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The one part of Built to Last that I opposed was the part on Tax Cuts and stability. I said at the time that it just strengthened our opponents wrong headed arguments.

Well what do you know, Gordon Brown proved me (and many others) right.

Whaddyaknow, I was right about the "outrider" term! An important political tactic at all levels of politics. This term will become more prominent in the coming months and years with Labour trying to work out its future and with the Conservatives trying to adapt itself. The Orange Bookers are a form of "outrider".

On the issue of tax cuts, Im a passionate supporter of tax cuts. But if we are to campaign for tax cuts it must be done properly and the campaign must start right now.

Editor, is it possible for the term "outrider" to be entered in the Dictionary? Its not a Conservative term, but it is a key phrase in terms of political tactics.

Whats an outrider , a gay jockey?

I was "willing to buy Labour's argument that Britain's public services needed a step increase in funding" because it was obviously true. Why? Because the policy of setting interest rates to try to keep sterling moving in parallel with the German mark (first Lawson surreptitiously "shadowing" it, then the overt link through the ERM) caused a boom, followed by a bust and the longest and deepest recession since the war, and during that recession the Tory government had been forced to be very tight on funding to services in order to limit the growth of the budget deficit. This is what happens during a recession - tax revenues drop, social security payments rise, and so the budget deficit explodes unless economies can be found. It was obvious that a period of catching up was needed. But that period is now over, the additional money which was needed then has been provided, although not all spent to very good effect, and the tax burden has to be lightened before it starts doing serious damage to the economy.

An outrider is a person who tests the political turf as it were by coming out into the open and arguing for something radical (Byers on IHT for example) No harm is done to the Labour Party because hes a failed Minister, but the media take note and the cogs start turning. Its a political tactic which allows the Government to call for something while not calling for something.

The Government can get the media behind them by arguing through a third person for something they couldnt get away with arguing directly.

Congratulations for publishing this Tim - it's an excellent & thought-provoking presentation. I have had a quick look at it but need to spend more time on it. It's interesting to see the breadth of its scope - looking at education & health services, as well as tax.

Less, though, by way of horizon-gazing: pensions, demographics, long-term care and so on. Unless they are at the bottom of the tables.

Thanks James.
I'm a bit sorry that it isn't a gay jockey though.

must be able to put this in context - an outrider is trying to change the direction of travel through innovative virtualisation while limiting the downside to the established political process.

I think Matthew has made a mistake betting the farm on ConHome to influence the Tory Party, as for me, the strength of the TPA is its independence.

One of the core reasons for me for joining UKIP, has nothing to do with the EU, but that both Nigel Farage and David Campbell-Bannerman have pledged a strong, proud small-government, low taxation domestic agenda.

It's good to see the TPA growing some teeth and showing what they think of Cameron, but, imho, they have made the wrong conclusion (although perhaps they can be forgiven for coming to that conclusion at this point in time).

In short, we don't don't want bloody wishy 'hints' of a lox tax agenda, we want a party that has this approach as its core.

Classic Butskellite Toryism from Osborne: play the game according to the left's rules and hope that something will turn up on Election Day. Problem is that we don't live in the fifties anymore and people aren't going to vote Tory for reasons of deference or "because Winston Churchill was a great man".

the tpa isnt "betting the farm" on influencing the tories - quite the opposite.

they are explaining why the tories are wrong and explaining what they are going to do given the tories are UNikely to change.

this is the opposite of what u are suggesting...

I used the term outrider yesterday entirely off my own bat ( context below ) does this prove I have uncanny instincts ? I was thinking of the way views distant from Labour policy are often expressed by cabinet ministers so as to give the Illusion that the labour party is leading debates on ,say , immigration.This prompted the thought that David Cameron needs more `legitimate` help of this sort to balance the message on electorally hyper sensitive areas like taxation .

` David Cameron is playing a poor hand pretty well, not a good hand badly. That is why he is highly sensitive to the feelings of swing voters in marginals and not at all to core Conservative voters. Exactly what he should be doing in fact and it is irritating at times of course

I would like to see the development of tax simplifying policies. The notion that the government shouldn’t hide charges when a supermarket would be in court for the small print is easier to sell than specific cuts which are, in any case academic. Also the sort of structural realignment I would like can only be made politically possible by changing the voter’s relationship to the taxes he pays.
As the Labour party and everyone else, know what the effect of de -stealthing taxation would-be I would like David Cameron out of it completely .Shadow cabinet OUTRIDERS should be fighting the dangerous ground sending up the flare and taking the flak in required. Where are they ?`

Crikey I mixed that metaphor earlier in the show didn`t I ....

On the media, the TPA concludes:
"The only hope on this front is the further development of ConservativeHome"

That seems a clear statement to me.

This is simply not the case and to me, highlights that that the TPA has started to take political sides which I think will weaken its support.

ConHome is useful, but clearly, it is not the *only* hope for a media breakthrough.

If you go into the next election promising any sort of tax cuts you must first show how clearly they will be paid for. If you don`t Labour will once again say that cuts in frontline services will be the result of Tory tax cuts and you will, as certain as day follows night, lose the election

Jack, I thought David James produced a long report before the last election which highlightind all sorts of waste within the public sector which could be reduced. So there is your answer....unless you agree with Gordon Brown and David Cameron that every penny of public spending is money well-spent and delivers value for money.

If tax cuts can be paid for then wheres the problem. Theres no ambition to face the hard battles in this party. Its pretty pathetic to be honest. This Party is simply too sissy to actually say "We want tax cuts" plain and simple with no conditions...

100% agreed James. If you believe in something, argue your case, win people around.

That's what a leader does and they know they can't please all the people, all the time.

We need a leader, not a new best mate.

No no no . Seats that will move on tax cuts are well won already .Marginals in the subsidised North and where public sector workers are important are the key .Electorally the negative connotaions of tax cut whispers will be amplified and we can lose the election with or without a supposed ability to be less wasteful (... Extreme scepticism guaranteed on this )

You do need an immensely subtle language to give the right message on tax which at its core is a Liberty issue more than a efficiency issue.
David Cameron personally is right to leave it alone hence the importance of `outriders` to give the overall message some depth .The Labour Party have presided over a historic movement of resources from private hands into the state`s but they have never had a commitment to `raise` taxes .
The key to tax I feel ,is campaiging for simplification and rationalisation . The growth of the state has the momentum of an Oil tanker in motion so creating the political conditions in which it can be turned is what we should be worrying about. We have to change the nature of the debate entirely and this can only be dodne gradually from government .

