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"Funny how he didn't tell us that when he was seeking our votes last autumn!"

That's a bit naughty Editor - hindsight is a wonderful thing, as you well know.

How about focusing on the main point Ken was making, which was his hat-tip to the good work David Cameron is doing?

Absolutely Daniel.

There is no doubt that a Ken leadership, while being immensely popular with voters, would've been difficult with the members.

I and most Clarke supporters accept that.

However the "Portillo theory" that we need to shed blood in order to show the electorate we have changed is not without its merits. I sometimes wonder whether Cameron is too slow and hesitant in reforming the party.

I hope Ken continues to make valuable statements on party and policy matters which greatly inform the political debate.

"Vote for me but David Cameron is a fresh face with no baggage" would have been a novel campaigning strategy by Ken.

Cameron should listen to Polish President Lech Kaczynski, not Ken Clarke, and offer to lead us out asap.

The European Union is an "artificial creation" which ploughs on aimlessly and has no solid budgetary foundations, Polish President Lech Kaczynski said in a German newspaper interview published on Thursday.

"My opinion of the EU is the following: A super state which polarizes countries' areas of competence but which at the same time is rather helpless because it only has a symbolic budget," Kaczynski told the daily Die Welt. "That is an artificial creation."


Having read the article I think Clarke was admitting that he would have been unable to change the party in the way Cameron has as there would have been too much blood.I don't think that he was being dishonest in any way.
Agree with him about PR, disagree with him about EPP.The compromises we have to make...

Frank, I don't buy Portillo's bloodletting theory. Michael Portillo is now a footnote in the ages of late 20th century politics: another sour member of the politico-media aristocracy whose own career was punctuated by huge errors of judgment and handbrake turns. His blood on the walls idea is yet another error. It assumes that people who lean to the centre-right will always vote Tory however badly the Tory Party treats them and however much it attempts to reinvent itself as a party of the centre-left. I can assure Portillo that over the last nine years they haven't and they won't. It's time he left the comfort zone of reflexive 1950's deference-based Toryism and revisited Planet Earth in the early 21st century. While he is about it, he should take with him his mate and kindred spirit, F. Maude.


What are you smoking?

The great thing about Cameron so far, is that he has energised the party, he has garnered good press and he has changed our poll position.

We still have a hell of a lot to do, but Cameron's success is to manage all this without "Rabid Right Wingers" such as myself committing Hari Kari or asassination attempts.

Blood letting would have destroyed the party for good. As for Portillo, I used to be a fan of his until I realised that he believed in nothing but his own ego.

I've always taken the view that it's the job of the Conservative leadership to represent the views of Conservative members and voters to the wider world; Portillo's view is that it's the job of the Conservative leadership to give such people a good kicking - at the same time as demanding their unconditional loyalty.

It won't work in an age when deference to one's "betters" has long vanished.

I support what David Cameron is doing, but I think the "Portillo Theory" would be a mistake - The party would end up with a hard core of "Old Tory" rebels, just as Blair has ended up with a core of Old Labour rebels. As Portillo sits next to Diane Abbott every week he should be able to work this out!

All a bit academic now but Frank is engaging in wishful thinking when he says "a Ken leadership, while being immensely popular with voters" - where's the evidence that it would have been immensely popular. Ken scored better that other people in opinion polls but he was hardly the silver bullet. He would have have been a fatter version of Ming - yesterday's man in the twilight of his career.

Instead we've a got a man of the future.

"He would have have been a fatter version of Ming - yesterday's man in the twilight of his career."

What rubbish - Ken is both younger and more able (in a political and physical sense) than Sir Menzies Campbell.

But there's little point in rehashing long-irrelevant arguments from the leadership contest here.

"However the "Portillo theory" that we need to shed blood in order to show the electorate we have changed is not without its merits."

In what way should blood be shed? Depriving members of their votes? Dropping popular policies on Europe, crime and immigration?

I expect most of the party membership support his support for Blair's relatively right-wing education bill. Should he change his stance on this?

Instead we've a got a man of the future - if someone hasn't already given 'Tory T' a job at CCHQ, could they please do so?

Why did Cameron give Clarke a task force? It means we'll have to endure at least another 18 months of his windy pontifications.

Remember, this is the man who said only he could win a General Election.

DC knows what he is about. Any one knows that you give the most troublesome ones a big job to do. Keeps them out of mischief, and the mind concentrated.Meanwhile, who is making DC copious brews of honey and lemon? I have had that bug, and it is a lulu. And I had my flu jab. It may not have been influenza circa 2006 that he caught, we might have all got this truly disgusting virus jobby that lays one flat, never mind low!!

