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Thanks Tim. This is my hope for Conservatism too.

Your link points to this article and not the coffeeshop post.

Thanks Chris - the link is now right.

Bravo Tim, well said.

Anchoring the future in the past is surely the best way to ensure you do not end up like the current Government, who seem to have created a new politics that has grown out of control and become rudderless because of the lack of depth to its past.

You are right we must have all the policies you mention, but the public will only take in a few messages. They do not link any party with more than three or four major policies - if that. Most people only get there politics from the news headlines. They never read a policy review, or look at a political website. They don't even read a leaflet through.

So while we need to have many policies, we must concentrate on three or four main messages. It is those messages that will define the party, so they must chime with enough voters. I think they should include education, immgration, the EU and crime. All these can be linked to form a cohesive set of policies.

That's partly true, Derek, but the internet gives us more opportunities than ever before to run targeted micro campaigns.

I also think there is interesting potential to talk about topics such as the EU in new, progressive ways. One example is the massive negative impact that EU protectionism has on Third World economies. It is possible to talk about a historic concern such as the EU whilst linking it to more modern issues such as helping the world's poor.

So why is the leadership so scared of progressive, equality based policies like funding parents not schools, patients not hospitals and welfare reforms which address people's needs, not their means?

It is absolutely right that the progressive left gave us progressively higher crime, progressively worse industry, progressively worse schools and hospitals and progressively higher taxes in the process.

However, it is absolutely wrong to assume that a centre-right party can reverse this depressing trend without it breaking with the socialist concensus that has existed for the last 60 years across all parties in respect all aspects of the Welfare State, in respect of the state ownership of the means of the delivery of these service and the requirement for them to be funded from the general pot of national taxation.

The liberal right - which is where I like to think I am - should be looking to make sure everybody has the where-with-all to buy the services they need from a range of competing providers.

Not only will this bring market forces to bear to drive up standards and control increases in cost, it will give responsibility back to people and require them to act responsibly, thus reversing the impact of decades of dependency and, hopefully, reducing the tendency for people to demand that, "The Government should do sumfin abaaht it!"

The Labour candidate at the General Election boasted that he and our MP were as one, "We are both progressives".

If you are saying we can find conservative policies that will attract centre-left voters then I agree, and we should try.

But "progressive conservatism" is an oxymoron. If we try to be that, we will be nothing.

At the moment the Party is doing something even worse: trying to be yet another progressive party, abandoning conservatism entirely. If you want to vote social or liberal democrat, or green, there are very good well established parties available. Another is not needed and would not succeed.

Thank you for this Tim. Once again you have managed to say what I have been trying to explain to non-Conservatives, but you have said it so much better than I have been able to.
We are the new progressives.

What evidence is there that a singe member of the party has actually, genuinely, changed his mind about any of these issues?

All we have is spin, spin and yet more spin...

...but there are clear signs that the turbine is running out of energy.

This is my conservatism too.

Why doesn't anyone ever express this in the leadership of our party?

Thank you Tim.

We must be careful to not confuse progressivism and progress. As Disraeli said about the constitution (but applicable to much more), we should be 'conservative to preserve all that is good, radical to remove all that is bad'.

I'm somewhat uncomfortable with this idea of progressive conservatism, not least because it is a contradiction in terms. Environmentalism and social justice are strong pillars of progressivism, and there's no reason why they can't be important to conservatism, too. The difference is how we address such issues. To me, progressivim seems the centre-left attitude, conservatism the centre-right. To be a progressive conservative seems to cancel itself out...or is that the point?

The language might not be quite right Ash but the idea that the centre right is now the home of progress is a strong and undeveloped theme methinks.

Definately - and of course, to most people the language doesn't matter. I love the picture, by the way :D

Tim, you write: The language might not be quite right Ash but the idea that the centre right is now the home of progress is a strong and undeveloped theme methinks.

If you mean conservatives care and try to make the world a better place then yes I think that has always been true and we should try to find language that convinces the public of this fact. Whether it is more true now with a spin-obsessed win-at-any-cost leadership than it was before is debatable, but it is true of conservativism.

However, language matters and I don't think you should use left wing words like "progress" or "progressive" as they have fundamentally unconservative connotations. "Compassionate Conservative" was one attempt to do what you suggest, perhaps now overused; "Caring Conservative" might perhaps work. Or simply emphasise caring when speaking...

Thank you, Tim. I would like to suggest that "Progressive Conservatism" be based on "compassionate efficiency".