Well thats what I think anyway ( I think)

I found this finding from the Research interesting. "ABs claim to be much more pro-market than C2s, but they are
much less keen on tax cuts."

So is the problem that Cameron and Osbourne are AB's and like most AB's are not keen on tax cuts?

Surely our tax plans ought to be targeted at what appeals to C2's?

The country is crying out for tax cuts, but the decision is too important to be left to Cameron and "George" Osborne.

Such important decisions on policy should be taken by a national vote of all members of the Conservative Party

Sorry to break up this little gathering of idealists, but if the Tory Party says "we want tax cuts, no conditions" we will lose the next election - and Gordon Brown will have another 5 years to ruin things.

Politics is about compromise. Just believing in something is not enough, you have to SELL it (and win marginals).

Try and understand. The party has an appalling record on public services. If a Tory says "We want tax cuts (no conditions)" the public hear "cuts to public services" and get flashbacks of hospital beds in corridors!

The poll the other day suggests that public opinion is starting to accept there is much govt waste, but we cant get ahead of public opinion or we will merely reinforce our nasty party image.

At the last election many of our policies were popular, but when people learned they were our policies they disliked them - because we are the Nasty Party!

Shedding that image is the most important thing, otherwise the voters wont give us the benefit of the doubt, no matter what we believe.

The TPA should be congratulated for producing by far the most sensible research into the subject that I have seen.

But ultimately, this is depressing reading. The corruption of the debate, the TPA says, is solely down to the low esteem which the current generation of politicians has brought upon itself. When the public resist change because that change can only be brought about by politicians, who the public despise..... Brilliant, Blair! You've pulled it off! Stay as long as you want.

My humble advice to the Cameron team is to double the individual tax allowances and to find dozens, perhaps hundreds of items that should be zero-rated for VAT. Make this a C2-friendly policy which the ABs can support, not the other way round. With popular support behind them, the pendulum swing will eventually allow the reduction or abolition of inhertance tax and stamp duty.

Paul Newman, when in Government, the post-War Tory Party has, with one limited exception, Thatcher, never changed the terms of debate. So I simply don't believe that the priority is getting into Government and then it will all be different.....This completely ignores most of the post-1945 history of the Tory Party as it has constantly appeased the left in the short-term pursuit of office. The Tories are still at it: tuition fees for universities, which Cameron supports, are nothing other than a huge disguised tax hike dressed up as a user fee while Gordon
Brown seeks ever greater political interference in the running of universities. Your strategy is a surefire recipe for an ever-rising tax burden.

Jon Gale, the Tory Party only has an appalling record on public services in two respects: (a) if you accept and fail to challenge Labour Party propaganda which is what many leftish Conservatives do; and (b) if you take into account the way in which the Tories have consistently gone along with Labour's worst proposals for public services, especially education. Because the Tories live in thrall to Labour, none of this has changed much in fifty years. They don't deserve to win an election because they haven't got a credible alternative strategy for running the country. In their heart of hearts, they know this which is why they devote so much time and effort to PR gimmicks, such as ritualised trips by Cameron to suck up to Nelson Mandela, who may be a great man but is nowhere near as great as, say, Ronald Reagan or John Paul II.

Er...did they mean the 1990s or the 1890s?

Guess what just plopped through my door? A "personal" letter from "Dave" together with "Built to Last" which turns out to be a tiny, skinny, little booklet 10 pages long (well 8 if you exclude Dave's waffle at the beginning)

What a letdown! I was expecting a manifesto. Instead we get something that looks (and reads) like the rules of the Tufty Club.

My girlfriend told me to chuck it in the bin but as she's UKIP I'll put that off...

For the time being.

Og said "My humble advice to the Cameron team is to double the individual tax allowances ...."
Great for the low paid with less proportional gain for the better paid.

Reading the TPA is altering my view. Ashcroft's research said that our problem on tax was that not enough voters believed we would cut taxes. If we spent 3 years telling them that then the message would get through. I echo ConHome's point quoting the fattening of calves.... It needs to start early next year at the latest.

Afterall dont we have the best salesman of the 3 parties as Leader?

Ultimately everyone wants both lower taxes and better services. Getting to such a point, if possible, is the issue. People don't like taxes but also don't want cuts in services. When asked if they would pay more taxes if services really would be better, they nearly awlays say they would pay more. This is one of many deeper nuances to this debate that must be understood if we are to avoid the same mistakes we made last time. I think messages about stability are important. I would prefer to see us pick a tax that we can reduce without frightening the horses while moving generally to simpler tax systems. The longer term fundamental debate that tocuhes on tax and services is about responsibility - the degree to which people take charge of their lives and this will not shift quickly.


Ultimately everyone wants both lower taxes and better services. Getting to such a point, if possible, is the issue.

Cut taxes. Increased revenues. More money for services. QED.

Don't believe me? Look at the US Federal Government Tax Revenues since the Bush Tax Cuts. And indeed surging State tax revenues.

Gildas, Eire is another good example of that.

Great political leaders alter the terms of political debate. That is what Cameron ought to be aiming for.

"When asked if they would pay more taxes if services really would be better, they nearly awlays say they would pay more."

Perhaps another question ought to be asked: "Would you favour tax cuts if you were able to spend the extra money on public services out of your own pocket?"

How can you possibly criticise Brown for his high tax-low efficiency approach but not conclude that the answer should be lower taxes?

You must be either:
a) Seeking a smaller government with more personal repsonsibility.


b)Seeking to run the same state provision as Labour but run more efficiently.


c)No change from Labour.

(a) and (b) clearly require less taxation as they are cheaper, so the only option that does not enable clear tax cuts is if you seek to just copy Brown.

You should not be a timid mouse, too afraid to state your case about lower taxation.

Og - You can't find lots of things which can be zero-rated for VAT. WHY? because Brussels says not and we don't govern ourselves any more!!
On the wider issue I am appalled that the consensus here seems to be to give in to the Brown blackmail. This blackmail is like an alcohol who says 'If you don't give me another drink I'll throw things'.

The economy is running into the ground NOW - not next year -NOW. We are losing our competitiveness and unemployment is sharply on the rise. Even ignoring what the public would like, the economy has to have tax cuts.

Brown may talk of patients on trolleys in corridors but those happened under Brown's chancellorship! The NHS is collapsing under Brown with vast sums of money being squandered. My husband has just had a hip operation but that hospital is to close imminently. The patients will have to squeeze into the Charing Cross - an enormous modern hospital- which is also scheduled to close if management gets its way. Doctors and nurses are to be sacked. The system is crazy - All the staff know its crazy and it's indefensible.

If Cameron could only get his tiny brain round this, tax cuts would be easily sold. All that fortune in taxes thrown at the NHS has made it worse.

And what about the cost of ID cards? What about the failing and vastly over-budget NHS IT system? In any case, as Gildas points out, cutting taxes generally has been found to raise revenues

We sold a Tory revival in 1950/51 in the teeth of Labour saying we would abolish the welfare state. It just took political leadership - THAT's what the Party lacks.

Christina you talk like my sort of woman!

Do you agree with me that Inheritance Tax should be abolished?

Here's a chance for Dave to prove that he listens to the people.
What clearer example does he want that Tax, in its many forms that Gordon has devised over the years, is of paramount importance to the electorate, particularly the middle classes who bear the brunt of it.
Do the decent thing and start talking about the subject, it will crucify Gordon who has robbed us blind, and if the Unions back him then we know what we are in for, a return to the 70's and union led chaos.
Dave needs to take on board Thatcherism not criticise it.

>>Dave needs to take on board Thatcherism not criticise it.<<

I was proud to be a radical Thatcherite in the FCS. It's up to all true Tories to show their Thatcherite tax-cutting credentials NOW!

In my book any Tory who isn't proud to call themselves a Thatcherite should consider their position.

Malvolio - At this point I hesitate to pick particular taxes because I am open to persuasion about which would be the most effective. IHT would certainly rank high because it is a distorting tax. Thresholds would also be important and possibly the most important because it would remove the low-paid from tax altogether thus simplifying collection and thus enabling the next round of tax cuts!!

Again cuts to incentivise the economy could rank no:1.

I am acutely conscious that G Brown has some nasties in store in the form of UNFUNDED tax commitments - - around £16 billion on defence alone.

The important thing for the party is to nail its tax-cutting intentions to the masthead as the prime objective while listing priorities - that's important - but saying "precise details will be in the manifesto, but rest asssured that the Conservative government WILL cut taxes as soon as it can"

I would agree with that Christina.If we are to be a tax cutting party it is important to make the case long before an election as Michael Ashcroft and Lynton Crosby have elonquently made clear.Whch taxes can be decided later.
However we also need to be honest with the electorate and also start making the case for reducing spending which takes a lot of political bravery and will inevitably lose us votes from those affected.

Then let's make sure that those affected by tax cuts are the individuals most electors are least concerned about.

I hear endless complaints from colleagues, drinking pals etc about the money that is wasted on certain groups and individuals. Spongers and the like.

Let's target these unpopular groups.

Malvolio, how can we be sure that the money saved from reducing spending on such people would be large enough to afford significant tax cuts? There is undoubtedly a great deal of waste but I suspect relatively little of it (except perhaps for benefit fraud) is due to spending on undeserving persons.

That's not the point Richard.

The man in the street BELIEVES that enormous sums are wasted on these people.

Let's announce a war on scroungers. It's what Joe Public wants to hear.

f you go into the next election promising any sort of tax cuts you must first show how clearly they will be paid for. If you don`t Labour will once again say that cuts in frontline services will be the result of Tory tax cuts and you will, as certain as day follows night, lose the election

In view of the PSFD which is increasingly rapidly under Gordo Brown and the yawning trade deficit which will expand as we import oil and gas...................maybe it would be nice if someone explained how they are going to fund these twin deficits going forward......................the current level of public spending is unsustainable

"In the 1990s the public were willing to buy Labour's argument that Britain's public services needed a step increase in funding"

As i recall Labour stuck to Conservative spending plans for a couple of years after taking office.

"The man in the street BELIEVES that enormous sums are wasted on these people.

Let's announce a war on scroungers. It's what Joe Public wants to hear."

And then what happens when figures are revealed showing that savings that can be made from this "war" are minimal.

I'm all for tax cuts and cutting waste but we need to start accurately identifying where it is. Or nobody will take us seriously.

The most depressing aspect of this and other policy areas - is the way CCO thinking is being left in the starting blocks by independent (yet mainly right wing)Think Tanks. The TPA along with MigrationWatch and Civitas are streets ahead in building an intellectual answer to the prevailing,sloppy, social/liberal belief in the supremacy of the State.

The TPA is right we are fighting the last war.

It is no great surprise that if you ask people “Which of the following tax cuts would you like to see, regardless of whether you think they are likely?”, the answer is “All of them”. That answer doesn’t justify the report that has been built around it.

However, despite my misgivings, the TPA report does draw attention to the root cause of all of our problems: people simply don’t trust politicians to deliver.

Politicians don’t deliver not because they’re liars, but because they’re naïve and haven’t got the talent and experience. Unfortunately, the Conservative Party is no different to Labour in this respect. So while Cameron has the right principles at heart, even the party faithful wouldn’t trust him to deliver a pizza - let alone a healthy economy.

To win the next election, without following Malvolio’s “tell ‘em what they want to hear”, we have to know exactly how we’re going to deliver our promises. For that, we need better use of the expertise that exists outside politics (and I’m not talking academics and consultants, but people who actually have experience of delivering in the relevant environment).

I wouldn't use the word "scroungers", firstly because it's not necessarily accurate and secondly because Im sure it would be easy to produce some apparently deserving individuals who would suffer from an ill-judged "war on scroungers".

One problem is that to improve efficiency and competitiveness employers have raised their standards for employability and by doing so they've in effect excluded previously employable older and marginally disabled and otherwise disadvantaged people from the workforce. At the same time, there are more school-leavers who are unemployable, some of whom might not have been employable even in earlier times. This has been going on for some decades, but of course it's much easier for employers to ignore this pool of potential workers if it's possible to select relatively problem-free employees from an unlimited supply of foreign workers - which is fine for each employer taken in isolation, but does mean that more taxes are needed to pay social security benefits to the unemployable.

Richard, Sean, Gildas - I don't disagree. The issue is the publics view and how Labour twist the view. It has to be handled cleverly, in previous elections it wasn't.


Denis would you say that some of the problem is being caused by EU immigrants undercutting our wages?

If you go into the next election promising taxes when nurses and doctors are being sacked, wards closed and operations cancelled in the NHS you will simply be committing political suicide.
The party needs to prove that it care`s about public services and that it as the policys to improve them first before it starts talking about cutting taxes.
The people do not trust us on public services and until they do we need talk about tax cuts as much as we need talk about leaving the EU.

Still, in the comments above, it is clear that the message is not getting through:-

1. If we don't cut taxes the economy will collapse - as it is beginning to do now anyway.
2. Tax cuts so invigorate EVERY economy where they've been tried that tax revenues rise.

3. It needs a COMMITMENT to tax cuts as a policy objective NOW - the details can be left till nearer the election

4. Any party that cannot take the present government to pieces on the way it squanders our money is beneath contempt - equals Cameron.

"3. It needs a COMMITMENT to tax cuts as a policy objective NOW - the details can be left till nearer the election"

This is of course electoral suicide. And anyway, why do we need it NOW when about three working parties are looking at it. We really have to take on board the fact that Tories taliking about tax cuts are less popular than Labour talking about mationalisation. If you want to sell tax cuts you have to prepare the ground carefully (pigs and markets?). So, how about three working parties looking at tax. Cumon guys get a grip!

Paul Newman at 14:00 (sorry been out all day!) - do you live in the "subsidised north" as you describe it?

In this part of the north cutting taxes has been vital to our strength, now dominating a district (West Lancashire) bordered by socialist St Helens, Knowsley, and Wigan. I talk from experience, I'd be interested to know what yours is?

"If you go into the next election promising taxes when nurses and doctors are being sacked"

Instead we will sack outreach workers, diversity co-ordinators, smoking cessation officers and driveway replacement officers. I hope.

(I made that last one up but I expect it will be created soon.)

One of the most successful results recently was Hammersmith where the campaign was totally focussed on cutting expenditure. HQ didn't like it - they were (and are) running scared. We should propose what's right for Britain and then SELL it. That's what a good leader does.

As I pointed out earlier we MUST have the tax cuts or the economy will slide into oblivion. Carrying on with high taxes is not an option. So, David Sergeant, get out and tell people the truth - people like that. They've not had much of it lately from Blair or Cameron.

We have a strategy and we must stick to our strategy. Share the proceeds of growth over the parliament. But no promise of massive tax cuts now. Stability and demonstrating that we are not tax and slash zealots must come first. Without this we will never win. All you seem to want is for us to fight 2001 and 2005 all over again! Well, some of you want to go even further: ALL immigration stopped, a promise of the return of the poll tax, massive tax cuts (presumably accompanied by public service cuts, no?) etc. etc. Do we have to have ANOTHER electoral defeat before you will learn?

Getting policies right is a careful exercise. Its often quoted on here that we should take a lead from business and that politicians don't know much etc. This angle seems to be chucked at modernisers in the party by some posts. Well putting aside the fact that many Conservative politicians do have a business background (which can't be said for most Labour ones) I would like to point out what business has learnt when formulating its products (read policies in our case). I speak with some knowledge on this. Quite a few posts on this site refer to the question of leading opinion in the sense of trying to educate the public (eg on tax and spend). Industry generally avoids this as there is considerable evidence of how hard, time consuming and costly such an approach is. In politics of course we have a duty to try but I'll come back to that. At the other extreme we have the approach that crudely takes focus group feedback and hall testing and just reacts to it. At one time quite a lot of businesses did this and their products became stuck in a rut. At the same time they learnt that if they were purely design led and just did what they wanted they had some very expensive product flops!! Good businesses learnt that they needed to understand wants and needs and to look for cues about what emerging products might be accepted without too much education but allowing for this to support the next range etc. Returning to our debate here, above is not theoretical. I think to crudely say we just have to lead, whatever the negative perceptions for key sections of the voters, is folly (Christina drifts towards this model). Yes we do need to lead but the skill is to identify some win-wins and the right message that resonates with enough voters in order to lead them in a dierction at a speed they can cope with. People say they don't like taxes and would like them reduced but they also say that they don't want service cuts and would pay more tax if they were certain of improvements in key public services like health. There are ways we can steer a course through this. One option in my view is to say we will simplify and start to cut taxes on business so as to help the economy and thus generate the wealth we need to pay for key services. This might be complemented by reforming personal taxes in a variety of ways in order to encourage the personal responsibility we will need to underpin sensible future cuts in taxes without harming frontline services.


Yes there is a strategy. Why must we stick to it. What if it is not the correct strategy? The consensus of this blog is pretty much that it is wrong. What Dave has done so far has been very successful. He has returned the Party to electability. He is more popular than Blair. Those around him seem to think that this is sufficient. That one more heave will see him into Downing Street. That he can win by default if he smiles enough, is nasty enough to Norman Tebbit and hundreds of Party activists whose only crime is to actually believe in Tory philosophy and above all if he has a lobotomy or leaves policy to Oliver Letwin, which amounts to the same thing.
Many people on this blog think this is wrong. Firstly because it means he will enter No 10 (if he pulls it off) like Blair in 1997 with no idea what to do in govt to address the woes of this country and will treat office like an 18th century Etonian as something to carve on his gravestone in Westminster Abbey in between shooting and the grand tour. The purpose of the Conservative party and the measure of its success is not a member of the Party as PM but a Conservative policy on Health and Education as a law.
Secondly, increasingly and now supported by the TPA many people think that the strategy is wrong because, with the electorate so disillusioned by politics, only a radical programme of reform and tax cuts will energise the voters into kicking out the government. A radical programme needs careful selling (and thinking up first) and this needs to be well in front of a GE which must certainly be May 08 and may be Sept 07.

Jonathan, what's with the chip on the shoulder? 18th century Etonian? Gravestone entries in Westminster Abbey, shooting and the Grand Tour? I think you forgot his membership of Whites, plus the obligatory Garter and peerage. Come on!

If you read some of the contributions here, you'd be forgiven the narrative would be something like this:

People in Surrey with poncy names like Tarquin and Annabel, drinking Pimms and driving Jags aren't really Tories. REAL Tories like ME were canvassing in 1997 oop north in a gritty urban area, wearing cloth caps, demanding that all taxes be abolished. I don't care about winning elections and being a serious, broad-based, national party because that's too far outside my comfort zone, I just want to feel morally smug about my manifesto. I can't cope with the idea we might actually have to govern, and I don't trust all these fancy-looking new people attracted by electoral success.

Hardly an attractive narrative for the swinging voters in marginal seats we need, is it? People are attracted to positive people that represent success - and I think that for an Opposition Leader, DC is doing that pretty well.

You also may well think that the purpose of the Conservative Party is better policy on Health and Education as a law, Jonathan - but you can't do that unless you have a Conservative PM in Number 10, first. Win, then drive the policy direction. Use the considerable power of incumbency to your advantage, not against you.

Maybe it's not as satisfying for some activists, but it's more likely to get you where you want to be. (Personally, though, the thought of the beers flowing nicely while "Con Gain" lights up TV screens seems pretty good.) THEN you can act on the TPA's proposals, which I personally find attractive.

nurses and doctors are being sacked, wards closed and operations cancelled in the NHS you will simply be committing political suicide.

Exactly what is happening now and even more so in 2007............Australia looks very attractive to doctors at present as they find no places because of changes to medical training schemes and imported medics and budget cuts.............Queensland is looking for 300 doctors and there is a global shortage of doctors and nurses

Queensland is Godzone, Tom Tom : )

The messages of changetowin and Alexander Drake are absolutely ridiculous. Clearly they know nothing about the way our party succeeds.

We put Cameron in to generate a bright new image as opposed to the baseball cap and strange appearance of Hague and the "something of the night look" of Howard.

Don't let me start about the ridiculous, mumbling IDS, who resembled a visitor from ET or some other outer space fantasy.

Cameron is smooth, good looking and aristocratic. So far so good. Now we need the policies - Tory policies.

Why don't these crypto-Socialists push off and join some party better suited to their pathetic ideas.

I have no objection to people called Tarquin who play golf in Surrey. Don't these idiots realise that that type of person votes for us anyway.

No, what I object to is playing up to the bedsitland looney left denizens of London, which is what some of the recent nonsense seems to be intended to include.

These people will never vote for us in a million years. Grow up and realise the truth

Stability and demonstrating that we are not tax and slash zealots must come first"

Exactly what Gordon Brown was saying before the 1997 election. Do we really have to ape them? Always heed the lessons of history, or you are doomed to repeat them.

Listen to Christine and you will simply stay in opposition forever. Tax cuts will lose the party the next election not win it.
We will once again fall into Labour`s trap that tax cuts equal cuts in frontline services and the people will believe them as they have done at the last three electins.
The party as to get into power, prove that it can improve public services then and only then perhaps start to think about tax cuts.
Talk about tax cuts now and you will get increased taxes as you will simply get five more years of Gordon Brown and co running the country spending like there is no tommorrow and increasing taxes at every opportunity.

Alexander Drake may sneer all he likes but I worked in Central Office and we successfully sold our policies and threw out Attlee's government on a tax-cutting pledge in the face of accusations that we were going abolish the Welfare State. "Set the People Free" was a good rallying cry. But then we had leaders with guts who actually led! What you, Alexander, seem to be advocating is that we say one thing to get elected but actually DO something else.

Matt takes business as an example. Well here's another thing I know about. I was Marketing Director of the leading company in its field and by the use of research, proper [and not wishful] interpretation of that thinking and strong advertising we introduced a new brand, doubled our sales and trebled our profits. That brand is no:10 of all consumer brands today with multi-million pound sales decades later and elements of the advertising are still in use.

The moral of that in the face of the timorous softly-softly brigade is that you need boldness and leadership. We've got fudging, temporising and weakness.

I do wonder if some of the posters on this thread are really Tories or are they trolls posing as Tories.
Personally I would agree with the strategy outlined by Alexander Drake with the proviso that we should be trying now to educate the electorate as to the benefits of lower public spending and therefore lower taxation.

Tony and Christina, the last time our party turned No.10 around from Lab to Con was almost 30 years ago. If a week is a long time in politics, then 30 years is eons. You don't think that what worked in the past might need a little updating? Campaigning has changed immeasurably - as has the approach that parties need. Why is that such an undesirable approach?

Rather than "say one thing, do another" (and let's not kid ourselves that that's never happened before in politics, either), what I'm suggesting is that the first term is spent, from the vantage point of government, explaining the need for changes like cutting taxes - with the benefit of incumbency. With being in power, you attract more airtime to sell your message, rather than knocking around in Opposition and risk being marginalised in public debate.

Finally, I worked at Central Office too Christina. It was a fantastic experience. It's just a pity it was in Opposition, not Government, from where you can really make a difference. I prefer my guys to be on the Treasury benches, rather than frothing from Opposition.

Going into an election promising tax cuts plays into the hands of Labour's propaganda meisters.
They will play up the threat to the public sector, and like turkeys, public sector employees will not vote for the chop.
The conservatives must offer a wholesale and radical review of the tax structure of the UK, that will result in the low paid keeping more of their hard earned cash, replacing reliance on tax credits et al and all the waste, and removing the anomaly that the lower paid pay bear a higher tax burden with the inclusion of NICS.
Appealing to all the country is the road to success, not giving NuLab an own goal by allowing fear to predicate voting intentions. Something that the propaganda wing of NuLab are quick to exploit.

So our policy platform is dictated by what Labour can scare the voters into thinking? We're allowing ourselves to be bullied...this is pathetic and shows a lack of courage. We should believe what we want to believe and not what Labour will let us believe.

Alexander Drake regularly tells us that none of the reasons why John Howard has been such a successful centre-right leader in Australia cannot possibly apply to the UK and that David Cameron (Harold MacMillan in an open-necked shirt?)is the bees' knees. I have always found this sophistry highly unconvincing and his comments above bear this out.

The Howards, the Reagans and the Bushes of this world got out of the wine bars and chi-chi restaurants frequented by the left-leaning elite, took the trouble to bypass fashionable metropolitan opinion and to identify and target various groups of strivers who were being taken for a ride by the political elite. There are thousands and thousands of such people in this country who are paying more and more for less and less. Many of them are indeed "oop North" and the fact that they don't wear clogs and flat caps doesn't alter the fact that they are low-hanging fruit ripe for the picking: see Adrian Owen's' comment above. You don't need to wait to be in Government to sell your message to them.

The main problem is that such people are aliens as far as Cameron and his inner circle are concerned. They have nothing in common with them socially so they make little or no effort to appeal to them. Instead they chase the fickle votes of Guardian and Independent readers.....with whom they are socially and culturally more comfortable anyway. The result, as so often before, is that the Tory Party is dragged along on the coat tails of the left.

Bless you Michael McGowan - You've said it. There are those on this blog who are terrified of saying anything which would upset NewLabour or its clones the Cameroons.

The public respond to a clear message provided it is said with conviction and rationalisation. The timid ones ignore the past at their peril when we were accused of planning to wreck the welfare state but still won. The same timid ones sit there paralysed like a rabbit in front of a snake.

I note that Alexander was in Central Office too. But I was there when we turned a disastrous defeat round. (and this was despite CPC being run by Angus Maude, the dreadful father of the present dreadful chairman) And he says "You don't think that what worked in the past might need a little updating?". No - I don't unless the British people have totally lost their guts. With the Party's timid and craven approach, do you wonder that the public despair of politicians? The politicians on offer have no fire in their belly

Excessive tax is ruining Britain's competitiveness and is impoverishing the already poor. It is a moral outrage and Cameron should be saying so - but HE won't!

Michael I'm flattered that you think that my approach is 'sophistry' but it's not really.

The theory that I advance here on this site, Michael, is that there ARE lessons for the Conservatives from John Howard - but they're not the ones I think you would like to hear.

Howard was seen as dour, Right-wing and unelectable when he was Opposition Leader in the 80s. He took the opportunity to rebrand himself within his party, sought to smooth off some of the edges of his ideological profile, and made the Liberals as small a target as possible, in order to harvest as many votes in 1996 as possible. And it worked. It strikes me that David Cameron, with a few variations, is trying the same approach. And if the polling is a guide, it seems to be working also.

If you want to emulate John Howard, emulate the path that John Howard followed in 1995-6. Make the Party a 'small target'. Smooth off those rough edges. Make it easy as possible to convert votes in marginal seats.

If there is a point where I argue "horses for courses" and say there is a difference between UK politics and Australian politics, it's because I think the voters we need in those marginal seats are different to the ones in Australia.

Britain is an Old World, European nation where right now the AB social progressives are the swing demographic, and which the Conservative Party needs to reassure in order to win back, and win. New World conservatives (Howard, Bush, Harper) need "Reagan Democrats". That AB demographic either has nowhere else to go in Australia (too economically dependent on a Liberal win), or isn't in the critical marginal seats. They are, in my opinion, in Britain.

You might interpret that as clinging to the coat-tails and language of the Left. I see that as a necessary bow to electoral reality in order to win, and then pursue an authentic Tory agenda. In the end, I do think a different approach is needed. I don't think that's ideological defeatism Michael - it's a different approach to gaining government and ultimately seeking the same policies.

I am about as far from gritty as you can get and have never lived north of the park let alone north of Watford. My point is that office is not the end point of political streggle. I am fully aware that a Party cannot do anything without office but it is also doing nothing if it has office but no political will or programme for government (like Major and Blair). I shall rejoice not when Cameron becomes PM but when Cameron's Chancellor's first budget introduces education vouchers and a 25% flat rate income tax.

Alexander - When Michael applied the term "sophistry" to your approach he was being over-generous.

What you are saying is:- get into power by deceit and lies and then put Tory policies into effect.

Apart from the fact that Cameron shows no sign of knowing a Tory approach if one slapped him in the face with a wet kipper your approach is -er - plain WRONG! Even in politics the end does not justify the means. I reject such an immoral attitude.

Sorry, Alexander, but your strategy consists at best of conning the allegedly all-important AB progressives into thinking that you are "thinking what they are thinking" and then changing tack once in office. I find it hard to believe that these people will fall for this: they are not stupid and in many cases are viscerally hostile to the Tory Party. At its most optimistic, your strategy is one for a single-term Tory Government. At its worst, it will perpetuate the failures of New Labour under the Tory flag of convenience.

Your approach is anything but "updated". It is a reheated version of what the Tory Party did in the 1950's, the 1960's and most of the 1970's: place itself two degrees to the right of Labour and then argue that it could somehow administer social democracy better than Labour. That poverty of aspiration may have lined MacMillan's and Heath's pockets but it failed this country then; and it will fail this country now. In any case, it doesn't provide a secure platform for electability because people will not deferentially vote Tory in the way they did in the past.

In 1997, the Tory Party came to the same fork in the road that the Republicans did in the US in the mid-1960's. They desperately needed to find new optimistic themes and new types of aspirational client voter because the old tricks no longer worked and the left had colonised large parts of the old centre-right heartland. The Republicans did it under Reagan (who was right-wing but hardly dour). The Tories have wasted ten years chasing their tails, knifing each other and not doing the spadework needed to regenerate their thinking and their electoral base. All Cameron is offering is more of the same with a few gimmicks thrown in on top.

Sorry Michael,but don't you like 'chi-chi' wine bars? Next time we meet we'd better meet in a pub!

It's your company that makes all the difference, Malcolm!! In any case, I am one of the ABs....though I am a real liberal, not a "progressive" (which is simply Guardian/BBC-speak for "left-wing and authoritarian").

With Cameron I find myself increasingly torn. What I try to do is divide the 'PR and image' Cameron with the 'policies' Cameron. In terms of making the Tories electable, the image of the party needed massive change. Sure it seems substanceless, but consider this. The best applicant for a job in the world will always get rejected if he or she turns up in a T-Shirt and jogging bottoms and without having washed themselves. No matter how good the candidate, the image always matters. Essentially, when we are asking people to vote for us, it can be compared to a job interview. Tony Blair and New Labour have done a tremendous job of making themselves appear worthy of running the country. They look electable. However, the Tories under Hague, IDS and Howard didn't look electable. They sounded like grumpy, balding, old men with very little positive to say. Sure it's vague and intangible, but perception is important. I like the fact that Cameron has changed the perception of the party. He looks like someone who would make a decent PM to a lot of people, hence the lead in the polls.

However, there is a problem with 'policy' Cameron. I don't mind that he doesn't talk about policy too much, because its too early in the electoral cycle to start doing so. But on the rare occasion when he talks about policy, or values, then I get a bit concerned. Take the policy of increased state funding for political parties. This is a dreadful policy, totally against the basic assumptions that I believe in. I liked a lot of the policies we articulated between 1997 and 2005, but we did a dreadful job of selling them to people for all sorts of reasons (one of which was the perception of how unelectable we were). We did not do a good job of persuading people that what we believe is important and why. Now, we seem to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We are not just ditching the failures of the past, but getting rid of the things a lot of us liked. Someone said that we won't win an election by talking about tax cuts. No, not if we fight the election on Labour territory, which is what we are doing at the moment, which essentially states that if the government spends more on something, it will get better. It is that assumption that needs to be challenged first and foremost. We also seem to have increasingly accepted that 'public sector=good, private sector=bad'. Now, this CAN be the case, but it can work the other way around as well and we need to do a better job of demonstrating this.

Overall, what we seem to be doing is trying to win an election by saying or doing nothing controversial, nothing that challenges the assumptions made gospel by New Labour, nothing that will cause people on the other side to disagree with us, venomously. All we have done is make ourselves look good. We are more positive now, more optimistic, more in tune with ordinary people. This is important, and because of how frustrated people are with New Labour, it may even carry us to a slender victory in the next election. But it's frustrating, because people are willing to listen to us now (precisely because of Cameron's improvement of our image, and, of course, irritation with the other guys) and we are too afraid to put our ideas across and express why we passionately believe that they can make the country better, just because, you know, The Guardian might say mean things about us.

I'm suprised that Alexander Drake's realistic appraisal is being so attacked. It's a fact that very rarely do elecorates in parlamentary democracies vote for radical change - they tend to vote Government's out rather than vote Oppositions in. There are differences in Presidential elections particularly when the standing President can no longer stand - incumbency matters.

It's not two faced or dishonest. Stephen Harper managed to get into power this year against a weakened discredited Government only because he toned down or changed his previous policies. Now he has credibility with voters and providing he can win their trust then he can let a more right wing agenda be discussed and probably gain a real majority. The scare tactics don't wash once voters see you aren't frightening after all.

Incumbency also re-invogorates the right wing thinkers and opinion formers who realise they can start to impact on people with power. What was impossible to put before voters becomes possible because voters will give governments more benefit of doubt.

Look this is what we're all agreed on. The last four leaders from Major to Howard looked like refugees from a freak show. Cameron looks good and sounds good. That's why he's turned the polls around.

But where's the beef? What we need and what the country is crying out for are TORY policies. That's right. Policies that are DIFFERENT from the failed and failing policies of the Blair/Brown regime.

You might call me a kind of yuppie. Same with my friends. They're all paying 40% tax and THEY WANT CUTS. No they don't like immigration. Where does all this crap about professionals liking immgration come from (probably because most professionals don't live next to immigrants)

We are exactly where we were before Maggie got in and turned things round and I want to see Cameron taking the lead in leading the party and the country back to Thatcherism ie REAL Toryism.

That means tax cuts, fight immigration, destroy political correctness, make this country free again and allow people to say exactly what they think.

The Tory wets are a tiny minority making a noise out of all proportion to their pitiful numbers.

I'm getting really fed up with endless and often mindless personal attacks on members of our party which are appearing on just about every thread now.Haven't the posters who make these comments got anything constructive to say?

I didn't attack any of the other posters.

Who are you on about?

There appear to a few people in this thread that are so obsessively anti-DC that they are talking up all manner of nonsense about what he will or won't do. Whether you are a business or a party you make sensible careful decisions according to the circumstances you are dealing with. On this tax issue I think we need to have some clearer aims but we should be wary of walking into a trap.


I'm not anti-DC, I'm very pro-DC, mainly because he looks like a human being and not some kind of geeky anorak.

But that doesn't mean that I don't expect Tory policies, especially on cutting taxes which will benefit the economy.

Let's face it, if we simply pretend to be 'Blue Labour' we're not giving anybody any reason to want to make a change.

Well i'm - as some may have noticed - NOT a Cameron fan. To say "The last four leaders from Major to Howard looked like refugees from a freak show. Cameron looks good and sounds good. That's why he's turned the polls around." is preposterous.

After the disastrous Major the party didn't have a chance under Hague, IDS or Howard though Howard damn near made it. (We won more votes in england than anyone else)

Cameron does emphatically NOT look good. He is flabby round the neck and face and flabby in his leadership too. HE hasn't turned the polls around. Blair has turned them round. If Cameron had been any good he would have capitalised on Blair's collapse and been 10 /12 points ahead by now.

I don't disagree with most of what you say Christina but you're wrong about this.

Cameron looks cool, trendy and aristocratic. Howard looked like a fugitive from the Addams Family, Hague looked like a foetus and Major looked exactly like the Steve Bell cartoons with his pants outside his trousers.

You know what they had in common? They looked and sounded like the LOSERS they were.

Cameron looks like a winner. Someone said he's a blank canvas and that's right. All we need now are the right-wing policies that will clinch the election

Ted, incumbency certainly did not reinvigorate right-wing thinkers under Churchill in the fifties, MacMillan and Heath. Thatcher was a very partial exception but then she is the Devil Incarnate in the eyes of Mr Cameron and his entourage, who have gone out of their way to embrace the tenets of collectivist mediocrity (or as they would describe it, "social justice").

The Alexander Drake approach is devoid of aspiration or optimism. It plays the political game by the rules of the left. This, plus a lack of any sense of mission, has been the besetting sin of the Tory Party since 1945 and has meant that in practice, little has been achieved and many mistakes have been made both in and out of office. If Ted thinks that being sceptical about all of this amounts to advocating "scare tactics", then why don't we all just vote for Blair anyway?

Matt, I don't know who you are referring to but I am not "obsessively anti-DC". I am simply agnostic about the preposterous personality cult which has surrounded the man. He simply isn't that clever or remarkable...just another product of inherited wealth and contacts spouting hot air like the present PM.

Malvolio - We'll have to disagree on what Cameron LOOKS like. I think he is physically one of the most creepily unattractive men around. He looks like like an overweight over-rich, over-privileged slob. But that's just what I think he LOOKS like.

What I really dislike about him is his spineless, gutless inability to say anything important ABOUT anything important!

One thing I will say is that after the unfortunate misunderstanding with Duncan Smith, the Conservative Monday Club has enjoyed a steadily improving relationship with the party under David Cameron, who wrote a most charming and friendly letter to our Chairman Lord Sudeley earlier this year.

Hardly a pointer to an extreme-left leadership!!!

We enjoyed very good relations with William Hague as well, let it be said.

As for policies we'll give David Cameron the benefit of the doubt for now. Personally I favour a "wait and see" approach.

I don't think we ought to be getting into the deficit financing of tax
cuts. We're not a big country like America and won't have the confidence of the money markets to do such a thing. We have to say how we'll pay for every tax cut.

Krispy Creme - "I don't think we ought to be getting into the deficit financing of tax

Was anybody ? But USA apart almost every country that has cut taxes has seen tax revenues rise.

Look at this thread.'the last four leaders from Major to Howard were refugees from a freak show'- Malvolio.From Christina Speight 'he (DC)looks like an overweight,over rich,over priveliged slob'.Have we really come to this level of debate? What has the Conservative party ever done to deserve 'supporters' like this pair of ridiculous jokers.
This blog recently came in for some criticism from others in the blogging world for the comments of some of its posters. I tried to defend it then, but perhaps I was wrong and Mike Smithson et al were right.

Malcolm you have made some great posts here so I am sad to see you attacking freedom of speech.

I support David Cameron. Christina doesn't. In a free society we have a right to our views and I respect her rights just as much as I defend my own.

OK. What's your plan for the way forward?

I am not attacking freedom of speech Malvolio I am attacking the ludicrous nature of the majority of your posts which are almost always characterised by deeply personal attacks on figures within the Conservative party. I sincerely doubt that you are any sort of Conservative at all.

christina, part of the reason for tax revenues rising from tax cuts is that it is using fiscal policy to 'jumpstart' a lagging economy. Much as we might hate to say it the economy isn't in as bad a shape as we have a right to expect from a Labour government (thank God and Ken Clarke) so I am not sure that any cut in taxes would bring about the sudden growth you are talking about. This in turn wouldn't bring in extra revenues, so we'd have to explain how the tax cuts are to be paid for.
Also we'd have to spend the next four years being lectured by the jumped up burk Blair on how many bloody Doctors and Nurses we'd sack. If you shout a lie enough times people believe it is the truth.

I also deplore these personal attacks on our party's leaders, whether or not we agree with their brand of Conservatism.

However, while not wishing to criticise an otherwise excellent site, I do feel that the editor made an error in encouraging members to make fun of the Prime Minister. The office of PM at any rate demands respect, and is is a short and slippery slope from anti-Blair abuse to denigration of Cameron, Hague etc.

I also deprecate the recent attack on Geoffrey Rippon, made by someone who could not even spell his name. I knew Lord Rippon as a personal friend. As most will recall he negotiated UK entry to the then EEC, and he was a staunch and loyal member of the Monday Club.

In these days when the Conservative Party is so strongly anti-Europe this may surprise some people, but the Monday Club contained many of the foremost Europeans of its day including Lord (Julian) Amery and Lord Duncan-Sandys.

I well recall the majority of Monday Club members electing a strongly pro-EEC Chairman in preference to a rebel "anti". The winner was the well known author and bon viveur Jonathan Guinness, now Lord Moyne.

Incidentally the Monday Club was also something of a pioneer in Tory inclusivity, having provided a welcoming political home for leading gay Tories such as Harvey Proctor MP and his friend Derek Laud, the outspoken black businessman who recently starred in the TV series "Big Brother"


My comments on Cameron's personal appearance were in response to a remark that he "looked" good. I was merely doing a deliberately OTT reply to point out that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Its his - lack of - politics I care `about and the way he's destroying everything that made the Conservative party distinct and the "natural party of government" for most of the second half of the 20th century.

As for Ben Redsell's fatuous remark --"Also we'd have to spend the next four years being lectured by the jumped up burk Blair on how many bloody Doctors and Nurses we'd sack"

Why doesn't he - and Cameron - get out and howl about the nurses and doctors being sacked right now, They're sacking 140 of both kinds this week from the closure of the very hospital where only last month my husband had his hip operation! - I did mention this on the blog but there are too many on this blog who have no interest in anything but getting the Tory party re-elected irrespective of policies or what is good for Britain.

The simply thing is Christina if the party follows the policys you support more doctors and nurses will be sacked because we will simply lose yet again.
Cameron and the platform he is starting to build are the way back to power not the policy`s that have failed us at the last three elections.

I agree that looks shouldn't matter, Christina, but your not sealing with rational, intelligent people, you're dealing with the great British moronocracy, otherwise known as the electorate.

You've got to play their game.

Jack you talk more like a socialist than a Tory. Sure you're in the right party?

"If you shout a lie enough times, people believe it is the truth". A lesson the Tories should have learnt from Labour years ago and used against them. Tories used to know this: Winston Churchill was a ruthless and serial lier.

Jack Stone's doom-laden prognostications make me think he is Gordon Brown's script writer.

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