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I probably agree with the conclusions ... but: there are flaws in this reasoning. You are conditioning on the people who choose to respond to your monthly request (ie "76%of those who chose to respond think that ... "), *and* then make inference about Conservative party members in general, because one particular result (prediction of Tory leadership) was close. This is not good inference! Long may it continue (but not the Poll of Poles).

Mr Archer disagrees with your conclussion editor I suspect because simply you are telling him something he doesn`t want to hear that the vast majority of true Conservatives are satisfied with David Cameron and support his leadership.

Jack Stone ought to get out more and recall that it is VOTERS not party members who decide whether a party has the right candidates.....if the site is representative of the wider electorate that is a key issue.

Jack Stone has to use such peculiar phrases as true Conservatives when really he should be asking whether Conservative candidates can top the poll in each constituency

Is it possible that the more prolific posters are university students, and by inference, political anoraks who dont get out much?

Jack Stone and Tom Tom both need to try reading Graeme's actual message: he's talking as a statistician. Would I be right in saying that both Jack and Tom are making the same mistake as the Editor, i.e. that they are relying upon self-selecting samples? (For example, Jack's view of what constitutes a "true conservative", I suspect, will be very similar to a person who agrees with him.)

For what it's worth, I've always assumed that readers here are a good sample of members and message-posters (especially regulars, and particularly once you discount obvious trolls or opponents) are a fair sample of activists. Not sure where someone like Comstock fits in - not a sympathiser, but I think he/she drops by for the high quality chat (sic) on offer, but let's not let a fact get in the way of a good theory.

Graeme: yes, the sampling here isn't perfect but at least it must be a relatively large sample. At least be grateful that the Saintly Editor has (thus far) resisted the temptation of employing one of those premium rate phone-in companies.....

Annabel I think you could well be right!! At the risk of getting "howled down" (again!) I agree with Jack Stone's comments. What's not to understand about the phrase "true Conservatives"? I think some people doth protest too much......

Ahhh as ever Jack Stone presuming that everyone agrees with him without the slightest of evidence to back up his wild assertion. At least that's something that never changes round here.

Regarding the sampling issue and the size of the sample it is my understanding that CH's samples are considerably larger than the small focus groups of LibDems that CCHQ are currently so mindlessly in thrall to.

Jack - let's look at the first few words of Graeme's post:
"I probably agree with the conclusions"

Let's compare those to the first few words of your post:
"Mr Archer disagrees with your conclussion editor"

Just goes to show that some people will say anything to start an argument!
For the record, I visit several times a day, I post probably every few days and I didn't take the survey.
I'm also satisfied with DC's leadership.

Jack Stone and Sally are completely right. Those who comment on this site (including at times the Editor) are all too often representive of what they are happy to call "Theocon" thinking. They gripe about David Cameron and are often incredibly personally nasty about the party leadership and those who support them (I would not include the Editor in this last point to be clear!!!). These people are completely unrepresentative of the modern Conservative Party. We know this because the modern Conservative Party voted for a leader on a platform of "change to win": a leader who explicitly promised "a completely new party" in the Spectator. They went on to endorse the direction by a huge margin in the Built to Last referendum.

This site is a useful place to read about Theocon thinking and a great place to get links to many articles written by journalists from our great national newspapers. I use it regularly for this. There is nothing wrong in theory with a site where Theocons and anti-Conservatives can vent. But the problem is that this site bills itself as the home of Conservatives and the Tory grassroots. Journalists treat it as such and many columnists have taken to quoting nutters as a vindication of their (often malicious) view that our party hasn't changed. It is changing and we are moving on. That's why I continue to push the message that this site remains a cold house for modern compassionate Conservatives.

Well said, changetowin.

Well I know that I'm on the right side of any argument if the other view is represented by Jack Stone, Sally Roberts and Francis Maude's PA (aka changetowin/Tamzin Lightwater).

Looks like BBC Daily Politics shares Jack Stone's viewpoint according to Iain Dale's screen capture

Tuesday, May 01, 2007
BBC Says David Cameron is a Labour MP

That is bacuse 98% of your readers and contributors via messages are Labour supporters!!

If you are a modern compassionate Conservative, ChangetoLibDem, then this country is in even deeper s*** than I thought. The problem for people like you is that you are swimming against the tide of history, however much you rant and rave. The Conservative Party like Labour has no natural right to rule. More and more people are waking up to the fact that the choice between the major parties is too often the choice between a flea and a louse. You hate blogs like this because they prevent you controlling the message and perpetuating the fraudulent oligarchy which has robbed and betrayed ordinary voters for too long.

