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I'm a supporter of Cameron and continue to think he offers the only real prospect of winning again but there is a real and growing feeling that he lacks substance. This has been creeping up on us for well over a year and it's got to be dealt with.

By any stretch of the imagination both by-elections were a disaster for the Party, but particularly Ealing Southall. We had all the talk, but no delivery. A candidate selected and imposed by CCO on the constituency association. Yesterday’s events lie directly at the door of Cameron and Maude.

Today’s coverage in the media will be nothing compared to the weekend papers.

Perhaps now they will take seriously the concerns of the grass roots, the people who deliver the leaflets, the candidates that stand in elections and the people who raise the money for the Tory Party to exist.

In terms of moving forward I’d three points suggest.

1. Party Chair gets out there and starts listening, giving the local Party more say in policy
2. Scrape the A list and (we know it still exists) and introduce an election for the Chair of the Candidates committee. On the 19th June I wrote to both John Maples Mary Macleod (Chair of the Candidates Association) asking whether, particularly in light of David Cameron’s support of Ken Clarks Democracy Task Force, whether they felt it justified in a modern political Party that the Chair of Candidates was still appointed. I CC’d Gareth Fox. You won’t be surprised to know that I have not had the courtesy of a reply. I then contact Caroline Spellman, and still awaiting a reply.
3. Remove George Osbourne as Shadow Chancellor, we need someone with more experience…William Hague perhaps?

winning matters

"Why did the campaign team talk up our chances in an election that nobody expected to win? This is bad news for grassroots tories because it illustrates that Shapps and Co got excited and talked themselves into thinking we could win this by-election and CCHQ belived them!!"

Sorry, do you understand anything about elections? People won't vote for you in enough numbers if you play down your chances and imply you're going to come second at best.

The management had to build up their chances if they had a hope in winning.

jybyrne

"However they might welcome some commitment to national independence, strong defence, rational foreign policy and less law and more order"

Wasn't that the policy tried in 1997, 2001 and 2005?

---

Are there any actual Conservative supporters on this blog, or is it just a Labour-front with people pretending to be mentally-handicapped?

Didn't the labour party get less than 3% more of the votes than the tories in the last general election? I don't think that getting 3% less than the governing party puts a political party in such dire straits as some would have us beleive. If its a choice between modernising into a party that I don't agree with and hate or die, then i choose die.

Whose ludicrous idea was it to put 'David Cameron's Conservative Party' on the ballot paper ? I should imagine many voters assumed that this was some bizarre fringe party to be dismissed along with the monster raving loonies. The party's proud name has been 'Conservative' for generations, and to change it (even by adding the totally unnecessary and ungrammatical final 's') implies that we are ashamed of our past and our history in a very un-Conservative way.

Fact 1: Ealing Southall is as safe Labour a seat as they come so why pretend we had a chance of winning?

Fact 2: No Tory candidate would have won the seat for us, so Cameron was right to try to reach out to non-Tories with a well know local personality.

Let's hope Tony Lit sticks around.

Fact 1: Ealing Southall is as safe Labour a seat as they come so why pretend we had a chance of winning?

Fact 2: No Tory candidate would have won the seat for us, so Cameron was right to try to reach out to non-Tories with a well know local personality.

Let's hope Tony Lit sticks around.

johnC

"Whose ludicrous idea was it to put 'David Cameron's Conservative Party' on the ballot paper ? I should imagine many voters assumed that this was some bizarre fringe party to be dismissed along with the monster raving loonies."

So you didn't hear about how it helped the Scottish Nationalists to have Salmond's name on the ballots? They're the new government, even if the system there means they're in a minority. If it was FPTP they might have had a majority.

Another blogger who has either:

a) been living in a cave this year and thus has no right to comment on the by-election results

OR

b) never voted Conservative in his life because he is a Labour goon.

You decide!

Just what do people mean by Modernise?

A couple of other thoughts if I may.

The party lost in 1997 because the Conservative government lost credibility. Margaret Thatcher lost her way and was replaced by John Major. The electorate gave him the benefit of the doubt because he seemed to offer change (Sounds familiar?) Indeed he did offer change, and change came in the form of weak leadership a capitulation to the EU, loss of financial reputation capped by the antics of a number of MP's who seemed more interested in feathering their nests than acting in the best interests of the country.

The problems were not and never have been the local voluntary party.

When we lost in 1997 and Hague took over, it would not have mattered if Mother Theresa had been leading the party we would still have lost.

