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Seems like a fair comment. It's always bemusing when there's an assumption that traditional Tory policies in arious areas are unpopular when in fact they aren't. Furthermore our defeat in 2001 wasn't due to a hard right-wing manifesto but due to the fact that a)we kept banging on about saving the pound even though there was going to be a referendum and b)leading Tories and Toryism in general had a severe image problem (which was, to a large extent, the fault of the media).


Back to grammar schools. 60% to 36% is quite clear and it speaks for itself. I refuse to flog this dead horse any further.

The grassroots are not being alienated. They are perfectly happy with David Cameron's leadership. Never mind the self-selecting ConHome polls. Real polls by real polling companies consistently show ultra-high approval levels of the leadership by Conservative voters, and also that more Conservatives stick with their party when Cameron's name is mentioned than either Labour of the Liberal Democrats.

To say, for example, that Cameron has not addressed concerns about crime is simply wrong and I think ConHome knows it is wrong.

Once again, the site calls for Cameron to practise an "And theory" he has been diligently practising since he took power.

Let us review.

More prisons
Local control over the police
Border police guards
Lower overall immigration
Probable abolition of IHT
Traditional teaching methods and subjects
Greater powers to expel bullies
No new comps
A smaller state
Reformed public services
No EPP and MEPs who do not accept this to lose the whip
Support in the tax system for stay at home mothers as well as those who work
Support for marriage
Support for the family (both in the tax system)
Restoration of parliament's supremacy
Scottish MPs no longer to vote on English only matters

My goodness, if you don't think that directly speaks to the core activist vote then all I can say is you are hard chaps to please! :)

In addition to my above comment that doesn't mean we should adopt a hard right-wing manifesto for the next election (and the 2001 wasn't despite the way it was portrayed) or that we don't have to change, simply that we need to maintain our popular traditional policies as well as reaching out to new voters with new ideas.

"No new comps"

Then what are the new schools if they're not comps or grammars? A comp that has compulsory streaming is still a comp.

No it isn't. Foundation Schools and CTCs differ from Comprehensive schools. As I said I simply refuse to join in the site's decision to continue to post about this.

As I said yesterday ,an uncharacteristically shallow article from Danny Finkelstein. Are Blairs repeal of Clause 4 and the row within the Conservative party comparable? Not in my opinion.Clause 4 was largely sympbolic of little interest to the electorate whereas our argument is of great interest to all parents in particular and managing Education well is essential to the future of our country.
He is right that to carry large parts of the centre ground is essential to electoral success in Britain but I entirely fail to see why a commitment to academic selection means that we will lose these people.

Tory T, why do you persist in referring to our policy as an expansion of CTCs? We are not suggesting that at all. We are suggesting an expansion of City Academies which are quite different.
If you refuse to join in this site's decision to post about this subject then don't post. Quite simple really.

Let's look at Finkelstein's track record.

He was a leading member of the SDP at a time when Margaret Thatcher was taking the tough measures that were needed to save our country.

Finkelstein had the cheek to criticise the 1997 manifesto. He was an adviser to William Hague, with his ex-SDP cronies like Rick Nye, who lost by a similar margin in 2001. They were responsible for a disastrous campaign strategy. The Fink is the pot calling the kettle black.

Fink's track record is one of disaster. He should count himself lucky that the Times employs him.

It's not the only subject being discussed in this article, Malcom. The Ed is talking about a whole range of policies and so am I.

AS I said yesterday, Danny Finkelstein's article is yet another attempt to curry favour with the in crowd at CCHQ: those who believe, like all good leftwing Tories, that the left has all the best tunes and that the most to which the Tory Party can aspire is to ape them. Those good leftwing Tories, that is, who believe in anything other than office at any price.

Since Finkelsteins pathetic attempt to argue in favour of Cameronism a couple of days ago, Ive given up all hope on his political writing. He didnt argue the case, he simply tried to blanket label all critics of Cameron as wanting to lose the next election and wanting Thatcher back.

Funnilly enough, it sounded like some posters here...

Three cheers for your refutation of Danny Finklestein's defeatism. It's all very well becoming captain of the ship, but if you get the job by promising not to steer it clear of the iceberg then the more fool you. The iceberg in question is comprised of filthy hospitals, appalling schools, rising racial tension and a receding competetive edge. So what is to be done? And what is feasible?

