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Politicalbetting is covering the day's big polling news - the biggest ICM lead for the Tories over Labour since 1987. I thought that this might interest one or two people who visit CONtinuityIDS.

almost as bad as Benedict in mentioning your blog!

its just not news anymore though, another poll another great Cameron inspired lead....

Patrick Mercer is obviously no racist and is a man of honour who has served his country with great distinction. The testimony of those black soldiers who have served under him bears witness to his determination not to countenace racism in the men under his command.

However, and here's the however that commentators on the right are missing. Col. Mercer's comments overtly equated being called a "ginger bastard" and a "black bastard". There is, in point of fact, no comparison. Black bastard is a term of abuse many of these soldiers will have heard since they were small children. It's a term, like the n-word, imbued with a malie and a hatred, and bespeaking a darker experience of overt discrimination, bullying and harassment, than an affectionate shout of "ginger bastard" or "fat bastard". To equate them shows zero understanding of what racism actually is and how it is lived. Col. Mercer's words said, straight out, that being called an n-word was perfectly acceptable and that blacks in the army should suck it up. Furthermore, he generalised that "lots" of ethnic minority soldiers cried wolf over racism as an excuse for laziness.

This sentiment, the two sentiments, express a view that minimises the harm racism causes. It was this minimisation that was the problem here. Col. Mercer showed his innate honour in resigning, as he himself said, with "no hesitation" and I am sure he will soon grace the front benches again.

His language was offensive. Unintentionally so, but materially so. David Cameron was quite right to remove his front bench status and to indicate that minimisation of racism is not acceptable in the Conservative party.

Col. Mercer is a bloody good man, a brave man, and a credit to the uniform. This action was more about being quite clear where we stand on racism and how unacceptable it is than it was a slur on his character. His fault lay in failing to understand, nothing else. But in government, our party must understand this issue.

And yes, the 40% poll lead, like the various front page and analytical revelations in the Times today, are excellent news for us.

Sorry: adding TD on ICM poll now.

Tory T, entirely agree, but as I point out on the frontpage Mr Mercer has an immediate opportunity to overcome his ill chosen words last week. The treatment of our servicemen is something that he can speak authoritively on and indeed I see his name is on the Independent's letter.
Rachel from North London, not a Tory, on her blog defends Mr Mercer's innate honour and decency. With friends like that I am sure he can and will continue to make a difference.

Can someone get rid of Oliver Letwin - that man is a disaster and has screwed up two elections with his foot in mouth comments.....any party with Oliver Letwin is a farce. Does he still spend his mornings at Rothschilds ?

Could he spend his afternoons there too ?

why don't the tories just become lib/dems?

Here's a change I approve of: How about a new MP for West Dorset?

Change to Win!

I just don't see any difference any more between the Tories and New Labour.

Is any party in this country actually listening to the electorate any more? Or is it just the opinions of a few dozen editors and journalists that politicians care about?

The only 'nasty wing' to the Tory Party is the one that suports the current leadership.

And yes there is unrest in the grasroots, not just in Newark but across the country. It as nothing to do with nastiness and everything to do with getting our party back from the London clique who have hijacked it.

If Patrick has any sense he will stay on the back benches so he is not associated with the disaster the current leadership are hurtling towards.

Totally disagree with comments above about Oliver Letwin. In my view, the man is an absolute genius, with extremely high integrity and a passion for the party, hugely important in helping DC and GO to make us electable. We are incredibly lucky to have him. Comments above show a complete lack of understanding of the nature of his contribution.

Oliver Letwin is doing a great job as we can see from the latest opinion poll.Those who attack him have there own agendas and there agendas are not about getting the party back into power.

We seem to be heading for the disaster of a Conservative government - a disaster I'm certainly looking forward to. We are finally listening to the electorate and getting rewarded for doing so. Labour are at 29% both because they are rubbish but also because there is finally an alternative government to consider. If we can add in the bite that David Davis refers to then hopefully it will be a truly dreadful disaster for us with a strong absolute majority.

