Conservative Diary

Nation and patriotism

24 Apr 2010 21:00:00

Exclusive preview of the latest phase of the Conservative poster camapign

Monday will see the launch of the latest phase of the Conservatives' national poster campaign.

Earlier in the week saw the launch of this poster stating that the Conservatives would cut benefits for those who refuse to work and another highlighting Labour's jobs tax.

The latest four posters all project positive messages about what a Conservative Government under David Cameron has to offer and will appear on 2,200 billboard up and down the country from Monday morning:

Picture 4
Picture 5
Picture 6
Picture 7

Jonathan Isaby

22 Apr 2010 18:49:33

Help us to celebrate St George's Day tomorrow!

Boris st george's 4 Tomorrow, April 23rd, is St George's Day, when we can take time to celebrate England and all things English.

Last year ConHome noted the enthusiastic way in which Boris Johnson led the patriotic celebrations in London, whilst we also had some coverage of how Bradford Tories did their bit on England's national day.

I am reliably informed that Boris will again be out on the streets of London tomorrow flying the flag of St George and that the occasion will also not go unmarked by the party leadership, as the election campaign enters its final fortnight.

If you are a candidate or part of a campaign team and are marking St George's Day tomorrow, please help us celebrate on ConHome by letting us know what you are doing and emailing us your photos!

Jonathan Isaby

8 Apr 2010 07:33:27

Conservatives to put plans for National Citizen Service centre stage

DSC07289 Today the Conservatives are going to go big on the party's plans to introduce a new National Citizen Service for teenagers.

It all forms part of the Big Society narrative which David Cameron has been promoting of late, although the scheme has long been part of the Tory leader's vision for giving young people the opportunity to volunteer for community work.

It was mooted by Mr Cameron during the 2005 leadership contest and a party green paper was published on the matter as long ago as the autumn of 2007.

David Cameron will say that he hopes that the scheme would be "one of the proudest legacies of a future Conservative government".

It is expected to involve teenagers taking part in team-building outdoor activities, before attending a residential programme where they might find themselves looking after elderly people in their area and developing and running their own social action projects.

Finalised plans for the scheme will be announced at Mr Cameron's first major press conference of the campaign in London this morning, before he heads out of the capital for campaign visits to target constituencies. Samantha Cameron, meanwhile, is expected to be visiting social action projects elsewhere in the country in her own right during the course of the day.

Check back here later for further details.

11.30am update:

David Cameron, Michael Gove and Barones Warsi held a press conference this morning to launch the National Citizen Service (NCS), at which they explained what the scheme was all about, drawing on pilot projects which have already taken place.

Continue reading "Conservatives to put plans for National Citizen Service centre stage" »

6 Mar 2010 08:59:29

Gove will invite best minds to draw up a traditionalist core curriculum for Britain's schools

Gove470 Overshadowed by the furore over Lord Ashcroft's tax disclosure the Conservatives had dedicated the last week to their education plans. ConHome has covered some aspects of this education week including promises to restore confidence in 'A' levels, increase the freedom of Academies and reduce the inspection burden on top-performing schools and, yesterday, we noted Michael Gove's increasing warmth to the idea of private sector involvement in education.

Today The Times reports on Mr Gove's plan to overhaul the national curriculum and deliver a much more traditionalist curriculum. The Shadow Schools Secretary told the newspaper:

“Most parents would rather their children had a traditional education, with children sitting in rows, learning the kings and queens of England, the great works of literature, proper mental arithmetic, algebra by the age of 11, modern foreign languages. That’s the best training of the mind and that’s how children will be able to compete.”

Mr Gove plans to invite some of the greatest minds to help draw up the revised curriculum:

  • "The historians Simon Schama, Andrew Roberts and Simon Sebag Montefiore will be invited to write the history section.
  • The children’s writers Michael Morpurgo and Anthony Horowitz will be asked to advise on what books pupils should read, and Andrew Motion could suggest poetry.
  • Contemporary novelists including Martin Amis, Julian Barnes and Sebastian Faulks will be able to contribute views to the review, which will last about a year.
  • Mr Gove said he wanted experts, such as Baroness Greenfield, Lord Winston and Lord Rees of Ludlow, to draw up the new science curriculum."

ConservativeHome readers - who have long endorsed the centrality of the teaching of British history - will be delighted at Mr Gove's plans for history to be taught “in order". "It’s a narrative,” Mr Gove told The Times. “Guilt about Britain’s past is misplaced,” he continued and called for the nation's history to be celebrated.

This is terrific stuff and further proof that having Michael Gove as Education Secretary will be one of the best features of the Conservative government that this country so desperately needs.

Tim Montgomerie

> Mr Gove will be writing for ConservativeHome about his education agenda on Monday morning.

2 Oct 2009 08:33:22

Five hopes for the Tories in Manchester

As we look forward to what we hope will be our last Party Conference in opposition here is my checklist of five hopes for what will be achieved in Manchester.

Picture 19 (1) David Cameron needs a TV moment on the deficit: The next few years will require some painful budget measures. David Cameron and George Osborne do not need to spell out every measure that will be necessary but they need a mandate to take tough measures. They need to be able to say - credibly - that we warned the country that we would do these things and we are now doing them. The message should be framed as necessary to put Britain back on track; 'We are going through a tunnel but there is a great future for Britain at the end of that tunnel'. We need a clip from within David Cameron's speech that will be replayed on TV in the years to come as the truth-telling when David Cameron made it clear what was coming.