In the Barber of Seville there is the comment: "if you are not allowed to write freely, praise is meaningless".
I hope that most contributors to ConHome write as "critical friends" where DC is concerned (although contributions from people like Comstock are most welcome).
I am sure that they, like me, really want to put an end to the Blair/Brown experiment asap and replace it by a government that really attempts to create a safe and decent society, where the public services actually work efficiently and where social deprivation and inequalities are targeted in a much more practical way.
DC has done remarkably well so far in a very short space of time.
That doesn't mean I am fully satisfied with his performance but I suspect there are many who, like me, are willing to give him more time to flesh out the bare bones of his thinking.
What I still want to see are (i) a solid manifesto based on the findings of the policy groups that includes the "difficult" subjects (Europe, immigration etc), (ii) how much steel he is able to display in times of crisis and (iii) how competent his government will be in managing the NHS, schools, transport etc.
If he fails at that stage to command confidence, then I fear we will have another Tony Blair on our hands.

"We know this because the modern Conservative Party voted for a leader on a platform of "change to win": a leader who explicitly promised "a completely new party" in the Spectator."

You might be taken more seriously if you didn't sound like you were reeling off a repetitive soundbite. I'm generally pro-Cameron (with some reservations) but I don't feel the need to trot out the "we voted for change" mantra all the time.

"(iii) how competent his government will be in managing the NHS, schools, transport etc.
If he fails at that stage to command confidence, then I fear we will have another Tony Blair on our hands."

I just want to see the Conservatives provide us with a competent and trusted government, a return to Parliamentary accountability and a voting system beyond reproach. We need those things before anything else.

There is a simple and effective way for David Cameron to prove within 48 hours of becoming PM that he plans to be more about substance than style, it will be interesting to see if he or indeed Brown before him chooses to do it. If not then we will have our first indication that both of them will just continue to behave in the way Blair did before them.

Changetowin, another post from you which is disingeneous to put it mildly. Please give some us examples of the theocon tendency that you are prattling on about.
I sincerely hope that you hold no official position within the Conservative party as some allege. In addition to being seemingly unable to speak without using dozens of cliches you are also a liar.

Well said, changetowin.

The cynicism on this site is tangible enough to cut glass. There's quite a few "hardened souls" on here who fit into the 'Ukip/Peter Hitchens/Everything post 1945 is inherantly wrong' crevice of society that's as stale as an armpit: Raging right-wingers who'd rather have David Davis as leader, leading their so-called beloved party to electoral oblivion.

The Tory party seems to enjoy self-harming. Okay, blogs are great for debate and decisions/opinions of the shadow cabinet should always be discussed and under scrutiny, but it seems to me there's people on sites such as this who disregard anything Cameron/Osborne etc say out of hand, even if it's common sense!

About time people unified and kept their peckers up.


I hope that Malcolm's post 2303 is removed. Calling someone a liar must be a new low on ConservativeHome.

The cynicism on this site is tangible enough to cut glass.

Only diamond can cut glass so you are saying "the cynicism on this site" is like diamond ?

I doubt it John Coles. A fair number of us were called racist Islamophobes a while back...

Well, yes, of course you are right James Maskell, but "liar" - surely that is an insult too far.

I thought long and hard before leaving that comment last night, but to describe Cohome as a 'theocon tendency' is a lie. It really is as simple as that.

Thanks for that John.

One of my points was that anyone who defends the party leadership on this site is treated like the scum of the earth and subjected to incredibly nasty posts. Many of the horrible comments which followed last night sadly confirmed my point. Is it really right that those who comment who are enthusiastic about the direction of our party are treated like this?

The point I made about this site being dominated by Theocon thinking was a statement of fact. The Editor has confirmed this on two threads. For example he wrote "Mr Cameron described me as a "theocon" - a badge I am happy to wear!" on this thread http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2007/03/back_from_notti.html

Both sides of the loyalty divide are guilty of sharp writing, changetowin.

If you feel those who comment most regularly are less on board with the Cameron project than they should be you are right to get stuck in to try to balance it out from your perspective, but you're better off doing it in a way that doesn't antagonise - we're all roughly on the same page after all.

You often seem to blur the difference between comments which we can't control and articles that we can. I'm sorry that you're shocked that CH has an editorial slant, and seem bitter about its success with it, but it's not the closed-shop you make it out to be - articles are hardly written in the style of Goebbels and comments aren't deleted on ideological grounds.

Deputy Editor - as you well know - none of my comments above suggested that I am "shocked" that CH has an Editorial line as you put it in your "apology". My point has repeatedly been that CH does have an Editorial line and this represents what the Editor is happy to describe as Theocon thinking. And the comments on the site are not representative of mainstream party thinking - which the Editor again seems to accept in the article which started this thread. As such, my point was that while it is great for Theocons to have a place to debate - and CH provides great links etc - it is wrong that it bills itself as ConservativeHOME while it remains a cold house for many in the party. Anyone who doubts it is a cold house for modern compassionate Conservatives should have a good read of the thread above.

