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My Cameron has absolute power over these situations, his lead in the polls consolidates his positions, and also the popular news he is getting. The Right-Wing tories know that if they endanger Cameron's leadership the party will effectively destroy any chance in 2010, and devalue the party considerably.

Change to Win is what he said, and that's what he will do.

No vaguely critical press about Cameron is allowed to escape the focus of this blog. Despite his success you seem to be willing Cameron to fail and, in so doing, you are marginalising your position. I am very happy with what Cameron has done and am enjoying having a party that’s once again worth fighting for.

I thought the Mails leader was spot on.Lets hope 2006 brings some clearer policy direction than we have at the moment.But for a first few weeks as leader well done David!
Happy new year everyone!

These are still very early days and I am willing to be patient for a while, in the belief that Cameron is a real Conservative, and will keep to traditional policies. If he were to completely distance himself from those policies, then I would be very concerned, and I suspect a lot of others would too. The present low level of discontent should serve as a warning not to neglect core support. These are fascinating times.

Agreed Jaz. And I hope he sticks to his guns. Surely Hellyer, Maskell and Co recognize how far Cameron has taken us in the last few months in terms of electability? God knows I'm sceptical of some of Cameron's utterances, but I wish people would realise that sacrifices/compromises have to be made to gain votes and, ultimately, power. We all need to stop the carping, get behind the leader, and get into government. Once you're in you have the time to "develop" policies.
Happy New Year you Nit-picking...etc

Why the concern about the dribblings of some moronic tabloid? If the Daily Mail is criticising, that's a good sign.

If he (or any Tory leader) talks about crime, immigration, Europe - they are, as we have seen unelectable. Cameron has tackled new topics, in the way Labour stole management of the economy off us in the run up to '97. I simply see no credence in the suggestion he is undermining these supposed 'traditional values'. Cameron will gain far more voters in the next few years than he'll lose to UKIP or whoever. Just because he doesn't make the 'traditional' (electoral failure) issues a centre plank, does not mean he is ripping up considered Conservative thought.

MARK FULFORD: "No vaguely critical press about Cameron is allowed to escape the focus of this blog. Despite his success you seem to be willing Cameron to fail and, in so doing, you are marginalising your position. I am very happy with what Cameron has done and am enjoying having a party that’s once again worth fighting for."

This blog has also covered every opinion poll that shows DC taking the Tory Party ahead in the polls.

It has covered every major policy announcement.

But it's not going to be Tory-TASS, Mark.

It is significant that every right-of-centre newspaper has found some fault with David Cameron's leadership in recent days.

I enthusiastically welcome the fact that the new leader has put social justice and global poverty at the heart of his agenda but this site is about 'total conservatism' and a commitment to tax relief, stronger families and law and order MUST be part of a truly conservative mix.

I am still hopeful that DC will offer a comprehensive conservatism... There is no harm in some of us saying that we want it and, more importantly, that Britain needs it.

Editor, I don't completly agree with Mark's comments about bias, but I do wonder about your reply - how has he undermined "a commitment to tax relief, stronger families and law and order"?

Surely you don't expect him to be everything to everyone within one single month as leader.

The Centre Right press run the stories because there is a lack of news at this time & Cameron is flavour of the month.

Kate: I didn't say he had undermined those things... but he hasn't spoken about them.

I agree that he can't talk about everything in his first month as leader but (at risk of boring everyone) I do think the 'And Theory' - if he used it - would mean that he could combine (VERY welcome) moves to broaden the Conservatives' appeal with faithfulness to familar beliefs.

The impression being given is that DC isn't just moving the party into extra territory (which I welcome and have spent much of recent years arguing for) it is the danger (and I say it no more strongly than that) of vacating territory on tax, Europe, secure national borders etc that should still be Tory territory.

I'm busy for the rest of the evening so forgive me if I don't reply to anything else until tmrw...

Cameron has taken the Conservatives far in terms of electability, although I dont place too much trust on the polls at this very early stage. Give it till the elections next year to see how things are really playing out.

Im worried that by going out of his way to form a nice guy bond to the people, he is having to detach himself from the core Party. It might work well to get votes but it does weaken the bonds within the Party.

