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OK. Here's where I get to be the "loyal opposition" to ConHome, undoubtedly one of the best sites on the internet and an invaluable Conservative resource, but emphatically not the voice of the grassroots.

Here we have seen almost a week of posts on "grammargate", clogged full of angry posts by ex-Tories, ukip and yes, BNP voters.

And now your theory - that the grammar "row" was badly handled by the party and stirred up discontent in the grassroots - is proven utterly wrong.

Let's review the actual numbers here.

Firstly, ICM.

The fieldwork in ICM was done over the last weekend, when there had been saturation coverage of Labour. Yes, the grammar decision and row had just started but only just. Result? We saw a boost for Labour based on likelihood to vote after their saturation coverage.

But David Cameron - who in ConHome's scenario on the reaction to grammars is distinct from his party, going one way as they go another - had excellent results in that poll. The lead over Labour increased to 6 points when Brown's newly crowned name was mentioned. (NB: this is a leader question inc. Ming, and is not the same as the forced Cam-Brown question in this poll).

IIRC, the jump for Cameron vs the Tory party was not mentioned in ConHome's coverage of the poll.

So... by your lights, if you choose to argue that the ICM poll covered two days of grammars, the psephological response is as follows: the public approves more of DC's stance than of the Tory stance. And what it sees as the "Tory stance" are the opponents being trotted out on TV and radio.

OK, now let us move on. The more recent YG poll was taken on Thursday after saturation coverage of grammars, and also further past the Blair handover coverage than ICM.


Tories up two. Labour, up just one. Anthony King quoted as saying that the Brown bounce compares to a soggy tennis ball.

And on the Cam-Brown question? An improvement for Brown from 5 points to 3 points deficit. After his intense media space, he's still 3 points behind.

39 percent with YouGov is the HIGHEST the Tories have been with that pollster all year.

So what is "grammarsgate"?

It's a warning to those who are anti-Cameron. That their sound and fury and resentment of the modernising agenda (emphatically not a leftwing agenda) is *not* shared by the voting pulic. The "---gate" suffix, implying scandal, embarassment, a complete horlicks, doesn't apply to Cameron and the CCHQ team. It applies to those posters and writers at ConHome, the Telegraph, the Mail, etc, who thought this restatement of policy was a mistake.

A policy announced during the leadership campaign (cf: Willets' answers today). A policy approved in Built to Last. A policy that the rank and file did NOT desert DC over; ICM internals showed that almost all Tories stuck with their party when DC's name was mentioned, not the case with Ming and Brown.

I trust this will be a lesson to Traditional Tory, to Michael McGough, to Vote Freedom, to TomTom, to all the ex-Conservatives who posted so angrily on this strategy.

The polls tell us over and over again that David Cameron is leading the party in exactly the right direction. The grammar policy was stuffed with "And..." theory; discipline, sets, streams, business input, traditional subjects, traditional methods.

Con Home posters did not notice or care.

But the voters did. And they sided with DC.

I hope the reactionary elements of the party look at the polls, their internals, and the fieldwork dates and "grammarsgate', their reaction, wakes them up to how wrong they were. Because the "Cameron better than party" line applied as much to ICM at 34% as it does to YG at 39%.

Quite an interesting set of results from the Torygraph.

Taking the month as a whole, and not comparing with the last Yougov poll in the Sunday Times two weeks ago, shows a 2% rise since April (Labour up 1% and Lib Dems down 3%).

Not bad when everything is taken into account: good election results, but, on the other hand, the Blair farewell tour and Brown's media bonanza.

Indeed, Tory T, I share your sentiments.

I would also point people in the direction of a nice little nugget by Charles Moore in this week's Spectator.

Basically, grammar schools catered for a (not insignificant) minority even when there were actually quite a lot of them. We need to be a party for the whole ruddy country, and that means Academies and Trust schools, not for a few counties in southern England.

