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It was a very stupid remark to make. I used to read the DT every day, but now I don't.

I now read the Times and the Sunday Times as my usual and just scan the DT. The Times now has just as good a news section, but far better comment and feature journalists and an editorial slant. It is more atune to a new generation of professional reader. Most moderates like myself find the Telegraph to be just too much sometimes. Puts me off my breckfast. Its a shame, because we need more friends in the media and the DT often does more harm than good pandering to a more old fashioned market.

What a ridiculous comment to make.

Tackling poverty and big business is good political ethics. I read the Guardian and the Times online. At work, the Independent is available so that ends up on the reading list too along with the other tabloids (Express, Mail, Sun and Mirror).

What is Mr Cameron's definition of poverty is the big question? Is being fined or sent to prison for not having a TV license. The more I read of the plans or thoughts of Mr Cameron the more I come to the conclusion that it is a waste of time paying attention to what he says until he comes up with some concrete proposals - we all believe in mother and apple pie, dont we?

Tackling "poverty" is merely a soundbite which everyone can agree with, but it's how you define poverty and how you tackle it that is important. Robin Hood's method seems to have left him a hero, but I hope the Conservatives are not going to use his brand of socialism. Conservatives believe in the value of self-help, and of increasing opportunity. We do not believe in equality of outcome. At the same time we must stop the benefit system from continuing to be a club for the lazy, the workshy, and the dishonest. These are not words we will hear from our leader, as he is trying to be more positive and conciliatory in tone, though I hope and believe he still agrees with me.

The Telegraph used to be a fantastic read, but increasingly it's becoming a bit of a joke, a sort of Daily Mail using grown-up words. I've never been terribly impressed with The Times either, but it will have to do until (I hope) The Telegraph gets a big editorial shake-up. I think the best paper all-round is actually The Guardian as long as I can turn off my supreme irritation at socialist bias reading it.

The acid test is the EPP. A firm commitment. Is that just motherhhod and apple pie too? Then we are in trouble.

As far as tax is concerned, the and theory mentioned inheritance tax for gays. What about Brits of any orientation? We pay the highest inheritance tax in the world at 40% from the lowest base. The world average is 20%. Italy 0%. Do we hate independence so much that all family wealth must be destroyed. How can politicians claim to suport families while effectively destroying them as financial entities?

It is said that British entrepreneurs make a million and stop, while Americans aren't there until the billion plus. Inheritance Tax is a big part of the equation. No one wants to take big risks to create an empire destined for destruction as soon as death occurs.
20% IHT is the right figure. It will boost the economy, create jobs, build up families and their dependents, help charities and all kinds of voluntary sector schemes of the social justice variety. Private wealth is good for society. People can make their pile and then dedicate their lives to good works as in the US. In Britain every generation just scrapes by and calls that good enough. Good works need money not just fine words.

If all money comes from government, then we lose effectiveness as a society. If cameron is serious about social justice and families, then he must stop their financial obiteration by IHT. Let's see him put his money where his mouth is.

I feel sorry for the Tory Graph. They were loyal to IDS until the assassination, when C.B's requirements for reward overrode the instincts of political journalists there. Charles Moore picked his moment to get out judiciously.

When corruption takes over any organisation, it is bound to lose its way. The Tory Graph might find its way back, but it needs strong leadership working from principal and with a good understanding of the coordinates of the situation. They appear lost and disorientated, not unwilling to provide a good service to readers.

I suggest that Telegraph editors train themselves by reading Conservativehome for a month and they will soon get relined up on where the state of play is. modestly written of course. They need to ruthlessly expunge all tendencies to corruption if they are to stand a chance. The end of Black must be a new beginning in every way -or the paper will just decline. Why not offer an editorship to Daniel Hannan. He'd sort them out.

Interesting to see I'm not alone in despairing at the increasingly strident tone of the Telegraph recently. Every leader column parroting Hefferite sentiments is pretty tedious stuff. Come on boys, sort it out.

" I think the Guardian is the best read ..." ( quote)

This fits in very well with the 'And' theory - having you cake and eating it will always be a good trick if you can pull it off !!

The Telegraph editorial simply reflects a healthy sceptism about what words can be made to mean.