Even Francis Maude accepts that "right wing" policies are in themselves popular. His view seems to be - correct me if I'm wrong - that whatever view is adopted by the Tory part is somehow tainted by the association. The task, then, is to remove the taint - to "decontaminate the brand" as the jargon has it. Fair enough, but why should this cleansing process mean removing actually popular policies? Conservative modernisers risk throwing out the baby and KEEPING THE DIRTY BATH WATER. Remember, Blair and Reid have made a new political art of making right wing announcements whilst conniving at left wing outcomes because they know that "right wing" fundamentally means "popular". That is why so many Toynbee style commentators dismiss the right as "populIST". The last thing the Tory party should do, then, is sell its few remaining credentials of free marketeering nationalism. This is the popular philosophy of Britain and has been since the flight of James II.

So, chimes in the mini-Finklestein in my head, why did we lose then?

Answer: loss of popular cultural and media support. Think of the seventies and eighties and you have a relatively balanced Beeb and plenty of conservative cultural forces from Kingsley Amis to Bob Monkhouse. Voices on the TV were tory voices - round, rich, well modulated - even when they came from lefties like Sir John Mortimer. Shuttle forward to the present and you have a rock'n'pop culture, spavined with cockney idioms and dominated by comic evangelists for socialism - Marcus Brigstock, Jimmy Carr and co. In such a climate, nothing - I repeat and warn - NOTHING can "decontaminate" our brand. The left-defaulting culture of our day won't wear us until we have defeated ourselves completely and in the process hollowed out democracy.

To return to my analogy - they might one day let us take command of the ship, but only when they have scrambled on to the life rafts.

OK, says my mini-Finkelstein, what would YOU do? What is feasible?

Answer number two: First, feasibility isn't everything. Getting power in a situation which is generally unfavorable might be a mistake in itself. Standing honourably for principles - no matter how unpopular - is not to be sneered at and at least serves the purpose of keeping debate wide, options open and freedom alive.

Second, lets fight the long war of principle and not the short battle of party supremacy. Let's recolonise the media; let's point out the bias of the new Beeb; let's stand up for a decent, tolerationist nationalism against faceless multicultrual loneliness; let's advocate the truly tailored schooling offered by a scrupulous form of selection; let's be unashamed of the label "right wing". It will be a long hard slog but it is worth it. Danny Finkelsteins little, local skirmish is hardly worth the candle.

"Getting power in a situation which is generally unfavorable might be a mistake in itself."

What a relief that Mrs. Thatcher didn't think that way.

Brown in charge til 2014? Erm, no thank you.

But Mrs Thatcher was willing to take the right decisions. Mr Cameron, like Ted Heath before him, is in danger of selling the pass and ending up apparently responsible for an gigantic mess. That is the ultimately unfavorable condition I have in mind.

"There are aspects of the 1997 Settlement - as your colleague Peter Riddell calls it - that we have to accept as a party. I think of, for example, the minimum wage, devolution to Scotland and Wales, an independent Bank of England, civil partnerships and much greater international development spending."

All of these things were accepted by Michael Howard and IDS. They are the policies that the public will just assume that we have accepted - what party would suggest repealing the minimum wage? Or removing independence from the Bank of England?

In order to improve on the result obtained by Howard we have to cede yet more ground, and broaden the coalition even further. This means giving up some of our more radical public service reforms (grammar schools, patient passports), spending cuts etc. As a Tory these are things that I would like to see implemented in a major way, but all political parties must compromise with the electorate in order to win elections, and compromise by definition eans not doing some of those things we really want to do.

Simon, out of interest. What do you think of all Cameron's policies as I have listed them in the second post in the thread? Don't you see those as core Conservative policies and if not, why not?

Adaptation to a changed social and political climate is essential for every political party.

But here is a piece of heresy. The Conservatives did not lose the last 3 elections. Rather, Labour WON the last three elections.

It all boils down to the old cliche - "It's the economy, stupid." We threw away our reputation for economic competence as a consequence of our wrong-headed membership of the ERM, hence the 1997 result. Labour in office have presided over relatively low inflation, interest rates and unemployment, hence the 2001 and 2005 results.

Yes - I'm well aware of and worried about stealth taxes, plundered pensions, the "black hole" etc etc etc. Nevertheless, there has been a public perception of Brown as a competent chancellor and a consequential unwillingness to oust his party.

Let's not forget that the public liked Tory policies in 2005 until they found out that they were Tory policies. So. Green issues: essential. Social responsibility: obvious. Moving away from being a party of white, male, public schoolboy Oxbridge graduates: overdue (errr. . .)

On the other hand. Low taxes: the bedrock of economic stability. Grammar schools: they work. A federal EU: bad for Britain. To quote Finkelstein's own words - "How can they not get it? What’s wrong with these people?"