A balance needs to be met, with both wings getting a fair show. Too much towards the left as is appearing the case right now and the right will be alienated. That shoves them into the hands of UKIP. Too much to the right (which seems unlikely at best) and the moderates will find themselves pretty much thrown aside.

Im a softer Conservative and should naturally jump behind him and view him as the messiah. But as Ive said before, we on this blog arent just activists who follow the Party without thinking about it. We are the thinkers who look into the issues and peer behind the vaneer that the public see. We read reports by Think Tanks and the Governmental Departments and watch Parliament to see how the various personalities fair. Look at the debate on wealth redistribution. It went to a much deeper level than the average pub chat on a Sunday afternoon.

I dont apologise for my comments. Ill support Cameron if he does the right thing and makes the right call. If he makes mistakes then Ill comment on them. Cant blame me if I find more things to criticise than to applaud.

I must say that I do share the Daily Mail's concerns surrounding DC's inability to stand up for selection in our schools. I can see this being used increasingly at PMQs as a weapon to bash DC with, unless he stands up for academic selection and argues it's merits, giving some clarity to his proposals, and not being put off by the comprehensive mob!!

Hi, I'm new to this site and it seems great. Well done.

I understand some of the concern's raised about Cameron, he does seem to be firing in many directions at one time. However, the Tories really do need to re-consider ALL policy areas - there needs to be a fresh start, with core Tory principles as the only constant.

Cameron is doing a far better job thus far than Hague or Howard, and infinitely better than IDS.

Good luck to him for 2006!

David Cameron should be the ideal person to present right wong policies - he looks and sounds normal and pleasant. By contrast, Michael Howard made even the ultra-moderate 2005 platform appear extreme through his stridency.

Sadly Cameron appears to have not just ditched the stridency, but also the political focus. So rather than marketing the Conservative product, he's left with an empty vessel with little appeal to his own supporters.

"David Cameron should be the ideal person to present right wong policies - he looks and sounds normal and pleasant "

So basically, just sell the same product, but in a shiny new box?

It's not going to work, James.

Times have changed. In the last decade, a generation of voters has moved in, while another has died out.

People like me who weren't old enough to vote in 1997, associate little with the Tories apart from immigration and tax cuts.

There is more to the Conservative Party than that.

The Conservative product needs an upgrade, not just new packaging and a smiley face to hand it out.

Nearer election time, we can tell people exactly what our party stands for when it comes to the core voter issues.

For now, he is undoing the PR damage done over the last couple of years.

Remember that one of our biggest problems is people liking our policies until they find out we're behind them.

Just because we have a new leader doesn't mean this problem has gone away.

Cameron needs to cement his image as a nice guy in charge of a nice party first before forcing the core policies down people's throats.

The Conservative Party isnt right wing anymore? Are we now left wing? Even being a centre Party means the Party is hardly conservative is it?

I completely agree, the Party needs an overhaul, but the policies already announced really are too different to keep both wings happy. Softer lines on immigration, welfare state-economics (admittedly something I agree with but not the core supporters), education. Im a soft Conservative but Im not liking the feel of this new Conservative Party. The only really right wing idea thats come from this is the EPP and thats going to be a real fight. Not only that but the European debate isnt going anywhere at the moment and there are no votes to be picked up there currently. The votes will be picked up on domestic issues and the policies that are emerging are too soft.

What are the principles of the compassionate Conservative Party? Im asking here genuinely because I want to know where this is all coming from. Principles underpin policies.

"So basically, just sell the same product, but in a shiny new box?

It's not going to work, James."

That product was a product that some of us actually believed in. If you think there was something fundamentally wrong with that product then why do you later say this:

"Remember that one of our biggest problems is people liking our policies until they find out we're behind them."

Seems a bit of a contradiction there.

And you know what? The media and the public really *are* that shallow. They don't vote on policies (unfortunately, or we would be guaranteed to win).

The modernisers constantly tell us that we need to change our values, without giving us any evidence that we need to beyond their own personal preferences.

Cameron is nice, young and presentable. That is why he is doing well in the polls. Soft immigration or law and order policies are not vote winners.

People just didn't like Michael Howard. He just wasn't a likeable politician. As James says, his time in charge, for me, was notable for its caution and moderation in policy, not for being right-wing. That it was *perceived* as right-wing just goes to show how little people actually pay attention to policy.


