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Maggie is the most sucessful Conservative leader, but this bloke has done well too.

Sorry, I should add that the above is just my personal opinion, since I stated it as fact.

John Howard is a streetfighter conservative with a deft populist touch. He is also a real grafter: people forget how many years he had to spend in the political wilderness. In short, he has all the qualities which today's Westminster Conservatives so clearly lack.

Furthermore, while I do not share some of his more socially conservative views, he understands that a modern centre-right party cannot win an election unless it builds and sustains an (often uneasy) coalition between economic liberals and social conservatives. This is at odds with the Cameron strategy of targeting all one's efforts at a volatile 5% of the floating vote, and denigrating one's core voters. No prizes for guessing who is the more successful politician. And before the Cameronistas tell us that they, like the Bourbons, have nothing to learn from Australia, just remember that Australia is not a country with a religious right anywhere near as powerful as that in the US.

You forgot to add something crucial to what is a sensational summary on the man that is my boss's boss. His government has helped keep interest rates low.

Low interest rates = a domestic political reputation for good economic management. Combine that with protecting and strengthening the American alliance - what some see as Australia's "insurance policy" - and you have what I think are the core twin pillars of the Howard Government's success.

Alexander, isn't it also true that Howard and Costello have pursued a three-pronged strategy of (a) boosting growth; (b) cutting the overall tax burden even though Australian marginal rates are still quite high; and (c) reducing the public debt burden/ boosting retirement savings? They have been so successful that Australia's pension funds are awash with cash, the Australian tax burden is well below the UK's and Australia could pay off its entire national debt in the next three years. Contrast this with the pitiful and anaemic "stability versus tax cuts" and "sharing the proceeds of growth" mantra.

Well done John Howard,he is a decent chap and certainly has the popular touch.He has been very good for the Aussie economy and after the odious Keating has reestablished good relations with Britain.
He has been lucky though (just like Maggie) with his opponents which has enabled him to ride out the Iraq war which I'm told is even less popular in Australia than in Britain.
There are some instances when even the best Australians can't help themselves,Howards performance when handing out winners medals to the glorious England rugby team did him no credit at all.A very bad loser ineed!

That's why he makes sure he keeps winning elections Malcolm : )

Blimey Alexander,I thought I'd get a much sharper riposte than that!

All correct Michael - but they're not the key political reasons that explain why the PM resonates on the question of good economic management in the electorate.

The core of it is keeping interest rates low. People remember the 17% interest rates under the previous Labor government.

The man himself makes the point quite clearly in a media transcript from the 2004 election campaign.

In the benefit of better cultural understanding can we please have a foreign leadership exchange for a week? Australia can have Cameron, and we can have Howard. Somehow I don't think they'd agree. JH is certainly the greatest conservative leader of our time, though MT is still all time #1 (peacetime anyway).

Never mind, Malcolm....you can console yourself with the Ashes, even if Howard was a bad loser over the rugby.

Geez, cut us some slack Malcolm.. it's been a long sitting week and I'm knackered : )

That's alright Alexander,I've become used to taking lots of sporting abuse over the years from my wifes'Aussie relatives it's just nice to have the boot on the other foot for a change!

Matthew Oxley: "Maggie is the most sucessful Conservative leader, but this bloke has done well too."

Perhaps, Matthew. I was referring to the present day.

Horses for courses, DavidB. I don't think many British politicians would do well here in Australia actually, and vice versa.

Australian politicians seem to have more rat cunning and are far more constituency-orientated than most of the UK ones I came across, but UK politicians are much better orators and place more emphasis on making a difference as good legislators (maybe a consequence of the whipping system in Australia being a lot tighter??).

Give DC a go, he's giving it a decent stab at shaking things up a bit. Roll with the punches if you don't like his approach on some issues - "Con Gain" are two pretty good looking words together on election night.

Good night!

I think its time to be a bit subversive here - following through some of the (admittedly less than pro Howard) links above -
"AUSTRALIA'S top tax rate is one of the highest in the world, as are the marginal rates paid by the poorest income earners trying to move off welfare."
"income tax as a share of the economy was 34 per cent higher in Australia than the average for the developed world, while the amount of company tax was 117 per cent higher."

Admittedly overall tax take lower than ours but Howard's Govt takes & spends more as a %tage than Bob Hawkes Labour Gov't did.

And he's not above a bit of Gordon's careful targetting of benefits at core voters or Tony's use of the Security threat.

Enough subversion - he's a good conservative overall, a good friend to the UK & US and his success has somethings to teach us.

Matthew Oxley: "Maggie is the most sucessful Conservative leader, but this bloke has done well too."

Perhaps, Matthew. I was referring to the present day.

Maggie is the most successful leader of ANY political persuasion; Conservative, Liberal or Socialist.

When judging the performance of John Howard one must also remember the fact that Australia has compulsory voting AND a two-party preferred voting system.