Just when David Cameron's support for traditional marriage and the role of fathers as an answer to our broken society seem to have increased our lead, it was reported that Mr Letwin (and Mr Maude) have reservations about this very modernising policy (it's Mr Brown who looks old fashioned and stuck in the past by making policy based on the ideological judgement that marriage shouldn't be supported for its advantages for children and society). So I'm not sure how seriously Mr Letwin can be taken when he talks about modernising.

As for Patrick Mercer, perhaps David Cameron could have hauled him in to give him suitable advice about how what he said could be interpreted, but not sack him, and then make strong statements insisting Mr Mercer isn't racist etc. However I can understand why DC felt it necessary to sack him - to demonstrate that there must be no trace or hint of the evil of racism in the Conservative Party.

Those who attack him have there own agendas and there agendas are not about getting the party back into power.

Posted by: Jack Stone | March 11, 2007 at 13:49

Well The Curse of Letwin has been evidenced in two General Elections - he might as well screw up a third !


for many of us a Tory Government with Cameron in charge would indeed be a disaster not least of all because it would see massive increase in support for BNP which is something that doesn't bear thinking about.

But leaving that aside, these headline figures of 40% are almost meaningless without knowing how many people gave no preference. All the recent polls show there is a large and growing number of people supporting the smaller parties or not voting at all.

So putting aside (honestly) the feelings about Cameron for moment, how would you feel about a Conservatve Government elected by only 20% of the electorate - which is what even the best of the recent polls have indcated.

Mercer's sacking was a big mistake. It says that we are now completely in hock to the pc lobby. His remarks were easily defendable and the leader should have had the courage to do so. I am very disappointed.

It really bugs me when people label being sensitive and appropriate as 'political correctness'. What exactly is wrong of taking account of others' feelings? No, hypersensitivity isn't something that should be encouraged but too many posters above seem to care very little about the effect their language has on other people.

Licentiousness in speech can be as harmful as in action. Mercer isn't a raging bigot but in his comments he seemed to suggest that calling someone a "black bastard" was acceptable. Maybe it is in a context in which you know that it isn't going to be taken by anyone as permission to be bigoted and you know that it's meant as a joke but he certainly did not make expressly clear that this was the case. A stupid mistake or maybe he actually had witnessed such licentious speech and done nothing to challenge it or make sure that everyone was comfy with it (especially the black soldiers). If that's what happened then sacking him was the right thing to do.


The Conservative vote did fall by 4.5 million between 1992 and 1997 but the total voters overall fell by only 2 million so IF the fall in votes was all Tories then 2 million at least voted Labour (electorate grew 700,000).
Between 1997 & 2005 we shed another 800,000 or so voters so compared to 1992 we have lost over 5 million voters. For comparison Labour shed 4 million between 1997 and 2005 - some probably the same people.

There is no mythical 5 million Tories waiting the chance to vote for a re-incarnated Thatcher. Some will have left the UK (emigration since 1992 is about 4 million so if even only 30% were Tories there are 1.2 million gone), some will have died (at 600,000 deaths per year there will have been 9 million deaths since 1992 so if 40% were Tories there's another 3.6 million gone - older people much more likely to vote Tory). So in all probability death and emigration have resulted in nearly 5 million potential Tories no longer being around.

A stupid mistake or maybe he actually had witnessed such licentious speech

So explain where Mercer said anything licentious ......ie "promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters"

So in all probability death and emigration have resulted in nearly 5 million potential Tories no longer being around.

Posted by: Ted | March 11, 2007 at 16:16

When do you reckon they'll be extinct Ted ? Can you extrapolate that far ?

TomTom it isn`t the curse of Oliver Letwin that lost us the last two elections its the curse of the right with there obsessions about Europe, tax cutting and immigration.

Well, that's the problem Tory T. For the Left, it's no longer enough to deal fairly and honourably with people from ethnic minorities. One must express one's utter horror of racism in much the same way that a Victorian evangelical would express his horror of sex.