John, The contradiction is there if you assume there's only one thing wrong with the party. There are at least four, if we continue to use the product/marketing analogy....

1) The products we delivered between 1992 and 1997 were not to the public's liking.
2) The image we've presented to the public between 1997 and 2005 has also not been to their liking.
3) The product we are currently offering does not appear to be much different, or in any case better than our main competitor, Labour.
4)The product we offered up till 2005 did not address the new issues that are weighing more heavily on the public's mind than they did 10 years ago, e.g global poverty, environment, etc.

The solutions respectively are as follows
1) Find out what the public didn't like about our product and make suitable amendments, without damaging the core function.
2) Roll out a brand new image that shows our evolution.
3) Look for what the public likes in our competitors product, try and keep that. Find out what they don't like, ditch that bit.
4) Upgrade product to adapt to changing needs and wants of the public, new previously unseen features.

IMHO, This is **EXACTLY** what Cameron is doing.

The dissenters' solutions while sitting on their high horses would be

1) There is nothing wrong with our product, only our brochure. Change brochure, keep product intact.
2)Perhaps we could do with an image change but nothing too radical, just a quick spit and polish.
3)Show the public how crap our competitors product is and slag them off more than they are slagging us off.
4)Not to add any new features to our product as the public might get confused.

"So basically, just sell the same product, but in a shiny new box?

"It's not going to work, James."

But we didn't try and sell that product in 2001 or 2005, so that's where your claim collapses.

In 2001, we fought the election on saving the pound, something that seemed irrelevant to people as a referedum had already been promised prior to any attempt to enter the single currency.

In 2005, despite having some good policies on education and health, we never presented these, instead presenting ourself as occupying the same space as Labour, with only immigration offering any distinction.

Yes, the party does need to talk about other issues such as the environment, but this in no way means that good policies for public service reform should be thrown away because Michael Howard never tried to sell them and David Cameron thinks likewise.

Now, this makes your "dissenters' solution" nothing more than a giant straw man, especially as your own analysis of what's wrong with the party admits that we weren't offering anything different to Labour. That makes your claim that I'm arguing for more of the same to be wholly disingeneous.


"People just didn't like Michael Howard. He just wasn't a likeable politician. As James says, his time in charge, for me, was notable for its caution and moderation in policy, not for being right-wing. That it was *perceived* as right-wing just goes to show how little people actually pay attention to policy."

Indeed Michael Howard was perceived as being extremely right wing. When analysing the conference polls, Anthiny Wells noted that while votes placed the party at an average of 31 to the right on a left-right scale:

"dragging them out even further rightwards was the figure of Michael Howard - YouGov found that Conservative voters put him on average at 42, while Lib Dem and Labour voters put him at an increasingly extreme 62 and 65 respectively."

Michael Howard made us appear extreme even though he was pursuing a moderate line on almost every issue. Obviously his stridency and the grievance based campaign didn't help, but when combined with a narrow focus on the areas of differentiation it made us monomaniacal and nasty.

But as usual, people seem to have confused being strident with being right wing. Howard wasn't a right wing leader, just a strident one. So his failings don't justify scrapping good policies he never tried to sell (school choice, for example) or abandoning approaches he was too timid to adopt (restoring the party's tax cutting profile, offering a vision of a less intrusive state, etc).

In that sense, it's not that people didn't pay attention to policy, it's that they paid attention to what we said and how we said it, and then passed judgement. It's therefore rather silly of people to try and blame those distinctive and good policies we did have for Howard's abject lack of selling skills.

Take our immigration policy as an example: it was a good and popular policy, but where it fell down was in the undue prominince Howard gave it in the campaign (which gave us an obsessive appearance) and the tone used by a lot of our candidates (Bob Spink's "What Part of SEND THEM BACK don't you understand?" was hardly likely to translate into positive press coverage).

The concern with Cameron is that he seems to be undertaking a whoescale junking of the few good things to come out of Howard's leadership, while keeping his timidity and positioning strategy.

