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You will not regain power if you try to be all things to all men. You have to decide what your policies are, who are you aiming your message to and go from there.
The party as such a mountain to climb the changes must be as deep as Labour had when Blair took over. If the changes are not deep and apparant then we will not win the next election.
David Cameron is on the right path and should be given the support to make the changes to the party he thinks necessary to take us back to power.

Today is Easter Sunday. It's a beautiful day - the sun is peeking through and burning off the miasmic mist that enveloped Hackney yesterday. This is the best day of the year, the day to be hopeful and to think seriously about what I need to change and how to be a better man.

I was struck by the tone of two of the papers as I lay in bed this morning. Tribal loyalty sent me first to the Telegraph. Carping about project Cameron on nearly every page of comment, coupled with the "news" that the white working classes of East London are perhaps slightly less in thrall to the multicultural norms of New Labour than suits Margaret Hodge. (There's a priceless piece of revelation in Hodge's comments: she says at one point "When I arrived here in 1994.." ... yes Margaret. When you were moved from Islington, where you'd been SUCH an ethical success as head of social policy, and visited upon the benighted denizens of Barking ... what had they EVER done to deserve you!. Anyway).

In the Observer ("we call it the traitor's paper" - my favourite line from Angus Wilson, it always makes me laugh; why don't we read Angus Wilson anymore?) however - and maybe just because it's Easter - there was a refreshing lack of cynicism about what the party is trying to achieve, combined with a heartfelt lament about what's happening to liberty under Blair. There was a thoughtful piece on the green conservatism of the Conservatives, as well as a report by William Hague from Darfur. One Change perhaps unexpected by the Cameroons - I'm more at home in the liberal Observer now than in the pages of the Telegraph. What a funny old world.

Muriel Spark has died and been buried. Another piece of the English landscape that formed how I look at the world has passed on. But her works are still with us. My favourite is Memento Mori.

PS Sorry! I meant to comment on Dolce and Gobbana. That made me think of Italy and that made me think of Muriel and it went backwards from there to Margaret Hodge in Barking. Anyway. I'm trying and failing to find the logical dichotomy between caring most for the disadvantaged, and believing that the people who've suffered most under new Labour are those who strive. I think probably we tend to be in the latter group, so we're very aware of what they've done to us, but we're humans with eyes, so we care very very much about what hasn't been done for our neighbours. And we know - unlike Margaret Hodge, who blames working class resentment on the right to buy, for goodness' sake! - that you don't help the most disadvantaged by hammering the middle classes.

"I'm more at home in the liberal Observer now than in the pages of the Telegraph. What a funny old world". Cameron supporters probably would be.
I am a supporter of the brand of conservatism espoused by the eminently successful Conservative, John Howard of Australia and not the Left media driven responses of our Dave. I note that you dscribe the Observer as "the traitors paper". There is very little appeal in Cameron's version of The Grand Old Duke of York politics for me.

I wasnt that surprised when I read my ST. In all my years as a health visitor, I have observed that the most staunch old labourites are really and truly Right Wing.Even though Red in tooth and claw. You only have to read Animal Farm you know. Funny old world! I guess thats what M/s Hodge must have been thinking too.

"Carping about project Cameron on nearly every page of comment"

What an exaggeration! The only 'carping' about the wannabe 'heir to Blair' in today's "Sunday Telegraph" seems to be on the letters page where people have responded to a previous article by Matthew d'Ancona. Accept the fact that not everyone thinks DC and the project is marvellous and that in a democratic party people have the right to express their concerns.

Can we be told what other S Tel articles there are there which carp at Boy Wonder today?I certainly didn't read any!

David Cameron's strategy in repositioning the party is based on an attempt to attract centre-ground voters who mainly previously voted Liberal Democrat. Changing our image is therefore crucial to this aim, but in the end we will have to make decisions in difficult areas, especially immigration, which was our most popular policy at the last election. We cannot simply get by on warm words about immigrants. Either we intend to reduce current levels, or we don't.