The problem is that while few Conservatives welcome racial prejudice, it's not really part of the Tory mindset to grandstand about it either. Mercer was a bit insensitive, but that's all. Edward Pearce was absolutely right that the sacking was a cowardly act, and we lay ourselves open to future demands from the Left that we sack this or that spokesman as soon as they say anything about race that conflicts with their views on the subject.

As for Letwin, that man never opens his mouth without planting both feet firmly in it.

Sorry Ted your figures don't add up at all.

For the record and so you have the actual figures to work with:

Tory vote

1992: 14,092,891
1997: 9,590,916
2001: 8,357,242
2005: 8,784,915

As a percentage of the total electorate those figures are even more stark

1992: 32.58%
1997: 21.86%
2001: 18.82%
2005: 19.85%

In 1992 Labour and the Tories accounted for 59% of the electorate. In 2005 they acounted for only 41%. Over the same period the Lib Dem vote changed by less than 100,000. So somewhere out there is a huge swathe of the population who now feel that none of the three parties represent their views.

Whilst still small, the BNP vote has unfortunately grown from 7000 in 1992 to 192,000 in 2005.

Even your much vaunted 40% of the expressed preference in the last couple of polls represents only 23% of the electorate.

Now I don't like or advocate PR as I believe it cements the position of the parties in the system, something I utterly oppose. But by any measure, a Tory party which can only muster 23% of the electorate and then crows about it is living in a fantasy land.

Mercer just seems to me to be yet another example of Tory M.P.s who arn't really up to the job. I am sure Mercer was excelent in the army but his remarks demonstrated he isn't much of a politician. Trouble is the party is full of people who are excelent in something but second rate as politicians and let Labour get away with murder. Mercer should have known what he said was simply inapropriate for a leading (shadow minister) politician and was laying him and the party open to the sort of disaster Hague had in 2001. Anyone who says Cameron's act was cowardly doesn't know much about politics either.

As we seem to be very good at attracting new supporters I'd expect our party to be going strong for a long time to come. Richard had raised query on Norman Tebbit's Missing Millions - was pointing out that after 15 years quite a few of those who voted Conservative would no longer be with us. It's a fact that with four year terms over 1 and half million who voted in the last election will have died or emigrated and slightly more will vote as result of having past 18 years old or immigrated.

On thread I see Patrick Mercer has said that had Mr Cameron kept him in his post, it would "have made him look as if he was condoning the views that apparently I condoned. Not true, but apparently.

"Now I can't see what else he could have done."

Actually David in trems of doing his job of opposing the government he has been far more effective than most of the other ministers. This is particularly the case with regards the military debacle we are seeing at the moment where he has consistently asked the probing questions that Fox has failed to raise.

Just go to "They work for you" to see the reams ofn written and spoken questions he has put on matters of procurement, treatment of wounded, morale and faulty equipment.

If any of the other Ministers were half as active and effective then the Givernment would be in even more trouble than it is now about the way it has mismanaged the forces.

And what he said was not by any means 'inappropriate'. Not in the real world anyway. The fact that Cameron didn't have the guts or intelligence to say so speaks volumes.

Tory T @ 12.11

I don't accept your argument about the relative impact of various kinds of bullying and abuse. Since Thursday evening on Question Time, I’ve heard a succession of pundits (suspiciously) using exactly the same phrasing while attempting to draw a distinction. I get the impresssion that all the pundits are mouthing the same script from the latest American diversity guru. How about thinking for oneself?

The fact is that all forms of abuse, harrassment and bullying are wrong and can at worst lead to the victim’s suicide. The McPherson report introduced a subjective test: the question is how does the victim feel rather than how do third parties think the victim ought to feel.

The left push the McPherson approach for all it is worth when it suits them. But this morning I was disgusted by the left’s double standards in an item on Radio 4 Broadcasting House. It began with a harrowing story of how a little boy with red hair was being bullied at school; I won’t repeat the insults but suffice to say they were worse than “carrot top”. Then came the left-leaning pundits asserting that no, this case was not in the same league as being bullied for being black. But how do they know? Perhaps I’m cynical, but the subtext was: “it doesn’t matter so much, because he’s white”.

