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Surely the biggest obstacle the Party faces is a truculent ConservativeHome bouncing it into an unappealing right-wing policy that puts off the broad mass of British voters?

Some interesting points but I think really its been said already that a bit of grit is coming in to define the broad strategy. Other than that I think we need to see DC making statements alongside a couple of key shadow ministers all the time so we look like the Government in waiting that we are,


What about the bias against the Party in the present, and revised, constituency boundaries?

And extending the appeal beyond southern England?

Rather than "protecting the right flank" - so what if 30% would very hypothetically vote to the right of the party for a second choice, this says nothing about how likely they are to (I said UKIP but I'm never going to vote for them in the next General Election)- I would put that one as "ensuring that people still know the Party is about reducing the role of the State, without leading to the belief that this means compromising the most important public services".

Re: your third point.

An "economic downturn" in the UK is now inevitable and the blame will be laid firmly at Gordon Brown's door so he will certainly not benefit from the coming recession, quite the contrary.

Brown's fingerprints are over everything that will contribute to the stagflation/recession/depression into which the UK is inexorably bound:

1. A huge, record, and growing trade deficit with the rest of the world

2. Record and growing public debt of £600billion which doesn't even include the hundreds of billions owed by PFI and public sector pensions deficit

3. Record and growing private debt over £1.3trillion

The economy under Brown has become a pyramid selling scam drowning in debt largely borrowed against the illusory and temporary value of a house price bubble. When house prices start to collapse later this year Brown's ponzi scheme will fall apart. Growing numbers of bankruptcies and repossessions offer a foretaste of things to come.

Brown will pay a heavy electoral price for his irresponsible, dishonest, and incompetent running of the nation's finances.

On the Lib Dem matter, how about a series of articles on how to defeat them from those who have been successful at it?

I would agree with the 'austrian economist' I really don't think Brown is an electoral asset to Labour at all. Whatever your politics nobody can claim that his defence of his 'pensions raid' was anything other than inept. His reputation can only go down from here I think.
I would also agree with Londoner, our appeal to new voters appears very uneven and we are doing much better in southern England than elsewhere. The main obstacle appears to me that we do have enough appeal beyond our heartlands.

Your second point is nonsense. Margaret is closer to the truth.

We need to attract new members, particularly in areas where we have very few, to do the necessary footwork.

Do we need to look again at how we recruit people? Voter Vault apparently lists the subscribers to various media titles. Should we be direct mailing all Spectator subscribers? Do we need to re-examine the sort of functions we put on to attract people?

Canvassing is quite a daunting thing for many people. Could CCHQ provide some form of classes for people locally? Also, some people who aren't daunted by canvassing could still do with some lessons!

I realise these are all practical, non-ideological steps. They need to go hand-in-hand with setting out more detail about our policies as we approach the election. Yet it is so often the "Get the Vote Out" effort that makes a difference.

Good article, Tim. However, I think your concerns about the right flank are slightly overstated. I think we are now getting a much more balanced set of messages in terms, for example, of the focus on marriage and families (very appealing to the core vote). On the environment the Green taxes debate is, I admit, a controversial one; but even some very staunch and loyal members who have been critical of the leadership have said to me that they can now see why we have focussed so much on this, that they want to see us tackle these issues for the sake of their grandchildren's future.

Again it should be stated that the YouGov poll is nonsense, proved by the fact that it found only 3% of Labour supporters who chose BNP as their second choice, something we know to be out and out false.

The more reliabke ICM poll had ukip/bnp nowhere as Tory second choices while LibDems were the easy favourite in the position.

May 3rd's results should throw some light on the actual position of ukip and 'others' that only YG overstates amongst major pollsters.

Furthermore, polls have found that more core Tories are happy with their leader than Lab or LDs - so DC has the right flank on board already.

I agree with the second point. I know of many Conservatives who say that the party no longer speaks for them. We only need to lose a few voters on the right and we won't win marginal seats. Many are also likely to be the activists that Alex Jacob calls for.

Going for an open and firm espousal of an English Parliament within the United Kingdom on the same lines as the Scottish parliament would be broadly popular throughout England - far beyond the boundaries normal to Toryism .