> if flying is so bad for the environment why
> doesn't he holiday in Cornwall rather than Crete?

Death to all who holiday in Tuscany! :-))

I'm not campaigning against air travel, Graham!

I'm actually a big fan of Ryanair.

They're a progressive force - bringing affordable holidays to millions of families.


I love the picture too, very 1930's!
This morning on Sunday AM, Andrew Marr had Nigel Farage - is it Nigel?, but I thought he came across very positive, even with hints of Mrs. Thatcher, I am sure that people who happened to watch, not knowing much about him would be quite impressed. It made me wish that someone with the same positiveness would come along for the conservatives, I suppose David Davis is the nearest to the type I am thinking of - somebody with 'fire in the belly' who would carry people along. We have had a 'God' person for ten years, and now the next PM is someone who would really love to be able to carry the populace along, but having hybrid hangers-on, is not at all the same as having personality and belief to infuse people and 'carry' them along, and Brown is not that type of person.

David Cameron is in a very difficult position because if he comes up with good, positive ideas, they will be pinched by Brown just as by Blair!, and it is still quite a long time before the next GE, but on the hand coming up with suggestions that seem relatively lightweight, just provide fodder for a predatory media and crass government MP's. A rock and a hard place comes to mind!

Oh my God. Progress is a left wing word? No wonder we lost three elections with attitudes like this. A symbol of how absolutely out of touch we were. As regards the main point of the thread I absolutely agree with you Tim. We were far too 'narrow' in 2005 and we must fight on those issues that are important to the public. If they are crime, immigration, and the EU then wonderful but if they are not.... We must be prepared to fight hard on those issues which are not traditionally favourable to the Conservatives. If for example the electorate decide their most important issues are the public services and the enviroment then fight on those issues we must ...or lose just as we did in 2005. It is one of Camerons greatest successes that for the first time in my memory we are ahead in polls looking at for example how we would look after the NHS.He gets it I think , but does every Conservative?

I totally agree with everything the Ed has said!

“Progressive” is a word I normally associate with 1960’s lib-left thinking on thinking on things like comprehensive schools (and dare I say g…..r schools!) and a free-for-all ‘rights’-centred liberalism that permits anything without any sense of right and wrong. Fraser Nelson said: “Left wing policies are regressive, weigh the economy down, stifle creativity and keep the poor languishing on benefits”. I would add that left-wing progressives also seem to be concerned at promoting, including in schools, all lifestyles except the one that benefits children and society the most – marriage and the family with a Mum and Dad. They also support the criminal above the law-abiding citizen and the terrorist above the need for security. Yes to put right the mess these regressive, policies have left us in, it is the right-wing that is progressive now. And Mrs T progressive was progressive with the economy?

C List and Proud at 1722 pointed to the need to break the 60 year consensus about the welfare state, which I would describe as the belief that the only way to help the poor and provide public services is State support with huge amounts of taxpayers’ money. But we mustn’t become again a party only concerned with profit and economic efficiency without regard for any negative impacts on society and families. As DC has said, there is such a thing as society, but it is not the same thing as the State.

If by "Progressive" you mean "embracing progress" then I'm all for it: I'd love a Conservative party that championed things like genetic engineering, nuclear power, low-cost personal transport [car/air], freedom of choice in education, trade, personal relationships, freedom from taxation - while at the same time rejecting outdated regressive ideas like faith/superstition/environmentalism and the State being involved in the provision of healthcare or housing. If that's Progressive Conservatism, bring it on!
Alas I fear that 'progressive conservatism' will be some horrid Toynbee-esque sop-to-the-socialists where we take on board their outmoded ideas just as they are themselves giving them up.

Glad you're catching up.

Chelloveck has probably just outed himself as Chad, Editor. I thought you had banned him!

I was there even before Chad!

Tanuki @ 20:32 says: "...rejecting outdated regressive ideas like faith/superstition/environmentalism..."

May I ask, since when was environmentalism an outdated, regressive idea?

Good try Tim! ProgCon.org started on 5th May 2005

Off the back of that I was later invited to the case for Change meeting in July 2005, a month before you pinched the idea.... ;-)

Still, joking aside. If Cameron embraced the fusion properly, rather than simply adding another soundbite, then all sides of the party would be happy (enough).


If environmentalism is an outdated regressive idea what is the progressive alternative?



I would like to compliment Tanuki on his splendid post. We need a new Conservatism that is based on liberty and reason rather than tradition and religious mysticism.