While I am prepared to give Cameron the benefit of the doubt for now, I dislike the way he goes on about how we should love "modern Britain", without bothering to look at why many Conservatives are rather antipathetic towards it. In particular, the crime rate over the past 50 years has rocketed. Forget the British Crime Survey that only began in 1980. The level of reported crimes over the past half century have risen by such a high level that it ought to be a national scandal. Even the Leftist Jonathan Freeland admits that, despite taking under-reporting into account, crime is significantly higher today than it was back in the 1950s.

Now, I am not saying we should hark back to the 50s or try to return to that decade. I am simple pointing out an understandable reason as to why many Tories do. That Cameron refuses to address this while going on about how we should love "modern Britain" (of which I am a product) is annoying. He should either come out and say "like it or not, we can't return to an age of much lower crime" or be prepared to develop a solution to the problem.

Good to see Cameron keeping cool and calm about Gordon Brown in todays Times. Punch and Judy truly thrown aside!

Ditching the patient passports...hmmm. Cant criticise that decision. Standing up to the police and big business...that one I can. The risk had better be a properly planned one. I fear hes taking too many risks here. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;jsessionid=S0BSTRI0PBZA1QFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2006/01/01/ncam01.xml&sSheet=/portal/2006/01/01/ixportaltop.html

The difference is that Cameron has alot to play for, conseratives are unlikely to stop voting conservative, unlike labour supporters our Core support is frankly passed down from generation to generation.

I wouldnt call that a punch to be honest, Cameron could have gone futher...

Cameron has caved in to Ken Clarke's attacks on the EPP. The first promise to be ditched. UKIP will be rubbing their hands - they polled enough votes to block 26 seats in 2005 (If all UKIP would have otherwise voted Cons (Booker)).

If Cameron caves in 100%, make that 50 seats blocked in 2009 - (UKIP is full of fanatical Conservative haters - who know that it's always easier to talk a good eurosceptic talk, but Conservatives actually hand over more powers on the day.)

Be as sweet as you like, a Cameron cave-in on the EPP alone could be Goodbye to Power in itself.

The weakness of UKIP's case is that when there was a Conservative leader who was making strong moves towards repatriating powers, exiting the EPP etc they gave him no support, permitting the media a free run. IDS was assassinated (by media unlike the Dutch equivalent who actually had real bullets - Pim Fortuyn). UKIP activists should have rallied round IDS. Not doing so destroyed their credibility.

If Cameron starts moves against the EPP etc and gets the media assassination treatment, this time, the activists must get off their Rs's.

Or UKIP will be just another talk a good talk outfit.

Although Nigel Farage MEP is talking every week to 12 million Americans on radio promoting a huge growth in euroscepticism States-side. Cameron could talk to Bush about the EU as well as Iraq, and re-develop the relationship that way. If you get Bush, you also get Murdoch as an add-on. Worth a look, DC?

UKIP cost us 10 or 12 seats at the absolute maximum at the last election. I very much doubt any more than 50% of UKIP voters are former Conservative supporters.

'Cameron has caved in to Ken Clarkes attacks on the EPP'.Have you any evidence for this or are you going mad again?

"conseratives are unlikely to stop voting conservative, unlike labour supporters our Core support is frankly passed down from generation to generation."

That is a very dangerous assumption. I for one will not continue to vote conservative if the party abandon's it's principles. I am quite sure that I am not alone.

Inherited politics isnt as prevalent as it once used to be. Im a case in point here. I was born to a single mother living on benefits in a London flat, but was adopted by a family with Conservative beliefs. I was born into a Labour situation but am not Labour. I should be a fire-breathing red head, but life teaches you that your background does not determine who you are. People look around of course at their environment but people are a lot more critical than they used to be.

Biodun, I don't accept your analysis. And I will make several points:

I am not someone who thinks that getting a Tory into number 10 is the be all and end all. Too many here seem to think that that is all that matters. They seem to treat politics as a team sport, with Labour and the Tories seen as old rivals like Arsenal and Manchester United. But whereas if Arsenal is getting beaten every year by Manchester United it can copy their tactics and style of play and have it not matter, the same is not true in politics.

The substance matters more than whoever it is who happens to be advocating it.

That's my first point.

Secondly,

You seem to *assume* that all of the things that people haven't liked about us since 1992 has been due to the right-wing of the party. There is no evidence of this at all. The John Major government was notable for "moving to the centre" and indeed, John Major's cabinet was absolutely jam-full of wets and europhiles who few could describe as "right-wing".