The English have been watching the Scottish parliament on their TV screens for 9 years now and the general feeling is -why can't we have some of that too ?

Start the process .
Propose a referendum ,in England only , on this subject and promise an England Bill to become The England Act if elected .

Labour did it for Scotland . It is unlikely , but not beyond the bounds of possibility , that Brown might go for this too if he feels unable to combat the Conservatives in any other way .

You may not share their perspective Graeme but stay-at-home Tory voters are a huge a problem at the moment and I think the second point is by far the most worrying for Cameron. He's good at wooing liberal metropolitans but not at inspiring people to get out and vote for him.

Cameron's support in the electorate may be increasingly wide but its shallow --- there are very few real believers. Noone thinks much will change if he gets in.

Care to elaborate, Graeme.

Not sure these are major obstacles, and if they are then it’s nice to have two at least that are largely out of our control anyway . But regarding point two, I think that if this advice is followed the negative impact will be much higher than the positive. Labour are waiting quietly for us to give them the opportunity to claim that we are a wolf in sheep’s clothing (I bet the Guardian was delighted to publish it too). I would strongly advise against conceding to the right as that would unravel everything the Cameron strategy has fought to build. But now, this is not to say that Cameron cannot develop traditional right-wing policies, like supporting marriage and the family, however they must be carefully messaged to jive closely with the central theme of change and moderation. Making blind policy concessions would be a disastrous thing to do. Lets not forget that we are now very close to the 9% swing we need for an outright majority, and much of that has been at the expense of the LibDems (who have fallen from 26% to just 17% since the last election). No, Tim, candidly, I think that points one and two are window dressing for the real message, point two. Is it fair to say that you have been pushing for concessions to the right since Cameron was elected leader, and would it also be fair to say that the substance of this article is just that? (sorry mate, I bet you wish I’d stayed in my box!)

Even Chad Noble described ukip as "a shower" on his blog:

"the only show in town but unfortunately also a shower"

Think we can use that in my patch in the few wards ukip are contesting!

Anthony Broderick

"You may not share their perspective Graeme but stay-at-home Tory voters are a huge a problem at the moment"

the polls say differently, and I think May 3rd will too

Err...the biggest obstacle to the Conservatives winning is Dave

To add to Margarert & Graeme's point. You say the Lib Dems are the biggest obstacle; to break their hold means we have to address why people vote for them. I'd suggest it's partially because the 25-40 generation (who were 5-20 years old in 1987 at beginning of Thatcher's last administration) remember all too well the 1988-1993 period when poll tax, Europe and a recession dominated.

We won't get them back with policies for the core about being tough on crime, tough on immigration, tough on anything - because "being tough" is what turned them off Conservatives and sent them to the LIb Dems. "Unless its hurting, it isn't working", all those tough speeches and talk of making the tough choices from Redwood, Portillo, Howard etc.

They don't like Labour but can't (or couldn't - DC has changed that) bring themselves to vote Conservative. Cameron gets it; that we must change that perception. That means taking a risk with the 30% of supporters who want the Tough Party because they are all voting for us already.

We must change from being the doom and gloom party - all grumpy old men and women complaining about how awfiul it all is - to the optimistic party that will make this a whole lot better. So rather than complain about crime and the way this country is going to the dogs offer elected police commissioners and give people more say in what the police do and how they do it.

As for the "more greybeards" - we have them in nice backroom functions developing policy. I'm sure I wasn't the only Conservative who was relieved in 1997 to realise I no longer had to defend the tired old men in Major's cabinet. I don't want Heseltine, Hurd, Rifkind, Clarke, Howard, Redwood, Yeo, Duncan Smith to be the face of my party. I prefer David Davis for his honesty and directness, I prefer the new look William Hague, Willets, Letwin, Osborne, Fox, Duncan, Lansley and co. Lets leave the tired men populating Gordon Brown's front benches.

"the only show in town but unfortunately also a shower"
Aren't the Cameroons wet enough without UKIP pissing on them?

Not at all Oberon. I'm delighted you are back and this wouldn't be a proper blog if it wasn't full of disagreement and debate!!