I trust this will be a lesson to Traditional Tory, to Michael McGough, to Vote Freedom, to TomTom, to all the ex-Conservatives who posted so angrily on this strategy.

On the contrary a single poll tells us little. One might as well pick the ICM poll and rhapsodise about that instead.

We'll need a few more polls before the inevitable flight back to Labour is confirmed.

But what Grammarsgate does teach us is that the party and the right-wing media contain plenty of disaffected elements ready to rise up when the time comes.

And Cameron's arrogant reaction to criticism teaches us that when that time comes he can be relied upon to exacerbate the situation.

Grammarsgate was a taster for the divided party of the future, a party that will be unified only by removing Cameron and thus decapitating his faction.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

I "posted angrily" on the Grammar Schools PR fiasco, Tory T, but I am not "ex-Conservative", no matter how much you would prefer that to be the case. Your suggestion that disagreement with CCHQ is synonymous with resignation from the party (expulsion would suit you better, would it not?) is arrogant and mistaken.

I have no intention of resigning from the party, though I might feel it necessary to stand down from my local committee if things get really bleak.

In a way, I admire your bovine acceptance of all that emanates from Hilton/Maude/Cameron, but you must allow that when an EPP, or Toynbee, or Dyke, or Grammarsgate (not so much the policy, more the charmless and unfriendly attitude of Cameron to so many of his activists) crops up, you should not be surprised if we raise objections.

ConHome exists as a forum for debate and disagreement within a political party, not merely as an echo chamber for the leadership. If it were only the latter, it would be, like you, a bore.

Well done Tory T, it makes a change to see a post that's supportive of Cameron (and his strategy for victory) rather than the tired, reactionary drivel that seems to predominate on this site.

Oh I do SO agree with Tory T. It is good to have it spelled out in a cool, analytical manner, and to know I was not batting my head against a brick wall of fossilised old thinking. Is very hard for people of a very set in concrete mind set to even begin to visualise a different way of delivering academic selection that will benefit the many not the few, but it can, and will be done. By Cameron.

Well said Tory T!

Og, I named the posters (or a sample of them) who clog the comments threads and are avowedly not voting Tory. You weren't included.

There is no doubt at all, and Tim M has referred to it, that the *posters* on Conservative Home, as distinct from the lurkers, are NOT representative either of the grassroots in general or even of the readers of Conservative Home. The readers of the site give Cameron 75% satisfaction ratings in the surveys! If you went by the comments columns, you would think there was 75% DISsatisfaction with Cameron.

Every poster has the right to disagree with DC. When I disagree I don't hesitate to speak up. See any posts on gay adoptions vs Catholic charities if you doubt that.

But if you read either the comments section, or just the editorials - culminating in the labelling of this affair as "grammarsgate" - you'd be so overwhelmed with anti DC voices, large numbers of them from non-Conservatives, that you might think the Tory faithful were ready to chuck their most successful leader since 1992.

In fact, what the polls tell us, including the ICM poll, is that Cameron does better than the party and that party voters are *overwhelmingly* loyal to Cameron, much more so than Labour voters are to Brown or LibDems to Ming.

These are real impartial surveys with large sample sizes corrected and weighted to eliminate bias.

39% is the highest YouGov figure for our party since Cameron was declared leader.

"Grammarsgate" is the failure of the anti-modernising wing to see what the nation sees, not in any way a failure for DC.

We can expect to see Labour rise in the next few months. Posters have been predicting it for ages and rightly so. All the attention will be on them! Polls use "likelihood to vote" as a factor in headline figures, so handover coverage means Lab voters start saying they'll vote again. That is temporary.

Those who want to argue that Cameron's policies are wrong must do so on the basis of his ratings vs. party ratings.

I've always thought Yougov to be the best pollster so this is good news. I do just wonder about their Lib Dem ratings. Are they really as low as 15%?

I hate to tell you Tory T, but as right-wing columnists and Tory party members only make up a tiny fraction of the electorate, any "uprising" would only serve to increase Labour's majority.