Following the McPherson principle what matters is how the victim perceives it. The bullying could be having just a bad impact on the red head as other bullying say of a black boy at the same school. But of course this didn’t suit the left's divisive agenda, so they belittled the boy’s suffering on the grounds that red heads didn’t have a history of being hanged. Well neither do black people in this country (their argument is presumably imported from the USA). And when a black person is being bullied, do they find it objectionable because of the history of slavery or because they are facing insults or hatred here and now? I suspect that for most people, the hurt is from the contempt or hatred being shown now.


simply not true. Unless you are saying that the Tories are incapable of recruiting new members in any great numbers the question remains, why are there 5 million fewer Tory voters now than in 1992. If it was because they all buy in to the Blairite/Cameron New Order then they should be flooding back. But they aren't.

And as long as you have life long party workers refusing to support you candidates and you see a continuous rise in support for the smaller parties like BNP and UKIP then you - we, since I consider myself a natural Tory - are in deep trouble.

Just to clarify Ted you seem to imply that Thatcherism, Libertarianism and opposition to the EU are the reserve of the old. But they are not. They are philosophies which are strong amongst all age groups. Poll after poll for example shows that the young are amongst the most Eurosceptic of age groups. The young are not stupid and they see through the sort of power grabbing shallow rhetoric that is coming from the two main party leaders.

They believe them to be false and unworthy of support. As such, until they see leaders with conviction rather than those just desperate for power they will continue to stay away at the polls.

Oliver Letwin 2001 Election

But they were forced on the defensive over tax cuts when front-bencher Oliver Letwin briefed the Financial Times newspaper that they really planned not the declared £8 billion ($12 billion) of tax cuts but £20 billion ($30 billion). That, said Labour, would mean severe cutbacks in public services.

The absurdity of voting Tory
Perry de Havilland (London) UK affairs
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If you support the Tories because you dislike the Labour Party's socialist and kleptocratic underpinnings, might I suggest that you are supporting exactly the same policies just with a slightly posher accent.

And a case in point comes from Oliver Letwin, who like most politicians is rarely overburdened with a need to take a consistent position on almost any issue. He tells is that the Tories should be in the redistribution of wealth business. The only bit I find shocking is that he finally openly admits what has been obvious for rather a long time. The idea the Tories will undo anything substantive to repair the damage of the Blair years is delusional and I certainly hope Letwin keeps flapping his lips to make that clear to as many notional Tories as possible.


Oliver Letwin and tax

Dec 16th 2004
From The Economist print edition

IT HAS taken them an awfully long time to get there, but the Tories have finally realised that they must go into the next election as a party determined to cut taxes. After months of shilly-shallying, last weekend Oliver Letwin, the Conservative shadow chancellor, declared that he would issue a cast-iron guarantee to reduce taxes within a month of a Tory government taking power. If he failed to do so, Mr Letwin added for good measure, he would quit.…


But then their economic spokesman Oliver Letwin could not guarantee no increase in National Insurance either. The immediate tax cuts promised by the Conservatives turn out not to be deliverable for at least a year. And after all their fuss about immigration and the pledges that they will take "proper control of our borders" it turned out that they only plan their promised 24-hour surveillance at 35 of Britain's 650 ports.


Thursday November 29, 2001

Guardian Unlimited
Oliver Letwin, the Conservative who blew a hole in the Tory general election campaign by revealing he wanted to see £20b of spending cuts, has gaffed again with an admission that the party is "nowhere near" regaining the public's trust.

Mr Letwin, the current shadow home secretary, also broke one of the cardinal rule of politics by doubting whether his party could win the next election - at least three years away. He told the New Statesman: "What most people want to know about an opposition - as and when they are not inclined to vote for the government - is this: are these people in whom you would safely put your trust to let them run the country?"

The Dorset West MP caused disarray in the Tory campaign for this year's election by saying that the party hoped eventually to cut taxes by as much as £20bn. His comment blew a hole in leader William Hague's carefully costed £8bn package of cuts and seemed to confirm Labour claims that public services would be slashed under the Conservatives.