By the way 'Balderdash & Piffle' starts on BBC 2 tonight (9pm)!!

I've really gone off the Telegraph it all started when they gave Simon Heffer a column. Surprisingly, the Guardian and the Daily Express are good reads. Perhaps we should all boycott the Telegraph until it comes to its senses? Well done Editor for your thoughtful and sensible rebuttal.

Quite amazing and very encouraging to find I'm far from alone in feeling a state of despair about the Telegraph. At times over the decades I've grabbed hold of my copy in the morning as a drowning man might grab onto a proffered branch - it felt like a club where I could meet with the few other survivors from the Blairite mind-control. But over the last year this has just evaporated. I think two things have happened - to "us" (loyal Tories) and to "them" (the Telegraph).

The Telegraph's crisis of ownership and editorial control have been well discussed. As Andy Dalton above says, it simply resembles the Daily Mail now. I don't know to whom Simon Heffer thinks he is speaking - the assured tone with which he pumps out his various mean-spirited hatreds suggests that he does believe he has a constituency - but I simply don't believe it exists to a large extent within the Telegraph readership base. He should be sacked as soon as possible.

Interesting, this Telegraph development is a mirror of what happened to "us", don't you think? A crisis of identity led our party into a horrid rightwing "comfort" zone, whereby it mattered more to define ourselves as distinct from the centre ground than it did to reach out to the voters on that central ground. Thanks to the Cameron revolution, we would appear to be over that nervous breakdown. Loyalty to the old girl makes me hope the Telegraph recovers soon. In the meantime, like other posters here, I've moved to the Times, which is still horridly New Labour, but which I can read without being left feeling dirty.

I have to split my vote on distancing from today's Telegraph. I totally agree with Tim's stance on world poverty, and indeed I think the vast majority of Conservatives would like to see freer trade with the 3rd world and stabler and more democractic governments for its peoples.

On Big Business I'm not so sure. The level of EU and UK regulation is forever increasing, the tax burden gets higher and the UK is increasingly uncompetitive place. It also suffers every time the WTO talks produce meagre results. The ultimate outcome of this is likely to be a move of investment from the UK to other places, at the expense of UK jobs.

Remember the biggest owner of Big Business is Pension Funds owns by your ordinary guys, and unnecessary additional costs, generated by government action normally get passed onto the consumer.

Big Business keeps getting hammered, its about time someone stood up for it and realised its a key part of the UK's wellbeing.

It is not the job of the Conservative Party to automatically stand up for big business; they have the CBI and the IoD to do that! The job of the Conservative Party is to stand up for the working man - be he living in the Congo or Croydon - but doing it from a compassionate Conservative prospective.

Personally I find the Mail an excellent source of news. A newspaper should state the truth, warts and all. The Mail enjoys a massive circulation and rising, but I do miss Simon Heffer, he may seem strident, but so what? He is a journalist, and that is what we expect from one. As for the Guardian, good Conservatives should boycott it as a protest for all those non-jobs it gets massive payments for advertising.

I used to read the Telegraph, as I got a very cheap deal, but I got fed up with all the supplements, for which I had very little interest.

The Telegraph's loss of direction really goes back at least to 2001, IMHO. It's recruited a lot of political writers who really don't have a Consservative bone in their body - Rachel Sylvester, Alice Thomson, Sam Leith, Adam Nicholson etc.

I don't see eye to eye with Simon Heffer on everything, but he's certainly a good deal more interesting, and speaks for a lot more people, than the four I've mentioned. The best political writer on the Telegraph is Mark Steyn - reliably right wing, but with a good sense of humour as well.

WRT big business, we should certainly tell them to take a hike when they engage in special pleading ( eg over joining the Euro, looking for subsidies, looking for planning permission is circumstances where it would be denied to smaller businesses). But we should also be aiming for a much more deregulated (and lightly taxed) economy than we have at present - that's in the interests of big business, small business, and the population at large.

As I've been accused of being overcritical of David Cameron, I'd say that I too welcome the emphasis on police reform. Senior police officers have allowed themselves to be co-opted into New Labour, and we owe them nothing.

