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Love the graphic. Harman as Deputy would be a dream for us!!!!

Excellent article Tim! Undoubtedly though the left wing media will spin it in a different way, in an attempt to damage the party. The speech contained some good core conservative values, whilst also offering reassurance to the floating voter that public services won't be harmed.

I'm still amazed at how the Tories are dominating the airwaves at the moment, whilst Brown appears to have gone to ground once again. If this is a sign of what's to come then roll on GE 09/10!

Exactly Chris! Where is Brown?

Alright. Well, those continuing to support the Blair-Osborne-Cameron line at least shouldn't kid themselves. The Cameron Conservatives very consciously embrace the New Labour legacy. If that's what you want from a "Conservative" government, go ahead and vote for them. I for one simply no longer care whether they win a majority or not (although I think a hung parliament and a Lab-Lib government is the most likely outcome).

Stop Press: the Trabant company threaten to sue for libel over comparison between them and Gordon Brown.

Jennifer,
Apparently he's on his victory tour of Britain, "learning and listening". The whole drawn out Labour leadership contest is disgusting frankly, in 1990 the Conservatives took 2 weeks to handover power, and the contest wasn't a foredrawn conclusion. Candidates withdrew from the race when they knew they couldn't win, they didn't needlessly lengthen the contest so that a choice was on offer.

".. we don't want schools choosing parents. We want parents choosing schools."

Excellent, so parents can have any colour school they want - provided it's black.

Seriously, how can it be possible to avoid having "schools choosing parents",
or to be more accurate, choosing children, and at the same time even allow a school to rid itself of a disruptive pupil?

I was pleased and interested to observe that, contrary to billing, he did not mention the "Blair settlement"...

I see that George Osborne is on the list to attend the Bilderberg Conference, together with Ed Balls and Kenneth Clark. Istanbul, Turkey on May 31-June 3.

It's good to know he will be amongst friends.

I tore up my party membership over a year ago. I have to say that even I am stunned by this speech. Many of us who can't stand Dave have rather over-egged the 'heir to Blair' tag as a proxy for all of this 'modernisation'. Now I feel fully justified. Nice one, Boy George. You, Dave and the rest of them truly have lost the plot and created a choice between three centre-left alternatives in the UK.

Osborne should get full marks for honesty, since he admits they are wet. Cameron should have crossed the floor and participated in Labour's leadership election, but I suppose he was afraid he would lose to Brown.

How MH is Osborne's speech centre left? He preaches choice in public services. I believe it was Thatcher who passed the 1988 education act, was she centre left?

By its very nature it encourages new suppliers who are not state controlled. And Dennis Cooper, you avoid schools choosing pupils by having genuine competition and a liquid supply of good school places.

There is lot of empty rhetoric on this board and not a lot of genuine policy debate. no wonder they say we are policy-lite

I think that the choice/voice distinction is a good one. It really comes down to the distinction between expressing your preferences in the marketplace or through voting - the choice between capitalism and democracy as tools for delivering public services. Osborne is saying that he prefers a system in which if you don't get what you want, you buy it from somewhere else rather than write to your MP. So far, splendid! And maybe if he got elected it would actually work like that.

My concern, however, is over the clashes of rhetoric. For this argument - for choice over voice - ultimately might lead to eliminating the democratic/elected/"voice" element altogether - say by not having the government as supplier of public services at all. I probably wouldn't favour that personally (at least, I can't see in enough detail how it would work to be confident enough to recommend it yet), but that seems to me to be where the logic goes.

Yet that is surely a whole world away from Blair - or at least how Blair pitches himself to the public? I just can't see the virtue of the gap between the spin and the spun-substance-hints, here. Why, if we are really proposing an enormous change in demand-side arrangements for public service delivery, would we want to spin that as "We aren't really going to do anything different from Blair, so feel safe voting for us?" That surely isn't a sustainable tension for the next two or three years until the election?

