« There is such a thing as society, it's just not the state | Main | Britain's two finest political speakers delight Tories gathered in Manchester »


Hard to argue with a lot of the generalities in Francis Maude's speech except that it is he and his ilk (Patten, Portillo, Clarke, Heseltine, Bercow, Jackson) who have heaped all manner of abuse for years on those whom they deride as "traditional Conservatives". Now they are surprised that the people who they thought they thought could take for granted are pointing out that they have choices: abstention or even UKIP.

David Cameron's initial comments about UKIP may well have been unplanned. Francis Maude's follow-up on 'Today' suggests a much more deliberate policy of picking a fight with UKIP. What they hope to achieve I don't know. As was said many times yesterday, a good deal of support that UKIP enjoys comes from ex-Tory voters. It strikes me that attacking old friends is not a particularly attractive way of seeking to win new ones.

Why the tie?Backtracking already? Admitting to expected defeat at the next election.What a bunch of meaningless losers.

I hate to repeat myself, but loads of Tory voters vote UKIP in European elections. Do you think they'll relish being insulted by Francis Maude? And going for a minor party is just so stupid from a tactical point of view. Who cares whether UKIP want to turn the clock back?

I think I'm just hearing the start of the next few months' spin, as our poll ratings drift down inexorably towards 30%. The public love David Cameron, but we're somehow unworthy of him.

I dont see why Maude feels so compelled, almost relishing the oppurtunity to state his support of David Camerons views on UKIP. Afaik, and i may well be wrong, Blair, Brown, and even politicians further left, those who love to cry racism at any oppurtunity have never so forthrightly spoken of UKIP in this way. This talk of infiltration by the far right is maybe to scare traditional conservatives potentially from voting UKIP, which i wouldnt have thought a real threat, i cant see what else can be gained from it.

Hague and IDS guy had their chance. Davis had his. Is it OK to try something new?

We did not loose in 97 because of UKIP. We lost because of Labour. We're still losing because voters who could be voting for us are voting for Labour or the Lib Dems or staying at home. We're not losing because we're not right wing enough we lose because we lost contact with the electorate. Labour win by telling voters that the Conservatives are out of touch with "hard working families," that we put narrow self interest above the wellbeing of communities, society in general or the environment. Maybe the party should stop acting like Labour's caricature of us. That includes the backstabbing.

Maude didn't pick a fight with UKIP, he dismissed them. Quite right.

Henry, we're a party; not a cult of personality.

I was going to say "the quiet guy" then i thought better of it.

Army officers love their soldiers. Despite their faults and their vices their commanders love them.


Because when you ask them to make sacrifices they have to know that whilst you are focussed on getting the job done you still have their best interests in the forefront of your mind.

At the moment the tone coming from some of the party leadership is that they do not love their troops. I can't help but think that we need more people who have been through some hard fought campaigns to explain how some of these quotes will come back to haunt us in Labour and Lib Dem leaflets in a few years time.

Safe seat MPs seem to forget that people do not dislike the Conservative party otherwise we would not have the most local councillors, most MEPs and most GLA seats.

Can we please, please, please be proud of being Conservatives for a bit? We are running the risk of sounding like losers less than a month before some very important elections.

Has anyone else noticed that all those who keep harping on about the need for 'more representative' candidates (Maude, Patten, Portillo, Lansley, Clarke, Heseltine, Bercow), are all white, middle-aged, middle class, and heterosexual.

Why don't they feel morally obliged to stand aside in favour of women, gays, and ethnic minorities?

If they want such a shift, shouldn't they 'be the change'?

I'm certainly not yearning for the days of Hague, Howard and IDS. I didn't even vote Tory at the last election. Part of the process of countering Labour's attacks (which need to be countered) involves showing how much damage Labour have done to hard-working families, the community, society in general and the environment. But that requires hard graft, patience and guile....which probably explains why Maude and Cameron would rather sqaunder their energy taking cheap shots at people who might even vote for them if handled in the right way.