Image is important, but voters aren't stupid - they want substance in the form of clear policies.

Editor, you've got that exactly right. And jack Stone might want to listen, for a change. We don't want to block or undo Project Cameron - we want to make it work. Politics is more than branding games, and so your three points need repeating:

"The pace of change so that it is credible"... Don't treat the public like fools. Just saying something isn't the same as doing it.

"The need to substantiate change with some serious policy beef"... That is not anti-change, it is real change.

"And reassurance for the traditional supporters of the Conservative brand who have been faithful because of its emphasis on law and order, national sovereignty and smaller government"... Worthwhile change re-incorporates the good parts, the lasting values, of the previous stage.

I think we should remember what Oakeshott wrote of the beliefs of the 'man of conservative temperament, "the more closely an innovation resembles growth (that is, the more clearly it is intimated in and not merely imposed upon the situation) the less likely it is to result in a preponderance of loss.... Consequently, he prefers small and limited innovations to large and definite." Wise words for conservatives.

Dontmakemelaugh, I believe the Conservatives employed John Howard's campaign manager for our 2005 election campaign. Dog whistle my arse. That was just the way to appeal to moderate voters...

Vicars who preach to the choir end up with empty churches. I'm sure that there will be policy, good, detailed policy that our spokespeople can hit John Humphries over the head with on the Today programme. Politics is also about big meaningful gestures to show we've changed. Politico's may sneer at Cameron's riding a bike to work or having a wind thingy on his house but the overall image cuts through to ordinary people. Having a conference in Manchester, arguing that we will fight every seat, winable or not, that we will fight for the inner cities, talking up social justice. Sounds like a pretty good abstract for the next manifesto. I don't see this so much as replacing core conservative values so much as augmenting them with the kind of policy areas we completely abandoned in 2001 and 2005 because Labour did them so much better. I think Cameron can fight on education AND prisons, defence AND the developing world, healthcare AND immigration.

I agree with you Henry on the compatibility of the ANDs you mention. Is Project Cameron an 'AND' project, however, or is it more of a substitution project where old beliefs are being replaced by new ones? Some old beliefs have to go - sure - but my concern is that too many old beliefs are being discarded or neglected.

John, I agree with every word of what you hope for from Project Cameron. My only reservation is whether Cameron would agree.

Why wouldn't he agree? Because I see little evidence of the 'and'. And because I think he has a different idea of who 'the choir' is. He mistakes the Metropolitan set for the norm, and sees traditional Tories as the captive ones. But actually, every vote needs to be (and in a democracy, deserves to be) fought for.

"I'm sure that there will be policy, good, detailed policy that our spokespeople can hit John Humphries over the head with on the Today programme." On what do you base that certainty? It's been a while since I've seen a genuinely interesting new policy idea from any political faction.

I was thinking about this last night when I watched the interview with William Hague on BBC Parliament (there really was nothing on last night until MOTD). He was saying how he started trying to take the party to the centre but the party and media wouldn't have it, so he had to dog whistle to stop the party imploding.

I believe the Cameron strategy is to keep the core issues on the back burner for a couple of years and really try to fix in peoples minds, that we are a rounded inclusive party. Establish us as the party for the envoirnment, social justice ect, then we crank up the traditional core issues a bit more nearer the elections in a non inflammatory way.

Whether this works or a Gordon Brown snap election spoils the plans remains to be seen of course.

What's 'rounded and inclusive' about the metrosexual leftist platitutes Cameron and his Notting Hill friends spout?

Not much, but hey! It's OK. You're telling us this is all a front. Once the yuppies have been taken in, we switch back to core issues such as Lynton Crosby's 'We're not racists but..'

Exactly who is trying to fool whom?

"Can we be told what other S Tel articles there are there which carp at Boy Wonder today?I certainly didn't read any!"

Try the Booker column.

Some old beliefs have to go - sure - but my concern is that too many old beliefs are being discarded or neglected.

I agree completely Tim. Where I was expecting fusion, there appears to have been substitution.