People who comment on this website are very representative of Conservative *activists*, in my experience. People who read the site without commenting, but take part in the monthly votes, are more representative of party members, and Conservative voters.

The idea that you could go to any Conservative meeting and hear nothing but the gushing praise for the leadership expressed by ChangetoWin is absurd. The opinions you hear expressed will be the opinions expressed on this site (bar the obvious sh*t stirrers).

If David Cameron is as good as people like ChangetoWin think he is, then he should have nothing to fear from criticism, and people putting forward opposing viewpoints.

Changetowin: just a thought, but are you confusing disloyalty towards DC with people making adverse comments about your highly individual contributions?

I support David Belchamber's thoughts: May 01 at 20:21 .."What I still want to see are (i) a solid manifesto based on the findings of the policy groups that includes the "difficult" subjects (Europe, immigration etc), (ii) how much steel he is able to display in times of crisis .."

What worries me is that DC comes over as the bright new hope - in the same way that Blair did in '97, and the fine words might again turn out to be a mangling of a saying cited by a US President, i.e "Speak bigly but carry a soft stick". I just hope DC will manifest the proper wording of that phrase in resolving those difficult subjects.

I'm not apologising for anything, changetowin. Can you expand on what you mean by "modern compassionate conservatives"? I'd say this site is very modern, compassionate and conservative in outlook but I think you are perhaps using the phrase to mean loyalist?

The last 10 Diary threads.
1. Will we gain ground in north of England?
2. Who will be PM in 10 years?
3.Blair& Brown
4.Regular readers positive about David Cameron (regular commenters less so).
5. Best young Conservative blogs
6. With homeland security rising up the agenda,is it time to reinstate Patrick Mercer?
7. What do you think of Tony Blair?
8. Best Conservative parliamentary blogs.
9.David Camerons recipe for civic renewal.
10. Average councillor's allowance hits £9,300.
Nowhere, absolutely nowhere is there any mention of any religion, 'theocon', or otherwise in either the editorial threads or in the comments sections.
My point is proved I think.

Well put, Malcolm. A number of people who contribute to this site have religious beliefs of varying intensity but I have no reason to believe that they are a majority. One of the uglier manifestations of the "modernising" tendency is its attempts to stigmatise those who are religious as weird, extreme or mentally unstable. I thought this bigoted nonsense had ended with the demise of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

changetowin exaggerates things. There is a difference between confessing to be religiously and socially conservative (as I have done) and agreeing that ConservativeHome is dominated by TheoCon thinking. I simply don't think that that is fair and am grateful to Malcolm, in particular, for pointing that out.

This 'CH is a cold house for compassionate conservatism' thing is the thing I most object to. I wrote a long post on compassionate conservatism on Monday and a post on Darfur on Sunday. David Cameron's emphasis on these issues really is, for me, the strongest theme of his leadership.

I had not realised that Cult of Personality was the basis of political parties in democratic and pluralist societies.

Conservative Leaders come and go with increasing frequency - Labour has always managed with fewer changes - but the key issue is to get people to put crosses in boxes at polling time and for that it has to be something more than one man's job security, frankly I bet a whole swathe of voters don't even know or care who leads the Conservative Party....but they do have votes, every one of them...and they might not take them out to the voting booth.

Parties are irrelevant - Issues are key - Issues require Policies - Problems need Solutions not Slogans

Tim, the modernisers are often hectoring and doctrinaire. They define "compassion" in the narrow dogmatic terminology of the post-sixties Polly Toynbee left. You don't: hence you cannot be "compassionate". Besides many of their attacks on "policy" are in fact badly-disguised in personam attacks stemming from their undying hatred of the harmless Ian Duncan-Smith and all his works...

Editor, Theocon was merely a description which you have said you are happy to accept on a couple of occasions. A quick google search should confirm this.

To be exact - and I think it is important in this instance as you are misquoting me - I never said this site was a "cold house for compassionate conservatism" as you allege. I have said that it remains a cold house for modern compassionate Conservatives. When people talk about conservatism they tend to mean an ideology - or what Burke would call a prejudice to act in certain ways. When people talk about Conservatives they mean followers/supporters of a particular party. Conservatives (with a Big C) may identify with liberalism or conservatism or neo-conservatism or whatever. Thus when I refer to modern compassionate Conservatives I am using David Cameron's language to describe those who support his leadership and the direction he is taking the party. I think the site remains a cold house for such people. If you understand the difference between conservatism and Conservatives, you will see that the Editor's objection is misplaced.

