre right politicians who've prospered in left-of-centre cities and states. He shares Arnold Schwarzenegger's relaxed approach to immigration and some of the former California Governator's greenery. Like New York's Giuliani he has the same commitment to abortion rights and full equality for gay people and minorities. Like the interventionist Heseltine - Maggie's minister for Liverpool after the 1980s riots - he favours grands projets. 

Continue reading "Caveat emptor - Boris is not a standard issue Conservative" »

7 Nov 2012 07:00:12

Five lessons for the Tories from the US election campaign

By Peter Hoskin
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We shouldn’t overstate the overlap between American politics and our own, but some lessons can still be wrung from the campaign that ended with Barack Obama’s victory last night. Here, briefly, are five for British Conservatives, although you might care to add more:

i) Demographic change means that parties ought to change. The traditional Republican vote — broadly speaking, white, Christian and possibly wealthy — is quite literally dying out. And in its place come new voters: young, immigrant and often secular. Many of these new voters will be Democratic voters by instinct, as in the case of the young voters who turned out more strongly than they did in 2008, and who split about 60-40 in favour of Barack Obama. But some needn’t be. George W. Bush tended to poll quite well among Latino voters, for instance, yet Mitt Romney has failed to match that example. As the Daily Beast’s Andrew Romano tweeted:

“In 2008 Latinos were 9% of electorate & preferred Obama 67-31. In 2012 they're 10% & pro-Obama 69-30. Rs can't win if that trend continues.”

The lesson is that political parties need to account for demographic change. As it happens, Paul wrote on just this topic — from a British Conservative perspective — on Monday.

Continue reading "Five lessons for the Tories from the US election campaign" »

16 Oct 2012 07:26:32

Justine Greening begins campaign to focus EU aid on poorer nations

By Tim Montgomerie
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This ConHome/ Save the Children video was launched at the Tory Conference. Featuring Boris Johnson and George Osborne it is confirmation that a broad range of Conservatives are committed to Britain's aid budget.

One of the weaknesses of that budget, however, is the way it doesn't always get to poor countries but is used for political purposes. Once often true of the UK aid budget it is still true of the EU development budget and new International Development Secretary Justine Greening is on a mission to change that. The Daily Mail reports that £784million of UK taxpayers' money that Britain sends to the EU aid budget ends up going to relatively well-off countries including Turkey, Iceland and Brazil. Reforming Britain's contribution to the EU aid budget was point eight of Lord Ashcroft's recent ten point development action plan.

Ms Greening commented:

"I don’t think it’s right that the EU still gives money to those countries higher up the income scale, when we’ve taken the decision to target the poorest. I’ll be doing everything I can to get other countries on board."

I'm hopeful that Justine Greening will bring a new broom to Tory development policy. The budget becomes much more popular - even with sceptical Tory members - when its practical benefits are set out. Ms Greening's determination to stamp out misuses of the budget should build extra confidence. She has already ordered a review into the high consultancy fees that some development groups receive from the DfID budget.

Continue reading "Justine Greening begins campaign to focus EU aid on poorer nations" »

23 Sep 2012 08:54:30

William Hague announces new British Commonwealth embassies to head off expanding European diplomatic network

By Matthew Barrett
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HAGUE WILLIAM officialEurosceptics don't always have cause to celebrate. The story likely to annoy the Conservative backbenches at the moment is the proposed BAE/EADS merger, to which David Cameron appears to have consented (£), which Eurosceptics rightly fear will stop Britain from having a world class independent defence industry, and instead empower the French and Germans.

William Hague has good - exciting - news for those who despair. Tomorrow, he will announce the launch of a network of new embassies across the world which will be shared between British Commonwealth nations, and which will seek to head off the creeping influence of European Union diplomats.

The Foreign Secretary is in Canada, where he will sign a diplomatic agreement to open joint embassies with that country, and he also hopes Australia and New Zealand will join the initiative. It's no surprise Canada should be our closest diplomatic ally: Prime Minister Stephen Harper has defended and protected the motherland's interests before - over the Falklands for instance.