That is very well put, James. You have no right to demand loyalty from people you despise.

Nadim, the answer to your last question is of course "yes" but "Do as we say, not as do" is very much the order of the day.

Henry, we're a party; not a cult of personality.

Conservatives.com may disagree, Sean. Everything's branded as "Cameron's Conservatives" now.

Roger Knapman won't be leading UKIP at the next GE.

For all the complaining from UKIP, I can tell you that I received a phone call 5 minutes ago inviting me to join a group of UKIPpers who will be turning up tomorrow to the Manchester conference.

In her words, "to thank David Cameron for all the free publicity he has given us."

I told her I've joined the Conservatives, and I should be off their list now. :-)

Amen to James Cleverly. We should be compassionate in our policies, optimistic in our vision and positive in our language.

James: At the moment the tone coming from some of the party leadership is that they do not love their troops. How did you get that from Maude's speech? I wasn't at Manchester to hear it live, but I can't see anything like that in the version on the Party website.

Michael: Admitting to expected defeat at the next election. That isn't what Maude said. He said that victory is not certain though he hopes and believes that we can win. His point was that there is still a lot of work to do. Which, given the recent opinion polls, seems a fairly obvious truth.

Henry Whitmarsh is absolutely right. In my experience UKIP activists are obsessive xenophobes.

They are not worth out attention. We will withdraw from the EPP and campaign for a more open union and return power over employment legislation.

That should be the end of the European debate.

At a time when the party is seriously trying to tackle serious issues like rising crime and inner city poverty some just want to carp on about the EU.

Its pathetic.

The glaring point from St Francis of Maastricht's comments is the sheer contempt that much of the Tory high command have for those Conservative who do not share their own neo-progressive values. I appreciate that a party cannot win a general election on its core vote alone, but it will not do so either if its core vote doesn't turn out. In fact, at the last three elections, the Tories only managed to live to fight another day because that core vote did turn out. What Cameron and co. should be doing is securing their core vote and aiming to build on it, not giving that core excuses to go elsewhere. Re. not winning the next election, it looks like Francis is getting his excuses in early.

The bottom line is that we have a wretched liberal-leftist government but we can't rely on the Tories to kick it out.

I'm glad I haven't paid good money to listen to this nonsense in person. I'd far rather spend all night reading Mary Ann Sieghart articles.

Francis Maude keeps doing things I agree with - open primary for Mayor of London, DIY PPBs giving a sound interview on the Today programme. At this rate I'm going to have to up my rating for him on the next survey - he's almost at fairly satisfied.

UKIP - the more they drag this on the more they show that DC was right. If tory voters lent UKIP their vote in the Euro elections that doesn't mean they now feel insulted. For many of them that was an embarrassing epsiode they'd rather forget (yes I did 'lend' them my vote but never again). If they are UKIP voters they are not coming back to the tory party and Knapman proves this by showing UKIP's raison d'etre is hatred of the Conservative Party

From what I've seen and heard Manchester looks like an exciting place to be and there's lots of good policy work going on behind the scenes. I'm excited about the party's prospects in May and think we have a real chance to make a major beakthrough.

FM is right though to point out that we might not win the next GE - we might not if we are not seen to have genuinely understood why our electoral fortunes have declined since 1990.

I still wish we didn't have to wait 18 months for some definitive policies especailly in areas such as social justice and foreign affairs/international development.

Rob G

I wasn't talking specifically about this speech. I was talking about the "tone" that sometimes comes from the Westminster machine.

If you look at other things that I have posted you will see that I am not in the knock Maude and Cameron camp but as professional communicators we need to be aware of how our comments are received by the thousands of envelope stuffers, door knockers and fundraisers in constituencies up and down the country.

They love the party as it is and as it was and they need to feel that they will still love the party as it will be. And most important they need to feel that the party leadership loves them back.