Ever since then, there have been a number of initiatives to "modernise" or "change" or whatever. None of these issues have dealt with the real problem, and DC has exacerbated the problem by suggesting that the change is needed on the ground.

The real problem is that we have not got rid of the MP's who think they have a job for life and don't pull their weight, the MP's who were disloyal to IDS and worked like the blazes to undermine him rather than pull together as a party. Then the MP's replaced IDS with Michael Howard who was fatally tainted by his involvement with the previous Major government (not to mention Ann Widdecombe's infamous comment). Then we wonder why the Public didn't like us. It wasn't the party they didn't like it was the leadership they didn't like.

Yes we need to change to win, but the changes are needed at the party leadership level not where the real work is done week in week out.

Raj

"Sorry, do you understand anything about elections? People won't vote for you in enough numbers if you play down your chances and imply you're going to come second at best.

The management had to build up their chances if they had a hope in winning".

Yes I am a seasoned professional campaigner and have a track record of election success. My point is we could not have won and expectations should have been managed, so any improvement in our position could have been hailed as a victory. This is obvious, but what concerns me is the campaign team lost sight of this and managed to persuade CCHQ we were onto a winner.

We do not want excellent theoretical campaigns we want winning campaigns.

Although we were highly unlikely to win here I think there is still a lesson to be drawn from Ealing. We cannot allow the perception that the party under David Cameron's leadership is now frivolous to continue. The choice of Tony Lit somewhat played to the weakness of our current position by enabling our opponents to portay him as the embodiment of this lack of substance.

Clearly this is a disappointing result for the Conservatives, but not necessarily for the most obvious reason - that we came third.

It is disappointing because we have seen that we still have some way to go to be able to effectively fight by-elections. It does not seem as though we managed to effectively manage expectation after the initial defections to the party. In part this was not the fault of the party, the media were involved in wanting/seeking a real showdown election result to judge the state of play between Cameron Vs. Brown and helped fuel this to some extent.

However I think the whole ES by-election provides the party with valuable lessons to be learnt. Let us not forget that without the improve organisation that was put in to the election, we could have risked being squeezed by the Lib Dems as usual - the fact that this did not happen, is I believe, a sign of improvement, even if it is not monumental by any means.

Ealing Southhall has never really been a seat in which we had a very clear chance of victory, over-excitement early on made it look as though this was a marginal seat where we had a strong and sustained history of success - it is not.

I am also not convinced that putting the name "David Cameron's Conservatives" on the ballot paper was worthwhile. As a party we need to be selling ourselves as a collective. Opinion polls suggest that our leader is popular, but the party is less so. By mentioning DC's name on the ballot paper we seem to further emphasise this division. I am not convinced that voters would turn up so undecided, that the existence of Cameron's name on the ballot paper will shift their vote to us. I just think that if you like Cameron, you will be a pretty aware that he leads the Conservative Party and are unlikely to get cold feet because his name is not on the ballot paper.

The key for the party now is to begin to really set out our vision and policy framework for the country in more depth. Phase One - getting people to look at and listen to us again and for the media to consider us a worthy opposition has taken place, but we now need to give the public something worth voting for. The idea we are struggling because we are lacking "right-wing" policies is I think misguided, the problem is a more general lack of a policy framework. Indeed I am quite pleased with the compassionate conservatism // social action ideas that Cameron has lead with - they are popular, but we need to set out what this means for people in greater depth.

Onwards and Upwards.

winning matters

"My point is we could not have won and expectations should have been managed, so any improvement in our position could have been hailed as a victory."

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Even if it was improbable to win, 2nd place was a chance (at least until the Lit photos came out). I don't think your HQ was saying you would win, only that it was possible.

Expectations should be managed better, but that's down to supporters themselves. Leaders are there to raise hopes to make people eager, not keep them down. I have campaigned and each time I told myself to openly pretend every seat was winnable (not that I was in rock-hard Labour seats) - privately I was realistic.

Ealing was a gamble. Even if HQ had played down its chances, the modest vote increase would still have been derided by Labour and the media. I also doubt whether any of the comments here would have been different, because (apart from people like yourself) most people here are out to get Cameron. He could have won Ealing, and I bet people would have said things like "you can't win a general election on by-election results - look at the Lib Dems".

Are Tory members adults or children? Adults don't need to be patronised and shouldn't have to be told to not get excited. If there is a problem I think it's more that supporters need to be "inducted" and told that every seat can be won (i.e. is possible), but they should never expect to win any seat because politics is unpredictable.