To any true Tory, that should be anathema. Where is the victory in a fourth term Labour government?

I'm not sure your post is correct Tory T. The overwhelming majority of posters on this site are Conservative supporters/activists and although there are a vocal minority of frequent posters who wish ill to our party they are very few in number.
You also seem to forget how bad a time Labour have been having recently after the abject failure of HIPs, the disasters occuring with junior doctors recruitment and the hostile reaction to the formation of the Ministry Of Justice. It must be obvious to all but the most one eyed Labour supporter that this gov't is stuffed with incompetent ministers.
I am glad that neither the Brown coronation nor the deputy leadership election has really caught the imagination of either the media or the public as ours did in 2005. I would imagine Labour are starting to feel uncomfortable about that.
I know I'm biased as I think that David Cameron is wrong about grammar schools,our future policy is weak and the way he has handled this issue was very counter productive but I was not suprised by the ICM result.
We cannot always rely on Labour to keep imploding and cannot afford another damaging split as we suffered last week.

I trust this will be a lesson to Traditional Tory, to Michael McGough, to Vote Freedom, to TomTom, to all the ex-Conservatives who posted so angrily on this strategy..

I don't know you Tory T and I don't believe you know me. I am not as you describe ex-Conservative nor do I share your views.

I went to a Grammar School and support it fully and will do so irrespective of which club you choose to join and flag-wave for. You are a Tribal Tory judging by your moniker - that is your choice - you have a motto My Party Right or Wrong and no doubt you would sacrifice your family and friends for . The Party as hardline fanatics invariably do.

Some time ago one of the posters - Jennifer or Sally or Felicity, I cannot recall which said it was pointless looking at polls at present - indeed at all before the autumn. That is something i posted as agreeing with.

There is simply no point in looking at polls before major issues - like whether the NHS will collapse on 1st August with the MTAS debacle and whether Patricia Hewitt's vindictive attept to secure costs from RemedyUK will lead to a national doctors' strike

There are major problems looming ahead like the two interest rate rises before the party conferences and the probable collapse of Sterling before year-end.

The notion of checking your hairdo in the mirror every day which is how you seem to view opinion polls is vain and fatuous.

The winter could bring some very big problems with it as Brown issues his delayed Comprehensive Spending Review and cuts public spending

To Andrew at 10:31: YouGov seems to have a tendency to register lower support for the Lib Dems than other pollsters. It also has a tendency to pick up exaggerated support for UKIP.

Hear! Hear! Og.

The attitude of these obsessive Cameroons is beyond belief. Of course they are always the first to denigrate anybody who dares criticise the current 'line'

That ever-ready phrase 'UKIP Troll' is very telling. Which party do they suppose most of the UKIP people were supporting before they joined UKIP?

And have you noticed it's all about 'me, me, me' and what 'I' expect for myself out of a putative Cameroon victory.

I joined the party in 1970 and a very different ethic prevailed then. I held senior office at constituency and area level to serve not to obtain cash handouts like many of today's activists, who make sure they get straight on the council gravy train.

I'm proud to say that I have never made one penny nor obtained any personal benefit whatsoever out of my membership of the party.

I was a ward chairman for nearly ten years, not because I particularly wanted to be but because the committee asked me year after year to do it.

One can imagine that these revelations will be greeted by screams of hysterical laughter by the Cameroonies, for whom 'winning' is everything and principles exist only to be trashed.

But these relative newcomers will learn for themselves that hubris is inevitably followed by nemesis...

On the pbc.com thread one interpretation of ICM that I agree with is that ICM is overstating Lib Dems because they are applying a past weighting at a time where the votes are undergoing a fundamental realignment with the Blair/Brown handover.

Basically the movements are a shift from Labour to Conservative and a shift from LD lefties back to Labour.

6 months ago the polls were predicting this movement but the effect of grammargate and the newspaper attacks on Cameron have stopped us scoring in the low 40%'s.