I have never urged the party to only have right-wing policies. I have consistently championed the 'politics of and' (to the point of boring people, I fear?). Let me make it clear: I am more comfortable in Cameron's greener, gentler Conservative Party than in Michael Howard's "Are you thinking what we're thinking?" Party. Cameron's recent emphasis on marriage and police reform are exactly the messages that I have hoped for. They are right for the country and they resonate with our party's deepest values. I think the overall balance of Project Cameron is getting better and all I ask is that it continues. There are people around Cameron who think the base can be ignored. Their counsel is dangerous and I will continue to offer occasional reminders that the party must be broad - not narrowly camped on the centre.

What is the point of the Conservative Party if it's not right wing?

Alex Jacob makes a very important point.
We need a recruitment/ foot soldier drive like never before. All too many local parties are slowly ageing, and we know all too well from many anecdotes that new members are often not encouraged or involved when they do join. I know people who have joined and had no contact from their local party at all -many are like closed shops.
I am currently working in a target seat trying to get a regular leaflet round in a target ward. Although I have managed it, the main problem I found was the number of frail elderly members who didn't feel fit enough to do leaflet drops, and also the fact that they have never been asked before (despite being members for 20 years +)! Often this is the first time they have been asked to do anything other than turn up to social events. It is changing, but this appears to be a microcosm of local parties across the country.
It ends up in a catch 22 situation - no leaflet drops/ membership drives as no active membership - leading to situation continuing. Also the new members need to be welcomed with open arms, and used to their maximum and to their skills.
Each local party should develop a membership strategy as part of the campaign strategy as well as a national membership drive as Alex suggested - that's the way to win target seats, particularly LibDem ones.

Absolutely right Rachel - agree 100% with what you say.

Hear Hear about the plans for a mass recruitment drive but a LOT of Conservative Associations act like a 'closed shop'. How many associations are in direct contact with their own members more than once a year- if that!? No good having a mass membership drive if associations are unwilling to contact/engage new members.

Acting a little more like an opposition party might be a good idea.

There's been A LOT of 'acting like an opposition' Michael M in recent days over the pensions issue.

Like me, Tim believes that the Conservative Party should not be afraid to offer a positive alternative to the drab authoritarian mediocrity of the centre-left. Margaret on the Guillotine, the voice of Ted Heath crossed with Portillo, likes the drab authoritarian mediocrity of the centre-left, indeed wants more of it.... so can only offer pathetic sixth-form abuse of Tim. Oberon Houston seems to think that the words "rightwing" are synonymous with leprosy. Why not just join the Lib Dems, Oberon? Cameron wants to do a deal with them anyway.

To answer Sean's last question, the current purpose of the Conservative Party seems to be to provide Cameron and friends with the spoils of office.

There was a lot of "acting like an opposition" [sic], to the point of cutting our noses off to spite our faces, between 1997 and 2005, & look where that got us.

Totally agree with the first point. I've lost count of the number of people in Lin Dem-held seats who say things like, 'Our MP is so hard-working, such a nice person...'

When we held theses Lib Dems seats, they were, mainly, represented by lazy couldn't-care-less MPs with complacent Associations. The situation today remains patchy.

On the second point, we should continue with the current strategy. I don't think our 'core' voters will abandon us. That said, we should never take them for granted.

And on the third note, little can now save Gordon Brow; he's well and truly doomed.

Michael McGowan, having called me a drab authoritarian centre-leftist, which I am not, & Oberon Houston a LibDem, which I daresay he is not, I hardly think it is for you to accuse others of "sixth-form abuse".

End of sniping, before Editor says the same.

Justin, I think your first two points are right: the Lib Dems assiduously work their seats while too many Tory MPs still take theirs for granted. The way in which the LibDems entrench themselves is not rocket science.

As for the core vote, much of it will literally die off in the next ten years....at which point there will no longer be very few who reflexively vote Tory.

As for Margeret's last comment, why not just stand at the next election on Labour's manifesto? It would save a lot of time and trouble. You could simply merge with Labour in return for a few cabinet seats. The only problem is that there wouldn't be enough plum jobs to go around so the pretence of a battle of ideas with Gordon has to be maintained..

The Tories need more greybeards - voters will not entrust a troubled Britain to inexperienced hands

Problem is, most of your 'greybeards' have baggage-in spades. It'll take a brave Tory to deny your 1990-97 government under Johnnie boy was anything other than an unmigitated disaster.