For an up-to-date impartial and expert view on the Cameron Effect - http://politicalbetting.com/

If the leader of a party I believed in, indicated that he did not believe we could win the next election, it would inspire me to put my heart and soul into doing whatever I could to get that party in power.

I wouldn't sit on my backside, making bitter comments.

I read Maude's statement in the Evening Standard yesterday as a cautious call to arms. He was not being defeatist.

On this thread and on most of this website, the majority of threads are full of bitching, back-biting and complaining.

I see no evidence of the things you all claim to believe in
No team effort, no offering of moral support, no sense of community spirit.

The more I read, the more disappointed I am and as much as I feel like conservative policies make the most sense, I would be damned if I gave my vote to a bunch of snide, smug, whingers who show no willingness to actually DO SOMETHING for what they really believe in.

With the exception of a few, including those who are actually running this site, and kudoes to you... most of you appear to be the types, who would rather spend time exposing to the world just how little faith they have in the people who lead them. When you should be out campaigning and converting your friends, family and neighbours to your beliefs one-by-one.

Those who believe their leaders are no good should ponder on the thought that they have the leaders they deserve.

The electorate are not stupid. There is a reason why you people have not won any elections, and it is obvious to any undecided people who chance on this website like I did.

I have read enough. I will not be returning to Conservative Home.

Floating voter: the more negative contributors to this blog are often the most vocal, but the monthly polls show that they aren't in the majority. The latest poll shows that 78% of those members who responded are satisfied with David Cameron.

It's all very well bashing UKIP even if the descriptions used by DC and FM are accurate. From my limited exposure to UKIP's leadership on radio and TV they are truly awful. And yet and yet, led with startling ineptness and crassness, UKIP still managed to garner 2-3 million votes in the Euro elections and (reputedly) to frustrate the election of 26 Conservative MPs in the last election. Perhaps UKIP represents views that should continue to be heard in the Conservative Party rather than dismissed patronisingly by the modernisers and "constructive" oppositionists. There must be better ways of persuading people to vote for you than insulting them.

For an up-to-date impartial and expert view on the Cameron Effect - http://politicalbetting.com/

ah-hem - I don't think LD trumpet-major Mike Smithson would really see PB as impartial, and if you ever read the threads you'll know they're far from expert (with honourable exceptions like Sean Fear). PB is a fun site for politcal handbagging largely populated by LDs and some amazing Bliar cheerleaders. Good for a laugh but you can forget the impartial and expert bits.

"The electorate are not stupid. There is a reason why you people have not won any elections, and it is obvious to any undecided people who chance on this website like I did."

Was the bold really necessary? It reads like a Sun editorial.

I disagree with Henry Whitmarsh.

The Tories lost the 1997 election rather than Labour winning it. The reasons for the Tory defeat are numerous ranging from simply being in power too long to allegations of sleaze. Most important however IMO was the delayed fall out from the ERM disaster. The reason Labour despite everything are still in power is because they have not completely stuffed the economy despite the storm clouds on the horizon. Which is why all the huffing and puffing by the current leadersip may at the best prove useless and at the worst disastrous.

Tough decisions? Strong leadership? Intellect?

Last time i checked we were still in the EPP, Caroline Jackson is still lambasting Cameron for something that hasn't happened and our leader decided it was strategic to attack a small party that picks votes from us like sniper fire instead of labour, the government he's meant to oppose!

Maude couldn't get any more rose tinted, or does he just take polling numbers from Islington? Which begs the question, why isn't Francis Maude party chairman - of the labour party?

I don't know whether Floating Voter has ever perused any of the debating forums of other parties, but I think he'll find that it's all much of a muchness.

Perhaps he just doesn't like message boards/debating forums?

I agree with the other floating voter entirely. Unbelievable how sad all of you lot are. I guess that is because you spend so much time obsessing and whinging about others. No room for you lot on the compassionate conservative front so perhaps you should all join UKIP.