The more insidious effect of grammargate & newspaper attacks is on Members and activists. We will see if the summer membership drive can swell the supporters.


A few immediate reactions to Tory T;

+ As I said in my Telegraph piece of Wednesday, it is perfectly possible that the row has helped draw attention to the party's general education policies, interrupted the Brown honeymoon, put Cameron in the headlines (which is usually a good thing) and reinforced the change message - those things may have helped the Tory standing (although let's not overinterpret one poll);

+ All of this has been done by testing the unity of the party - if this row had caused real disunity (frontbench resignations, attacks from ex-leaders) there could have been an electoral price to pay as voters hate divided parties;

+ I know some Cameroons will say if disunity is the only problem then let's stop being public in our scrutiny of the leadership but some of us still do think that the grammars schools policy change is bad for social mobility and runs counter to the party's commitment to localism and choice;

+ Let's not forget that 49% of voters and 70% of Tory supporters told YouGov a week or so ago that they wanted more grammar schools.

A collapse in sterling? Come now TomTom, this isn't the 1970s. It could well depreciate if the rate rises causes the economy to slow significantly, but talk of a collapse is fanciful.

CDM, Edl, Annabel, Anne-Marie thank you guys very much. I enjoy your posts and hope you don't get put off making them! It does sometimes get disheartening fighting the fight against the waves of opposition but it's important to know that we are reflected in the ICM numbers for almost all Tories who happily stick with the party under DC.

Malcolm, just to say I know you (in particular) are a Cameron supporter upset by this policy, as I am a clear Cameroon who disagreed with him on adoption (but respected the free vote he gave us). I don't argue that Conservatives should have to keep schtum if they disagree with a policy at all. That's not free speech, we're a liberal party.

What I am saying instead is that after two polls during the grammar row, definitely including ICM, the internal and headline numbers show that the voters in general AND Tory voters specifically like Cameron and stick with him. I am arguing therefore that his grammars stance helps us and doesn't hurt us and that the "---gate" bit is for Heffer to consider his failed argument with the voters, not for DC to reconsider.

ICM named leader had our lead at 6 points using Cameron-Brown-Ming vs 2 points without the names.

It's always been the case that those on the fringes shout the loudest.

almost all Tories who happily stick with the party under DC.

The majority of Tories also supported IDS. It didn't stop the party getting rid of him, though.

Actually the old dears support all leaders -whoever they are. I can stil recall the grassroots furore when Heath was dumped.

A collapse in sterling? Come now TomTom, this isn't the 1970s.

So you've updated your calendar then !

The 1970s saw the Dollar go off gold and depreciate through free-float. The oil crisis caused the US and UK to inflate money supply (E Heath) to keep their economie buoyant and a huge property boom almost took Midland Bank under and it had to be rescued.

The similarities are that the USA and UK are running huge trade deficits and are over-consuming on credit. THe US Dollar is heading for a serious decline and Sterling is pegged to the US Dollar as an intermediary between Euro and Dollar.

The major investors in UK stockmarkets are US funds and US banks which may well repatriate funds as they did in 1987 to cope with redemptions by investors facing margin calls.

There is a huge speculative boom resting upon recycled Chinese and Japanese funds and even Alan Greenspan has conerns about Chinese bubbles.

But so long as we know it is 2007 nothing bad can happen seems to be your considered view.

It was a view held widely in 1987 too.


1. But if Cameron's policy was disliked by the country at large, his being in the news would not have helped.

2. To reiterate, party unity (Conservative voters) has not been threatened at all by this. ICM shows, in contrast to Lab and LD, that Tory voters overwhelmingly ("almost all") stick with the party when Cameron's name is mentioned.

I don't have access to your strong sources Ed, and accept that what you say is true re: some MPs. But there must be acceptance that, as David Willets points out today, this policy was announced during the leadership campaign and reiterated strongly immediately upon accession to office of DC. These MPs have held positions whilst this policy has been in effect without a murmur. I hope the polls will encourage them to stick with their original judgement.