Look: if we really want to propose an enormous change in public service delivery - which I think that most Conservative intellectuals do, and I suspect that quasi-secretly Cameron's people do as well - then face it guys: We're going to need to *argue* for it! It's no good pretending like we're going to maintain Blair's status quo against the nasty predations of antediluvian Socialists that will rise up to overwhelm Brown. Screaming "Run, Run, the True Socialists are Coming!!" didn't work against Blair, and I can't see why it will work against Brown either - because, and I'll say this slowly, *It* *Isn't* *True*, and when things aren't true, voters notice...

Excellent speech today from Osbourne. Rightly focusing on choice in healthcare and education. Found the idea of a personal budget for healthcare provision for the disabled extremely positive. Making the public in effect the consumer will aid the drive to raise standards in the public services.

So true regarding Brown, after his personal drive for the premiership stretching back decades, he has been suprisingly silent. Last minute nerves??

If Labour lurches left won't they overtake the Tories ?

Sounds good to me. Continuity and change, you say? We can do it better than Brown, he's just going to be more of the same but without any of Blair's charisma.

Let's face it, the conditions are nowhere near 70s revolutionary so there's no need for a Thatcher to come out to save us all. Cameron offers a sensible, moderate, centre-right alternative to Labour. Give him 10 years and he'll drag this country back in the right direction.

Osborne seems to be maturing as a speaker/interviewee as well. He'll make a good politician yet.

[email protected]:28

But the problem is (perhaps only may be) that Osborne's underlying ideas (being Conservative ideas, since those are the only serious ones in town - Socialists haven't had anything interesting to say on public services provision for about 35 years) *are* in fact revolutionary. In practice it seems to me almost inconceivable that, in government, we would not introduce radical, revolutionary, and widespread reform of public services. *Everyone* knows this. You know it. I know it. Labour knows it. Our voters know it. Labour voters know it.

Given that we have no alternative at all, in fact, but to be revolutionary in this area, shouldn't we *argue* in favour of being revolutionary, rather than go to all this ridiculous self-defeating-and-convincing-no-one effort of trying to pretend that we aren't?

MH, what are you talking about. Everything Osbourne has said is based on Conservative principles. In fact any of this would have been solid Thatcherite policy in her day! Some of the posts on this site get more ridiculous by the minute. It doesn't matter one jot if someone says they want to deliver on what Blair only talked about. Blair did try to create the impression he was stealing Conservative clothes. We are just saying we will do it,

Matt

In practice it seems to me almost inconceivable that, in government, we would not introduce radical, revolutionary, and widespread reform of public services.

OK enumerate them and detail them....it is time the public knew what lay behind these words.

It’s good to see the party taking vouchers seriously, even though the “v” word won’t pass their lips:

“Not only will parents have a voice, but if they aren't happy with the school's performance, they can choose to take their child - and their funding - to a new school”.

The basis for this is already there – large parts of school budgets are calculated on a per pupil basis, and there is an annual pupil head count.

However I am afraid that the new mantra "We don't believe in schools choosing pupils. We believe in pupils choosing schools" is bound to unravel at some point.

Inevitably there will always be some popular schools that are over-subscribed. In those circumstances there must be a mechanism to enable schools to choose their pupils. That can be done, for example, by proximity to the school (house price selection), ethnicity, academically, or by various other criteria, but it still means that those schools will select their pupils.

In terms of “being the change” and the impact of personal behaviour on the overall message, remember that very many (all?) private secondary schools use an exam to select their pupils. Anyone sending their children to such a school is by that action endorsing the idea that schools can select their pupils. Osborne is not at this stage in life yet. But many of his colleagues are. As Matthew d'Ancoma wrote at the weekend there is something very distasteful about those who would deny academic selection to the state sector whilst embracing it for their own children in the private sector.

***

I agree with Andrew Lilico that we need robust intellectual self-confidence in the ideas that we put forward. As a member of the Shadow Cabinet wrote on Sunday: "I have long believed that the Conservatives will not be able to maintain any political recovery until we begin an intellectual renaissance."

I struggle to see how the new policies we have under Cameron could possibly fit under Thatcherite conservative philosophy. For one, Thatcher rejected One Nation Toryism, the very thing Cameron claims compassionate conservatism to be. Thatcher would never have put these policies up. She wouldnt believe the arguments.

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