Portillos' 'Bloodletting' piece was a bit OTT, and I think it's interesting to look back (again with hindsight) at how things have panned out.

As a centrist, I was initially worried about those that are more... well vocal on the right spoiling the party (no pun intended), and I think this, at the time, was the reason for Portillos' comments. However, the Cameron strateegy has proved to be far more sophisticated than any of us fully appreciated at the time.

The truth? He is not a centrist, but a committed realist, whatever that means.

Project Cameron understands that elections are lost by leaving the electorate behind. He undersands that it is better to slow down the pace of reform, get elected and progress steadily, than it is important to be ideological and irrrelevant.

For all this, Cameron has proved (to me), that he has the makings of a winner. Why? Because he knows what needs to be done. Because he knows how to neutralise hostility, and above all he knows how to sell, sell and sell, and sell lots of ideas, to completely different buyers.

To me (the boring diluted centrist)... the idea that we are moving back into a winners market is enough. To the neo-cons: that we can blend their hopes with power is more than they would ever get conventionally... To the 'Old 'uns', that their 'Policy Reviews' are relevant is a comfort to nobody, but perhaps them (although in the darkest corner of their heart they really know)... to the press: that theres plenty of guff to print day-in-day-out...and finally, to those that really matter - the electorate... that he's a safe pair of hands.

All a bit depressing? Yes, very.

It wasn't my intention to cause any controversy, but Portillo's "blood letting theory" does seem to be contentious.

I said it wasn't without merit by which I meant that if the public are to accept or even notice we have changed as a party and changed for good then there needs to be a substantial change which will inevitably frustrate some.

This frustration will naturally invite some to have very public disagreements with the leadership and those who would change. But change we must.

A major change would be a united party! Since the coup against Thatcher we have been a party riven by dry/wet, europhile/sceptic, portillo/anti portillo factions.

Cameron as a post Thatcher leader isn't associated with those events - he has made a good start on getting the factions to co-operate taking advantage of his large leadership victory to do some things very fast but also recognising that he needs to give them a place in developing policy. He's got Clarke, Heseltine & Gummer but also Redwood & Duncan Smith. He's got a shadow organisation with Hague, Davis & Maude around the same table.

I voted for him because I thought we needed to radically change but I'm pleasantly surprised how well he's established himself as a real leader, shown considerable political sense and got the party to look forward rather than continually re-hashing the past.

Some people will reject the changes, some in areas of social liberalism & social justice, some still longing for the tooth & claws of the radical right but unlike Labour we don't have to reject a cornerstone of our party philosophy, we don't need a bloodletting. We just need to be seen as a moderate, united, competent party with a clear agenda for improving the lives of all.

Labour is weaker than it appears - only 36% of votes, still associated with a class based two country view of Britain, dominated by a regional leadership, beginning to show signs of tiredness in government. Providing we don't go for grandstand eyecatching initiatives but present ourselves as having thought deeply and become the competent alternative we will increase our support - perhaps needing two elections, perhaps not (I could see Labour support falling away fast post Blair)

Hurrah for Ted!!

I agree with your analysis Ted. I just hope that the bitching stops once the policy positions are firmed up. I (and you can hold me to this) am perfectly prepared to accept some policy positions that are not to my particular cant, as long as everyone else can. Even debating the issues is okay, as long as its on a reasonable basis. Quite often passion seems to get the better of us and when the electorate see and hear it, they get very worried that we are unstable and therefore too risky a bet for Govt. Do we really need another defeat to hammer this home? I hope not, yet some of the critisism is still of the 'old' style. We need to get over this to make the next step forward in the polls... oh and some policy would be nice - soonish!

Oberon - we seem to have one policy EVoEM!

I'm not sure that it's the minutae of policies that win people round, its the bigger thrust of the that matters - so for example LDs say Green Taxes and enforced controls, Labour lets all go nuclear, we respond with people power (support local power generation, revenue neutral road pricing - removing duty from fuel, ecofuels etc.). There might be some overlap but we talk about empowering individuals to make a difference where both other parties talk about enforcing behaviour.

That's where the arguments should be be around the underlying approach - prosciption versus support. Then that informs our other policies - whether around more choice in NHS or education, or in civil liberties & policing (directly elected police commissioners).

But lets become a forward thinking, competent, united party first.

Can I nominate Ted for an award!

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