'Changetowin' @ 11.23 - hear, hear.

All those rushing to judgement following last night's disappointing results (including, unfortunately, this site's editor) seem to be overlooking the fact that turning the Conservative Party into a modern party, capable of winning elections in contemporary Britain, is going to take time.

David Cameron is in this for the long haul, and making instant judgements about his leadership of the party based on the results of two by-elections in hostile territory is rash, to say the least.

One more thing - attributing the results in the Labour strongholds of Ealing Southall and Sedgefield to the dubious argument that the Conservatives aren't right-wing enough is almost unbelievably absurd.

I think we are in a total mess. Although I was opposed to Cameron (mainly
because his leadership campaign refused doggedly to take any firm policy
positions - unlike Davis who had policies on everything) I have tried to
applaud his energy and visibility. But his 'new customers only' approach of
wooing Lib Dems and to hell with the core vote has badly backfired.

As a result we have allowed the Labour party to carry out a complete make
over, to present itself to the wider electorate (who lets face it are mostly
naive) as having just arrived in town and found all kinds of problems (
immigration - housing - crime levels) that THEY are going to put right !!

You couldn't make it up - we should have held our nerve and stuck to our
traditional guns - what goes around comes around.

Still as someone once said:

" It's easy enough to be pleasant. When life rolls along like a song. But
the man who's worthwhile. Is the man who can smile. When everything goes
f***ing wrong !!

Sorry to personalise things but politics is personal.

Cameron is an Eton/Oxbridge toff who surrounds himself with clones...

Blair hid his priveleged background well and was a fine actor...Cameron doesn't and isn't!

People get drawn into this idea that all that counts in politics is London and prosperous parts of the South West/East..

"Dave" is an electoral disaster in large swathes of urban Britain. Scotland, North West, North East, Wales, Inner city areas of Birmingham, London, Bristol....

A slick posh toff just doesn't cut the mustard any more - maybe in the 1930's or the 1980's but not the 21st Century.

We need a substantial Tory politician - steeped in Conservative tradition - not a glorified car salesman, who gives the electorate the impression he would say absolutely anything to get into power!

Daniel VA @ 12.13

Its not turning the conservatives into a modern party that is the issue but the way the candidate was selected and the assumptions made that if we get high profile asian we'll win and the complete lack of understanding of what was required. CCHQ and Cameron waded in feet first when a little care and thought would have ensured that expectations wouldn't have been raised and we didn't get a candidate who had been donating money to Labour and smiling next to Blair.

What was shown here is that David stands for nothing differential. The Lib Dems have become the alternative choice for goodness sake. Dave needs to draw lines in the sand, start offending people not sucking up to everyone. Start creating debate not paying lip service to 'fluffy' ideas. Policies??? What policies? They opposed the Tram, they all opposed the Tram. Stop the hospital closures, they all opposed it. Cameron, shape up or ship out!

"Ever since then, there have been a number of initiatives to "modernise" or "change" or whatever"

Not strictly true-we've had talk of it, which is then abandoned when the right of the party throws a strop. Hopefully that won't occur now, although if this blog is anything to go by, I won't bet my house on it.

As a non-Tory, may I make the following points?

i. Both seats were Labour strongholds. The chances of a Tory win were minimal anyway.

ii. As such, too much blood and treasure was spent on no-win situations.

iii. Cameron needed to make a stand, but this was not it.

iv. Tony Lit was another miscalculation. Do I need to say why?

v. A smarter move may have been to fade into the woodwork and give the Lib Dems a good chance of taking Southall...

vi. ...But on the other hand, as Machiavelli might point out, it's no good strengthening one foe in order to do another foe in, so I partly understand some of the effort put in.

vii. Team Cameron is still learning the ropes, but really needs to focus sooner and better.

viii. Cameron literally over-invested himself, and the promotion (and indeed hype) during the Southall election was too heavy handed overall.

ix. The real gains will be made when the economy goes tits up in... Ooh, any time now.

x. I'm no fan of the Tories, but you're the only chance we have of getting rid of these corrupt, incompetent, statist thugs, SO DON'T MESS IT UP!

Flame away...

"All those rushing to judgement following last night's disappointing results (including, unfortunately, this site's editor) seem to be overlooking the fact that turning the Conservative Party into a modern party, capable of winning elections in contemporary Britain, is going to take time".

TIME,...time? Get a grip - we have had 10 years of opposition. At this rate I will be dead before the country sees another Conservative government and I am 54!