And on the third note, little can now save Gordon Brown; he's well and truly doomed.

Rubbish. I remember 1993-1997, when the government truly had the 'stench of death' about it. That isn't now.

Labour majority of a dozen, methinks........

Margaret, I merely observe...."abuse" doesn't enter into it. I didn't ask you you to offer the electorate yet another leftwing party. I would have thought the market was getting a bit crowded for this kind of product. But Ted Heath would approve wouldn't he? After all, he ended his life as an paid apologist for the Communist Party of China.

Margaret, if you've made any comments on ConHome that imply you hold right of centre opinions, I've not seen them.

Tim M is turning into a major media commentator; I would far rather hear from him than several ex-Conservative insiders I could mention.

Sorry for rushed comment earlier. Tory T is right by the way, congratulations Tim.

I think your second obstacle is nonsense because there's no empirical sign of Tories defecting "to the right". The opinion poll which you use for your "30%" figure showed that the party which is closest to the largest single number of Conservatives is the LibDems. As it is David Cameron's explicit strategy to win back that class of people who once would have been naturally Conservative but who now vote Liberal (eg Oxford, Cambridge), this is a positive finding, not a negative one. I have personal views about the lack of distance, politically, between the two tiny parties whose Tory preferences you add together to get 30%, but they are neither here nor there. What is important is that there is evidence that Conservative *voters* and LD *voters* are not that far apart (not discussing party platforms as such), that most members are aligned with Cameron's strategy (as your own poll shows month in, month out), that opinion polls continue to show that said strategy is working, and that (.23 * .19) is a bigger number than (0.30 * .01).

Graeme, the average Lib Dem voter in Oxford, Cambridge (or one could add Manchester Withington, Hornsey & Wood Green, Twickenham etc) has about as much in common with you and I, politically, as you and I have in common with the average supporter of Respect.

So if these people are won over, either you and I, and most Conservatives, are going to be deeply unhappy with what we do in government, or else they are. I can't see how both groups of voters are going to be kept happy.

They have 198 MP's, after notional changes about 211 - if they took 50 each from Labour and the Liberal Democrats they would be able to form a minority government although how long it would last is anyones guess.

The major obstacles to the Conservatives forming the next government are the electorate - that on about a third of those turning up in 2005 their gains were largely as a result of the collapsing Labour vote, with Labour's vote probably increasing with regaining many who had stopped turning out or switched to the Liberal Democrats, Respect, KHHC etc... the Conservative Party needs to increase it's vote to hold it's position and still needs a landslide just to form a majority government. If Labour's vote were to continue to fall then the Conservative Party could possibly scrape a small majority with actually their vote being hardly altered, however the Liberal Democrat vote could fall only in areas where they don't have seats, in 1997 their vote fell but they got double the number of seats they did in 1992 despite a Labour landslide. Tactical voting can work for or against or cancel out.

Sean, judging by 2005, a lot of Lib Dem voters had a lot in common with Respect.

Sean, you're mistaken. The seats you mention still have thousands of Conservatives who, er, vote Lib Dem at the mo. This, is part, is because our organisation has collapsed. In some of those seats, they don't even hear from us at elections times. That's why the big cities like Liverpool and Manchester have fallen by the wastelands. The answer? Train and employ more agents and work hard all year round.


Many people who vote Lib Dem do not differ much from the average Conservative voter - Cornwall isn't overrun with sandal wearers (accept in Rock in the summer), Somerset yeoman aren't all off to Glastonbury every week. The people who vote Lib Dem in Westbury show no real difference from when they voted Tory a couple of elections ago. It's those people we need to get back into voting centre-right.

I seem to remember you posting last year in defence of our less socially liberal members saying that you were not into attacking fellow conservatives for their beliefs - your attack on Margaret for her own defence of a perfectly valid thread of conservative thought rather undermines that. The party I've supported for nearly 40 years has always included the whig and tory elements in constructive tension - thats the party I still want to see.