Mr Letwin is more interested in sorting out schools. He was considered to have made an embarrassing gaffe when he said he would rather beg than send his children to the local secondary school, Lilian Baylis.

But, as with so many of his "blunders", he was only telling the truth. "I do believe some schools are appalling and the only way to give all people an equal chance in life is to give them all the opportunity of a good education. But it was very rude of me to pinpoint one school and I am very sorry about that."

He is less willing to grovel over his other gaffes. "I am not upset I let a burglar into my house to use the loo. In any normal society, it would be the right thing to do."

When it comes to gaffes Letwin's the absolute limit

The Tory policy guru Oliver Letwin attacked Labour in a Sunday Times interview last week for lacking the courage of its convictions. Mr Pot, may I introduce you to Mr Kettle. We also reported his view that there would be “no limits” to private sector involvement in the NHS under the Tories. He hastily denied saying this, even though you can hear his fruity tones on tape.

Then, on Question Time, he said there would be “no centrally imposed decisions on these matters”. No limits then.

To make things crystal clear, Tory health spokesman Andrew Lansley told us: “We intend to offer a right to compete to the independent sector. There should be no artificial limit.” No limits then. Could it be poor Oliver is so used to making gaffes that denying what he’s just said has become a reflex action?

From The Sunday Times
October 08, 2006
Roland White

If Letwin thinks the Party needs to change and his leader agrees with him, why don't they order the old Etonian establishment within the Party to step down before the next election to allow candidates who more broadly reflect the diverse social and ethnic make up of the new Britain?

I did no such thing - I was merely pointing out that over time a party needs to attract new people to its support. I personally tend to the liberterian and eurosceptic arguments and was proud to vote for Mrs Thatcher. However I am also pragmatic and more interested in what works and what delivers the greater good without undue limits on personal and family freedoms.

Turnout has been falling for decades - partly I believe, because mass media and polling made the outcome seem ordained, and partly the rise in single issue pressure groups. The major exceptions to the trend were Feb 74 and 1992 where the election was close and so individual voters were motivated to vote. The massive fall in turnout in 2001 reflects the certainty of Labours victory.

1983 when Mrs Thatcher, a conviction politician, won against Michael Foot, another conviction politician, had the fourth lowest turnout since the war. The lowest being 2001, 2nd worst in 2005, third worst in 1997.

If the next election looks a close one then I fully expect turnout to increase. If our party has a manifesto that is attractive to the electorate at large then we will win. Many of those will not have voted or thought to vote Conservative before.

And many more like me Ted will not be voting. For as long as we lack a credible right of centre party I and countless others like me will withhold our vote and more importantly our active support.

The only thing the Conservatives can rely upon at the moment is the fact there is not a credible alternative on the right. Those who feel it is their duty to vote will reluctantly vote for the Tories. Those of us who believe that it is better to withhold that vote when no one deserves it will simply stay at home. Many like yourself will say that is down to apathy. In fact it is exactly the opposite. It is a desire to see real choice and a real right of centre alternative to Labour. Something that is sadly lacking at the moment.


"One must express one's utter horror of racism in much the same way that a Victorian evangelical would express his horror of sex.

The problem is that while few Conservatives welcome racial prejudice, it's not really part of the Tory mindset to grandstand about it either."

I must disagree with you, vehemently. Conservatism is about equality of opportunity, socialism about equality of outcomes. Therefore abhorrence of racism is in our blood. It goes against the native Conservative sense of fair play. Ours is the party of Wilberforce.

In any case, Col. Mercer did not merely fail to articulate an abhorrence of racism, bad though that would have been. He in fact demanded that it be tolerated by its victims as neither more nor less than the joshing fat or red-headed men might receive. That is grossly to minimise its evil, and to establish it as nothing worth bothering about. That is why Cameron was right to make the move that he did and Col. Mercer promptly and without quibbling to resign.

I fully accept that Col. Mercer is no racist. I like to think that if he were one, he would no longer have the whip. But his remarks denigrated racism as nothing to worry about. That is what was so pernicious and that was why it was the right decision.