Cameron is no moderniser. He only offers a return to "Old School" paternalism - a combination of the clapped out ideas of Heseltine, Patten and Gummer.

The environmentalists are the new Luddites and Maltusians. They hate economic growth, wealth creation and technical progress. Recent examples are Dave's air tax plans and Zac Goldsmith's hatred of supermarkets.

"Will David Cameron prioritise tax relief for the low paid (within his sharing the proceeds of growth formulation) or will they largely go to business?"

Strongly agree - eliminating income tax on the low paid is one 'progressive' policy that would do a lot to restore my faith in this leadership. It's a sign of the corrupt nature of Brown's tax regime that he's actually raised taxes on the low paid.

Scrapping income tax for the poorest seems a good idea at face value, but I'd be worried what the results would be. If someone puts nothing in, they won't value what they get out. Every taxpayer has a vested interest in the performance of the government because their contribution - no matter how small - has been worked for. If you take hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of people out of income tax altogether, what reason do they have to be concerned in governance? It's not their money, after all.

If you eliminate income tax for some people, you effectively have a welfare state that exists purely to redistribute, rather than one that is a sort of national insurance. Cut taxes significantly, yes, but not altogether, otherwise you'll end up with a situation where some people don't put anything in, and therefore have nothing to lose from a high tax high spend government.

At the last election, the party ran away from exactly the sort of "progressive" conservatism espoused by Disraeli and as quoted above, refusing to run hard on our education ideas because some focus groups said people were a bit unsure about the Swedish style voucher model we were proposing.

Now, having spent that election mainly on council estates in a fairly poorly performing - and unsurprisingly, Labour run, inner city area somewhere well north of London - I can tell you that single mums and black parents of teenage kids loved it.

Once they got their heads round the idea that they could go to a school and say, "You want my kid, yeh? What you offerin' then?" they realised that they would, for the first time in generations, actually have something with which to challenge the left wing concencus which prevails in schools and of which they despair.

Sadly, the scared middle/upper classes fearing an influx of those dreadful inner city "yoof" in their leafy suburban comprehensives were probably those "focussed" and we lost, again.

I fear Cameron and Gibb, (the main architect of that spineless retreat in '05 on a policy agreed by the Shadow Cabinet and believed by many candidates and grass roots activists to be truly radical and worth dying in the proverbial ditch for), are now hell bent on not even offering that kind of hope to parents in the most straightened circumstances.

If I get a seat, I for one will back our education policy on the same basis we backed Blair's, namely that it was a step in the right direction, and keep campaigning for vouchers.

I still win Chad as the definitions were posted from an earlier site. But hey, who really cares!?

Excellent article and comments. I really want to see the Conservatives prove their credentials, especially with Darfur. Like Tim, I think that Nicolas Sarkozy's appointment of Bernard Kouchner as foreign minister is really exciting and could mark a change in France's Foreign policy in area's like Darfur. If there is a strong desire and consensus to do something in that region from countries like Britain, France and Germany we might finally stop this genocide.
"I would like to suggest that "Progressive Conservatism" be based on "compassionate efficiency"."
David Belchamber, I like that "sound bite", I would love to see it work in reality.

I still win Chad as the definitions were posted from an earlier site. But hey, who really cares!?

Exactly. What we care about is getting the ideas delivered not who delivers them.

I genuinely wished Cameron would seek to deliver them, but latest soundbites aside, I sense this will only occur once the Cameron Project has expired.

I'd like to see some 'restorative' Conservatism. Identify the good bits of Britain that New Labour has trashed, and endeavour to fix them. Restoring Britain is a lot more important than 'humanitarian' invading or bombing of small countries half-way round the world, and a lot more likely to do good.

The general thrust of the article is right, but progressive Conservatism must not just mean talking the talk in order to make us feel good about ourselves. Substituting wristbands for real policy may be a way of sidestepping the complexities of the real world, but I would rather leave that sort of thing to the spinners of the Left. Take Darfur for example, the government there are a bunch of genocidal criminals who care not one jot for international opinion. We can and should push to raise the issue via the various international bodies, despite the near impossibility of obtaining a consensus for anything approaching decisive action. What we shouldn't do, as was implied in the post above is publicly obsess about it just to show how right-on we are. The people there deserve to be more than a propaganda tool. We must embrace issues like poverty, but from the perspective of actually empowering people and making them wealthier, not from the standpoint of rhetoric and bogus targets that end in weasel words when they prove impossible to attain. Conservatives should be better than that.