I'm also sure that DW and DC intend to offend nobody and must have been very surprised when this restatement for the third time of DC's policy appeared to upset some people.

3. It is vital that we all stand up for what we believe in as I said to Malcolm. I don't argue that those in favour of grammar schools and comps vs streamed CTCs should keep quiet. I do argue that as political professionals they must look at the polls including the internals (like DC's 6 point boost vs the party in ICM) and admit that their stance is not one shared by the voters. That is not a reason not to advocate it, but "grammargate" can no longer be argued with conviction as a leadership failure of DC.

4. That question is somewhat meaningless though, unless a question was asked about streamed setted traditionally taught CTCS with exclusion powers as an alternative.

The bottom line: 'Grammarsgate' has just delivered the highest YG poll for the party since David Cameron was elected.

When Cameroons like Tory T 'protest too much' with screeds of numbered paragraphs (!) we know their faction is sorely rattled.

'Grammarsgate' had little to do with education and everything to do with party democracy. Cameron has peered into the abyss and (surprise! surprise!) learned precisely nothing from his experience.

The bottom line: 'Grammarsgate' is a taste of things to come.

"The Tory rating (5% higher than Thursday's ICM/ Guardian survey) suggests no immediate electoral damage from grammarsgate"
I wish you would not keep using the word grammarsgate, this is not an example of a Watergate type scandal or something similar.
What this poll shows is that we have a popular leader who at this moment is our biggest asset. The more he is in the news the better we poll. We forget just how disliked we have been in the last 10/15 years as a party and a lot of that can also be blamed on the constant disloyalty and fighting that our various leaders have had to put up with.
Before anyone shouts about Labour being unpopular just remember that a lot of the reasons they are unpopular now existed before 2005, the voters just did not have a viable and attractive alternative. It is not just Labour losing but an ability to run a positive campaign to win that we must achieve if we are to climb the electoral mountain in front of us. A weaken labour majority or a Libdem/Lab coalition is just as depressing a thought to me as Brown being left in charge for a further 4years.
As to members of the shadow cabinet who chose not to get involved or defend a policy which they must have signed up to when accepting a job on the present front bench, you can't cherry pick what you will come out fighting for if you are part of the team.
We have had that kind of behaviour from Gordon Brown for 10 years and it is deeply unattractive and shows that he is prepared to put his own ambitions within his party before the cabinet team in government.

The statistic that 49% of people like grammar schools should be accompanied by another stat showing how many people like secondary moderns.

It would be amazing if every child could be guaranteed a grammar school place, but the fact of the matter is that there will be many thousands more families affected in a negative way by grammar schools - i.e. their child would end up at a poor alternative - than the few thousand that would benefit.

Independent schools, Academies+ if you like, should be what we aim for. Grammar streams in each school and that guff.

Before anyone shouts about Labour being unpopular just remember that a lot of the reasons they are unpopular now existed before 2005.

Do I hear the bottoms of barrels being scraped?

The biggest problem for Labour since Cameron appeared has been the fact that they had a lame duck leader who has permitted their once-renowned 'spin machine' to wither on the vine.

That will all change now.

the voters just did not have a viable and attractive alternative

Good to see your party loyalty to Howard, IDS and Hague displayed so prominently Scotty.

and that guff.

Posted by: EML | May 26, 2007 at 11:15

Now there's an approach to policy that is inspired...cannot even be bothered to delineate policy

Tories up two. Labour, up just one. Anthony King quoted as saying that the Brown bounce compares to a soggy tennis ball.
Gordon Brown has been Chancellor of the Exchequer for 10 years and had many Prime Ministerial powers additionally, so there was never likely to be any dramatic immediate changes in how it would affect Labour support, not only this but he is only Leader Elect, although he will be no doubt being more deeply involved in decision making up until he finally becomes Prime Minister, any changes won't really begin to become apparent until he has become Prime Minister.