By the way Ted, the 1983 election, whilst a lower turn out than most, still saw Maggie poll over 30% of the total electorate compared to the current 23% support and the two main parties accounted for 51% of the vote.

Things have never been as bad as they are now in terms of people actively choosing not to vote because they are offered no real choice.

"But his remarks denigrated racism as nothing to worry about."

No they didn't

"Ours is the party of Wilberforce."

So does that also mean we have to believe that evolution is a myth as he argued so persuasivly against Huxley? Such comments are meaningless.

Letwin, in his position as policy head, has had little or nothing to do with this poll lead, since next to nothing has emerged from his policy review groups. The rhetoric about changing as a party, being "open" to women and ethnic minorities etc is all background noise (and largely rubbish).

The poll lead is due to unprecedented Blair disapproval (Iraq, lying, Yo Blair!, sleaze); NuLab unpopularity (NHS, tax burden, crime, mass immigration); Gordon Brown's ugliness of looks and demeanour; and, credit where due, in huge part because Cameron looks and sounds pleasant, a skill that was beyond Hague, IDS and Howard.

The last man we had who led the party with appealing English charm and decency was Major, though he was much more understated than Cameron (but it won him an unlikely election). Major turned out to be hopeless, and indeed Cameron threatens to be no better, given his apparent commitment to Blairite policy. But this poll lead gets him to Downing Street, and it will be because of his easy charm. The gibberish spouted by Letwin above will have had much less effect.

The "change" demanded by voters is mostly encapsulated by fresh-faced Dave and their own distaste to the current administration.

Tory T

You'd be interested to read the blogs on the Army Rumour Service. The general view there is there is a distintion between bullying by NCOs based on race, which is clearly wrong and extremely rare in the Army these days, and banter between mates, where apparently every difference is fair game for "joshing". But it is righly pointed out that when it comes to the field of battle every one sticks up for each other. It is called comradeship; people in civilian life cannot really understand how closely any unit bonds together. Maybe the banter, far from having a negative effect, actually helps the bonding process. Edward Pearce in the Guardian made a similar point referring to "rough boy's talk".

Cameron should have said: "Patrick Mercer is a good man who is doing important work to prepare for how a Conservative Government will protect the nation from terrorism. His choice of words was unfortunate on this occasion but he has a good record at promoting ethnic minorities in the army. Patrick supports my efforts to build a party that is intolerant of racism and prejudice. That is the end of the matter."

Now I don't like or advocate PR as I believe it cements the position of the parties in the system, something I utterly oppose. But by any measure, a Tory party which can only muster 23% of the electorate and then crows about it is living in a fantasy land.
I don't think that anyone is proposing representing abstainers with seats, it would be hard to come out with any such system, as such with regard to turnout - the argument between FPTP, STV, AV, AV Plus, Regional Lists etc.... it does not relate to that, indeed it is arguable that a PR system that made it virtually impossible for a single party to win could render party manifesto's largely meaningless as they were negociated away after the election and could in fact result in many supporters of the 2 main parties losing interest.

As for close elections - 1964 was very close and perceived to be such during the campaign and yet turnout was down, in 1970 expectations were that Labour would win a fairly comfortable but not very comfortable majority, in February 1974 expectations were that the Conservatives were on course for a similar majority to that they got in 1970, in October 1974 on the other hand it was clearly perceived as being a close contest, 1979 was perceived as being a sure victory for the Conservative Party but turnout was sharply up - since though turnout seems more to have followed perception of how sure a result is.

Well, I'm afraid I have to disagree Tory T. Racism is wrong, but it is only one type of many types of unpleasantness that human beings inflict on each other. In modern British society, people in public life are expected to treat it as being akin to murder.

The fact that black soldiers who served under Patrick Mercer should have spoken up in his defence speaks volumes in this case.

I wasn't proposing giving abstainers seats (a strange concept which I can't see how it would work). My comments on PR were just sort of firing a warning shot across any such retort to my comments about poor representation.