Excellent article Tim. The use of the word progressive has always made my fists itch because it was used by the sneering left to deride anything we tried to do as being stuck in the past.

It had never occurred to me that we could just nick it, or rather reclaim it. I must write an article on my blog about the subject and am very grateful for the Disraeli quote above!

It is one of Camerons greatest successes that for the first time in my memory we are ahead in polls

Just...by a whisker - and probably not for long.

But if the tough, no-nonsense ex-SAS working-class Tory David Davis were at the help we'd be romping away now.

If only he hadn't screwed up THAT speech...

Tanuki 20:32

At last! Someone here who has positive, forward looking Conservative ideals. Sadly, why do I think none of them will feature much in "Conservative" Party policy (if and when we ever see any).

"Progress", "Progressive", and "Progressivism" have been used in most countries most of the time to refer to left wing ideas (sometimes even neo-Communist ideas). For a recent UK example, see the Labour Party group: http://www.progressives.org.uk/.

Occasionally, as with Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive Party or the Canadian Progressive Conservative Party it has been used by centre-right politicians trying to appeal to a wider constituency.

For many the word simply means "good" or "improvement" and who can object to that?

Unfortunately, it is also associated with the belief that history moves from bad to good, and that our job is to hurry it along. Conservatives realise that often it moves from good to bad and our job can be to slow it down. "Progress" suggests that any change is good, when often none is the best.

So I don't like the word, but at the end of the day what matters is policy, and being in the position to carry out policy. I don't think this word will help - it didn't really help the Canadian centre-right - and it might hurt in the long run, but I'm much more concerned with real issues like selective education, the EPP, positive discrimination, tax, common sense on the environment etc.

Whatever happened to 'Radical' Conservatism: bold, innovative, sometimes revolutionary policies designed to be utterly distinctive from those espoused by our Socialist opponents?

At the moment we seem to have no more than taking up used New Labour policies and trying to do it better than they have so far managed to do. EG Heseltine comes up with.....elected mayors all round! Have not we heard that somewhere before?

Tax, crime, immigration, Europe: the familiar policies, the comfort zone of the Conservative party over the years remain important. But on them the party does not sound the least bit radical or bold at all.

Worse still there is the sense that in some areas there is no policy. I have little idea what Mr. Cameron thinks on crime. I have no idea what he plans to do about immigration, particularly that which is illegal. All we have on tax is a promise only to have cuts as a by-blow of growth (a concept which the man in the Clapham Omnibus may not readily undersatand). And on Europe, Mr. Cameron is pressing the two Consuls on a referendum, but who knows what Mr. Cameron's real attitude to Europe is?

Defence? The goalmouth is open but little is being done to attack Labour. Education? A complete mess on the face of it. Health? We'll spend the same but do it better. Not exactly riveting stuff. Big government and deregulation? I have no idea what he thinks. All in all, a bit of a blank sheet.

Suppose Brown goes to the country in May 2009: that is less than two years away, so it is really leaving it very late in the day to familiarise the electorate with Cameron's policies. And if much of it is really just a general rehash of Labour's policies, what is radical about that and why will the electorate be enthused?

A large dose of keeping to what the present government is doing but doing it better just lacks a sense of freshness and newness that ought to be there to catch the voter's eye. And those people who have perhaps got out of voting conservative at recent elections but who would like an excuse to return, that may not be enough.

Ed, It's quite difficult to encourage a direction when someone is not listening.

The words progressive and Conservative sit naturally together. There just needs to be more impetus behind the substance and less tinting on the spin.

If you ever go to events by groups like the Fabians, you'll notice you don't have to be a Labour Party member or anything like that to be eligible to attend, you just need to be "a progressive".

Interesting one that. So basically, you don't actually make progress to be progressive; you waste your time standing still and finding lots of other people to sit and chat with who also say that they are progressive...

I always thought that progression was a tangible state which resulted in a 'forward' movement?

The words progressive and Conservative sit naturally together.

That is one of the most absurd statements I have ever read.

How do you attempt to justify it?

I suppose it really depends how you see Conservative values; surely you have an idea of what being a Conservative means to you, and by labelling yourself Traditional Tory, I would imagine you would see being progressive as a natural part of Party history?

If not, why are you bothering to waste your time making a contribution here?

That of course depends by what you mean by 'progressive'. There is clearly no reason why political Conservatives should oppose technological progress for instance (although they often have)

However, political movements for 'progress', notably the French and Russian Revolutions and their offshoots worldwide, are exactly the reason that Conservatism came into being in the first place.