I think the truth is prob somewhere between Justin and Sean. Sean, I am second to no-one in the negative reaction I have to that archetypal Lib Dem voter you meet when you're out canvassing, looking down her nose at you as though you're something the cat dragged in. But *millions* of people like that, not so long ago, would not have paused for a second in identifying themselves as natural Conservatives. And we did used to represent the two seats I mentioned. There are millions of LD voters whom we must re-attract, not to mention the proto-Tory seats they have taken in the south. Of course we must also appeal to those fTories who switched directly to New Labour, but I don't think that will be so difficult, because they are more open to rational appeal (while LDs are not; hence the need for what I think many here dislike about our new mood music). Justin is onto something too because the reason the LDs are doing well in many places is because they are the not-Labour party.

I do wonder about the psychology of switch-voters. It's obviously alien to me. I can understand switching Conservative to New Labour in 1997. I try to think how it must feel now to realise that everything the Conservatives said at the time about Blair and his ilk was true. You're not likely to initially warm to the messenger of "we told you that was a silly thing to do", are you? I think that's why Tony Blair appears to be more personally hated by the general population than he is by me (I never loved him), why David Cameron's strategy is vital (to provide a reason for these people to switch back), why polls show people "not trusting" any political party (because having made a big switch once they can't say anything else, except "I made a mistake" -- easier to blame a political party) ... oh .. and the sun is shining, it's beautiful, and I have to go back to work.

Happy Easter :-0)

There is a real tension behind the 1st and 2nd points in the article, and the people who are being castigated as being left wing are merely being realistic. Michael McGowen - how will losing members to the Lib Dems help to counter the threat that they so obviosuly post? Points 1 & 2 are not irroncilable, but established members need to patient whislt we make attempts to win over people who have drifted away. What do we want to be, a political party with a serious chance of election or a right wing pressure group?

There is a real tension behind the 1st and 2nd points in the article, and the people who are being castigated as being left wing are merely being realistic. Michael McGowen - how will losing members to the Lib Dems help to counter the threat that they so obviosuly post? Points 1 & 2 are not irreconcilable, but established members need to patient whislt we make attempts to win over people who have drifted away. What do we want to be, a political party with a serious chance of election or a right wing pressure group?

Ted, I'm not sure that my comment above amounts to an "attack" on Margaret. It is she who is consistently critical of mainstream Conservative members and voters.

WRT Lib Dems, I think that left-leaning affluent people would once have voted Conservative simply because affluent people voted Conservative. That kind of class allegiance has now gone, and you won't find such people switching back to the Tories (they might switch to the Green Party).

There are marginal seats (eg the West Country) where a handful of switchers from the Lib Dems will gain the seat, but I can't see us building a winning majority on Lib Dem switchers overall.

"What is the point of the Conservative Party if it's not right wing?"
What is the point of being the main political opposition with the aim of winning an election and becoming a government if you treat the party as an exclusive golf club, where you are only allowed in if you dress correctly or can pay the exorbitant fees?

Which constituency do you have in mind?

One of Iain Duncan Smith's better ideas when seeking the leadership was to set up a unit in Central Office specially dedicated to confronting the Lib Dems. It's unfortunate that this was never brought into effect.

So far as the present hierarchy might feel it's best to keep this shelved because we might one day want to form a coalition* with them, it's surely worth remembering that in the absence of a formal electoral alliance (SDP-Liberal being the obvious example), they are opponents and must always be treated as such. That is not to say that we should treat their non-core voters with disdain, but equally the process of seeking to win them over should not start from the premise that we were (say) "nasty" and have now seen the error of our ways.

* Any debate on whether Jim Callaghan (Lib-Lab pact) or Harold Wilson (second 1974 election) is a better example to follow in the event of a minority government situation is perhaps best kept separate, although there's never any harm in trying to anticipate what's for the best if this came about.

"offer the electorate yet another leftwing party"..."What is the point of the Conservative Party if it's not right wing?".."Blue Labour".etc.

These sort of comments really irritate me. The Conservative Party is right-wing:
Elected police commissioners.
Build more prisons.
Border police force.
More independence for the NHS.
Scrap ID cards.
Assimilationism over multiculuralism.
Social responsibility.
Support for marriage/families.
Sharing the proceeds of growth between services and tax cuts.
Offsetting green taxes with lower taxes elseware (compare to Labour).
Streaming/setting, phonics in schools.
Limiting immigration from non EU countries

All right-wing, conservative proposals that Cameron has put forward.