Needless to say, it was not a particularly popular cabinet (Ken Clarke might be an exception to that, but I've always found his popularity to be a rather pecular vagary).

Furthermore, what evidence do we have that this centrist-fudge type of politics is so much more popular? Do we have any evidence that the general public prefers Theresa May's style of politics to Anne Widdecombe's?

Personally I think if we had *more* Anne Widdecombes and *fewer* Theresa Mays our electoral chances would be much much greater.

The point is that it's a matter of opinion over what has made us unpopular, but I do not see any evidence that the left of the party is so much more popular than the right. I see even *less* evidence that the public are crying out for left-wing policies.

As you yourself said, the public like our policies until they find out we are selling them. Does it then make sense to anandon those policies?

(And I also endorse everything James Hellyer had to say vis a vis Michael Howard and William Hague.)

Furthermore, it doesn't make any sense to me to begin to adopt the indentity politics agenda which I feel the public have grown extremely weary of under Labour.

The reason we are doing this is because of the personal obsessions of the most loathsome of all Tories, the likes of Francis Maude and Theresa May, who have been pushing this agenda for longer than David Cameron's political career (which tells you how out of date it is).

You may be right that the Conservative focus has been too *narrow* before now. But that doesn't explain David Cameron's abandonment of core policy positions, or indeed the attempt to change our "values".

As a side point:

I actually disagree with you that global poverty is more on people's minds now than it was 10 years ago. Those who would prioritise that type of thing did so 10 years ago, and those who would not, do not now. But this is not to say that we should allow left-wing voices to dominate this subject. But the crucial point is this: if we *are* to talk about global poverty, we must do so by offering conservative common sense, not leftist populism. I am not confident that Cameron will not give in to the much easier option of appealing to the latter.

To Jaz,

I have made this point to you many many times. I will make it again:

Many right-of-centre people have already abandoned the conservatives. Many more will continue to do so. Right-of-centre people are not tribal. I myself am not going to vote for a watered-down conservative product, and neither are most of the like-minded people that I know.

And Iain Lindley, as to your point about UKIP (that only 50% of their voters are former Conservatives). Doesn't it occur to you that *most* UKIP voters are protest voters? i.e. they don't necessarily pay much attention to what UKIP say but realise that it's a good way of sending a signal to the Conservatives that they can't just ignore certain issues (as many of them would wish to do)?

That is why we should pay attention to the UKIP vote.



I agree that Conservatism is not inherited these days. Back in the 'fifties, 40% of the electorate regularly voted Conservative; now that's 20% (Labour's support has also shrunk just as much over the period).

I think what bothers me about a lot of the comments here (and really across the media) is the large number of people who simply see politics as a branch of PR. PR doesn't solve any major problems, nor does it motivate people to try and change their country for the better.

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I actually disagree with you that global poverty is more on people's minds now than it was 10 years ago. Those who would prioritise that type of thing did so 10 years ago, and those who would not, do not now.

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John to say that, is to ignore the direct links between globalisation, global poverty and current issues, such as the high levels of immigration, and much of which is economic even when done under the guise of asylum-seeking, etc and the impact all of the above have on our environment, both physical and social.

The world is a much smaller place today than it was 10 years ago. Look at this blog for example, with party members living all over the UK having a conversation in real-time.

It would be foolhardy to focus on things like the number of people coming through UK and EU borders, while ignoring the problems that are chasing them here in the first place.

"It would be foolhardy to focus on things like the number of people coming through UK and EU borders, while ignoring the problems that are chasing them here in the first place."

Umm I didn't suggest that we do this.

You said global poverty is a bigger concern to people than it was 10 years ago. I said that it wasn't. You have replied with a reason why it *should* be a concern, which is all very well, but it doesn't address the point I made.

I suspect that voters will eventually decide who to vote for on the core issues of the economy, law and order, health and education. However the election is probably three or four years away, and a lot can happen to change the situation by then. In the mean time DC is trying to make the party seem more appealing to the floating voters - a huge proportion of the electorate. I am very sceptical of taking advice from Bob Geldof, but as long as he's only listening, I am willing to wait and see what comes out in the end before giving judgement.

John Hustings has made a few points that I'd like to respond to.