It is not enough to say one thing then indirectly wink, nudge, nudge that the core issues will be taken care of "when in power". That is dishonest.

The aim should be to open fuse the ideas of the 'and' into one coherent message to show that a 21st century application of conservatism is what Britain needs.

And take a look at the ST letters column. ALL the letters there are slagging off the Boy Wonder.

He's sinking faster than the Bismarck!

The Cameron project will not work if he says that on the one hand we are all humane and compssionate and want better public service, a cleaner environment and a more equal society and then on the other hand says we want to tell asylum seekers to go back to where they came from, tell Europe to go to hell and bring back hanging. I am afraid mixed messages just do not work.
We must become the party who will make this country and kinder, gentler place to live. We need to preach compassion and caring not the sort of Doc Martins politics we have had in the last two election campaigns.
When the party elected David Cameron they chose a path for the party right through to the next election and beyond. They now need to show they have the courage to keep on going forward along that path. Mark my words if the party retreats on the path that as been set they will face disaster and in my opinion deservely so.

Anti Cameron Tory!.In my books anyone who takes such obvious pleasure at reading anything against the Conservative Party isn`t anti-Cameron Tory there just plain Anti-Tory!

'And take a look at the ST letters column. ALL the letters there are slagging off the Boy Wonder.

He's sinking faster than the Bismarck!'

What do you propose we do then? Any fool can see that we have a major perception problem. People who are not that interested
in politics think we only care about cutting taxes for the rich and slashing and burning public services. We will never get into government until that perception is changed and if you think we should reverse what we are doing because of what a few ungrounded Victor Meldrew types write into Telegraph, then you should sit back and look forward to another 20 years of opposition.

"We must become the party who will make this country and kinder, gentler place to live. We need to preach compassion and caring not the sort of Doc Martins politics we have had in the last two election campaigns."

In a harsh world, going round saying "hello Sun, Hello Sky" will convince most voters you're off with the fairies.

In a harsh world, going round saying "hello Sun, Hello Sky" will convince most voters you're off with the fairies."

...But presumably music to Rupert Murdoch's ears!

If you think that reaching out to moderate voters means we're off with the faries and if you care about conservative policies being enacted then you're the ones in for a world of pain. I think that to find an equivalent kamikaze instinct in the Labour party you'd have pick the constituency party which chose Peter Tatchell to fight the Bermondsey by-election in 1983.

"What do you propose we do then? Any fool can see that we have a major perception problem. People who are not that interested"

Well you can start by getting rid of that walking liability Camoron.

Did someone just mention Peter Tatchell in the same sentence as 'fairies'?

Homophobic comment! Homophobic comment!

'Well you can start by getting rid of that walking liability Camoron.'

Hate to get personal but I believe you are a fool of a wind up merchant whos posts on here are best ignored as they bring nothing to the table.

Of course the Telegraph are going to print letters from traditionalist Tories who are disgruntled with Cameron - no other paper will after all!

Too true Melissa, but what our dwindling group of right-on pale pink wine bar yuppie 'Tories' forget is that six months ago the letters column of the Torygraph was full of letters from Sir Tufton Bufton and other deluded fool praising the Boy Wonder.

Where are they now? I ask.

"Hate to get personal but I believe you are a fool of a wind up merchant whos posts on here are best ignored as they bring nothing to the table."

Well Andrew I suggest you show everybody else a good example by ignoring them yourself.

Touched a raw nerve did we?

There is nothing wrong with being modern and compassionate, caring for the environment, looking after the weakest in society. These attributes can and should be at the heart of Conservative policy. What the party has to do is to show how their policies do that. Our policies can involve tough decisions in order to deliver the good things, such as being tough on criminals to protect the rest of us. We can have a tough immigration policy in order to protect the quality of life for our own people.

No idea what you are on about. I suggest you go back to UKIP where I suspect you have come from.

Oh Andrew, were you slagging off Derek's rather sensible comments or can I believe that despite your earlier comments you are still reading my posts.