Sun Pledges (2) More concrete reasons for voting Conservative: It would be great to have another inheritance tax moment. That may be an unrealistic hope but we need some stronger policies for the doorstep.  In today's Sun - see graphic on right - David Cameron has set out ten positive changes that the Conservative Party will deliver. It's a good list but could be stronger. Pledges 3, 5, 7 and 9, in particular, need a lot more definition.

(3) An ambition for realignment: Labour may not be heading for defeat but for disaster.  Their reaction to The Sun's endorsement of the Conservatives was puerile (eg this and this). As Scott Colvin records on today's Platform there is now a nastiness to Labour. The initial years of Tory government are going to be hard work but there is a possibility for realignment of the whole of politics in the year ahead. I've addressed this before but a Conservative Party that take social justice and internet activism (which takes a leap forward today) seriously could raid deep into Labour territory. I'd like to see hints of that ambition this week. Lower taxes for the low-paid could underpin realignment.

(4) Education, education, education: Michael Gove's education policies are the most exciting ingredient of Tory policy but David Cameron has not made a big statement on education since the start of the year. In Manchester this week I'd like a sign that Gove is getting the 100% backing that his supply-side revolution needs.

(5) Patriotism manifesto: I've advocated a Shoestring manifesto of measures to ensure we deliver progress as a government without spending too much money. The Shoestring manifesto included ideas on democracy, social justice, the environment, media reform and patriotism. I'm hoping to see a particular emphasis on patriotism and a commitment to end the ignorance of British history. If you are going to Manchester don't miss Chris Grayling MP talking to ConHome at 9am on Monday on the theme of patriotic renewal. More details here.

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" »

27 Jul 2009 07:05:24

Shoestring manifesto (1): Let us transform appreciation of Britain and its history

It is increasingly obvious that the next Conservative government will have to make drastic cuts in public spending.  Rebalancing the books will be the task of David Cameron's hoped for premiership.  It may be that this exercise of national salvation will be enough to ensure re-election but it will also be important for a Conservative government to deliver other results for voters.  Over the next few days ConHome will be suggesting contents for 'A Shoestring Manifesto' - a manifesto that contains important policy changes that won't cost a penny.  We start with ideas on patriotism.

GoverningOnAShoestringBudge I've already trailed ideas on patriotism (and David Cameron has responded) but it's important enough to be repeated!  It's difficult to love your country if you know little about it and far too many Britons know very, very little about their country (click here).  The next Conservative manifesto shouldn't have patriotism as a theme for the footnotes but as a big idea.

  1. We should commit to transform the teaching of history in Britain's schools.  Frank Field MP has kindly agreed to write for ConservativeHome on this mission during August in a sign that this could be a cross-party endeavour.
  2. In transforming the nation's understanding of history we should enlist our public service broadcaster, the BBC.  The BBC's considerable skills could be used to produce high quality Sunday night dramas on the lives of the nation's great historical figures, including Wilberforce, Disraeli, Cadbury, Brunel and Adam Smith.  Donata Huggins has already blogged on this.
  3. We should consider a National Day.  America has 4th July.  France has Bastille Day.  Iraq recently had National Sovereignty Day.  Donata considered options earlier in the month.  David T Breaker has suggested Churchill Day.
  4. We should continue to celebrate British sport.  Jeremy Hunt MP will be addressing his commitment to British sport once he returns from his honeymoon.
  5. A final suggestion from me would be a thorough renewal of the nation's covenant with our armed forces.  David Cameron and Liam Fox have already given a lot of thought to this.

Chris Grayling MP, Shadow Home Secretary, will be addressing ConHome at the Manchester Party Conference on the subject of patriotism.  We will record his remarks so non-attendees can watch what he has to say.

Tim Montgomerie

Email me if you have thoughts for The Shoestring Manifesto.

25 Jul 2009 16:29:12

We Shall Remember Them

Last week we lost Henry Allingham. One week later we have lost the last survivor of the WWI trenches, Harry Patch.

David Cameron has just issued this statement:

"I was so saddened to hear of the death of Harry Patch. The passing of our last surviving WWI soldier marks the end of an era and is a reminder of the huge debt of gratitude we owe Harry and those he served alongside. The sort of conditions they experienced and sacrifices they made are difficult for my generation to even imagine. We must never forget them and we will continue to fight for the values they fought for.  My deepest sympathies are with his family."

Iain Duncan Smith had campaigned for a state funeral service for the last WWI survivor.  There were concerns that the family of that last survivor may not want such a public occasion but a national service to remember the enormous sacrifice of the generation that has now gone forever would be entirely appropriate.  Even more meaningful would be a renewal of the national covenant that sees our troops properly equipped and veterans given the very best care.

Tim Montgomerie

11 Jul 2009 11:12:12

CCHQ downgrades oak tree logo

Picture 11 Has everyone noticed how the Now For Change Union Jack logo seems to be muscling out the tree logo?

TORYlogoThe tree logo is still there but on election literature, and in placards it's the union flag image that is now most prominent.

Both Tory symbols have been strongly influenced by ConservativeHome.  Readers to this site suggested the Oak Tree as a party logo before the party unveiled its scribbled tree.  And I was recently told that the new image was inspired by something seen on this website.

I like the Union Flag image very much.  It fits in with the patriotism theme that David Cameron addressed yesterday and which Donata Huggins takes forward this morning.

Tim Montgomerie 

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