He said:
"I am not someone who thinks that getting a Tory into number 10 is the be all and end all. Too many here seem to think that that is all that matters. They seem to treat politics as a team sport, with Labour and the Tories seen as old rivals like Arsenal and Manchester United. But whereas if Arsenal is getting beaten every year by Manchester United it can copy their tactics and style of play and have it not matter, the same is not true in politics."

John, it's not just us as players that treats it all as a team sport, it's what the system of government demands of us!

The moment that the Party loses its instinct on how to win and becomes little more than a think-tank on steroids, is the moment Labour becomes the natural party of government, and the Westminster system of government starts to seize up.

As a system of government it requires Party A and Party B to go head-to-head as Government and Opposition. It also requires the two to swap benches from time to time, to make sure both sides don't get too comfortable and complacent.

If you walk away from that binary political competition, while the current UK system of government remains in place, you are either condemning the place to having either the Labour Party as the de facto natural party of government (a self-evident nightmare), and/or the electorate tapping us on the shoulder and telling us to make way for the Liberal Democrats as the alternative government.

How on earth is it in the interests of ANYONE to have fruitcakes like the Liberal Democrats anywhere near responsibility for the economy or national security?????

So - it's got to be us or the place goes to the doghouse.

John also said:
"Many right-of-centre people have already abandoned the conservatives. Many more will continue to do so."

Well I agree that many have. But first I think we need a definition of what I think "right of centre" means. If we have an evenly-spread ideological spectrum from 1 to 100, and the centre is 50, then I think that "right of centre" covers anyone between 50.1 and 100. If you accept that broad interpretation of what "right of centre" means, then yes, I think you are right, a lot of people have walked away from us - and a lot of them are either voting Labour, Lib Dem, or staying at home, and we've got to turn that around. But the party can't do that by being too narrowly based.

Finally, John said:
"Right-of-centre people are not tribal. I myself am not going to vote for a watered-down conservative product, and neither are most of the like-minded people that I know."

I think all voters are becoming less tribal John, the whole electorate is very much more in flux than it was in the past. This means that the Party is going to need every pair of hands we can get in 2009/2010. I hope you're ready to saddle up!

"John, it's not just us as players that treats it all as a team sport, it's what the system of government demands of us!"

My point is one of ends and means. Do you see getting a Tory into Number 10 as a means to an end, or an end in itself?

For me, the reason I have supported the Conservatives in the past (though may not do so next time round) is because I believe in conservative principles, and believe that, if enacted in Central Government, they will go at least some way to making Britain a better place to live.

If I feel that a Cameron-led Conservative government will be little different to a Labour one, then I will not support it.

In fact, I am likely to vote against it. I would rather see a Labour government than encourage a Conservative Party in its abandonment of conservative principles.

"The moment that the Party loses its instinct on how to win and becomes little more than a think-tank on steroids, is the moment Labour becomes the natural party of government, and the Westminster system of government starts to seize up."

I think the moment that the Conservative Party starts apeing the policies of its opponents and pays no attention whatsoever to its own supporters is the moment that the system of government seizes up.

The politicians are *supposed* to be there to represent us, not pursue power for themselves at all costs.

What a stilted view of democracy you have.

"As a system of government it requires Party A and Party B to go head-to-head as Government and Opposition. It also requires the two to swap benches from time to time, to make sure both sides don't get too comfortable and complacent."

Possibly, but it does not require that Party A abandons everything it stands for in desperate pursuit of power.

"If you walk away from that binary political competition, while the current UK system of government remains in place, you are either condemning the place to having either the Labour Party as the de facto natural party of government (a self-evident nightmare)"

I would've thought David Cameron leading the Conservative Party was a self-evident nightmare, but apparently not enough people saw things the same way.

"How on earth is it in the interests of ANYONE to have fruitcakes like the Liberal Democrats anywhere near responsibility for the economy or national security?????"

It is not, but then it is also not in anyone's interests for the Conservative Party to try to metamorphisise into the Liberal Democrats in desperate pursuit of power.

If you think the Liberal Democrats are such a nightmare, then why do you think it's a good thing for David Cameron to appeal so directly to them? Either you think David Cameron is lying when he talks of all the things he has in common with the Lib Dems (I don't), or you are not as adverse to their ideas as you make out (or perhaps it's not their ideas you have a problem with, you just think the individuals are incompetent; I'm not sure I have much more confidence in the Tories).