'So you didn't hear about how it helped the Scottish Nationalists to have Salmond's name on the ballots?'

Astonishing that anyone would consider the farce and chaos of the Scottish Parliament elections, with its record number of spoilt ballot papers due to voter confusion, as an example to be followed.

3 by elections, 3 thrashings.

The people have delivered their verdict on "David Cameron's Conservatives".

The moderniser experiment has failed abysmally, which looking at it's main proponents should shock no-one.

Get real and give David Davis the job.

So David, what were these wonderful ideas that were going to transform the Tory Party's fortunes but were strangled at birth by the pantomime villain of the Right? I seem to have missed them.

GroundhogDay

"TIME,...time? Get a grip - we have had 10 years of opposition."

Well, Groundhog, you or at least your fellow members would insist on picking completely the wrong sort of leaders, who brought up the same sort of washed-out policies that didn't interest the public enough.

How long has Cameron been leader for? About a year and a half. If he had come in earlier, things would probably be better. But after John Major and 8 years of Hague, Duncan-Smith and Howard, Cameron has a difficult job to shape the party up. It doesn't help that traditionalists are acting like wailing children at the supermarket, pushing over product stands and throwing temper-tantrums because they aren't getting their sweeties (i.e. right-wing policies).

It will take Cameron many, many more years to make the Conservatives winnable, because he has so much work to do and the public has such a set-mentality on you guys. The more wailing and fighting that goes on, the slower progress will be - at this rate the next election will not be winnable, and it will take until the one after that. Act like grown-ups, not spoilt kids.

Kick him out and you'll be back to where you were in 1997. You'd then be on your 5th Opposition Tory leader - that would make the public think you were a serious party, wouldn't it? Jesus, why would anyone want to vote for such a party of backstabbers like that?

"At this rate I will be dead before the country sees another Conservative government and I am 54!"

Then get behind your leader and take the knives out. Support him in public and raise concerns out of the media lime-light in a pleasant manner. Making him look weak and the party divided won't win an election!

Increasingly it looks like grammar schools will be Cameron's "Jeremy Hanley" moment.

As has been much repeated on this site this morning, you can be a loyal Conservative at the same time s having profound reservations about the direction the Party is now heading.

Cameron's performance in Blair's last PMQs was a disgrace.

To adapt Ben Franklin, he who sacrifices principle for power deserves neither.

To Ben Redsell, the pursuit of power for power's sake and "to benefit OUR voters" is an ugly philosophy. Politics shouldn't be about trying to slice up the cake in your favour. It should be about how to make the cake as big as possible, how to protect it and waste as little of it as possible, and how to share it out most appropriately.

The problem in the recent past has been not too much ideology, but either appearing to stand for nothing but reactionary values and snouts in the trough (the Major years), or an image (sometimes unfair) of unsympathetic obsession with one or two issues rather than presenting a cohesive philosophy that addressed all the issues that concerned the electorate (Hague, IDS, and Howard).

You may remember that the last time the Conservative Party did well, it had a strong ideology. The challenge now is not to shed the last remnants of ideology, but to find an ideology that rings true to the majority of Brits, as Thatcher's did in 1979. Sadly, Tim's list of "values" is a long way from such a philosophy. Support for nuclear power as a Tory value? Give me a break. This isn't a list of values, it is a shopping list of personal preferences.

When will the Tories realise that the present electoral system/boundaries are so squewd against them all this agonising about by election results is a total waste of time.At the next election there will be huge Tory votes in rural areas and the South maybe even a majority but Labour will still win under this corrupt system

Also while more and more Labour/non Tory voters move into cities and suburbs and Tories move to the country or Spain and France long term the Tories are stuffed unless they back a new electoral system

A final point :Labour have spent years encouraging corrupt Asian political politics in seats like Southall.Tony Lit was just fluff against a machine which understands how to manipulate votes

Well last night was certainly bitterly disappointing. The question is, where do we go from here?

The Ealing gamble was certainly lost. Tony Lit was certainly not the right man for the job in my view and I hope he doesn't get selected again.

As for 'Project Cameron', I don't think the past couple of months have done it any favours. Things are starting to go wrong and with a potential general election just around the corner, I really can't see our situation improving. I just hope Cameron is learning from these mistakes and makes some immediate changes.

Michael

What are the Tory members going to do to help Cameron - drive the knives in even deeper?

I spent most of yesterday on the doorsteps of Ealing and Southall and I'm disappointed that the editor of this site chose to make this into a huge issue.