The fact remains that the Tory party is not gaining votes. It may be gaining percentage leads over Labour but close to 80% of the population remain non Tory voters. This is in stark contrast to the Pre 1997 levels and if we want to see the Tories return to power in any meaningful sense it is something that needs to be addressed rather than drawing false comfort from a few dubious polls.

Sean, you apparently agree that racist taunting is no worse than taunting for ginger hair. You will, at least, see the new thread where the most right-wing members of the present Cabinet disagree with you and support Cameron's decision; both Fox and Davis condemning in strong terms the minimisation of racism. I do believe that they represent more mainstream Conservatism than you do on this one.

Not sure what you are trying to prove. Checked the ICM Guardian Survey. On their weighting assumptions the calculated turnout is 70% - higher than we have seen in the last two elections but close to the 97 figure. So 30% of the population wouldn't vote - about double that of 1950.
Before adjustment for Don't Knows/Refusals but after turnout filter applied the ICM data showed 42% Conservative : 29 % Labour : 18% LD.
So we are talking about 28% or so of the total electorate saying they would vote Tory.
That looks to me like the Tories gaining votes compared to the previous 3 elections. If Turnout was 70% as in ICM results it would be 12 and half million or so. If turnout was only 62% then it would be around 11 million. Both figures much improved on 1997, 2001 & 2005 results you quote. Compared with 2005 it would be more than 2 million more voters at the lower turnout figure and nearly 4 million at the higher.

Mercers comments weren't necessarily racist but they were stupid. Cameron had no choice but to deal swiftly with the matter, which he did. A few years ago this would have dragged on for months. More sign of progress,


Tory T
on the issue of ginger hair versus black skin, I put an argument to you at 17.50, but you haven't attempted to rebut my points. Telling Sean Fear that Fox and Davis agree with you isn't an argument, it merely tells us they are toeing the line.

Non-racial bullying can have just as bad an effect on its victims, depending on the circumstances.

I think most agree that Patrick Mercer expressed himself very clumsily. But it is reading too much into them to see them as trivialising racial bullying.

Jack Stone et al are still peddling the total myth that it was our policies that lost us the last three elections despite the hard evidence of Michael Aschroft's private polling demonstrating very clearly indeed that it was not the policies that the voters didn't like at all, it was the Party.

Editor it really is time for you to republish those poll results that showed unequivocally that the voters liked the sensible right wing policies but didn't like the party itself. Perhaps then we can have an informed debate as to where the party should be heading because it is clear, now that the Tory brand has been decontaminated, that it is no longer necessary to pretend to be the LibDems or New Labour with a posh accent anymore.

Letwin is right to say that the Conservative membership and voters need to be in step with each other however they largely are, certainly in their desire to see a Conservative government with conservative policies elected, but it is the likes of Letwin himself who are out of step with both groups, although he can take some comfort from being in step with Southend's finest.

I don't think that anyone is proposing representing abstainers with seats,

No but having empty seats would make politicians focus on these taxpayers and citizens who have no regard for them at all, but whose physical presence on the streets of London could bring down any government....and who contrary to the dope-induced stupor of political cadres - are not apathetic but livid....have Internet and SMS to spring big surprises on politicians.

If this disaffected group does shake the tree it will come out by the roots and all the monkeys will fall out of the branches ending the party system as hitherto known

Not true Ted. The tble from which you claim the uncorrected balance of 42% itself says in bold letters it excludes total of 43% of those polled as they either refused to answer, gave no preference or said they would not vote. No conclusions can be drawn from those responses and ICM has in the past run foul of this sort of analysis as was highlighted on the political betting website in the run up to the last eection.

The most accurate polls running at the moment - those from Yougov - show the Tories with no where near this sort of lead. And the Communicate Research poll carried out for the Independent in February at the same time as the Guardian poll does inded show overall support for the Tories at around 23% of the electorate.

Whenever Letwin appears on TV, he should simply dress in sackcloth and ashes; and wear a placard saying "Unclean unclean". That way, he could get across his message that all Tories are tainted with leprosy, harvest all the BBC plaudits he so desperately craves and stop boring the rest of us.

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