If there are any vacancies in government now and any reshuffle then I imagine Gordon Brown would really be making the decisions not Tony Blair on that, but that day to day business in the interim and general government business will still be continuing from Tony Blair's time as Prime Minister - so it's mainly about preparations for after Tony Blair rather than the final weeks with him as PM.


The Mail has a poll today that supports your view that the majority support grammar schools. It more interestingly shows that it would have very little effect at all on voting intention if a party promised to bring them back. A poll may say the majority prefer David Cameron with his parting on the left, but if he changed back to a right parting it wouldn't change their minds on voting.

What change of policy do you refer to? We had this discussion when Cameron was elected and again last year (though perhaps those to whom it is a surprise were distracted by the "proceeds of growth" phrase and meandered off to discuss tax cuts). Read what the man says. I did when I voted for him and have read his speeches since - there is no policy change. The policy change - I think its called a U Turn - would have been to go back 63 years for an education policy.

Tory T, your post at 9.50 this morning is the most lucid, sensible contribution I've seen on this site for a long time and you are one clearly of the few people to have retained a sense of perspective throughout this whole faux grammar schools controversy.

If there is a vote for leader of the loyal opposition to ConservativeHome, you've got my support!

Thanks Daniel! Very kind.

When I say "loyal opposition" I mean over the 'grammargate' fiasco. In general, as I started out by saying, I think this is one of the best sites online, period. Conservatism would be hugely diminished without Tim, Sam and the other editors.

It's a must-read and The Ed and Dep. Ed are scruplous about giving space to dissenting voices, they published a piece by somebody the other day calling for us to join the Euro! And they are not in the least reflexively anti-Cameron, always pointing out to the more reactionary types the Thatcherite policies at the heart of the project.

If everybody gave all sides as fair a shake the blogosphere would be a much better place. ConHome is my first stop online every morning, my last at night and always open on my desktop while I work.

But on grammars and the reaction to grammars I do think the facts of the polls are clearly against them. And I know they're too fair minded to mind my saying so!

Ted: I've now done a very brief ToryDiary on the Mail poll. I don't share your interpretation of it. I think it does argue that we're now on the wrong side of the public on grammar schools. You say that for most voters it won't make a difference but my guess is that would be true of most policies.

ToryT: Thanks for your kind comments about ConservativeHome. I love your comments even when I disagree with them and you seem to have most commentators on your side this morning. Sam and I are conscious of the need to be fair to all shades of opinion in the party. As I've written before there's a time in the Parliament when ConservativeHome will focus on the direction of the party and a time when the focus will be on Labour and its weaknesses and on delivering a Tory majority. After the policy review process you will see a shift in CH as we focus much more on Labour's weaknesses and much less on the kind of Conservative Party that members want.

"It would be amazing if every child could be guaranteed a grammar school place"

Not just "amazing", but damn stupid - as stupid as encouraging school leavers of below average intelligence to carry on to university.

"modernising agenda (emphatically not a leftwing agenda)

There is nothing modernising but much left-wingedness about centrally-imposed limits on selection.

The moderninsing agenda would be to free schools to choose their own admissions without political meddling but neither Labour or the Tories are proposing that.

What's the point of the Conservative Party having a leader who 'shows his strong leadership' by denouncing a large number of people in his own Party as 'delusional' but is unwilling to expose the delusions of socialism in general and the Guardian in particular?

"But the voters did. And they sided with DC."

Interesting analysis seing as a poll in the Mail reveals that they disagree with him.

Chances are that if it wasn't for grammarsgate the poll lead might be even higher. I don't know that for sure but just because our poll rating goes up it doesn't mean we haven't suffered some damage.

'But on grammars and the reaction to grammars I do think the polls are clearly against them'- Tory T.You are wrong end of.
You also mention in an ealier post that our policy is one of 'streamed CTCs'. It is not , CTCs had selection by interview, City Academies which we favour are totally non selective for 90% of intake and 10% can be selected only in CERTAIN subjects. It is a weak policy and also intellectually incoherent.

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