I can assure anyone who has never been to this area that it is NOT by any means a good Tory prospect. Yes Tony Lit was a gamble but in the circumstances a gamble was needed as fighting this election with a 'normal' candidate would have been disastrous.

Yes mistakes were made, such as not concentrating enough on local issues like Livingstone's Tram but we were never going to win this one. To have held our vote (actually up 1%) in this kind of by-election was an achievement.

Are most of the commenters above forgetting the local election results just over 2 months ago? These were a far more representative indication of our countrywide position than a couple of extraordinary by-elections in Labour strongholds.

I think the biggest bone of contention is why ballot papers said "David Cameron's Conservatives" which obviously now reflects terribly on DC and was a huge gamble.

Maude and George Bridges seem to be getting all the blame and Bridges now appears to be under siege with the return of Ashcroft and his staff. Ashcroft's book reveals a longstanding tension.

"I spent most of yesterday on the doorsteps of Ealing and Southall and I'm disappointed that the editor of this site chose to make this into a huge issue."

Well done RobD !

However sadly for you, me and others in the "poor bloody infantry" our efforts will not come to much unless we have a General who will inspire. Smooth Dave and Bryll Cream Tony Lit may make a good pair of estate agents but I think it's about time we had some Conservative Policies that could inspire our membership and offer a real alternative to voters.

The sooner Dave goes back to PR full time the better for the Party and the Country.....

Michael Winner

So you want to be on your 5th Opposition leader? Do you think the public will take you seriously if you kick Cameron out?

The only reassurance I, personally, see in this exchange is that there are a few out there who agree that enough's enough. The rest seems to be demanding the recipe as before. And if anybody else uses the word "gamble" in connection with the serious and (once upon a time) principled matter of the body politic, it is to be hoped the utterance chokes them.

Too much of what has been appearing here is hopeful helpless headless chicken time.

No need to be so gormless: men in grey suits, glass of brandy, pearl-handled revolver, Davis as leader, Telegraph on side. Only the odd public-school reputation hurt. Easy.

And for heaven's sake, let's not repeat the mistake with another clone, however blond and photogenic, for London Mayor.

Yes Raj I do !

But for the record I think there are too many people afraid to act so Dave will probably go into the next election, loose the election and get replaced after that.

The result will be the same but by keeping Dave we are just postponing the inevitable and keeping Gordon Brown in power a bit longer.

Personally I don't think the average voter will give two hoots if we are on our fourth or fifth leader. They are more concerned if the current leader is worth voting for ! The voters of Ealing suggest our present leader is not worth voting for....

"TIME,...time? Get a grip - we have had 10 years of opposition. At this rate I will be dead before the country sees another Conservative government and I am 54!"

Like a blunt pencil, you seem to be missing the point.

For most of those ten years of opposition, the Conservatives failed to demonstrate sufficient commitment to being a party that understood modern Britain and was therefore incapable of governing it.

In David Cameron, the Conservatives finally have a dynamic leadership capable of carrying through the change that the party needs, without falling into the trap of lurching to the Jurassic right at the first sign of trouble that his predecessors fell into.

Changing the party and convincing the country that the party has changed will take time, and dismissing the process based upon preconceived prejudices and the result of two by-elections in hostile territory (in the midst of a honeymoon period for a new Prime Minister) barely 18 months into David Cameron's leadership just won't wash I'm afraid.

There are some common lessons with Bromley's by election. one of these is....

1. Pick a strong candidate, find out about any baggage and deal with it.

In the case of Bromley, the candidate (Bob) failed to lose a couple of jobs and got the "3 jobs Bob" name. In the case of Ealing Southall the candidate failed to forsee the "attended a Labour event" problem.

Who on earth checked out these candidates? Who gave them advice on tackling these matters.

HINT TO CCHQ. OUR OPPONENTS FIND OUT ABOUT OUR CANDIDATES WEAKNESSES SO HOW ABOUT DOING THE SAME?

There are some common lessons with Bromley's by election. one of these is....

1. Pick a strong candidate, find out about any baggage and deal with it.

In the case of Bromley, the candidate (Bob) failed to lose a couple of jobs and got the "3 jobs Bob" name. In the case of Ealing Southall the candidate failed to forsee the "attended a Labour event" problem.

Who on earth checked out these candidates? Who gave them advice on tackling these matters.

HINT TO CCHQ. OUR OPPONENTS FIND OUT ABOUT OUR CANDIDATES WEAKNESSES SO HOW ABOUT DOING THE SAME?