I agree with DC about UKIP. I think he is showing himself to have good decisive leadership abilities and the fact that Roger Knapman has said he is going to target conservative marginal just shows how small minded and gitlike they are. Just like those layabouts on this site who cant be bothered to do anything other than whing whinge whinge.

Yawn. Soooooooo boring and your lives must be sooooooo sad...

Cameron and Maude have probably decided that a fight with UKIP is going to be their "Clause 4 moment".

They have likely concluded that if Hague and Howard were unable to attract the UKIP voters back to the Conservative Party then Cameron will certainly fail to do so.

However, the 600,000 UKIP voters at the last GE are just the tip of a very large iceberg. As the last two rounds of European Elections have shown, there are millions more who sympathise with UKIP but remain loyal to the Conservative Party at Parliamentary level.

Tomorrow morning I am leading a group of 15 active members who are making a 120 mile round-trip from rural Kent to provide mutual aid in a marginal London borough. These people are all councillors / branch chairmen or constituency officers. They are the campaign stalwarts in my own constituency and the backbone of the Association. Of these 15 I know at least 6 of them vote UKIP at European elections and are not ashamed to do so.

By attacking UKIP in such personal and abusive terms, Cameron is not just attacking the 600,000 UKIP voters, but millions more who sympathise with UKIP policies but remain loyal to the Party at national elections. He may be doing so in the ignorant belief that the Right have nowhere to go. In this he is wrong on two counts:

(i) In one critical London ward (which we must win to take control of the council) a postal survey of 1,000 previously pledged Conservatives indicated that around 12% of them were intending to vote BNP on 4th May.

(ii) A quick study of LG by-elections since Cameron was elected leader show a decline in Conservative like-for-like vote share in all but the most affluent wards. Amber Valley -23%; Harborough -17%; Waverley -16%; Dacorum -13%; Northampton -14%; Aylesbury -7% and dozens more with swings around 5%. In fact, in the few wards where the Conservative vote share has actually improved, this is almost exclusively in areas where Independent candidates have not stood where they previously had split the Conservative vote. There is no evidence whatsoever, from LG by-elections, to indicate any Conservative revival.

We need to attract back to the Party the 4 million traditional Conservatives who left us in 1997. Attacking UKIP and besmirching those who share their values and patriotism is not the way to do so.

Yawn. Soooooooo boring and your lives must be sooooooo sad...

I'm sure many of us get more enjoyment out of our lives than you.

Francis Maude:- "Mr Maude went on to say that change in the kind of candidates selected by the party was an essential part of the necessary change agenda. He rejected the idea that the statements within Built To Last bordered on the banal. He stressed the need for a less narrow view of what it meant to be a Conservative:

"Our appeal still needs to be broader. So why should we seek to define people out of our party’s appeal by telling them that they’re not “proper Conservatives”? We need to define our conservatism so that more people are attracted to us not fewer. Otherwise we can never win and never have the chance to put our principles into practice in the service of our country and our communities."

I suggest you read the following:-

One woman’s experience of the modern Conservative Party


"I agree with the other floating voter entirely."

Well then you didn't need to repeat everything he said. We can scroll up you know!

Andrew Kennedy's analysis is spot on. I think the leadership have stumbled upon their Clause Four moment - let's hope it doesn't backfire.

"At a time when the party is seriously trying to tackle serious issues like rising crime and inner city poverty some just want to carp on about the EU."

The trouble is Wasp, this is a fight that David Cameron chose to pick and failed to sweep under the carpet by apologising.

European elections are essentially irrelevant - UKIP's "success" there is the classic example of a protest vote.

Any party that ever had Kilroy-Silk as a member, let alone a senior rep, will never be taken seriously :-)

Yeah, and local elections, even the general election in 'safe seats' - all of them meaningless.

Great way to skim down democracy to only a few marginal seats Andrew

"People think – and how right they are – that David has all the qualities they want in the future PM... It would be wrong for us to expect David Cameron to carry the entire burden of persuading people that we’ve changed."