Would I like to limit immigration from EU countries as well? Yes.
Would I lke to leave the EU? Yes.
Would I like more grammar schools? Yes.

But just because I wont get everything on my wish list doesn't mean the Tory party are left-wing or 'un-conservative'

Where there are similarities to Labour it is mostly due to the fcat that New Labour has moved far to the right of their historical position.

There is no point is being so right-wing we are unelectable and thereby condemm the country to be run by Gordon Brown for another 5 years.

All fine words, Jon, but look at the post-1945 record of the Tories: a big gap between words and deeds.

Michael that's too despairing even for someone of your rich insights :-0). It's hardly fair to judge what Cameron will do by assuming it will be that which Heath did do!

Onenationtory dangles before us the false choice the Tories have offered at many elections: being a rightwing pressure group in permanent opposition or a party with a chance of power. "Power" in itself is of great importance to the politico-media caste but of no interest to most voters because they have no desire to be career politicians/spin doctors/quangocrats. I like them want a competent and better Government....not just one that like Heath, MacMillan and Eden beds down the failures of the left. Chasing the kind of Lib Dem voter whom Sean mentions is unlikely to achieve that.

PS Hear, hear @ Jon Gale.

Graeme, I hope I am proved wrong....but the Tory Party worked hand in glove with Labour to bring social mobility to a halt, not least Mrs M. Thatcher as Heath's secretary of education.

Quite right Jon. I find it amazing that someone would rather sit back and let Labour run the country than compromise over a couple of policy positions.
That attitude has lost us too many elections for it to continue, and in the meantime our constitution is vandalised, we are fighting a war we were told we won years ago, taxes are sky high, our public services are a mess, industry is stifled and enterprise punished, pension funds plundered, schools meddled with, health service tipped upside down, civil service corrupted, the poorest hooked on welfare and abandoned, and to round it off we are continually bombarded with bossy socialist legislation in all aspects of our life. No, those that would happily allow that to continue on a matter of principle are contemptible.

What is the point of the Conservative Party?

TimberWolf (is this a stage name?)… taking my previous post as an example… 1. The NHS will be reformed by the Conservatives, the internal market re-activated ans independent status granted to hospitals, Labour ideologically will simply not allow this. 2. Education will be overhauled, with more streaming and greater independence for schools and choice for parents 3. Labour regulation will be dismantled to allow businesses to sucees 4. Those on welfare will not be penalised for finding work or trying to improve their lives 5. The civil service will be de-politicised 6. The police will be reformed 7. Pensioners won’t be penalised for saving….. on and on. No those that say a Cameron lead Conservative party is the same as Labour should take the time to understand the real differences in philosophy between the two, that's the key.

ps, TimberWoof, why the name, I'm intrigued...

"There's been A LOT of 'acting like an opposition' Michael M in recent days over the pensions issue.Posted by: Editor "
Agreed ,but nearly ten tears after the initial event and only after the papers majored on the issue.Osborne should now delve into Brown's part in shafting the grannies over Railtrack (demand the advice from Andersens and others)and nail the fiscal drag artist .Ramp up the criticism from those formerly close to him who deride his understanding of economics and take on board Jeff Randall's criticisms published yesterday too.

"Power" in itself is of great importance to the politico-media caste but of no interest to most voters because they have no desire to be career politicians/spin doctors/quangocrats. I like them want a competent and better Government

I want a competent and better government too Michael! It's just that I believe that my beliefs might have be trimmed slightly to accommodate others and achieve it! We need to reach out to people beyond the party to ensure this happens but it is unfortunately the case that members of the public do not have the appetite for the whole right-wing programme some people on these message boards advocate.