"Personally I don't think the average voter will give two hoots if we are on our fourth or fifth leader"

Oh, they will. You're turning into a sick parody of a political party. Got a problem? Easy - kick the leader out!

You do realise that the public, in all polling that has asked these questions, PREFERS Cameron to you guys? He's the one popular thing about the Tories, even if his popularity has dipped.

The problem is that the Tories are seen as divided, mean and nasty - people who hate even their own leader. Until Conservatives learn to live and work with what they have, rather than try to undermine what they don't regard as perfect, they will get nowhere.

Note that the poll troubles started not long after the Grammar schools issue. Things were fine whilst the party seemed united - as soon as the cracks appeared again, it went downhill.

"They are more concerned if the current leader is worth voting for"

So who do you have left? Davis? Oh, yeah - there's someone with a good public profile. I would say he's slightly more interesting and inspiring than Ian Duncan Smith. He's a safe pair of hands, but then again you've had three safe pairs of hands since John Major. Why will another win an election? It won't - stop being in denial.

"The voters of Ealing suggest our present leader is not worth voting for"

They would not have voted for ANY Conservative leader you could realistically have right now. Why can't you see this? It isn't a seat you can easily take off Labour.

Michael Winner that is just a ridiclous point!!!

There are 75'000 people with the vote in Ealing, and we held our own. They have always voted Labour since the 1930s, are you going to say every Conservative leader since the 1930s has not been worth voting for according to the people of Ealing + Southall!! (and it is Ealing Southall, two completely different places!

Many more people had the vote in the local elections and we won by 41% to 26% in the poll against Labour.

I never thought that Ealing Southall was a possible scalp but I thought we could put in a blood good showing....

Cameron's hyperbole, "temperature hots up in Ealing Southall" on "WebCameron" was poorly judged and makes the result look like a bloody great slap in the face for himself and our great party..

Not the kind of own goal you expect from a PR savvy professional

London - Boris J is great value but he will receive a thumping at the polls...

BUCF makes a good point. Thatcher didn't win it - should she have been ejected as leader as a result?

I am dismayed by the return of the Ashcroft team. Do we really want those who ran the failed 2001 and 2005 GE campaigns in charge again?

One of the problems with our campaign in Solihull was clearly that we did not have a candidate in place and had to make rushed decisions when the by-election was called.
Has the time now come for permanent candidates in every seat ? Following a general election, every association could be given a year in which to make its candidate selection. Until the selection is made, the candidate at the previous general election would continue in post. This would have two advantages: the avoidance of a rushed decision, and the opportunity it would give in normal circumstances for candidates to settle in well in advance of the next general election.

Sorry, Southall not Solihull.

JohnC,

I agree with your points there, but I believe a lot of effort has been made to try and get as many candidates selected as early as possible.

And I think there is a dangerous precedent with the idea of the candidate carrying on, for example they may not want to, they may be selected for another seat.

I really do not think we can put this down to the candidate.

DanielVA, have you and Changetowin morphed into one?

Graham D'Amiral - We should give ourselves credit for one thing, we ran a brilliant campaign

Yes. A bit like one of those brilliant operations where the only blip is that the patient dies.

Gareth - I'm a supporter of Cameron and continue to think he offers the only real prospect of winning again but there is a real and growing feeling that he lacks substance. This has been creeping up on us for well over a year and it's got to be dealt with.

Now there is a really interesting post – being as it comes from a dyed-in-the-wool Roon.

If Gareth has noticved there's a problem the wheels really are coming off the bandwagon.

"Thatcher didn't win it - should she have been ejected as leader as a result?"

This is not the point. The party's vote share in this constituency never fell below 30% before 1997. If we are serious about even being considered able to form the next government, we would have to be doing a lot better than that.

It's not necessarily a sign that Cameron should go just that he hasn't solved the problem of electability for us, something that also eluded four previous leaders....

"DanielVA, have you and Changetowin morphed into one?"

No. I just think it's patently ridiculous that people think that these two disappointing by-election results in Labour strongholds can be attributed to the fact that David Cameron's Conservatives aren't right-wing enough.

Jerking knees and lurching right at the first sign of trouble didn't work for William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith or Michael Howard - it's time to take off the rose-tinted glasses, stop harking back to some mythical Thatcherite nirvana and face up to modern reality.

Bridges has quit according to Brogan's blog.

Looks like Ashcroft got his way!