From a purely etymological point of view you might as well say 'The words chalk and cheese sit naturally together.'

It would be equally absurd.

It is of course one of the wonderful things about the English language that words are often open to interpretation. I think it is fair to say that I was not advocating revolution on the scale of our nearest neighbour. However, evolution of party policies and their implementation are progress nonetheless and it is as absurd to suggest that I am wrong in calling this progress as it is to suggest that it is not.

I take it that you have a newer, more politically correct term for progress now, just like the one which I suppose will be rolled out as a pseudonym for Grammars.

We could all argue about the meaning of labels like 'progressive' or, for that matter, 'conservative'.

But let's concentrate on the actual substance of the editor's post, which was admirable and has struck a chord with many readers.

It would be wonderful if CH becomes a dedicated champion of this agenda because we are unrepresented elsewhere in the party. Like a lot of other Conservatives I feel at home neitherwith the modernising PR spivocracy nor with the foam-flecked reactionaries.

Yes, there are plenty of good people associated with each side -- but that makes the situation worse, so much talent and effort being wasted on these equally flawed factions.

It is about time that some of our MPs came forward and raised the standard for true conservatism.

Thanks Erasmus. The progressive label may have been an unhelpful distraction from my arguments which I'm glad you appreciated. I'm certainly keen for ConservativeHome to do a lot more advocacy of the positive, can do conservatism that could emerge over the next few years...

I feel at home neitherwith the modernising PR spivocracy nor with the foam-flecked reactionaries

That's interesting, because your namesake, frequently accused of being part of a 'modernising spivocracy', was something of a foam-flecked reactionary himself, especially where certain 'ethnic minorities' were concerned.

So who do you want to run the party, Erasmus?

Editor, this was a good article which fits well with the manifesto you produced for the site (that is worth a read everyone) and your "and" theory. Conservatism has excelled when those in it that were more progressive encouraged the party to go with them. Disreali and Thatcher, both in different ways, fitted that bill. However when we think Conservatism is only about preserving things we become narrow minded, reactionary and negative. I strongly support your desire to use the site to encourage a more forward-looking/progressive and especially can-do approach. When I read some of the negative comments on this site (we all know who they are) whose authors posts numerous times in every thread, I often think that if they put that energy into helping constructively then we would have won a long time ago,


Well said Matt.

Re "...when we think Conservatism is only about preserving things we become narrow minded, reactionary and negative." The problem is with the "only". I am sure no one believes conservatism is about doing the impossible and preserving the status quo. I can think of lots of change I would like. The argument here and elsewhere is about what is worth preserving and what needs changing.

Whilst I find the term "progressive" a bit toe curling (one is reminded of the naff expression "progressive rock"), I am all for progress, who isn't? As indicated the conservative dilemma is always what to preserve and what to change. And that in essence is where traditional Tories and the Cameroons disagree. You would not think so given the spin, but neither side has a monopoly of the reformist or conservative agendas.

Tax, Crime, Immigration,Europe - not a bad set of priorities. But seen from what viewpoint?

I doubt if the overall burden of taxation will ever be reduced but we should make a start be ensuring that people earning the minimum wage do not pay income tax at all. If that is the minimum they need to live on why do we take some of it away?

Crime - let us stop massaging statistics and face reality about this. Almost everybody realises we are policing badly. Let's work out how to do it well.

Europe - we have no clear policy on how we wish to see the EU proceed. Commonsense tells us that few wish to see our sovereignty given away. Look at cod stocks as an example of that progress.

Immigration. It should not be difficult to understand that there is legal immigration and the illegal type which includes white-slaving. Let us not continue to use a single label for both types. The second is criminal behaviour.
But, please, let us consider the effects on our country even of legal immigration. Do we have the transport, water, power, schools that are necessary to support a continuous stream of immigrants?

It is not necessary to approach these 4 pillars of society from an ideologues point of view. Who has commonsense and effective solutions? If the answer is "nobody" then our Parliamentary system has failed.

The most interesting part of the article comes at the end, where the shallowness and inconsistency of Cameron's 'progressive' policies are (politely) touched upon.

Conservatism stands for the solidity of custom and tradition against the endless efforts of the left to recast society in its own image. The recent attempts in this country to denigrate and disparage the traditional family, for example, have their conterparts in virtually every Godless revolution from 1789 onwards.

Of course Conservatives have sometimes struck a 'progressive' pose for tactical reasons. Disraeli did so with mixed results; Bismarck with remarkable success. However, it is always a very dangerous strategy.