What makes you think I am from UKIP? Please do tell all.

I suspect I was working my backside off for Maggie when you were still dribbling over your bib.

Anti-Cameron Tory, It was a message for you. The thing you don't say is what you think Cameron or any leader should be doing and how you would take the people with you. It's easy to sit behind the screen shouting 'you're rubbish' without offering any kind of alternative. If you are prepared to state how you propose to win us back power, then I'd be prepared to listen, but at the moment, you sound like a know all pub bore.

Can we get back to the thread please? Alternatively the combatants should turn off their computers and go eat some Easter eggs!

Speaking of the great Mrs. T, the reaction to her becoming leader ("She's policy-lite, she doesn't know what she's doing) is not that disimilar to the same criticisms Cameron is getting now.

I think Cameron is good for the party - I might disagree with him on some things, such as his dictum on the NHS and married couples tax allowance (I'm much more economically liberal than Cameron), but I do know that he has a good team around him, and that the reaction when knock on doors is markedly different than a year ago at the General Election. I think we shouldn't be too quick to judge him - he's only been leader for five minutes.

That's not true Melissa and I know for a fact that you weren't even born at the time Maggie took over. Actually I would have expected more sense from you.

Maggie was attacked as an ideologue from day one. In a sense she was an ideologue and it was a very good thing for this country. I can still remember sitting in my little sports car overcome with excitement at her victory.

We need to be working for the post-Cameron scenario. I voted for Davis and he would be my preferred choice now.

I suspect others at a much higher level are working for the same outcome. Now I wonder who was that anonymous member of the Shadow Cabinet briefing against Cameron last week to George Jones.

Answers on a postcard please...

"If you think that reaching out to moderate voters means we're off with the faries..."

I think that adopting the sort of approach that Jack advocates would convince the public of precisely that.

I consider myself a true Conservative, but I cannot see Dave leading us anywhere but into the "Slough of Despond", let alone into Government.

Sucking up to Blair, trying to paint himself green and appealing to people who will never vote Tory in a million years is not going to get him into No 10.

People want to hear tough talking, which is why the BNP will be the winner in the local elections. Margaret Hodge has put her finger on it, the electorate want to know who will defend Britain and it ain't Dave.

"The Cameron project will not work if he says that on the one hand we are all humane and compssionate and want better public service, a cleaner environment and a more equal society and then on the other hand says we want to tell asylum seekers to go back to where they came from, tell Europe to go to hell and bring back hanging"

I don't see why those can't all go together (except the clash between being humane and sending all asylum seekers back, although I don't think "send 'em all back" was ever party policy). All of the positions you've just outlined are popular with the public.

We've spent 9 years on the extreme and got nowhere. The British people don't vote in extreme parties and appear not to want tough talking which is why we have under 200 seats. The BNP will only be a winner at the local elections thanks to ill educated jealous racists.

Anti-Cameron: No, I wasn't born when Mrs. T became leader, but plenty of my (Conservative) family & friends who do remember the occasion have assured me this was the case.

I'm intrigued as to your identity, Anti-Cameron - who are you and how do you know me? Answers to [email protected] ...

"People who are not that interested
in politics think we only care about cutting taxes for the rich and slashing and burning public services..."

I seem to remember that, when we had a CP that was committed to cutting taxes, we won elections.

Richard, there was a lot more to winning than that. I obviously advocate low taxes, but people I talk to think that is the only thing we are interested in. We need to show that it isn't the only policy we have and that we are a rounded party.

"I'm intrigued as to your identity, Anti-Cameron"

Ah! wouldn't you like to know Melissa. Well let me say it was nice to meet a member of the generally-ghastly CF who actually resembled the YC lovelies of old.

The Tory Party needs just one core policy - a commitment to individual freedom. After that everything else will fall into place.

That simple principle rules out PC fascism and its adherents, Cameron included.

Withour freedom, the party will wither and die. That's why we have to make fighting the cancer of PC the first of our priorities.