We could be better at opposition, here is just a very few things we could have attacked Brown with:

1. At a meeting with Byers et. Al, Brown gave the go-ahead to force Railtrack into liquidation, and set this in motion by refusing to release the £1.5bn to Railtrack to keep the company solvent. He was the man behind Byers. This foolish decision would cost the taxpayer over £2 billion in compensation to city institutions, individual invertors lost the lot.
2. Brown was the man that came up with the targets system for the NHS in return for extra funding. As we all know this was an awful strategy and hundreds of billions of pounds went down the drain as a result.
3. Despite his criticism of the Conservative handling of the ERM fiasco, he is lying. He is on the public record of endorsing the policy at the time, and even talked against devaluing. He also was pro-euro, until Murdoch threatened both Brown and Blair with a mauling if they tried to join.
4. It was Brown that forced through the Independent Learning Accounts (ILA). This scheme was subject to massive fraud, but Brown forced David Normington, the permanent secretary to keep the scheme open, and later forced Estelle Morris to continue operating the scheme and it was only after £100 million was fraudulently claimed was it halted.
5. Brown devised the policy of means testing middle class couples, which encouraged then not to get married for purely financial reasons.
6. Brown it was that, against professional advice, encouraged mothers of very young children to out them into day care and work instead of staying with them at home during a crucial period for building parental bonds. Brown it was that devised the childcare credit system, which has a 47 page instruction form and 12 page application form. This system was stopped due to massive fraud.
7. Brown must take the lions share of the blame for benefit fraud has rising by £10billion since he took office. The proposed solution, typical Labour police state tactics, install lie detectors.
8. Despite his boasts on poverty action, the chaotic failures of the tax credit system Brown devised have put more children into poverty than any other.
9. Brown was the man that found a way to increase spending without immediate taxation using the PFI initiative. This flawed and inefficient scheme allows him to commit to huge spending programs that he doesn’t need to balance in his budget. Future Governments will however.

I could go on and on and on. This man is a walking target, and now is the time to strike again and again and again.

The Conservatives won't win a general election by appealing to the right flank, just as Tony Blair realised that Labour would not win by appealing to its left flank. Elections are won in the centre ground (whether that is from a centre right ot centre left perspective) by attracting ordinary people who are concerned about the real issues of the day that impact on their lives. These, as I see them, are health, education, anti-social behaviour, crime and the environment.

tut tut, a very simnplistic analysis cleo. And bang on.

No governments are elected who ignore the popular mood and operate on the political fringes, and no governments are elected that contain serious fractures within, that is why it is vital that we find a way to agree to this and mintain a united front. It's not important to pander to the extremists, but the core of the party must be taken along.

In regard to the points about the LibDems, I think we can win them over. In many/ most LibDem seats the voters are affluent people who are well-meaning, prepared to share a degree of their affluence for "good deed" projects and "making a better world".
The problem over the last 15 or so years is that we have been seen as party only caring for the interests of the rich, which naturally turns these well-meaning but ill-informed people off.
The fact is, right wing policies WORK - they reduce poverty at home and abroad (through making work pay and free trade), increase social mobility (through encourgagement of work and educational freedom as well as the promotion of the family), reduce crime - which affects the poor more than the rich (through tougher policing, better deterrents, encouraging work and families), frees health services to work for better treatment outcomes (not centralised targets), improves public health through empowerment of the individual and communities (again by promoting the family, work - good for physical & mental health and a feeling of "control" which is needed to make healthier choices)..... I could go on.
Left-wing, centralised policies DO NOT WORK, they make the lot of the poor and the wider population worse (as we are constantly seeing).
We need to make this message loud and clear - if you care about the people of this country and this world and you want policies that will improve the lot of the poor, vulnerable as well as the general population, VOTE CONSERVATIVE. This is I believe a positive message that past LibDem voters would vote for.

"Margaret on the Guilliotine" and I have known each other for several years, and I can vouch for the fact that said person is an extremely active, campaigning Tory who holds sensible right-of-centre views (even if I do often call said person a Heathite jokingly!)

But his point is correct enough. The Welsh elections will be the first test of our comeback, not Scotland, and the first test of our reach towards the centre.

The local elections will be a very good indication on the resiliance of the Lib Dems. Since these seats were last fought in 2003, the Lib Dems poll ratings have moved down by between 1/6 to 1/5 whilst the Conservatives ratings have moved up by between 1/5 to 1/4. That is a very large shift in the battles where the 2 collide.

Regarding comments on Brown. The feedback on the doors when canvassing is fascinating, Brown is not liked at all, in fact many hate him even more than Blair, even amongst Labour voters!