I'm not sure that's an accurate picture. Regulation generally benefits big business relative to smaller competitors, because there's an economy of scale in compliance with regulation. It costs a lot less per outlet for, say, Tesco to comply with regulations than it does for a local supermarket chain. That's before you even begin to consider the advantage that bigger businesses have in being able to afford costly planning permission applications (and appeals).

A real way of levelling the playing field would be to eliminate those regulations which weigh heaviest on the smaller businesses, which would allow them to better fulfil their role as competitors to the established businesses. This is the natural anti-monopoly system of the market and, rather than trying to supplement it with government diktat, a wise government would attempt to let the system work properly. (this does fit in quite well with Osborne's narrative about Brown's over-regulation, it has to be admitted).

I don't think government should be either the champion or the opponent of "big business" (or any other type of business). Government's role is primarily to ensure that there is a good environment for all businesses to operate in. I hesitate to say that "the market will solve the rest", but in this case, at least, it is true.

Oops, that's what I get for opening the page and replying a few hours later. My above reply was intent to reply to Damon Lambert's post and not Sean Fear's (as it might appear).

I agree with Sean Fear that Mark Steyn is the best political writer on the Telegraph but he is working out his notice. I used to read the Telegraph from cover to cover but no longer, however I do not know where to turn.

At a time when the media has fallen over backwards for Cameron, it's good to see some people just a bit sceptical about the new dispensation. The abuse levelled against Heffer is interesting. For my part, I thinks the likes of Heffer, Hitchens and Phillips speak for a lot more ordinary people (and indeed Conservative activists) than is often conceded by the Cameroon elitists.

Like Sean Fear and Mary I am a great admirer of Mark Steyn. I didn't know he was leaving, Mary... What a shame.

Mr Steyn is something of a firebrand but he used a column during the General Election to say that the British Conservatives had to adopt a more compassionate approach. He, at least, understands the need for something different.

The problem with Melanie Philips, Peter Hitchens, and Simon Heffer is that they are completely humourless (at least on paper). Usually one just gets thoroughly depressed by what they write, even though there is often a great deal of truth in what they say.

I too am sorry to learn that he's leaving the Telegraph, though I daresay he'll still be writing lots of articles for right wing papers.

Just so, Watchman.

My mild concern at the appointment of Heffer has grown with every word that he has written - I tend to skip his column now, but his influence has clearly grown across the board.

I've never had much time for Mark Steyn. He's a lucid and sometimes funny writer but he quite obviously writes on British politics from afar, and has no concept of the difference between conservatism and Conservatism.


You're correct about the lack of humour, I suppose, although I also find far too much of modern Britain profoundly depressing and far too few Tories prepared to stand up to do something about it.

Maybe I should just rob my local Spar (after all everyone else seems to) and move to Notting Hill to enjoy its spit-and-sawdust tapas bars.


Some features of modern Britain (and the Western World generally) are profoundly depressing. But one never win people over by depressing them.

I certainly agree with The Watchman regarding Heffer, Hitchens and Phillips. They are often accused of being right-wing reactionaries but I have yet to see anybody actually take on their main points and answer them. A crime rate at its highest for 50 years, a bloated public sector full of non-jobs, an education system in dire need of more selection and a massive breakdown in families over the past few decades are but a few issues that Cameron has yet to address.

I hate the way that the debate becomes polarised around a few stereotypes.

I am a right wing Conservative. As such I believe that people are best left to themselves. This is a statement that in no way claims that we should not care for the poor, something that the current system is terrible at.

As for the idea that we should be pro Business, what a load of rubbish. Big Business is run largely by corporatist soft centre socialists. They love Big Government and as has been pointed out are none to bothered by Government Regulation either.

We should be pro free markets, not pro business. We should be trying to help people help themselves. Agreeing to continue the Blairite Corporatist State should not even be an option.

Unfortunately we are heading in that direction. (Yes that means you Mr Letwin)

It will be interesting to see who Mark Steyn's replacement will be I’m sure many devoted DT readers will join me in hoping it’s not in the same mould as Heffer.

[Steyn] has no concept of the difference between conservatism and Conservatism.

Steyn understands perfectly well that the latter is only a subset of the former and cannot function independently of it.