"So - it's got to be us or the place goes to the doghouse."

It's already gone to the doghouse.

I don't share David Cameron's fondness for "modern Britain".

"Well I agree that many have. But first I think we need a definition of what I think "right of centre" means. "

I will define it as people who are politically aware enough to define themselves as right of centre.

"If we have an evenly-spread ideological spectrum from 1 to 100, and the centre is 50, then I think that "right of centre" covers anyone between 50.1 and 100. If you accept that broad interpretation of what "right of centre" means, then yes, I think you are right, a lot of people have walked away from us - and a lot of them are either voting Labour, Lib Dem, or staying at home, and we've got to turn that around. "

No, I'm talking about people who are self-consciously *to the right* of where the Conservative Party has been in recent times. Such people exist, and they have abandoned the party.

If some are voting Lib Dem or Labour, it is probably to keep some of the gutless Tories out.

(I know if I were in Theresa May's constituency, I would've voted Lib Dem to have her "decapitated", why didn't people do that??)

"I think all voters are becoming less tribal John, the whole electorate is very much more in flux than it was in the past"

That's the only thing you've said that I agree with.

"This means that the Party is going to need every pair of hands we can get in 2009/2010. I hope you're ready to saddle up!"

Do you think that's likely?

You seem to be one of the few that remain who *do* still have a tribal loyalty. It's not a mentality I understand.

John, a few points in response:

I agree that the politicians are supposed to be there to represent us, not pursue power for themselves at all costs. But I think it depends on who 'us' is. Is 'us' the Conservative Party membership exclusively? Personally, I think that, once a Conservative candidate is elected, they are there to loyally follow the Tory whip AND represent their broader constituency, whether people voted for them or not, as well as the Party membership. I see MPs as trustees, not automatons.

I also think it's a good thing for David Cameron to appeal so directly to LibDem supporters. I don't dislike the voters, I dislike their party and the policies their party wants to pursue. Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Right now I think David Cameron is emphasising the things he has in common with Lib Dems voters THAT USED TO VOTE CONSERVATIVE, and understating the differences. They must have had a reason to vote Conservative in the first place, and I think this is a much better approach than saying to these ex-Conservative supporters that they are as bad as the party they currently support, because these people are part of the broadly-based coalition we need to build!

Is this dishonest? No. Is it good politics? Yes.

Is it an approach that gives some of the core Right of UK politics a warm feeling inside, knowing that the Tory leader has told ex-Tory voters to suck eggs for walking away? No, because we can't afford to. (Your unhappiness about reaching out to ex Tories that currently vote Lib Dem sounds awfully like a form of tribal loyalty to me which is a good thing to see signs of!)

Finally, a point on "modern Britain" and whether DC should "love" it or not. If there's a theme that united George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard when they went to the polls in 2004-2005, other than Iraq, it was this very point. Do you love what your country is, warts and all? Or do complain about how it's going to the dogs?

From the Australian experience, John Howard is faced by an embittered Left that romanticises the time when it was last in power, and hates Howard not only because he is happy with Australia as it is, but because he is electorally successful at their expense because of how Australia is.

Regardless of whether they come from a party of centre-left or centre-right, if you substitute "Tony Blair" or "George Bush" for John Howard, the relevant nationality for Australia, and in the British example "Left" for "Right", it helps explain the shared theme. I suspect Cameron has also identified this shared theme, and has adopted a more positive approach it to his campaign. The lesson appears to be that, where appropriate, positive things happen to positive people.

Finally, I live in hope you'll be canvassing for a member of David Cameron's energised, broad-based team in touch with Middle Britain circa 2009, John. : ) It'll be fun!

"That is why we should pay attention to the UKIP vote."

I think without the publicity-hound Robert Kilroy-Silk (whom even Nigel Farage can't compete with) on-side and with the European Constitution seemingly comatose (with relatives being used to pinch its provisions and sneak them in through the back door), UKIP will prove to be a diminished electoral force in future. Although it is three and a half years (cue hackneyed clichés about a week being a long time in politics etc) until the next European elections so anything could happen (and it usually does) and I will probably be proved wrong again!

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