Mr Harper has a proud record of being Israel's strongest defender at the United Nations, so he will be entirely aware of the pernicious affect international bodies can have. He will, I have no doubt, share Mr Hague's suspicions about the European Union's fast-expanding diplomatic programme, the European External Action Service, which is setting up offices in America and elsewhere, and seeks to sideline Britain's position as a major diplomatic power.

Continue reading "William Hague announces new British Commonwealth embassies to head off expanding European diplomatic network" »

3 Aug 2012 15:30:45

Whoever is the next US president it'll be good news for Cameron

By Tim Montgomerie
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Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

On the margins of the Olympics David Cameron has talked to US television about the up-and-coming presidential election. The British PM diplomatically declined to back Obama or Romney but his words about the current resident of the White House seemed margnally more positive. He described the Republican nominee, who he met last week, as “a very capable man.” On Obama, Cameron said “I admire him a huge amount and I enjoy working with him.” The Prime Minister continued:

“I will work with whoever the American people elect as your president, and I will be straight in there wanting to work with you because we’ve got so many things we need to do together.”

I'd argue that Cameron wins either way this November. If Obama wins, Cameron not only benefits from the continuation of a clearly healthy relationship but the mood music is an incumbent bucking the trend and getting re-elected despite difficult economic circumstances. On the other hand if Romney triumphs the world's most important economy is in the hands of someone who shares the Conservative leader's view of deficit reduction, free trade and labour market flexibility.

Intrade currently give Obama a 57.6% chance of being re-elected.

17 Mar 2012 15:36:08

Four conclusions about Cameron's 48 hours in Washington

By Tim Montgomerie
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The images below have kindly been supplied by Andrew Parsons/i-Images and must not be produced without permission.

Camerons Obamas Balcony


Political boost for Cameron: Remember all that talk that Barack Obama and David Cameron wouldn't get on? It seems a long, long time ago. Last week's visit to Washington by David Cameron (and most of his key advisers) couldn't have gone much better from a presentational point of view. Cameron was seen eating hot dogs with the Commander-in-Chief who - outside of America - is still a global pin up. Britain's PM got a ride on Air Force One. Most voters will have welcomed the two leaders' modesty on foreign policy compared to the boldness of the Bush/Blair years. We all got the opportunity to admire the very beautiful Samantha and Michelle. The visit reinforced the correct idea that only one party leader in British politics has a prime ministerial aura.

Cameron At Lecturn


A still special relationship: A lot of nonsense is spoken about the UK-US relationship but whether it's special or essential it's certainly important and after last week it is confirmed to be in robust health. We share so much culturally. Many British jobs depend upon US trade and investment (and vice versa). We co-operate militarily, diplomatically and on intelligence matters. One of the reason Britain matters in the world is that we are seen as the nation closest to Washington. The transatlantic relationship stands alongside our membership of the UN Security Council; membership of the EU; our place at the heart of the Commonwealth; a leading role in NATO; the world's fifth largest military power and, arguably, the best special forces as reasons why Britain still matters in the world... and why we matter to America. Whether America matters to the world in quite the way it did is another matter. Britain and France couldn't have fought the Libya campaign without US assistance but under America's 44th president there have been many photo opportunities but no progress on global warming, free trade or the nuclearisation of Iran.

Continue reading "Four conclusions about Cameron's 48 hours in Washington" »

26 May 2011 08:27:22

Dr Fox goes to Washington to pay tribute to the kind of president that Obama will never be

By Tim Montgomerie
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My favourite tweet of yesterday came from the Labour MP Jamie Reed:

Screen shot 2011-05-26 at 07.44.21

It's of course right that an American president gets the warmest of welcomes from the British state. Our countries are bound by so much history, so many economic interests and by a view of the world that comes from a shared belief in liberty... but Obama is no conservative.

Continue reading "Dr Fox goes to Washington to pay tribute to the kind of president that Obama will never be" »

4 May 2009 17:02:26

International conservatism

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