Andrew makes a good point, in that a policy on tax is not a subsitute for a complete economic policy. I worry that Brown is borrowing so much money, that we're going to be left with a large black hole to fill once we're back in government.

However, I think Andrew is incorrect when he says that the Conservative Party has spent 9 years on the extreme. Instead, I think we've been allowed to let ourselves be characterised as extreme. Part of the challenge we face in winning back voters is to get them to listen to us so that they understand our politics, and understand the theories behind them (ie, promotinmg lower taxes does not mean we're going to close your local hospital). I think Cmaeron has a better chance of getting the public to listen to us than Davis would have had... I felt Fox (my preference before he got knocked out) would have done this job justice as well.

And Anti-Cameron - individual freedom as a guiding principle for our party is certainly something we can agree one!

I wonder who was the Shadow cabinet member briefing against Cameron last week? Of course we bloody know who that was. The same cabinet member who briefed against Howard, Duncan Smith and Hauge.
You speak as if this person was right doing it. He was wrong, wrong and wrong again and the sooner he is kicked out of not just the cabinet but the parliamentary party as well the better.


Are you actually a Conservative Jack?

"Of course we bloody know who that was. The same cabinet member who briefed against Howard, Duncan Smith and Hauge."

Ive got no idea who it is...

Take a wild guess, James.

I'm intrigued as to your identity, Anti-Cameron - who are you and how do you know me? Answers to [email protected] ...

If anyone wondered why some of us post on on this website anonymously, the reason is clear and present on this thread.

What's worse than having creeps like Anti-Cameron Tory, slither around claiming to know people while hiding behind monikers themselves and saying mean and nasty things to boot?

Where are they now? I ask

Spending more time out campaigning before a crucial set of local elections rather than writing letters to the Telegraph, one would hope!

Are you actually a Conservative Jack?

You ask that of Jack Stone, who's been robustly defending the Conservative leadership, and with whom I roundly agree, but you don't ask it of the guy who says:

Anti-Cameron Tory: We need to be working for the post-Cameron scenario. I voted for Davis and he would be my preferred choice now.

Anti-Cameron Tory has a vote! He's a Party member. How can such an attitude be productive? If he's looking (very wrongly in my opinion) for another leadership contest, how can that be conducive to the aims and objectives of the Conservative Party, with local elections weeks away?

Okay, I'm off to calm down now...

I suspect that those who are so vociferous against Cameron now were among the minority who voted against him in the leadership election just five months ago.

The comparison with 1979 is indeed instructive. All through 1977-8 the criticism of the Thatcher leadership was that it was heavy on "philosophy", light on policy. I was one of the critics and we were wrong.

We continued to criticise throughout her first term: Cable & Wireless and British Aerospace were de-nationalised, but we wanted more privatisation; the Trades Union laws were reformed but the reforms seemed timid.

It is less than a year since the General Election, less than six months since the election of David. Policy formation will take another one, perhaps two, years. Much more significant than the changes in policy that have been announced is the broadening of the policy issues that we are talking about.

I am sure that come the next election we will offer the electorate a distinctively Conservative manifesto. I hope too that we will offer one that addresses a wider range of issues than we campaigned on in the previous two elections.


Someone who's calling for a member of the Shadow Cabinet to be expelled is a pretty peculiar Conservative Richard.

Someone who's calling for a member of the Shadow Cabinet to be expelled is a pretty peculiar Conservative Richard.

I'm not defending that particular call necessarily (on lack of evidence, if nothing else) but it does seem that contributors to this blog spend far too much time with their fire trained on their own side overall. Maybe they think they have more fun like that?

The story that Jack refers to is probably, incidentally, one of those where we will never know whether it was really an internal briefing, or just a bit of journalistic spin that crossed a line.

Oh, and somebody who seems to be willing to do all he can to beg for another leadership contest *isn't* a rather peculiar kind of Conservative?

I know in recent years it probably wasn't, but now we've got over all that, haven't we?