I don't entirely agree with Tim:

1. The Lib Dems have flatlined in the polls since the last election, going from around the low twenties, to around 16 to 18% of the vote - a loss intensified since Cameron became leader. Campbell looks tired, and the constant defections at a Council level, as well as the rumoured Parliamentary defections don't make good reading.

2. Montgomerie points to this poll by YouGov as evidence of discontent, which found that 30% of Tory voters chose Ukip or the BNP as their second choice. But equally, if you take the Lib Dems and the Greens as a second preference, it jointly makes up 29% - just one percentage point less than UKIP and the BNP together. The rightwingers have so far grumbled, but grumbling about a poll lead of 'only' 5%, sometimes more, is ridiculous when you remember that when IDS and Howard were in power, any poll lead was cause for celebration.

3. The 'Events' scenario is interesting. However, if the country were to have an economic crisis, Cameron could finish Brown off - no longer could Brown target the 'bad old days of the Tories in the 90s' - his chickens would finally come home to roost.


The trouble remains we are fighting the wrong war. Cameron will win the next election anyway. Please understand that point. The real battle is to build a consensus on how to change the country. You DO need to bring the "old Tory stay at homes" with you, they are this party.

Jon Gale you are correct in all the point syou make but miss the crucial point that the public WANT an alternative and we CAN be right wing.

What parent thinks schools are working? We need to offer selection

WE MUST close our borders to everyone and only allow in the people we want. The country is up in arms about migration and its a massive vote winner

Our inly problem is Camerons perception among the public. We all know he is up to the job but we need him to distance himself from the political mire. His policy on HOL, EU and trident maker him LOOK like BLAIR to a country that is rejecting everything NuLab stands for.

We need to accept that the policies we have always stood for are the right ones and that 3 defeats were down to many factors - it would be criminal to move too far away from our core values, in an attempt to get elected, when the policies we have always advocated ARE the ones that will guarantee election.

He has done the job on NHS, we need to move firther right on education and we must be much firmer on migration. Any party that offers a sensible policy of halting unrestricted migrantion from EU will win by a landslide. it is Osburnes job to articulate a sensible economic reason why its needs to be controlled,

How do we get 5 millio0n people out of the welfare trap when we have unlimited supply of cheap labour? Even the EU recommend that no 'inducements' to economic migration should be offered - we are offering a minimum wage in overvalaued sterling which is econo0mic madness. It keeps attracting more labour whilst denying business the benefit of cheap labour. It is the single most deranged economic policy of this government and costs us a fortune.

more to the point the public are firmly against open borders, regardless of the views of the Guardian, its a proper policy taht benefits the nation and is popular - just adopt it. we can dress it up as protecting the migrants we want from exploitation, cutting down on illegal trafficking and it protects us from a wave of migration should any EU economy blow up. all are true and widely supported.

How many more times are we going to have fools continue to propagate the complete myth that it was our "right wing" policies that the electorate rejected. As has been conclusively demonstrated by Lord Ashroft's extensive private polling the electorate liked our policies, it was the party brand itself that turned them off. Having, it would seem, rectified that branding problem there is every reason in the world to now return to the proper conservative policies that the voters have firmly told us that they like and would vote for.If you want lefty policies then go and join the LibDems or Labour where there are lots and lots of big state, high tax, no personal responsibility policies for you to wallow in. We are supposed to be the Conservative party, not NuLab Lite.

Oh and I must also strongly second what Matt Wright has to say about Brown above. We are currently in the midst of a local govt by election, and are canvassing heavily, and the two constant themes on the doorstep are the hatred of both Blair and Brown amongst voters of all voting intentions. Mind you there is also considerable mistrust of Cameron from a substantial number of the Tory voters many of whom are having to be cajoled into promising to vote by means of highlighting our candidate's solidly conservative credentials.

Perhaps actually Tim there are 4 hurdles for Cameron and the 4th one is the rise of apathy and the "won't votes".

Well, we need to capitalise on the antibrown sentiment. Empathysing with the disgruntled electorate is absolutely the right way to compliment our campaign and policies. We must push as hard as we can on this, its the biggest single vote winner we have in the toolbox. Ive been saying this for two years now, Brown is the key to Downing Street for us.

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