Thanks for the clarification. I don't see why you use the phrase "modern compassionate Conservatives" when you are referring to people who are loyal to the direction of the party though, that's not what the phrase implies.

I think that most would accept that "modern compassionate Conservatives" is the phrasing used by David Cameron to describe the sort of party he leads. Do a google search with those words and it will come up with a whole list of David Cameron articles and quotations. See below, for example, from a recent interview with Time magazine

TIME: A key element of your strategy appears to have been to rebrand the Conservative Party as a party that cares. You've used the phrase "compassionate conservative," which has a different resonance in the U.S.

David Cameron: Yes, labels are often misleading or unfortunate, but I always thought the label "modern, compassionate Conservative" was a good mantra. Modern, because I think the Conservative Party has always been a party about the future and the changes necessary to take advantage of current circumstances, and the party needed to modernize. Compassionate, because conservatism does have a lot to say to me about helping those people who can get left behind. But Conservative, because we believe that if you trust people and give them more power and responsibility over their lives, you get a stronger society. So that's why I use the mantra "modern, compassionate Conservative," but it can mean different things to different people and in different countries, so I know it may not translate very well.

"Thus when I refer to modern compassionate Conservatives I am using David Cameron's language to describe those who support his leadership and the direction in which he is taking the party." Your words and pretty disingenuous ones at that. David Cameron has no monopoly of modern compassion among Conservative thinkers and activists. Indeed in areas such as education, where he has largely given social mobility the thumbs down, his politics are neither modern nor compassionate. They are largely a throwback for a discredited past.

changetowin@12:46 - It is often a mistake to assume that the label one gives oneself is definitive. Just because someone disagrees with you does not mean that that person is not a modern compassionate Conservative. (I say that as someone that would not avow the label of myself.)

As a fairly obvious example, my guess is that the considerable majority of supporters of George Bush in 2000 would have said that they were modern compassionate conservatives (note the small c, which I shall amend later in the sentence), and many Conservatives (big C) that had sympathy with George Bush's policies used to describe themselves (and for all I know still do) as "modern compassionate Conservatives". But such people might, for example, support all kinds of moral and religious positions that you would disagree with and probably describe as "theocon".

This, I think, illustrates an important point of difference. In my view politics is not (or is very rarely) the appropriate instrument for promoting moral or religious values. But despite this, and indeed partly *because* of it, it is very important that politics makes space for people to express their own moral or religious values, and to have their politics partially moulded by those values.

Being a tolerant society is not (I repeat: NOT) about making everyone conform to an all-accepting sophisticated metropolitan outlook - anti-fur; pro-gay; pro-career-women; anti-smoking-in-public; intolerant-of-racism; have-whatever-religious-beliefs-you-like-provided-you-keep-them-to-yourself; and so on. Having such an outlook may well be definitive of what it is to be a modern liberal *morally*, but politically, to enforce this "believing-oneself-open-and-accepting" morality on everyone else is not liberal. It is authoritarian.

The Editor is keen on the idea that politics should contain a space for religion and political opinions should be informed by one's religious views. In my view, his is clearly the liberal opinion in this sense. Is it a "modern compassionate Conservative" opinion. I think that it clearly would count as such. And my last thought for now is that if those that are keen to avow themselves fans of Cameron (as opposed to those of us that wish him well since he is our leader) would *listen* *properly* to the critiques expressed by subtle and intelligent people such as our Editor, they might find that he and other (very mild) critics offer potentially valuable thoughts that might be used to hone Cameron's message. Not every criticism needs to be construed enmity.

the representativeness

Is that an English word ?

First things: Jack, you completely misread my comment, which was no doubt poorly written. I was struggling with the twin imperatives to gush with joy at the pro-leadership poll finding at the same time as listening to the tiny voice of statistical integrity in my head. There was a clue in the poor pun I made at the end, which was an attempt at humour to suggest that asking a random selection of Poles could easily lead to a result which predicted the Tory leadership election; this would not be taken as proof that any further polling of the Poles would be indicative of anything that Conservative members feel about anything. Anyway. Now that I've laboured that point beyond Gordon Brownian parody.

Some of the comments on the site do become too unpleasant from time to time. I don't notice the ones which attack the grouping that is generally composed of non-members who dislike David Cameron, but I do notice the other type, which is demonstration that bile, like beauty, may lie in the eye of the beholder.

I find the best cure is to stop visiting for a while. Then you come back refreshed and willing to join in again. I think this is probably more useful than demanding Editorial control over who is allowed to post here (though I would support much stronger editorial control).

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