>>I wonder who was the Shadow cabinet member briefing against Cameron last week? Of course we bloody know who that was. The same cabinet member who briefed against Howard, Duncan Smith and Hauge.<<

Ok. Spill it Jack.

Now that Portillo's gone the options aren't so obvious.

And why are these leaders all so dumb that they keep the guy on bard?

I just realised! Anti-Cameron Tory is BARBARA VILLIERS! The Duchess is back! How are you Barbara?

Dontmakelaugh, I'm also a big fan of John Howard. He is my PM, and I used to work for one of his ministers. But I've come to the conclusion that DC is better to consider the approach that John Howard used in 1996 to win, not the approach he uses in 2006 to successfully sustain his government.

Howard's approach in 1996 was to make the switch as easy as possible for swinging voters. Pursue the big policy changes, after you've won office, when you've got incumbency working for you, not against you. And right now I think DC is laying the foundations for this approach pretty well.

Doh!

Just realised who A-C-T is...

Richard Carey says "but it does seem that contributors to this blog spend far too much time with their fire trained on their own side overall."

I agree with Richard. But it might also help if the parliamentary party could focus on opposition a bit more.

"Dontmakelaugh, I'm also a big fan of John Howard. He is my PM, and I used to work for one of his ministers. But I've come to the conclusion that DC is better to consider the approach that John Howard used in 1996 to win, not the approach he uses in 2006 to successfully sustain his government".

I am a frequent visitor to Australia which is a lovely country with equally splendid people. It seems to me that much of the media in Oz is Left-wing and its commentators are continually annoyed and baffled by the Aussies continually voting the Right- wing conservative Mr Howard.
I do not believe that Cameron will win the next election by being a pale imitation of Blair and acting as if he (Cameron) is ashamed and apologetic of being a Conservative.
We are being told by the BBC (hard to believe) that 25% are going to vote for the BNP (in other words they will not be voting Conservative). Cameron has rejected the policy of immigration as adopted bt the Conservatives at the last election.
IDS is at present on the radio telling us that people regard Westminster as being irrelevant. Cameron is tossing away votes.
In today's Telegraph David Hannan the MEP informs us that it does not matter who you vote for - nothing will change. Even more so regarding the unelected goverance by Brussels commissioners. Voters have and are becoming more and more aware that they are wasting their time voting; nothing of any significance is going to change, full stop.

'However, I think Andrew is incorrect when he says that the Conservative Party has spent 9 years on the extreme.'

You are right Melissa, I should have said percieved, however the way the immigration policy was pushed at the last election made us look like extremists. Although I agreed with the policy on purely a space and quality of life issue, there were many who liked it in a 'keep foreigners out of our country' way. When you push a policy as much as that (we at a local level were sent 40 times the amount of immigration leaflets compared to Education) then you will get labelled extreme.

>>I just realised! Anti-Cameron Tory is BARBARA VILLIERS! The Duchess is back! How are you Barbara?<<

Right in one Alex. I've even got the sex-change certificate to prove it.

Nobody outside a bunch of limp-wristed Wine Bar yuppie pinkos regarded the Tory anti-immigration policy as 'extreme' and nobody believes that the party has made a genuine 180 deg change on the issue anyway.

Now that even the Nazi BNP are gaining support by saying what 90% of the British people think, Nutory is going to look rather sick...

...dontya think?

On the "Who was the member of the Cabinet briefing" question, I would guess David Davis. Bit sad for Jack Stone to go as far as saying someones been briefing but not have the cahones to actually name that person.

A dangerous statement James.

Actually Dave Davis usually tends to use henchmen to do the business. I have someone in mind but having had a sex change (see above) I've got no cohones at all so will keep schtum.

Just to clarify, I wasnt saying it was Davis. How would I know? I was just guessing based on Jack Stones comments in the past.

"I've got no cohones at all" - Quite. Although even the ladies on the board sign their names.

Ah Henry sweetie.

Guess I'm no lady

It's either Villiers or Coulson. Neither of them is welcome.

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