The problem with most self-styled 'Progressive Conservatives' is simply that they are on the wrong side.

The question, therefore, is not so much whether the individuals in question are 'progressive', but rather whether they are Conservative at all.

This one has clearly touched a nerve oh Traditional one. I'm happy with being a Conservative and having a progressive view.

In the absence of a word which distinguishes between lefties who use the term progressive as a cover for backwards distruction and one which covers those of us of a Conservative mind who genuinely want to see things moving forward, I know which one I'd rather sit with.

The word isn't wrong, it's what it means to you that is the problem and without this word and it's use, I fail to see how anything will change within this rather bleak political landscape of ours.

As I suggested when I started posting above this morning, I'm not terribly comfortable with the way that the Leadership is approaching it's way forward (progress would have been a better word here). However, they are at least trying to create some movement. Static policy on the otherhand will help no one and it would perhaps be less misleading if you were to change your lable for the benefit of some of the others using this site who have a genuine interest in creating a future for the Party.

This one has clearly touched a nerve oh Traditional one.

Not at all. Unlike some who have posted lately I'm happy to debate without becoming irate or distressed.

I'm happy with being a Conservative and having a progressive view.

Well I would have to know which of your views you consider to be both Conservative and progressive before commenting.

In the absence of a word which distinguishes between lefties who use the term progressive as a cover for backwards distruction

In the political sense 'progressive' has been universally accepted for two centuries as denoting 'radical' or 'left-wing', and I'm comfortable with that.

However, Burke said that the state without the means of change is without the means of its preservation, and of course that's right. We need to decide which changes will help preserve our cherished traditions, and which will tend to destroy them

Cameron appears to be incapable of distinguishing between the two, so it's encouraging to learn that you are not comfortable with the approach of the leadership.

There are many Tories who could create a viable future for the party. We need to see them running the show.

1. If I understand this distinction between the State and society, then the government have to acknowledge that they are powerless in many areas which are exclusively society's. That sounds eminently Conservative.

But there is some consistency demanded. Mr Cameron cannot both say that he shares this view of society and that he intends to make sure everyone lives in a happy family: "Let’s be clear about this. It is simply no use talking about opportunity for all unless we give every child in our country the secure start in life that comes from a stable, loving home". How could he possibly deliver?

Either the government gives up meddling or it doesn't. If it does, then we have a distinctively Conservative and attractive offer to the voters.

2. Commentators continue to say that Labour occupy the "centre ground". Consider this, for example, from one of the leaders in today's Telegraph: "For a decade, Labour has built its appeal on the successful annexation of this middle ground".

As long as they say that, then what reason is there for people to vote Conservative? It sounds perfectly safe to vote Labour. In which case, not enough people will vote for this new understanding of the respective roles of the State and society.

Labour's position on civil liberties, at least, is anything but in the centre. And their treatment of the Constitution is either vandalistic or downright revolutionary.

So why do sensible commentators keep saying that Labour occupy the centre ground? If they would just stop it -- and, after all, it isn't true -- and the Conservatives would stop sort of acknowledging it, then a great impediment would be removed.

David, you have some good points but I think New Labour were perceived as occupying the centre ground. In some senses this was more than a perception in aspects of the economic portfolio. Overall Blair was clever to a degree in that he maintained this creative tension around him apparently pushing for centre-right type reform (eg of public services) although it never really materialised in any real way. He tried to copy Conservative ideas or aimed to create that perception. People sense this and in fact many Conservatives switched to Blair in '97, and some stayed with him, as a result of this. There is mileage in our party saying - "why have the failed Blair-Brown copy? We can apply centre-right ideas because we understand them. Those ideas can be used to address social as well as economic problems. We are able to understand where Blairs interpretation of the post-Thatcher world was wrong".


Matt, as you say, there is a perception or a sense that there were centre-right elements of the Blair administration but, in the main, they didn't materialise. The reality is different from the perception. We Conservatives are offering reality, could be the "narrative", compared with insubstantial illusion.

There is nothing even seemingly centre ground about Labour's civil liberties agenda. David Davis can mine a rich seam with more of his excellent "you don't defend your liberties by sacrificing them" observations. Push that and perhaps the appearance of being in the centre can be separated from Labour.

The comparison between his forthrightness and clarity and John Reid's eternally angry frothing at the mouth is a powerful weapon for the Conservatives.

Agree David, this is the sort of thinking we need to develop to open up a winning gap,


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