I think that this quote is relevant to our current dilemma:

“...As a general proposition, the Heseltine thesis is doubtful: successful conservatives don’t move towards the ‘political centre’. They move the political centre towards them. That’s what Thatcher and Reagan both did. Whereas if you move towards the political centre, all you do is move the centre. If Labour is at 1 on the scale and the Tories are at 9, and their focus groups tell them to move to 5, they have ensured that henceforth the centre will be 3, and they’ll be fighting entirely on the Left’s terms and the Left’s issues...”

The best way to tackle the vicissitudes of "big business" is to set yourself against the concepts of interventionist regulation, subsidy and economic rents. If big business has to deal in the free market without hope of getting regulatory breaks, subsidies or gravy trains then it will do what it does best for society - increase its wealth. I recommend the works of Professor David Henderson (particularly this one) in this regard.

Sadly, the new "anti-big business" policies being toyed with by the party leadership seem to rely on more interventionism, which will lead to more political activity by big business rather than less. More thought is needed.

There was an excellent article by Bruce Anderson a few days ago which did a good job of explaining why that above quote is bunkum.

"Some features of modern Britain (and the Western World generally) are profoundly depressing. But one never win people over by depressing them."

Am I the only one thinking that this is not Simon Heffer's job?

If Simon Heffer were a Tory politician and spoke in the way that he does, then he might be open to some of this criticism. But he isn't, he is a columnist, and he is paid to write his opinions. Most of what he writes is true (I don't see many people arguing that the problem with him is that he spouts falsehoods); he writes well; and and he writes persuasively.

He also consistently supports conservative positions. Sadly, there are far too few of those around right now. I think we should lament the absence of more Heffers (and the likes of Steyn, Phillips, Hitchens and Janet Daley), not wish there were less. I would be thoroughly petrified of a written press in which there were no strident right-wing voices to be found.

Everyone has their favourite op-ed columnists. Mine happen to include Simon Heffer and Melanie Phillips. I prefer to read the likes of them that wishy-washy touchy-feely Tories like Matthew Parris. That's just my personal preference.

But why is there so much hostility towards columnists who consistently support conservative positions?

I think once again it is the leftist Tories trying to find convenient scapegoats for their own unpopularity. It is much easier to pretend that all their electoral problems are due to Heffer et al than look in the mirror and see their own gruesomeness.

I should have added that the Telegraph went 'down hill' when Janet Daley left them. The Peterborough column was pretty good, too. The Telegraph has completely lost it and, until it stops whinging, sacks Heffer and Leith et al and becomes an intellectual centre-right broadsheet, I will not buy it. Any joiners?

"He also consistently supports conservative positions. Sadly, there are far too few of those around right now. I think we should lament the absence of more Heffers (and the likes of Steyn, Phillips, Hitchens and Janet Daley), not wish there were less. I would be thoroughly petrified of a written press in which there were no strident right-wing voices to be found".

I am with you, John on the above. Steyn and Melanie Phillips are absolute gems - Heffer is coming along nicely. I am thinking of returning to buying the DT (I dumped it when
it when it fed the false allegations re IDS on the eve of his Party Conference) If the DT gets rid of Sylvester and Boris Johnson I'll definately be back.

What a load of drivel. Everything that TINO Cameron has said in his short term of office is pure Blairite claptrap. Will someone out there please define "social justice", I doubt whether TINO can. Some definition of poverty would also be useful. By the way, the first charge on a government is defence of the realm and should never be forgotten

My tuppence worth.Delighted that Steyns contract with the Telegraph has not been renewed.He used to be funny but now has become a one eyed bore.Looking at his column one would think that all the worlds problems were simply the fault of Muslim people.
Poor Heffer.The world is passing him by.He does sometimes makes perceptive points but is negative about everything that happens in this country and seems to me to be a deeply unhappy man.The relentless gloom does become tedious after a while,he should be careful or he will turn into another Hitchens who simply is not regarded as a serious commentator anymore.
I hope the leader expressed in todays DT was an aberation.As other bloggers have posted it was a very foolish thing to say and will do the DT commercial harm if sentiments like this are repeated.

"The Telegraph's loss of direction really goes back at least to 2001, IMHO. It's recruited a lot of political writers who really don't have a Consservative bone in their body - Rachel Sylvester, Alice Thomson, Sam Leith, Adam Nicholson etc."