Only the English can win the Tories the next election. It is to them and their concerns that the Tories should mainly be directing their efforts. It is to them that the Tories should be spelling out that under the governance and continued governance of The Revenge for Culloden Party (part 2) that Hague's prediction of feeling as if we are living in a foreign land is coming true. We are governed by the foreigners at the EU and immigration (strategy of importing Labour voters) is out of control, Labour non-jobs and vote buying sinecures are rife.
We, in order to be governed as we wish, must regain our sovereignty from Brussels.

These are the concerns I believe to be uppermost in the minds of most of the indigenous population, maybe in their subconscious, if not then they ought to be brought to the fore. Gay Rights (they have plenty) and dubious bankrupting climate change modules are not the first and foremost concerns of the ordinary voter. He or she should be reminded of the dangers of voting for the self-serving Labour Party if they wish to be able to recognise England in the future. Can Cameron do it? I don’t think so – he is heading to the Left of Brown – so why vote Tory?
Is there a leader in the Tory Party capable of winning the next election? The bad news is – I don’t see one. The main political parties are obsessed with staying in the EU at any price. It suits all of them – win or lose an election. The best chance of a Tory victory is economic collapse - some victory.

If Gareth has noticved there's a problem the wheels really are coming off the bandwagon.

You're saying that because one Cameron supporter has that feeling? I think your desire to see Cameron go is making you clutch at straws.

If the wheels do come off, it will be because people like you are ripping them off when ordinarily they'd stay on fine.

The main political parties are obsessed with staying in the EU at any price.

The public doesn't want to leave the EU either - would you prefer the Tories have a position that would make them sink even lower in the polls?

DVA - we can actually see how well a "traditional" or "core" Tory party did in Ealing Southall. One that promises all that most of the critics above want the Conservative Party to adopt. One supported by major newspaper columnists, one that apparently we are losing votes by the bucketload to. It's called UKIP.

285 votes! Now there's a stunning success.

72% of the voters turned to Labour, the Lib Dems or Greens but no the path to electoral success is to chase those 285 votes. Is not a case of rose tinted specs but blindness I think.

Many of the posts in defence of the the boy Dave on this thread make hilarious and enjoyable reading for those of us who suspected from the start that his leadership would be a disaster.

Bill, I'd like to know how Cameron's leadership has been any worse than the previous three Opposition leaders. He has been by far the most successful - you only have to look at his poll ratings up until recently and the two local elections he fought.

Things started to go wrong in part because of Brown's bounce, but also because of the grammar school row. He didn't cause that - that was due to grumbling and stubbornness from traditional Tories, the very people who had chosen the previous 3 leaders and made little or no ground.

As I have said before, Cameron is currently the only positive thing about the Tories in the public's eye. The party itself is still viewed as the "nasty party" - it's you that needs to sort their image out, not the leader. If you realised that, you might stand a chance of winning the next election, but your denial is scuppering that chance and helping Labour.

I'm not going to get deeply involved in this thread, but it's unreasonable to attriute every success which the Conservatives achieve to David Cameron, and to attribute every failure to the Party.

These by-election results were not disastrous, but they were certainly disappointing (particularly Ealing Southall). I would suggest that are failings were organisational ones, rather than ones based around policy.

Hear hear Sean. A rare voice of sanity on this thread.
It does seem that there are some people who post on this blog who take huge delight in what were disappointing results for us. I wonder if any of them actually went to Ealing to help out? Frankly I very much doubt it.

Sean, I am certainly not blaming the Conservative Party for the loss in Ealing or Sedgefield - neither were realistically going to turn blue.

There are however, amusingly from my POV as a non-Tory member, rather irrational people that think ejecting Cameron will win the next election. Just as you say every failure should not be blamed on the Party, surely the same could be said about the other way around - that Cameron cannot be solely blamed for the misery.

Jerking knees and lurching right at the first sign of trouble didn't work for William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith or Michael Howard

And now we know that lurching left doesn't work either.

As I have said before, Cameron is currently the only positive thing about the Tories in the public's eye.

Oh dear. That doesn't leave very much, does it?

BTW Raj, if you seriously believe the Conservative Party is the 'nasty' party why don't you find a nice party to support instead?

Why do you Roons constantly hark back to May's ridiculous 'Ratner' moment? Don't you think she's done enough damage already?

I suspect that if you knew who actually wrote that speech for her, you would never quote it again.

Ever.

There's a lot of assertion on this post about the lessons to be learned. Some more convincing than others, but none backed up by solid evidence.

Would it not be sensible for CCHQ to commission a little more polling in Ealing - this time post-poll to ask people if they voted, why they did or didn't, which party they voted for & why?