Every time I'm almost ready to say something nice about Cameron, I hear something that makes me feel sick. Francis Maude, please don't try to turn us into children. a) There is no evidence that people think DC would make a great leader. b) Don't then try the 'poor little David' line. If the child is overburdened then he can go back to Mummy.

I want to be a free adult in a free adult party. Not a teddy bear at an idiot's picnic.

I stumbled here by mistake. I never gave a thought to politics before. But now I've seen pictures of David and Francis, I'm so excited! Aren't they just wonderful!

And aren't you just so naughty to criticise them! Don't you get the modern world? Don't you realise we're all infantilised now?

Also I think £276k for Steve Hilton part-time is virtually nothing. Genius like that doesn't come cheap.

Can't believe some of the negative comments which appear to come from people living in their own little world. We did not lose elections because we were not right-wing enough or not anti-EU enough. We lost because we were shrill and people thought we didn't care. We talked about economic ideologies but apparently didn't care about the impact if they went wrong. Many swing voters who were generally in the centre ground (and women switched) to Labour and Lib-Dems. I am meeting many voters as I get ready for my campaign in the Welsh Assembly election and it is very clear that key swing voters want to hear about community related issues. They tend to like what Cameron is saying and if anything what to know more in a firm and clear way. They are not interested in gimmicks, they just want a good local school for their kids to go to and a good local hospital etc. They know that Labour is not really delivering but they need to know we care and that they can trust us. Everytime any of us open our mouths, including Cameron, that should be what we consider. In the last election we harped on about immigration which made us look more shrill. Our ten words said nothing about what we stand for and what future we would create and were just operational statements. The economy was basically ok (or people perceived it was) and they didn't want to risk unsettling that. It is self evident that we do need to change if we are to win back those swing voters. I would like to see all of us concentrate on practical actions to help those people and show we care,

Matt Wright

I think the floating voters are wrong on a number of points - but there is a lot more whinging than I like - it's a bit like the activists that the TV news talk to - they always seem to find the ones who hate everything and like nothing about their own party (it applies to all the parties not just us).

I think though that there isn't really a good balance of views. You get the occasional voice like mine who joined the party because of Cameron but mostly it is people who feel betrayed. This is curious as the member polls reflect what I think is really going on in the party but the discussions rarely do.

I would like to come away once or twice feeling optimistic that we had this corrupt bunch of socialist wreckers on the run because we were willing to set aside what are very often 'angels on the head of a pin' arguments and try to help each other deliver a Conservative government. This won't give us all what we indvidually want in every aspect but will be more helpful to more people than the scumbags currently running the country.

For my own morale I think I'll move over to occasional visitor from daily addict - yes the doom-mongers have won and can now talk to each other and reinforce each other's views a little bit more than before.

The feud between UKIP and the Conservatives is pointless. The moral highground has been destroyed now and neither party can claim it. For Gods sake, the public want a mature party in Government not one that picks on UKIP, which are to be knocked aside with a strong foreign policy rather than a tit for tat fight. We're supposed to be above this.

>>>>We need to attract back to the Party the 4 million traditional Conservatives who left us in 1997<<<<
In fact their percentage vote only went up in 2001 because turnout went down and the Conservative Party's slight gain in total votes in 2005 still leaves it about 800,000 votes short of the number of votes they got in the 1997 General Election.

Our little design fault is showing again. The individual versus the collective. It'll be the death of us yet if we dont just put a sock in it. I was at Manchester. Just having a quick look before bed, early train tomorrow. I did not get this winge thing there. I think you wingers are projecting that which is within yourselves. One day, and I am not holding my breath, we might achieve the utter party discipline NuLab managed in 1997. The political commentaters were sort of editing there reports. You moust have seen them at it before. When we get into Govt, they will have to be truly neutral or else. NOW DO CHEER UP!!