Let's not make the mistake of pushing change for the sake of change and thereby end up having a "Consignia" moment.

"In order to improve on the result obtained by Howard we have to cede yet more ground, "

Any "victory" achieved as a result would be entirely pyrrhic. Why not try to win the public round to Conservative policies, rather than just throwing in the towel?

"But here is a piece of heresy. The Conservatives did not lose the last 3 elections. Rather, Labour WON the last three elections."

Quite so. It's futile to argue that if only we'd been more left-wing, we'd have won in any of those years.

Sean, that would require principle, discipline, organisation and backbone. In the last 10 years, none of these have been hallmarks of the Parliamentary Conservative Party.

We needn't "throw in the towel" but as Tory T pointed out in his first post we're not doing that. We are trying to evolve Conservative policies, instead of sticking with the old ones. The new schools policy does include academic selection, it just doesn't take place between schools.

malcolm, I believe the reason why Tory T is referring to CTCs is because Cameron wishes to give Academies all of the autonomy that CTCs have. This was outlined in the original Willets speech.

As for Finkelstein's article it's wishy washy and doesn't seem to be written at all well; good job on the fisking Ed! I'm in full agreement over that!

The whole history and success of the Conservative party has been adaptability around a few core principles. We have to change with the times and we have been doing that firstly and tentatively under IDS and now more decisively under Cameron. Yet the principles are still there - social responsibility is about as core as it gets and the right approach if we are to put things right in Britain. What's more addressing social responisbility is a long term challenge worthy of the party and victory. No, the truth is that there are elements in the party that just prefer the comfort of arguing than going out doing things.


Chris, my criticism was directed at Jimbo's comment that "we must cede yet more ground." That would be throwing in the towel.

So Tory T, let me get this right, in order to restart the engine of social mobility Dave is going to trade in a slightly battered Mercedes for a Trabant which has had a respray?

Matt, the only things that the Tory Party has "done" for most of the period since 1945 have consisted of bedding down the failures of the left. Judging by his reheated Blairite policies on education, Dave seems determined to follow in that long, two-faced and disreputable tradition.

Michael, would you or for that matter any Cameron-sceptic like to actually engage with my list of Cameron's policies thus far announced my first post?

What I'm seeing is a total refusal to even look at the core Conservative values the man is advancing.

More prisons, border police, lower immigration, support for marriage and stay at home mums... the list goes on.

But anti-Cameroons just won't even look at it. They prefer to restate, without evidence, what a leftie he is!

I'm quite sick of people like Finklestein who see as their role in life to be a complete toady to however is leading the party and spend their time rubbishing their colleagues. It would not surprise me if he went to some posh school like Eton and is another ladder puller from the way he behaves.

"Please, please give me another seat, the disaster in Harrow was just bad luck, not because I'm a useless candidate and objectionable individual" were to only words missing from his poisonous little article.

I'm also sick of Cornerstone because too often they see their sole role in life to assail the leadership.

Why can't Finklestein, Cornerstone and all the rest of that ilk just concentrate on taking the Labour record to task and being more positive about the party, its prospects and what it has to offer??

I refuse to flog this dead horse any further.

Poor horse you cannot stop yourself.....

Danny Finkelstein

Finkelstein on Tories

Chris, CTCs (of which they were only 15)were able to select their students through interview. What we are proposing can't do that. That is the essential (but huge) difference between CTCs and CAs.
Too much poison, I think the Editor wants us to refrain from baseless personal attacks.


I don't spend long thinking about it, to be honest. I come from an immigrant background, which perhaps makes me less class-obsessed than the average Brit. Ironically, I think that the so-called toff leadership will put the Tory party back in touch with the middle class - its core vote.

Fink 2

Daniel Finkelstein was a leading light in David Owen's SDP before joining the Conservative Party. He quickly moved to senior positions in the party. He became an adviser to John Major in Downing Street and was head of policy for William Hague. While working for William Hague he became a close friend of George Osborne. George was adopted as Tory candidate for Tatton and we all know what has happened since. Daniel was Conservative candidate for the Labour seat of Harrow West at the same 2001 election but the seat swung against him.

You have got to be kidding. First of all, he has almost no interpersonal skills. One wonders how many Harrow West residents and party activists got the infamous silently staring into the distance treatment while trying to conduct a conversation with him for which he was famous at Central Office and elsewhere. The A-list is supposed to be about A-list candidates, of which he is definitely not one. Not only did the voters of Harrow West not want him, increasing Labour's majority against the national trend in a general election, there is the matter of poor judgement.
A dedicated follower of every political fashion, from the SDP, through John Major's "classless conservatism", William Hague's initial modernising, Hague's later emphasis on family values, Portillo's incredibly badly run leadership campaign, followed now by suck-up pieces in 'The Times' which would be better entitled "Please, please, please 'Dave' give me a place on the A-list." He had a good laugh at David Davis's tax pledges in the leadership campaign-an easy target because it was a strategic error from a disastrous campaign-but did he ever listen to those who criticised the many disasters with which he was so heavily involved? "Yes It Hurt. Yes It Worked," "New Labour, New Danger," "The Common Sense Revolution," and now as a columnist the most ridiculous, tortured, defeatist nonsense defending Edward Heath and the National Health Service. No thanks!!!

Posted by: Matt Taylor | March 01, 2006 at 17:01

David Finklestein is a part of the Notting Hill toff elite who along with his fellow toff, David Cameron are trying to destroy the Conservatove Party by making it left wing. The A-List is full of rich toffs, who are all politically correct . The so-called "A-list" should have Norman Tebbitt type candidates who believe in traditional Conservative values and come from working and middle class background, not from privieged elite backgrounds who have been given everything handed to them in a silver plate, and have never had to struggle for anything. David toff Cameron doesn't come into mind!!!

Posted by: Ismail | March 04, 2006 at 19:30

Dear Tory T, it's rather difficult to answer your question as I have to keep scrolling up and down, but I shall try. You ask, in essence, are not all these policies conservative enough for you?

Let's take the EPP point first. Mr Cameron pledged Tory withdrawal from this organisation before his election as leader and it hasn't happened yet. This puts the rest of his promises in considerable doubt. You yourself express this doubt when you refer to a "probable" abolition of IHT. Are you really sure that this will happen? I seem to recall George Osborne singing the praises of a flat tax, but he now seems keener on sustaining Brown's neo-Healian levels of public expenditure. As to the immigration issue, it has been smothered, like so much else, in the interests of political appeasement. What is the use of a policy so little aired? You offer a number of points on Education. Perhaps we should tiptoe round that issue. It's been done to death. I will say, however, that if Mr C thinks he can get the current teaching establishment to implement setting and streaming across the board then he is sadly mistaken. As for your "no new comps" point, well really. Until recently it was "no new grammars" either, so what are we going to have? If you suggest City Academies, I might scream. They are a typical Blairite fudge and the evidence of this is filtering through.

Now marriage. Yes, I grant you there is mileage in this particular claim. Mr Cameron has nailed his colours to a truly Tory mast on this one and I applaud him for it. Credit where credit is due and we might as well agree whilst we can. We are, after all, fellow conservatives.

To conclude, however, I observe that all the policies you put forward as conservative are either too little or too muted or too doubtful. Moreover, the language and assumptions of the current leadership cede far too much philosophically to the left. Take the A-list. It follows the guilty-of-racism-until-proven-otherwise attitude. It denies the role of local circumstance in producing an outcome. It follows the left in at once complaining that certain ethnic minorities are under-achieving and then complaining that from this under-achieving pool not enough candidates are drawn. You can't have it both ways, surely?

There. I hope this satisfies you. And contrary to my own preference for a touch of knockabout I have tried to answer with unity-inducing temperance.

The EPP withdrawal was delayed till after the next set of EU elections, as we are unable to form a new group before that time and still receive funding and seats on comittees. It would have been irresponsible for our MEPs to withdraw as they would have lost what little influence they have, and consequently would not be representing their constituents to the best of their ability.

I would have preffered the withdrawal to be immediate, but I don't think the price it would have come at would have been worth it. DC will definitely come up with the goods, else the grassroots will actually murder him on this one.

I'm grateful to you indeed for addressing the actual policies!

As to what is aired, that is a matter for the BBC. Time and again in speeches, DC has gone on record saying he will scrap the costly and anti-British ID cards scheme in favour of 10,000 armed border police (not uniformed immigration men but actual police) and a lower level of overall immigration. You may remember that our excellent Shadow HS David Davis picked a fight with the IT contractors when he warned them that an incoming Cons govt would instantly scrap ID cards.

The policy is Thatcherite and solidly Conservative. It is overlooked on the blogs, but that is not the leadership's fault.

You do not address DC's commitment to building new prisons, ending early release schemes, and putting the police under local control. I think this is also a key Thatcherite policy and desperately needed.

EPP. I concede I would have been happier to leave earlier, but I understand the need for pragmatism. Any Heathites hoping for a return to the EPP had the rug pulled from under them not too long ago, when Francis Maude announced that anybody who did not agree with leaving the EPP would actually have the whip withdrawn. Now that is powerful stuff.

On tax and spend in general, CCHQ has been scrupluous in pointing out Brown's tax rises. Again and again Osborne has said we will have a smaller state and tax cuts will share in the proceeds of growth. This is identical to Thatcher's actual policies in office. On IHT in particular, see the frontpage of a couple of days ago for Osborne's statement to property professionals. Abolishing the Death Tax will be a truly core Conservative move and help millions of young people find the first rung of the property ladder.

Education. You are right it is best bypassed. But Willets did actually talk about vouchers in his speech. However perhaps that debate is best left to another day as we can't have it without rehashing grammars again, and I am worn out on that topic :)

There was a fair deal of good in "da Fink's" article yesterday, but as I argued in my own blog, it's no good just sticking new green leaves to the tree, if Dave wants to attract new voters we need radical and different policies to those offered by the present government, and we need to develop policies in such a way that we carry the cultural heart and traditions of the party with us. Alienating our traditional voters will be every bit as bad as ignoring the new opportunities!

Tim “(6) we should not be friends of the long hours working culture...” What do you mean by this? That we should give up on the opt-out of the working time directive for those employees that choose this option. That only the self-employed should enjoy the option to engage their time however they wish or need?

There is a view presently that the UK can work less for more money and enjoy cheap imports from other Countries which is necessary due to the increasing inflation if we didn’t. Just think about the pensioner poverty nightmare if the NMW rose to £10 per hour but state pensions didn’t go up by the same % increase. Do you believe that the Chinese when their own people are in the position to earn more and buy more themselves will keep providing the fat, rich West with cheap goods produced on the sweat off their own backs?

How many people would be in financial dire straights with a 35 hours maximum working week in this Country?

Management Today magazine June 2007…

“Q. Which of these countries has the lowest average weekly working hours – France, Italy, Spain, Sweden or the UK?
A. The UK – surprising isn’t it?

The average working hours stack up as follows: Italy 39.7 hours, Spain 39.5 hours, France 37.4, Sweden 37.1 and the UK 36.8.

These figures are of course for all employees, including part-timers/job sharers/annualized hours workers and on. Full time workers do put in longer hours when compared and almost all studies of work/life balance focus on full-timers.”

1 in 5 full time workers put in more than 45 hours per week but do we check why?
Does this include travelling time?
Are they self-employed?
Are they the primary earner with their partner working fewer than 15 hours per week or none?
Can they choose to do less? If not why?

Tory T 10.00 - well said. Ideally, your message should be posted every day to remind ConHome posters of the truth.

Re: "The 1997 General Election result was a catastrophe and I agree that the Conservative Party has to change."

The need for change is an obvious point and regularly made.....but is it actually correct?

The electorate fell in love with Tony Blair in 1997. When you're in love, you don't care if any competitors to the target of your affections are wearing black shoes or orange sandals.

[I acknowledge that this point is made with the benefit of ten years of hindsight (and opposition benches)].

Tory T, you have almost convinced me. Let us hope that matters pan out along the lines you sketch out.

:) A morning's procrastination not wasted!

It really was a pleasure debating with you Simon, the threads would be so much improved if we could argue on points of policy.

I thought Danny Finkelstein's article was spot on actually. Higher up one commenter said that we shouldn't assume our policies are unpopular; he's right. The problem is though that although the policies are not unpopular people, by and large, aren't voting on whether they like the majority of a party's policies. They are voting by what they feel a party will do and continuing to advocate some of our policies in the way we have done, even though they may not be unpopular per se, means many of the voters don't like the Conservatives' feel. Removing them, while keeping the same longer term goals, can help improve that feel and get us power to achieve the goals we all want; as Tory T outlines above.

Tory T, Mr Cameron has said many things. I am sure that he believes all of them when he says them.....just like Don Giovanni.

Edward, as I said earlier, the broad thrust of Tory policy since 1945 has been to help bed down the failures of the left. Education is a classic example. Need we look further for evidence of these "longer term goals"? 62 years is quite long enough for me.

The Conservative Party as Michael McGowan has said is more interested in gaining office than what it can actually do once there. The insistence of Churchill in forming a peacetime government led to his rather somolent administration between his 77th and 81st birthday......which laid the groundwork for Britain's lousy industrial relations record.

After the USA Britain was the world's second largest consumer society at that time and simply lost its grip on production.

While Germany and Japan were rebuilding export capability Britain was essentially living high on the hog until the Sterling crises ignored by Macmillan led to Wilson having to devalue just as Germany overtook Britain as an economic power predicated on its artificially low D-Mark.

The desire of Churchill to be PM and of his juniors to move him aside froze the political development and induced national complacency.

I am always interested when people talk about core principles of Conservative thought and then counter pose this with the need to change and adapt.I don't believe you can adapt and change a core belief.You may be able to present your beliefs in a more accesible and engaging manner but core beliefs do not change.

The problem with our politics today is that we are now been sold the lie that we must accept the centre ground before electoral success can be won.This closes down large areas of debate and makes theconservative party tend towards a "new Labour" lite approach.Electors who have no strong committment either way many of whom do not vote,then draw the inference that there is no real choice between the parties.In such circumstances we will get social democratic governemnet whether Cameron or Brown wins.

Ok, I'm an out of date, ignorant old bat, but what the hell does "FISK" mean??? And I do hope the answer is not rude.

I did not know Finkelstein was once involved with the SDP. But i did know his views did not impress me.

To pull an article apart bit by bit.

"There are aspects of the 1997 Settlement ... that we have to accept as a party. I think of, for example, the minimum wage, devolution to Scotland and Wales, an independent Bank of England, civil partnerships and much greater international development spending."

Interesting stuff, but I think it has to go further than merely 'accepting'. We need to know why, given 18 years of power, you never did these things and why the party now thinks these things are good.

In the case of the minimum wage, the Conservatives actually abolished the wages councils. Why did they do this and do they now accept it was wrong? (a question I'd dearly love to put an older MP from Thatcher's government)

Maybe a commitment to enforce the Minimum Wage would be nice instead of allowing foreign labour to be imported specifically to undercut it through subcontracting

Maybe something to do with having to subdue hardline trade unions, and picking up the economy from the sick man of Europe to the 4th biggest in the world Comstock.

Let's be honest, an agenda that fuses modern thinking with traditional values would appeal to both genuine modernisers and traditional members. For example, Cameron seeks to 'extend' academies freedoms over Labour's policies, so a logical conclusion to that extension is to free them *completely* from government meddling on selection, teaching methods, racial mix etc etc.

If 'extending freedom' is the modern way, then clearly the above is ultra modernising whilst also keeping the traditionalists very happy.

That is both modern and leaves the door open to grammars etc. It just avoids this statist micromanagement that both Brown and Cameron insist on imposing on us.

And may I add my support to the 'Reinstate Henry' campaign since I heard the news that he has been banned.

What everybody seems to have forgotten is that Blair's 'Clause 4 Moment' was all important because Blair persuaded his party to drop Clause 4.

On Grammargate Cameron hasn't even attempted to persuade anybody. All he's done is have a fit of the sulks when the party disagree with him, and of course the vast majority of Tories have no intention whatsoever of changing their mind on Grammar Schools.

Can I suggest we hit the headlined by recruiting Labour voter Sir Alan Sugar. He only need say four magic words and then he can return to Brown.

'David Cameron - you're fired!'

Mr Cameron has said many things. I am sure that he believes all of them when he says them.....just like Don Giovanni.

But clever dissimulation enabled Don Giovanni to achieve a score of ‘Mille e Tre’ in Spain alone!

Cameron is still struggling to get as far as 'Clause 4'

Some interesting arguments on the 'fisking' on the Finkelstein article (although why aren't we fisking the opportunist deputy PM candidates?)

Some cold hard facts:

1) In 2005, we were 3rd place in the 18-24 year old bracket (with our % vote actually descreasing from 1997!)

2) In 2005, we were in 3rd place in the 25-34 year old bracket (with our % vote again descreasing from 1997 by 3%!)

Bearing in mind the new electorate coming through, we potentially could be in 3rd place with roughly 33% of the electorate.

So how will we attract the newly enfranchised and young voters to vote Conservative?

Certainly not by attacking Finkelstein and his previous dalliance with the SDP party.

When are we going to accept that after 3 election losses where our vote (from 2001-2005) only increased by less than 1%, we are not going to attract voters with harking back to old policies that have been rejected time and time again.

As Hugo Rifkind stated today, CONHOME readers in the main still act as if it's 1982.

Finkelstein and others are telling us uncomfortable truths that we don't want to hear, although it is a lot less uncomfortable than a 4th election defeat.

"Maybe something to do with having to subdue hardline trade unions"

Sorry, Andrew, you don't get out of it that easily. The wages councils covered things like catering- industries with few unions.

"and picking up the economy from the sick man of Europe to the 4th biggest in the world "

What by using slave labour at £2.50 an hour? The service sector of the economy has actually grown thanks to the minimum wage because even the lowliest worker has enough money to enjoy the occasional treat.

Abolishing the wages councils is something we don't hear much about, but to me it is the one thing you should be most ashamed of as a party.

"..even the lowliest worker has enough money to enjoy the occasional treat.

Like cockles?

Put your hand on your leftie heart and tell me that you genuinely believe what you just wrote, that even the lowliest worker earns the minimum wage.

"It has to compromise many of its long-held opinions in order to get some new people, people who are uncomfortable with existing Tory policy, to join in and give it support."
Whilst I accept that a party has to evolve I don't agree with this as it sounds like revolution. Those who are uncomfortable with supporting the Conservatives are usually uncomfortable because of ideologic reasons, and completely dumping your own ideology for a new one gets rid of as many people, if not more, than it brings in. Those whom we want to attract are those who are supportive of our basic ideals, just not our image.

Martin, I think it depends on what we mean by "centre" ground and that has been the subject of various posts I have made on this site at different times. Centre doesn't have to mean simply half way between left and right (whatever "left" and "right" mean) nor does it have to mean a wishy washy compromise. For me compromise usually implies no-one was really happy and they had to make do with the lowest common denominator. The real trick is to orchestrate new solutions that combine the best of different ideas and take more people with you. That requires innovation and open mindedness so that new ideas can be explored. For me that is why change is so important for the Conservative party. I agree with you Martin, that you can't really change the core beliefs but you most certainly can adapt them and re-interpret them to suit a different age. The great beauty of Conservatism is that our most basic core beliefs are timeless realisms so we have a great opportunity to build and move forward if we get it right.


The real trick is to orchestrate new solutions that combine the best of different ideas and take more people with you.

What, you mean like what happened in Grammargate?

I've seen Tommy Cooper perform better tricks than that.

"No it isn't."

That's odd Tory T because I went to a comp where they streamed subjects and everyone referred to it as a, er, comprehensive school.

Actually my comp streamed but it was an ex-grammar and picked up on some of the exisiting culture. That said many comps don't stream so there's still a relevant point about improving them,


Chelloveck is right "Put your hand on your leftie heart and tell me that you genuinely believe what you just wrote, that even the lowliest worker earns the minimum wage."

Of course some employers sneakly pay less. But it is equally true the vast majority do not. Real people's lives have been improved with no damage (maybe even slight benefit) to the economy. This is proberbly Labour's greatest achievement, and I don't think the Tories would ever have done it.

It isn't good enough to say "well now it is here we will put up with it" The media needs to be asking " Why did you not do it, and why did you scrap the old wages councils?"

"To pull an article apart bit by bit" OK, but FISK? Is it an acronym? You cant just invent neologisms without any basis, even in the overheated world of the blogger -- can one??

As Hugo Rifkind stated today, CONHOME readers in the main still act as if it's 1982.

a) Who is Hugo Rifkind ?

b) What happened in 1982 ?

Comstock, how does the minimum wage help those employees of companies than decide the cost is too high, so relocate to a cheaper country abroad?

>>Who is Hugo Rifkind ?<<

Some lefty creep.

Who cares what happened in 1982. We Tories need to stand up for freedom NOW!

Labour lookalikes can take a running jump

>>Who is Hugo Rifkind ?<<

Some lefty creep.

Who cares what happened in 1982. We Tories need to stand up for freedom NOW!

Labour lookalikes can take a running jump

Comstock, how does the minimum wage help those employees of companies than decide the cost is too high, so relocate to a cheaper country abroad?

Posted by: Chelloveck | June 08, 2007 at 06:41

I doubt there is any company paying Minimum Wage that could possibly move operations abroad - the people paying Minimum Wage are supermarkets, cleaning firms, retailers, hospitality and we taxpayers subsidise them through Working Family Tax Credits......if they wish to move abroad I think we can all wave them goodbye

Comstock - How do you explain articles like this " Firm needs flexibility of self-employed to satisfy. 3,000 self-employed workers were hired in one company last month to provide a flexible service using self-employed workers rather than full time staff."

No employers NI to pay, no sick pay, no paternity leave, no NMW to administer as well as PAYE, Working time directive etc.

If someone working full-time nevertheless qualifies for income support, etc, then either the welfare assessment level is too generous or the wage is too low.

If the latter, then the welfare top-up payments to the employee constitute a State subsidy to the employer. Is that an appropriate reason for subsidy by taxpayers? A minimum full-time wage, set at a level that does not trigger welfare support entitlement is the better option of the two.

Do you have a link to that article, A-tracy?

Employers use all sorts of slimy means to avoid paying the NMW, although not everyone working this way will be being exploited, some contractors are classed as self employed but are well paid.

It was in Motor Transport Magazine

I must admit Motor Transport Magazine has yet to replace the Daily Mirror as my regular read. :D

We certainly need to close NMW loopholes, because they enable bad employers to undercut good ones. That certainly isn't an argument against the NMW in itself, though...........

Maybe not, all I'm saying is that while the government actively encourages the use of organisations to fulfil service contracts that predominently used contracted labour then how are organisations that want better conditions for their employees going to survive? It seems every time a company embraces an improvement to the conditions to our workforce someone finds away around it which cuts the prices and puts pressure on jobs.

Matt,I read your posts with interest.You do however need to be absolutely clear about what you mean.What are the timeless truths to which you refer and if they are timeless how do we reinterpret and adapt them for a modern age.

What are the "new ideas" that Conservatives should explore.For me this implies ideas which have a questionable ideological linkage.I see in DC and I hope I am wrong a politician who has no clear ideological roots.His allegiance to the conservative party is probably an accident of birth and priviliged education.I have the feeling that the tory party is a career for him and the cabal running the show.Therefore we are getting all this muddled thinking which amounts tonothing more than buying into the Blairite consensus. As I say Ihope to be proved wrong!!

Martin, well without writing an essay, I think Conservatism is based on realism and an understanding of human nature from which we can build practical solutions. Often those that talk about what Conservatism is do so in terms of a shopping list - choice, freedom, rule of law, nation, family, business etc (its perhaps not suprising the public don't quite understand it when its just a list). What's in those lists are all true of course but I think we can strip it down to much more basic core beliefs. I think it revolves around the relationship between freedom and responsibility. Each depends on the other and Conservatism is the working reality of how you make those two, sometimes opposing forces, work for society. It differs fundamentally from socialism which is about a utopia, which when the public can't relate to it, leads to varying degrees of authoritarianism. Labour and New Labour have both ended up on that road and Gordon Brown will default even more to that mode given his current track record. I have been interested in what Cameron has said about social responsibility and would like more of that, it strikes me as good Conservatism and needs developing and illustrating so the public can get enthused,


I think on issues like the minimum wage it isn't really enough to hold our hands up and say we now accept it hasn't been the disaster we predicted, we do have to be prepared to make the moral case for it and make clear the modern conservative party believes everyone in work is entitled to a living wage.

Modernisation is important, those who think the answer somehow lies in turning back the clock to 1987 or any other point of past success for that matter are plotting a course to political irrelevance. Applying the solutions of yesterday to the problems of today would simply show an ignorance of the extent our country has changed.

However the cautionary note I'd add to my fellow modernisers is that modernisation is not alien to conservativism indeed it is an essential part of its heritage. The conservative party didn't become the most successful party in Western Europe nor endure for 300 years without showing the ability to adapt itself to the needs of a changing society.

To conclude then our task is not to seek a clause 4 moment or turn ourselves in to new conservatives but to renew those traditional conservative values and make them relevant to the challenges our country faces today.

Matt you are quite right in the thrust of your arguement.I do however have one key addition to your list.Conservatism is at it's best when it aligns itself with aspiration.The ability of individuals to raise themselves up through endeavour and ability is key to the health of society.The last ten years has seen a rapid deterioration in social mobility.People who are born poor tend to die poor.These people need a tangible helping hand.You cannot talk only of social responsibilty whilst locking so many out of advance.

David Cameron has not convinced me that he will address this key issue.Modernisation appears to be a codename for accepting new labour policy (in education for example) and promising to be the heir to Blair.What we need however is a totally different approach based upon a social conservatism.This should be designed to drive aspiration forward.

By its very nature such a programme recures a lower tax economy removing the low income groups from any tax liability.The expansion of selective education to provide the more able from all backgrounds to an excellent education-why not expand the grammar school principle if the local comminities want it? It is these practical policy options that are crucial for me.I see none of this from DC.

Martin, I agree with most of what you say and aspiration is key but feel that DC has been hsaping up okay. My only bug bear with the current programme of change has been the slight over emphasis on the environment. Also I think we need to be more practical about what we stand for and why. I would focus on just 2 or 3 key issues in order to ensure the public got to understand where we are coming from clearly,


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