Yes, spot on. It's gone downhill pretty steadily since their foothold became firmer through 2002. I was in the States last year and was surprised to notice the difference when I came back.

It's interesting to see some people who consider themselves to be "true Conservatives" putting the Daily Mail down. Just because it's a tabloid and doesn't use such complex language and phrases as the broadsheets do, doesn't make it any less of a newspaper. The Daily Mail quite often writes what its readers want to read - and isn't the second highest selling newspaper in the country for nothing. You supposed "true Conservatives" that read the Telegraph, Times etc, need to remember that when it comes to politics, the majority of people don't look closely at the intellectual arguments.

"The traditionalists will also be hoping that all this talk of tackling poverty and standing up to big business amounts to no more than a few cuddly platitudes designed to win back the middle ground."

This is exactly what I was hoping. The Conservatives lost the previous elections, not because the policies on immigration, tax etc were unpopular, but because the party brand itself was unpopular, the BBC mainstream media were against the Conservatives, and (as I have been recently learning [thanks RUK]) because Labour cheated the system too. We know this because when Labour were elected in 1997, they had to promise the electorate to not deviate from Conservative spending plans and take on Conservative policies themselves.

These touchy feely green policies, and liberal policies are mainly targeting the ill-informed and the politically inept - hoping that it will cause those people who have an unfortuante influence on the political system to vote Conservative.

As it's my first post here, id like to say this is a brilliant site, and i hope to post here more often.

On the topic of the Telegraph, does anyone remember their own statement of principles from a leader a few months ago:

"We are a national party. We wish to preserve the traditions of our country and extend freedom and opportunity to everyone in Britain. We believe taxation should be significantly reduced. We believe marriage should be actively promoted, via the tax code, as the best context for the bringing up of children. We believe parents and patients should be entitled to gain access to the school or hospital of their choice. We believe these schools and hospitals should be independent institutions once again. We believe police forces should be accountable to individuals directly elected by their local community. We believe locally run services should as far as possible be locally financed.
"We believe social security should be reformed to promote personal responsibility and neighbourliness, so the 'welfare state' becomes the 'welfare society', underpinned by devolved and voluntary organisations. WE BELIEVE BRITAIN'S PARLIAMENT SHOULD BE SOVEREIGN. And we believe our armed forces should be properly equipped to fight terrorism and dictatorship, and that free trade and property rights should be promoted across the globe."
- Daily Telegraph leader, Wednesday May 25th 2005

The bold is my edit, as im staunchly for EU withdrawal.

But the above is what should constitute a modern conservative platform - not running back to the post war consensus as Cameron seems to be doing. Moreover, his commitment to the EPP withdrawal - which got me to vote for him - i find a bit daft as on the libdems for cameron site, he says he wants Britain to be a positive member of the EU, the constitution of which (Treaty of Rome) calls for ever closer union. He's saying one thing to the eurosceptic lobby and another to the beard 'n' sandals brigade he wants to hoodwink into the party. Same on tax, and now on public services.

The only good thing to come out of Cameron's leadership so far are the poll ratings. Everything else seems muddled and confused, directionless and policy-lite. Maybe his advisors are mistaking the post-election bubble for actual enthusiasm for 'change'???

"The more I read of the plans or thoughts of Mr Cameron the more I come to the conclusion that it is a waste of time paying attention to what he says until he comes up with some concrete proposals - we all believe in mother and apple pie, dont we?"

Me too. None of it means a thing. That's fine. We'll just have to wait until the party games are over.

I think the comments on the Telegraph are wrong. The Tel has a lot of writers with a lot of views, and it doesn't have a single direction. It is still the most trustworthy newspaper on news, it still has the best journalistic values. The rest doesn't matetr too much. Commentators come and go. Don't over-rate their significance.

What a lot of people forget is that the Tories got the most votes in England in the last election. They were defeated by a combination of the anomolies of FPTP (which I still prefer to PR) and the anti-Conservatism of the Celtic fringe.

Mark Steyn, Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips are all brilliant writers who fully deserve their respective platforms. I don't agree with everything they say, indeed they don't always agree with each other, but comment journalism is greatly enriched by their respective contributions. Tellingly, none of them work for the Daily Telegraph (or won't do for much longer in Steyn's case). Currently, the newspaper's best pieces are written by Danny Kruger, but his byline appears all too infrequently.

"The problem with Melanie Philips, Peter Hitchens, and Simon Heffer is that they are completely humourless (at least on paper)."

Why is this a problem?

I enjoy reading witty columnists as much as anyone (I find that Mark Steyn and Rod Liddle in particular produce enjoyable columns even when I disagree with their views) but I don't want to see every single political columnist stuffing their articles full of jokes, sarcasm and satire. Phillips, Hitchens and Heffer consistantly produce intelectually coherant and staunchly conseravtive arguements. We need more people producing such work, not less.

What a great advert for the reason why we must change. If every ToryGRaph reader in the country (I used to be one) along with eveyr Daily Mail reader voted Tory, it wouldn't be enough. They don't and it isn't. It's 2005; move on.com!

I confess I've gone back to buying the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday. I couldn't find the time to read the Independent each article looks like just too much trouble to read (I'm totally uncivilised).

I enjoyed the Times for a week or so but again I would prefer a Times-Lite, I did enjoy reading Anatole Kaletsky and Mary-Ann Sieghart (although I had issues with much she said).

I can't help myself I missed Hitchen's in the Mail on Sunday. I'm waiting in anticipation for Littlejohn to begin, I enjoy reading Leo McKinstry, Alex Brummer and Melanie Phillips (I can do without Daisy doo or whatever it's called, Hattersley and Kay). I missed the uplifting messages from Jonathan Cainer (which I know he means just for me!) I constantly argue with the Mail for their biased reporting on the Council tax but that's a minor niggle.

I read the Guardian on-line and enjoy the Telegraph business pages that I catch up on about once per week. My husband gives me articles from his FT for me to read. And my colleagues at work update me on the Mirror and the Sun. I figure that covers it.

I regret though that there are about 30 pages that just go straight into the recycling box.

I think some of the above captures the problem with Heffer. One of the posters above wrote that we "left wing" Tories dislike him because he's usually right. That's not what I was saying at all, and by the way it's a ridiculous proposition that one is necessarily a leftist if one dislikes Simon Heffer. I enjoy Mark Steyn's columns more than any other, and I think he's everything that Heffer isn't - even if I don't always agree with him, he has a cultured, polymathic view of the world (in The Spectator, you can often read a withering put-down of the UN by him early on, and a grand tour of western musical theatre in the culture section - there aren't many right-wing columnists with either that generosity of spirit or that span of intellect) and he has a great way with words that lets the general reader engage with his argument. All one gets from Heffer is "Everything's awful, we're all doomed, why can't it be like the 1950s?". The over-arching tone of his pieces is the grand sneer, and frankly I don't care even when I do agree with him (which of course I do sometimes) because the persona he adopts in his writing is so consistently bloody offensive and mean-spirited.

The answer to poverty is capitalism. Look at Hong Kong's success with no natural resources. Contrast it with corrupt and socialist Africa which has had gold, diamonds and many other natural resources. Our governments lent them billions and they squandered or stole that money. They must pay us back.

Geldof should get stuffed. It easy to be generous with other people's money!!

Simon Heffer knows alot of history Graeme, he is much more intellectual than you give him credit for. He just prefers to write in a punchy style. I like that.

If you prefer other writers, fine. But why knock one of the most prominent and consistent conservative voices?

"It's interesting to see some people who consider themselves to be "true Conservatives" putting the Daily Mail down."

I used to read the Mail every day as it was the only paper I could be sure that wasn't in hock with Alastair Campbell and chums but in the end I grew tired of the strident hectoring tone, typified by the likes of Melanie Phillips, Simon Heffer (good riddance) and Peter Hitchens.

If it's true that Richard Littlejohn has joined, then it might be worth reading again, as I think he's absolutely hilarious and, along with the equally amusing Quentin Letts and Jeremy Clarkson, is one of my favourite columnists.

"Look at Hong Kong's success with no natural resources."

Selsdon, you normally talk a lot of sense so it pains me to point out that, if you're suggesting Hong Kong as a model of economic development that much larger African countries with vastly different colonial legacies and geographical characteristics can follow, you're talking complete cobblers.

Heffer's columns are slightly more eloquent versions of rants I could hear in the pub or from elderly relations any day of the week if I chose. Putting nice gloss on bitter, reactionary rants might make for nice nod-nod reading for a percentage of readers but it's not generally constructive or interesting or often particularly analytical. Phillips irritates me frequently but her articles are sometimes interesting. Daley is great.

The thing about columnists is that they go a long way to building the readership. If people associate Heffer with the DT (not just casual readers, but people like Question Time viewers or whatever), the only people who will be interested in reading his views are probably going to be a rump of quite bitter people. Which means that the floating voters and many normal 'dry' Tories who find this sort of thing somewhere between exasperating and appalling are forced to read their news through, shall we say, a more rose-tinted view of the world.

I liked the Telegraph when it provided intelligent centre-right criticism, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything of the sort at the moment.

Rhodesia was rich while it was under British rule and embraced capitalism. Zimbabwe under Mugabe's socialism - disaster. Botswana has recently embraced free market reforms and is doing very well. Thabo Mbeki's brother argues for private enterprise as the solution to Africa's problems. Colonialism and size is irrelevant.

No two countries are ever directly comparable, but I should think that capitalism, and secure private property rights, would be as beneficial for African countries as they've proved to be for (once desperately poor) South and East Asian countries.

The byline to Heffer's rants in the Mail used to be something like 'irascible, irrepressible, irreverent'. I think 'irredeemable, irreconcilable, irrelevant' would have been more appropriate!

"Colonialism and size is irrelevant."

Again, cobblers. If Hong Kong had been treated the same way as the sub-Saharan African colonies, it would not have achieved the prosperity that it has - Hong Kong had sustained investment and sensible governance from the British all the way up until 1997, whereas the sub-Saharan colonies werely largely abandoned by the colonial powers cutting-and-running, leaving woeful infrastructures, no framework for effective economic management and providing fertile conditions for incompetent, immoral 'nationalist' demagogues to seize power on a wave of popular resentment and discontent, with all the economic shenanigans that followed.

As for size, you're conveniently ignoring that Hong Kong, like Singapore, Macao, Monaco etc, is effectively a city masquerading as a state (or 'special administrative region', if you prefer). If London suddenly became independent of the UK, we could all sit back and applaud its economic success while the rest of Britain went to hell in a handbasket.

I find it interesting how this thread started with a response to an editorial in the DT and has become a commentary on the DT itself.

I agree with much of what has been said with respect to Heffer - he is a tabloid journalist who writes in a tabloid style. He writes as a caricature of the Daily Mail reader. I find him boring and predictable - just like the Daily Mail. He represents to my mind a desire of the DT to move downmarket and attract a larger readership by targeting the readers of one of the best sellers in the UK. That may leave me with no regular Daily read (other than this blog of course) but that is how the market works which as a conservative I have to respect.

What is more encouraging is that as we move from the dark days when conservative opinion was marginalised we are seeing a counter offensive with our opinions and policies being reflected in all media even the Guardian. I certainly was imprsessed with the way Cameron dominated the new year media in contrast to the clumsy day in the life of a PM video.

The DT may move downmarket but maybe it will be not such a big deal as it will no longer be the only daily newspaper that reflects in an intelligent way conservative opinion.

Something is essential if we are to succeeed in not just moveing to the centre but redefining what the centre is in the way that Thatcher ultimately did.

What exactly is it about the Daily Mail that people dislike? True, it can have a hectoring tone but the points it often makes are valid. Crime and family breakdown have risen drammatically in the past few decades and this has had a disastrous impact on the social fabric of the nation. It is easy to dismiss this as "rose tinted nostalgia" but this is just refusing to engage with the issues.

What about Taiwan, Daniel V A?

"What about Taiwan, Daniel V A?"

What about a stable regime (only on nodding terms with democracy until relatively recently) propped up by US military aid and huge levels of investment, with scant regard for workers' rights, Selsdon?

Daniel V A

You are obviously not going to be convinced, but it is clear that colonialism and size are not relevant.