There is certainly a balance to be struck between constructive criticism and keeping silent to maintain discipline. However, we are not MPs and are not so much in the public eye. This gives us more leeway in discussing the merits or demerits of party policy. I would like to see more optimism but when Cameron makes blunders like the UKIP comment it's not surprising that people get angry.

There is a difference between refusing to adopt a right-wing programme and actively demonising the Right. We should let Cameron go ahead with his plans to present a "moderate" image (providing he doesn't junk popular right-wing policies) and request that in return he doesn't intentionally antagonise the Right of the party.

...and if you're all very good we might even get to privatise the BBC and raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million.


Wait, where are you taking me........I WAS ON MEEEEESSSSSSSSSSAAAAGGGGEEE!

I did not get this winge thing there. I think you wingers are projecting that which is within yourselves.

Oh Annabel you drop your "h" - do try 'whingeing' - then we won't think of football when you write of 'wingers' - thought you had been at Old Trafford

Kingbongo - "but mostly it is people who feel betrayed. This is curious as the member polls reflect what I think is really going on in the party but the discussions rarely do."

This is a really good comment, and I've been pondering it for a while before replying. In myself I have the same contradiction - I truly want Cameron to do well, to win for us. But it's got to be "for us", that is, for the things we want to change. I feel betrayed when I feel it's really "for them", that is, for politicians who want to be in power.

So when I look at Labour and Conservatives, I have no hesitation in wanting Conservatives under Cameron to triumph. No hesitation. But when I'm amongst Conservatives, I want the good angel on Cameron's shoulder to triumph over the "pure politics" devil on his other shoulder, so that's how I engage.

I think this blog is for us, the ones who actaully have to do much of the work for the party, to get our own heads straight. It's not there to be a chorus of support. But that means these threads give a distorted impression. I would say this: all Cameron's moves are subjected to serious criticism from people who want conservatism to win. That has to be a good thing, ultimately, doesn't it?

exactly why is Cameron an asset? a flip flopping elitist lightweight - he is a greater threat to the tories than they have faced at any time in thne past 30 years as he is undermnding the very values which hold the party together. Maude is a failed ex=tory with an axe to grind and a personal aenda.

the findings of an ICM poll for Channel 4 News, released last night, suggest his own leadership is a cause for concern. The chancellor - Mr Cameron's likely opponent at the next election - is regarded as the best-qualified to be prime minister by 37% to 32%.
Mr Brown is also ahead of the Tory leader when voters were asked which one "understands the needs of people like me" - by 44% to 34%; and "is tough" - by 61% to 29%.

Fifty-eight per cent of those surveyed agreed that although Mr Cameron was a "new face", the Conservative party "hasn't really changed much at all". This view is in line with accepted wisdom at Conservative HQ. But perhaps more worrying for the Tory leader was the 40% who said that Mr Cameron was "more about spin than substance".

The Conservative party has lost its soul and principles.It does not any longer believe what it used to stand for and has lost the will to persuade the electorate that the panacea of 'big government'will not bring the 'cosy utopia'. It has failed in its primary role in opposition which is to oppose and highlight the totalitarian nature of this government, the illusion of economic competance and the lost opportunity to reform both our failing healthcare and education system despite massive injections of capital. This inane spin driven modernisation process will lead us no where! We have lost the concept of persuasion and now believe in the concept being 'all things' to all people. What we need to do is argue our case and defend it with rigour.If we do not set out our store well in advance and stand by it we will not offer a creditable alternative but be viewed as opportunists ( that we would be!). One final piont to all the young trendies ( yes I am in my 30s) - the biggest part of the electorate is over 40 and will be for the next 20-30 years or so - you PR consultants and Tory CO types have been focusing on the wrong part of the electorate!

I have only word for those who accuse critics of "modernisation" or "change" of being disloyal - Heseltine.

Having that treacherous and loathsome Europhile addressing Spring Forum made me feel sick to the bottom of my stomach.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker