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My first reaction was "what a horrible name" - but having looked at the site and viewed the video I think it is absolutely brilliant!! I just hope it reaches the people it is intended to reach. BTW, I did the test and was pleased to note that there was no "Inner Tosser" within me :-)

What's the personal debt of the Tory Party?

Own goal alert!

The only tosser of which I am aware is the one currently leading the Conservative Party.

MH: please avoid playground name-calling on this site and focus on grown-up arguments/ observations or please don't bother commenting at all.

Hilarious. How many people repeatedly re-mortgage their homes to pay school fees because State education is so dire and non-selective ?

How many strap themselves with debt to buy a house in a decent catchment area because good schools have high-cost housing ?

How many small businesses cover losses on trading through equity withdrawal from housing ?

Not everyone starts off with a trust fund or a stockbroker home in Newbury; read about the huge overdraft James Dyson had to carry because noone would fund his vacuum-cleaner ideas except a Lloyds Bank overdraft

This is a great campaign. Gordon Brown and co have done naff all about personal debt. This kind of hard hitting public initiative is exactly what's needed.

This just isn't going to work. Cameron's telling people to stop doing what comes naturally to them. Be it sex, shopping, flushing each time, or, arranging their personal finances as they think bests suits them, people aren't going to take kindly to being told by politicians: "stop that, I know better. Do it this way".

The people whose votes we so painfully need, middle class strivers, are not idiots. They do how to manage the bills and the loans: they've faced those choices every day of their adult lives. As has been pointed out, George and David have not faced these same challenges. In fact, detached as they are from the experience of the vast bulk of the country, they've never had to face these challenges. Their ignorance is showing, very pointedly, in policies like this.

Politicians telling other people to change their behaviour because the politician knows better than the people themselves how they should lead their lives won't win elections, and doesn't deserve to.

Sadly can't watch the video in my office (boss wouldn't like it) but anything which encourages people not to get themselves into huge amounts of debt seem to me a very good thing.

Surely they could have thought of a less offensive name?

Short of heavily regulating and restricting lending practices I suspect it is going to be difficult to persuade people not to borrow.

It is a good message to send out and the emphasis on personal responsibility for debt is important.

What is pushing people into debt isn't always buying new clothes or bling, but simple things like mortgages, council tax, energy etc.

The personal gearing ratio is high at the moment, and should the economy falter further than it currently is (likely) or house prices drop (certain) then some people are going to be in serious trouble.


I agree with Winchester Whisperer that it is an offensive name. However if the Tory Party think it is OK isn't it hypocritical to castigate MH for making a joke using the same language?

As for the issue, yes debt is a problem. I do not think however that we should be too surprised given the historic low rates of interest and changed attitudes towards debt. On which topic did the Tories oppose the changes to the bankruptcy laws?

I also agree with the other commentator that there is a danger of appearing interfering and holier than thou. Remember how back to basics went down like a lead balloon. And when all is said and done it was the Tories who crucified the housing market in the early 90s. Can the Tory leadership remeber that far back? People in glass houses should not throw stones.


It is only intuition but I do think perhaps one reason for so much unsecured debt amongst the young is because they cannot see any chance opf getting on thje houising ladder and so think, what the hell, let's have a good time regardless.

Brilliant campaign in my opinion. The video is superbly made, fun but hard-hitting.

I don't think it's an example of politicians interfering in people's lives. They're not suggesting we should ban credit cards or store cards, but I think advice about avoiding unsecured debt has to be a good thing.

As I understand it, personal debt is now the main issue people go to the Citizens Advice Bureau for. Not everyone can deal with their own finances effectively and I think it is positive that DC and co are going down the line of relative poverty and unsecured debt.

I have no problem with the name "the tosser within" personally, nor will the target audience I'd imagine. This isn't a campaign aimed at old people.

Esbonio - many thanks for riding in on a white charger over the Editor's remarks. Actually, I find the term incredibly vulgar. It is just symptomatic of a leader who is trying - like a secondary school Geography teacher - to be 'cool', rather than an adult politician. Calling himself 'Dave' is another of these gratuitous, pointless examples.

On the issue itself, I think that there do have to be some safeguards on the ability to access significant personal debt. Education is a component of prohibiting such levels of debt. However, I think there is also a component of individual choice here and also the fact that the dead hand of government intervention is likely to be (i) excessive; (ii) directed in the wronf way and (iii) doomed to failure.

It's a great idea if the voting age is about to be reduced to 14.

As far as I know, only men are described as "tossers" and I thought that DC was trying to win more votes from women...

Pity it had to descend into vulgarity with the name.

I'm very much in favour of children having lessons on personal finance at school. In my time the maths included working out the income from an investment made in 2% Debentures etc, and that was about all. My son learnt a lot when I loaned him a few pounds to buy a football annual, and he later realised that at even the very modest interest rate we agreed he had to pay back significantly more than I'd lent him. That would probably be considered child abuse now.

I'm also very much in favour of encouraging children to save from a very early age, but National Savings ceased to be interested in encouraging people to save once Gordon Brown had instructed them that their job was only to raise money for him as cheaply as possible. In any case, their previous outlets - local post offices - are being shut down thanks to the EU. A drastic simplification of the taxation of savings, including children's savings, is desperately needed.

Does anybody else recall Alistair Darling a decade ago, harping on about the need to develop "a savings culture"?

Eg see this, Helen Liddell addressing the Association of Friendly Societies' Conference, September 1997:


"Alistair Darling told you at last year's conference, almost a year ago to the day, that the promotion of the savings culture would be an important part of our economic strategy. Our manifesto was our prospectus. It recognised that the benefits of savings and planning for the future - having something behind you for when the bad times come - should be available to all."

What have they done? More or less the opposite.

Sadly as someone in the age group that I assume this is meant to be focused on (20-30 age group) it came across as poorly designed and sadly quite awful. Young people such as myself have been brought up to accept that debt is a natural way of living. After all you have to put yourself in hock to get a university education if you want to progress. As a graduate with what I fortunately term a minimal amount of debt (working during term time and vacations) I am used to having an overdraft, student loan, car loan, credit cards. These have been offered to me since I turned 18 and commenced university. I have learned to manage these things through necessity.

I do find it slightly nauseating that the ‘trustafarians’ (with their real life experience of balancing their finances (not mentioning George Osborne’s mothers business acumen)) are informing me to live a monastic lifestyle when it comes to my personal finances yet continue to tell me that they won't jeopardise economic stability with tax cuts which would at least enable me to start reducing debt levels.

Using a term which means 'excessive masturbator' seems a bit ridiculous to me. I think the Conservative Party have buggered this up.

I'm not wildly impressed with the name (and I'm a 27-year-old who swears frequently), but I think Osbourne's point is a very good one - if we don't think we should legislate to sort this problem out, then how are we to do it without arming people with facts and advice? It's an excellent way to show that we're about more than winning power.

As someone who works in consumer finance, the personal debt crisis is the number one issue on the industry's mind. And the idea that middle class strivers don't have debt problems is absurd - please spend a day at a CAB or a law centre. You will see huge numbers of middle class people with jobs in there because they're the ones who can get into the most debt. I have been told that I can have a credit card with a limit that is more than half my annual income, on the basis of a simple phone call. I also think the industry must (and is in the process of doing so) tighten up its lending criteria, but that can tip people over the edge - the extra loan you need to make this month's payments gets refused, with the obvious consequences etc etc.

Rather like getting fiercely drunk or addicted to drugs, there are social costs to debt and if we can persuade people to avoid these traps, that leaves us all better off.

"Tosser Within" is the perfect name. It is headline-grabbing language unimaginable from any previous Conservative incarnation. This site screams what the nation needs to hear: Conservatives are a contemporary political party and we’re doers.

This is exactly what's been needed.

Drink driving campaigns, anti-smoking campaigns - these have all been hugely successful at altering perceptions and behaviour.

Why hasn't Labour done anything similar for debt? Gordon Brown has just stood by while the debt mountain increased by £4m a minute.

Good on the Tories for actually rolling up their sleeves and trying to do something.

My son learnt a lot when I loaned him a few pounds to buy a football annual, and he later realised that at even the very modest interest rate we agreed he had to pay back significantly more than I'd lent him.

The Us "Truth In Lending" Disclosure on a mortgage is fun - it shows the TOTAL cost including financing of the property.......about 3 times the cash price

The federal Truth In Lending Act was originally enacted by Congress in 1968 as a part of the Consumer Protection Act. The law is designed to protect consumers in credit transactions by requiring clear disclosure of key terms of the lending arrangement and all costs. The law was simplified and reformed as a part the Depository Institutions Deregulations and Monetary Control Act of 1980. The Truth in Lending Act is important for small businesses involved in consumer credit transactions or consumer leasing.

This would be a super addition to those PFI Projects so we can see why a £10 million hospital will cost the NHS over £113 million

Tom - the £10 million hospital you refer to is the capital build cost. The PFI costs include incurred financing charges, FM costs etc. PFI offers pretty reasonable value for money.

The problem of PFI schemes for hospitals particularly is that the nature of acute health care is changing - big hospitals are no longer needed - but PFI deals have locked in the current nature of provision.

An entirely different debate in any case.

This is a 1st class initiative. If you are offended by the "tosser" terminology so be it.

I am more worried about the heartache that debt causes to families, relationships, and children's lives. So if the language is uncooth, what upsets me more are the words of coroners in suicide cases caused by the pressure of debt.

We have to understand the country we purport to govern - this shows we are the right lines.

I think political parties need to concentrate on policy rather than giving advice. That should be left to the CAB.

Am I the only one who gets the 1-2-3 registration page rather than the site?

An asinine, superficial and patronising initiative. People get into debt with which they can't cope for all sorts of reasons - usually associated with illness, marital breakdown and redundancy. Debt levels also tend to rise during the years of bringing up children when one partner's earning capacity is reduced at a time of high expenditure. The largest component in debt is mortgage debt which has been rising continuously due to ever increasing house prices driven by an artificial demand caused by planning regulations.
Economic growth is driven substantially by increasing consumer expenditure. If wages and productivity remain relatively static, this economic growth can only be driven by increasing levels of personal debt. Simple isn't it? As any move to remove green belt or rural housing development restriction is unlikely and ever increasing regulation and protectionism throttles industrial productivity expect to see debt levels continue their inexorable rise.

James, the dns settings are incomplete (shoot the webmaster). Put the "www" in front and it'll work for you. i.e.


Mark I tried that I'm still getting 1-2-3 domain registration page. It must be at my end!

Try accessing the site without the www like this http://sort-it.co.uk

David Cameron was clearly inspired by his stint with Jonathan Ross .

I'm not sure about the packaging, but the message is a spot on Conservative idea. It's about taking a concern and recognising that the best way to solve it is through the encouragement of personal responsibility. Rather than introducing legislation restricting the market, it's about educating people so they can take full control. Spot on.

I think we here at ConservativeHome should make an educational video that teaches Cameron and Osborne how not to overspend other peoples money.

I think the name is utterly disgusting, as is the clear de haut en bas view of the Notting Hill Set that this kind of language needs to be adopted when addressing those whom they no doubt regard as The Great Unwashed.

I have spent years dealing with people who mortgage their homes to pay for sackloads of Christmas presents, totally unaware that they will be turned out into the street when they fail to keep up payments, as invariably happens.

Unfortunately the nature of my employment prevents me from giving these people the advice I would like to give, but I can assure you that the idea they will take advice from a Conservative Party website is absolutely risible.

This is just another piece of cynical window-dressing designed to show that Cameron is "The Tory who cares"

He cares all right - about the power he will wield and the privileges he will enjoy in the unlikely event that he is elected Prime Minister.

Why is there no thread on the Toynbee v Churchill lunacy?

What I find interesting about this is that it is the first serious deployment of Karmarama - one of the agencies brought in to replace the Saatchi's agency.

Thinking of the medium, rather than the message or the packaging, I would say it is relatively interesting and has some potential.

Obviously, no one in personal debt is going to look at this website. However, young floating voters who "care" about this sort of issue may look and it (or hear about it) and be impressed that the Conservatives are "doing" something about the issue. I don't really know how to describe it but it is a sort of meta-marketing initiative, aimed at different people (internet users, the media) than the stated target (those in debt, who would not get anything out of this gimmick).

good idea. terrible execution.

really can't help thinking why they had the 'used car salesman' character though. leaves open too many comparisons...

Are student loan debtors all TOSSERS?

Hands up all who just saw Dave on Breakfast TV. A clip from the "Tosser" video was shown with the offending word bleeped out.

Talking Head: "Why is your party using a word we can't broadcast before 9pm?"

Cameron: "Er...Er...Er...We didn't do it. It's down to the publicity firm."

That's right. Pass the buck Mister C.

Have Cameron and co lost the plot - They come across as upper class twits trying to glean votes by pretending that they are just as common as the hoi polloi.

What next - Jacob Rees-hyphen-Mogg in a turquiose suit and driving a Reliant Robin.

At least Del-boy is funny rather than simply tasteless.

To my mind, the message about personal debt is just lost in the sheer childishness of it all.

The domain name (sort-it) is interesting - Perhaps they should have gone for snort-it

Two questions:

1) What makes the Cameroonies think they are conservative? They might be members of the party of that name but that's as far as it goes. It's probably out-of-print but Sheila Moore's excellent book "The Conservative Party - The First 150 Years" sets out the unchanging philosophy of conservatism, nothing whatsoever to do with "Tossers" or any similar epithet. Hopefully, reading it would send "Dave" and his Blue Labour cronies scuttling to join the Liberal Democrats.

2) What makes politicians (or any other parasites) think they can advise their employers - the public - on any subject whatsoever? Falsehood, fornication and buggery are the stock-in-trade of politicians, we have nothing to learn from them.

I have never seen so much RUBBISH! It is fascile, inane, patronising and timewasting! However much money was spent on it was ill-spent! Why does anyone wish to be treated like some sort of halfwit? It's embarrassing.

Just when you think the Cameroon "Conservative" Party can't descend into deeper self-parody, there it goes. Apart from giving us critics a laugh, it really does show a lack of political craft. There's nothing funnier than watching those in a serious and solemn business (i.e. seeking to govern your country) trying to get in touch with the "kids". If only basic intelligence could be purchased through the income of trust fund.

Off to get in touch with my inner tosser.

J O Sausage, that was a totally unfair characterisation. For anyone who wants to check, the interview is available online

It went:

Talking head: “Why do you have to use that word?”

Cameron: “This was done by an advertising agency….”

[Heavy interruption from interviewers ended]

Cameron continues “…(Hang on a sec) because the advertising agency has an expertise in reaching young people and appealing to young people and the very fact that we’re talking about it now shows that it has had an impact. Yes it was provocative but frankly don’t we need to do something in our society about the problems of debt? And actually if you go on the internet [more talking-over] look at the campaign there’s information there about how to get out.”

So not an “er” in sight, nor a passing of the buck. He was totally unapologetic that the campaign uses the language it does in order to reach its target audience. Good grief, find something real to moan about.

If Cameron and the Tory Party are so concerned about personal debt, why aren't they equally concerned to lower the burden of personal taxation, particularly on the lower paid, which would immediately give people more disposable income and the chance of escaping the necessity of debt ?
They should be concentrating on what a future Conservative government could do to help, not lecturing people from a position of moral superiority on how to live their lives. Does Cameron have the faintest understanding of how it feels to struggle to survive on a low income with mounting taxes and bills ?

While lowering taxation would be good in many different ways, it won't reduce over-indebtedness caused by people listening to their own internal tossers- it will just give them more money to pay the repayments on their loans and make them more likely to feel that they can afford to take on more loans (however misguided an interpretation that might be).

As a party that believes in the market but which is also trying to connect with real people, it is important to find ways of addressing non-rational behaviour which damages the beneficial operation of market forces. Irrational borrowing and spending on bling when a rational analysis would show you that you couldn't afford it and would be better off without it is one of those areas.

That said, I bet that Sion Simon is kicking himself that he didn't wait a little while before unleashing his camcorder parody skills. Perhaps Rory Bremner will do the honours and do a skit with the inner tosser being a Tory trying to persuade voters against their better instincts...

"It's about taking a concern and recognising that the best way to solve it is through the encouragement of personal responsibility."

This is something for charities or foundations to do - NOT government or a would-be-governing party.

I shudder to think what life would be like under the Conservatives, with taxpayer-funded posters on every corner and videos telling us what to do - like New Labour magnified.

The site itself is desperate and patronising.

Well Mark, if Cameron was unapologetic he damn well should have been He loked like a scared rabbit when both TV presenters started having a go at him simultaneously this morning.

I showed my wife that clip on my laptop earlier today. Her comments were "disgusting" and "moronic"

One gains the impression from Mr Fulford that if Dave were to instruct him to paint his backside bright red and float upside-down somewhere off Netley as Southampton Water's very latest warning buoy (with flashing light strategically placed), he would be so cringingly grateful that even The Great Leader would blush with embarrassment.

The only reason Cameron should ever need to go near that word is if it was thrown at him. To use it in any context (even if with good intentions) is wrong.

Does Cameron not get these adverts pre-checked with people who arent yes men, to make sure this wont just be a rude attempt to attract people?

I would like to know how much this cost to create. David Cameron or Francis Maude, how much did it cost to fund this advertising scheme? Membership rates go up in January (and you younguns, yes, it includes you too). How much did it cost? Since he wants to campaign on a "follow the money" platform, lets do it inside the Party as well as outside...

I just picked up the following:

Hugh McKinney, chairman of the National Family Campaign, said: "I am surprised and disappointed that the Conservative party has used language like this.

"Debt is a serious issue and the party should be looking for solutions to this problem. The idea that people who get themselves into debt are tossers is not appropriate in this context."

Former Conservative communications director Nick Wood said: "It is the sort of language that could offend older Conservatives and women voters."

Tory MP Philip Davies said: "I can understand that we don't want to encourage people to get into debt. But this is a curious choice of word. It will raise a few eyebrows."

Another Tory MP, who did not want to be named, added: "We have a few tossers in the Conservative party and some of them are clearly behind this advert."

The website also invites debtors to 'take the tosser test', to 'find out how big a tosser you have inside you' and to 'look what my tosser did'.

The row comes after Channel 4 was criticised over plans to broadcast a mass public masturbation event as part of a special week of programming on the subject.

Says it all...

Regarding this post:
This is a great campaign. Gordon Brown and co have done naff all about personal debt. This kind of hard hitting public initiative is exactly what's needed.

Posted by: John McKay | November 23, 2006 at 09:41

May I direct you here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/ManagingDebt/fs/en

And I wouldn't describe the Tory sort-it site as "hard hitting." it completely misses its intended target, as the posts on the site show. furthermore, and I can say this as one of "da yoof" at whom it was directed, the site is too annoying for it to be of any use - even if it had a page where you could get free cash to solve your debt problems, I'd be too irritated by the hideous attempt at webdesign to actually find the page it was on.

hope this actually gets posted, since I haven't used vulgarities, name calling or anything other than fact. some subjective fact, but fact nonetheless.

and the comments on the sort-it site and by the Tory party generally about not having to be in government to do something and providing a service not provided elsewhere are both egregious and disingenuous, since others have provided this service and Labour is hardly in a position to claim that it is currently doing something while not in government.

perhaps if the Tory party really wanted to do something, it could use the money donated by the MIC to cancel the debts of those in severe financial hardship? or did it do that at the last election?

It's a crass campaign, but then I didn't really expect anything better from a new, exciting and trendy meejah company.

What really annoys me is the complete lack of consultation before the campaign. I know people that have spent the last 18 months working on policies and proposals in this field (at the behest of the Tories) and all their recommendations were completely ignored. George Osbourne didn't even have the decency to attend the conference where this was announced - he just came in at the end and told the assembled delegates 'this is what we're going to do'. The campaign itself came out the very next day, which implies that it had all been planned beforehand, and the conference was obviously just a sham to give it the veneer of legitimacy. Shame on you David and George!

As for the idea of people that are in debt being tossers, that is grossly offensive. When you've seen the misery that debt can cause, and how easy it is to be tipped over the edge, such fatuous comments really make my blood boil.

Must stop before I end up sounding like Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells.

I'm still searching for the """Shadow""" """Chancellor""" within...

Why does this idiot have this job?

Surely, our party can do better?

I suppose that the 2m pounds house he bought with his parents' money and his trust fund and his inheritance at least mean he is beyond caring about the "welfare" and "taxes" that bother the rest of us...

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