Many African states have huge mineral reserves, not available to the "city states" you deride, yet have not exploited these to their material advantage (barring a few warloads and their private bank accounts).

Cultural and ethnic differences are also as important as whether a capitalist system develops. Those of Chinese ethnic origin in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan or Hong Kong have succeeded by their work ethic and enterprise.

Similarly, those from India, who have long-prospered through their hard work here in Britain, are only now, in recent years, reaping the benefits in their country of origin. Finally their leaders have ditched the Indian socialist model that the country suffered under for 40 plus years after independence.

Blaming the imperial powers for Africa's woes, simply won't do Daniel.

One could add South Korea (poorer than Zambia 40 years ago)to your list of examples Adrian.

The colonial legacy helps explain why so many African countries are governed by kleptocrats, and/or socialist incompetents, and why private property rights are ignored. But it wouldn't prevent African countries from prospering if they were to adopt the sorts of policies that have worked so effectively in the countries you mention.

"You are obviously not going to be convinced, but it is clear that colonialism and size are not relevant."

You are obviously not going to be convinced, because it is clear that you have not read or understood the points I made above.

"Many African states have huge mineral reserves, not available to the "city states" you deride, yet have not exploited these to their material advantage (barring a few warloads and their private bank accounts)."

Firstly, I'm not denying that many African states have mineral reserves which have not been exploited to their material advantage - in fact, I largely agree with this point. What I'm saying is that these states have been handicapped from exploiting such resources for national benefit largely as a result of the colonial legacy (see my above post on lack of infrastructure and no framework for governance or economic management). Secondly, I am not deriding city-states, I am merely pointing out that they cannot be used as an economic model for significantly larger states to follow.

"Cultural and ethnic differences are also as important as whether a capitalist system develops. Those of Chinese ethnic origin in Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan or Hong Kong have succeeded by their work ethic and enterprise."

I'm not sure I buy into your implied 'Africans are lazy/corrupt/incompetent' argument. As for success through work ethic, you don't have to be Arthur Scargill to appreciate that workers' rights in the places you identified aren't exactly the fairest in the world. As for enterprise, you might like to consider that Hong Kong was governed (and funded) by the British until 1997 (as pointed out above), Taiwan has been propped up by US investment (as also pointed out above), Malaysia is a largely poor country with one significant pocket of prosperity (Kuala Lumpur) funded by an unsustainable petrochemicals industry and Singapore has benefited from being a small island/city state in a location of significant strategic importance at the Pacific Gateway.

"Similarly, those from India, who have long-prospered through their hard work here in Britain, are only now, in recent years, reaping the benefits in their country of origin. Finally their leaders have ditched the Indian socialist model that the country suffered under for 40 plus years after independence."

Well I'm not too familiar with Indian economic circumstances but again, I suspect you may be allowing yourself to be deceived by a few pockets of prosperity and a booming unsustainable industry (call-centres in this case). Those living in poverty and squalor across India might be tempted to disagree with you.

"Blaming the imperial powers for Africa's woes, simply won't do Daniel."

Oh look, our old friend Worzel Gummidge is making a guest appearance again! I'm not blaming the imperial powers for Africa's woes but, unlike you, I'm not blindly ignoring their role either, so kindly take your straw man away and come back when you can address the argument I'm actually making.


You've said it a lot better than I ever could.

Quite simply brilliant.

I am always shocked at how uninformed people are about the state of Africa or how it got there. Just a bit of "headlines" knowledge.

While I am totally against debt relief, it's not because I feel African countries "owe" this money, but because perversely it will only exacerbate their existing problems.

What I always ask is why the West was so willing to lend hundreds of billions to countries with illiterate military dictators who stole power and did not have a mandate to borrow on behalf of the people in the first place!

Like a burglar filling out credit card applications on your behalf, the bank, fully aware that it's not you still agrees to lend lots of money to a thief, and then wonders why you have trouble paying it back.

Africa's governments have never been socialist. They are kakistocracies and kleptocracies. To assume that the latter is a direct result of the former, is rather silly.

It's not a co-incidence that the countries with the most problems have the most mineral resources, and are more ethnically diverse, multi-faith and multi-cultural.

It's absurd to compare them with others like Botswana whose make-up is not typical of the average African state.

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