I am not sure how many elections we would have won over the past 50 years had we been faced with 100% turnout AND relying on second preference votes to deliver victory!

With Ming in charge of the LDs perhaps we'll be able to say in 2018 or 2019 that DC is the most successful conservative leader of his time:-)

I for one am in favour of compulsory voting: but with the proviso that the ballot paper also includes a 'none of the above' option.

Second preference is ludicrous. One should be voting for who one wants in office, not who the 'next best' option is.

I have always been against any form of PR. However, the Tory party would probably have had more MPs returned at the last two elections if we had such a system.

Howard won 1998 with Labour getting 51% - careful targetting of marginal seats with dogwhistle messages.

The Australian system with its single seat alternative vote system for Representatives is probably the best of the alternatives to FPTP. It tends towards a two party system while making each vote count (OK there is a Lib-Country coalition but its seen as one party).

I'm not sure if it would be as hard for the Tory's as Jon thinks - the LD, UKIP etc votes wouldn't all go Labour!

Wish I could agree Ted. The UKIP votes would probably go to us, but the LD votes? I reckon that a huge proportion of those would go to NuLab.

As other people have stated on this site, the sole 'raison d'etre' of the LDs is to be an anti-Tory party.

The Alternative Vote system isn't bad but unlike UK, Australia lacks a strong third party (Democrats and Greens have never won a federal seat at a general election) as the National party is in permanent harness to the Liberals.

Good on yer, Johnno. It's a fair go. We could do with Ockers like you at this end.
I spent some time in Australia, and I have strong reservations about the alternative vote system where you vote for the man you dislike the least, and about compulsory voting. Having not voted, I had fun talking my way out of the fine imposed

Voting for the man we dislike the least is what we do here in America. Sad, but true.

In your comments on the Howard Factor,you mention his staunch opposition to illegal immigration.What a shame that David Cameron fears to face this problem. He must realise that illegal immigration into Britain is as much law breaking as some of the 'modernising issues'he prefers to harp on about. What can we do to make him face the hard fact that illigal immigration is costing Britain a fortune and destroying our respect for the law as we see the Authorities unwilling to fact the issue?

B. Stone - I agree in principal with you, but we should realise that much of the uncontrolled imigration isn't illegal at all - by being a fully paid up (paying more than nearly all the other members) of the EuroState, we allow free movement of citizens across member states borders. Hence the huge influx of Eastern Europeans recently.

In itself, I am not against immigration. These immigrants bring much needed skills to Britain, are generally hard workers, and contribute in real terms to our society, but the complete lack of control on it is worrying.

Cameron does need to address illegal immigration. The more pressing need is to address our relationship with the EU, which currently is such that we cannot prevent mass legal immigration either.

...and I thought he won all those elections by demonising immigrants, a strategy that has consistently failed to bear fruit for UK conservatives.

Recess Monkey

[email protected]

Demonising immigrants, aside from being morally repugnant, will not win elections and we shouldn't do it.

But how many times will the tories get to an election, panic, and then pursue a racist, core vote strategy before you decide not to accept it any longer?

There is an adage that you don't have to be a racist or a homophobe to be a Conservative Party member but they do ask you to tick one box or the other on the membership application form.

Doesn't it disturb you that there is enough truth in this to make it funny?

Recess Monkey

It isn't racist to place sensible limits on immigration.

As the other Howard said, it isn't racist to support controlled immigration. Many of you see me a bit of a 'Wet' but from going from having very clear (perhaps controversial?) policies on immigration to have none at all is plain daft! In places like Tottenham, immigration IS a problem: we've become a dumping ground for every Tom, Dick and Harry. People, rightly or wrongly, see an injustice in the housing system and don't see them making an effort to integrate. Tensions are very high and it isn't the case of the whites being against everyone else - the black community, who came here in the 50's, had to work hard for what they've got now - whereas today's immigrants are given quality housing, don't work or pay taxes, don't integrate and have an attitude that Britain owes them a living. The black community, arguably, takes a tougher line on immigration that anyone else.

John Howard is a great PM. Compare his popularity ratings with Blair.

There is an alternative to the 'Nu-Blu-Lab' approach taken by the Cameroons. Howard should be the role model - a statesman with integrity.

We don't have to ape Labour to win power, just believe in ourselves and have the courage to do what is best for our country.

Probably the most successful conservative leader in the world
There is of course God. Certainly John Howard is one of the most successful Conservative leaders of modern times but certainly not of all time, if you count Neo-Conservatives I think Ariel Sharon and George W. Bush have both been very successful and actually more successful than John Howard, how about Charles De Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower?

I see that Alex Hilton aka Recess Monkey, has the cheek to come and defile ConservativeHome after his LabourHome website is failing miserably (like all Labour projects.)

"we've become a dumping ground for every Tom, Dick and Harry." - Justin Hinchcliffe

Surely in our politically correct world, that would be every Mohammed, Zayed and Abdul?

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