It's all very well saying we need to change to win. But we have been in the process of changing for the past 2 years under Project Cameron and what good has it done us? None. We're back to where we were under Howard.

We had a lead but then as soon as Gormless Gordon took over, it crumbled. We need to be finishing at least a close second in seats like Ealing Southall to have a chance of winning a general election. But we didn't come anywhere near, even with Cameron's name actually on the ballot (fat lot of good that did).

What's the point of 'change to win' when we still keep loosing?

Traditional Tory

Who wrote that speech?

BTW Raj, if you seriously believe the Conservative Party is the 'nasty' party why don't you find a nice party to support instead?

Oh, there's a good response! "If you don't like it, too bad."

Well maybe one could say that to you. If you don't like the Tory party under Cameron, you can join another or start your own party. Why do you have the right to assert what you want, but whenever anyone criticises you they have go away? You're a hypocrite for having that attitude.

I don't think all Conservatives are nasty, otherwise I wouldn't even consider voting Tory (though I'm not a member). But I do not have my head up my backside, so I can see how the party as a whole is viewed. That perception has been caused by a relative minority who are noisy and stubborn - the wailing child on the supermarket floor, as it were. It is unfortunate, but the whole can be tainted by a part.

Why do you Roons constantly hark back to May's ridiculous 'Ratner' moment?

Because she actually summed up how people view the Conservatives. The fact you say she did "damage" shows you don't understand how you are seen. She may have damaged your egos, but she didn't damage the party - if anything ordinary people were surprised a Tory would admit such flaws in the party and that did it some good.

You can live in denial if you want, but the fact is the party is still seen generally negatively for its perceived mean-spirited attitude and back-stabbing nature. I couldn't believe someone when they claimed the public wouldn't mind the Tories killing off their 4th Opposition leader to get a 5th! It will just make the party seem even more trivial, weak and lacking self-confidence. Who wants to vote for people like that? No one, that's who.

I heard that Douglas Smith, the notorious extreme right-winger in the Federation of Conservative Students, wrote Teresa May's "nasty party" speech.

Smith used to run posh swinger parties and was employed by Francis Maude to run CChange. Maude recruited Smith to become David Cameron's speechwriter.

You couldn't make it up!

"13,000,000 people voted for John Major in 1992"

actually it was well over 14,000,000 and a record for any party in UK history.

Michael Davidson

we have been in the process of changing for the past 2 years

More like 18 months.

We had a lead but then as soon as Gormless Gordon took over, it crumbled.

Actually, it started to crumble not long after the traditional Tories fought back against Cameron's position on grammars. Besides, even John Major got a bounce and he had even less charisma and gravitas than Gordon - why did you expect Brown not to get one?

We need to be finishing at least a close second in seats like Ealing Southall to have a chance of winning a general election.

Why? Coming second doesn't win an election. You want to come first in winnable seats.

What's the point of 'change to win' when we still keep loosing?

Because the public doesn't think you have changed at all! They saw the grammar school fight, saw Cameron lose against people they don't like and saw Brown come in - so they're giving him the benefit of the doubt. Unless he screws up, the electorate need to see the Conservatives put away the knives, the tax cut plans, the chest-thumping over Europe, etc and actually turn into a party they want to elect. You might think they're being unfair, but it is a fact they don't think the party itself has actually changed.

Cameron pulled it off for several months, in making the public believe he could change the party. But it went wrong when they believed the party was being stubborn and fighting back, like a child that won't eat its vegetables or take its medicine. If Cameron can convince the public again that the party will change, or they see that change happening, the polls will improve again. But if the traditional stick-in-the-muds in the party keep throwing temper-tantrums then you will stay behind Labour, even after Brown's bounce wears off.

" I would suggest that are failings were organisational ones, rather than ones based around policy."

When an opposition party is on the way to number 10 they could turn up with a lucky bag,some sellotape and a whistle and still take a by election seat with a swing of over 20%.They can do that because they have momentum, something the Tories have thus far failed to achieve...it almost seems every by election is a hurdle they stumble over rather badly.

Perhaps Bill and others who shout 'disaster' should reflect that a mere 2 months ago we had one of the best local election performances in decades and recorded 40% in the polls. All this with DC as Leader.

The problem is that echoing Crosland on Grammar Schools and Bevan on the NHS, trying to out-green the Green Party and the embarassment over Tony Lit's recent cosiness with Labour have made DC's judgement look questionable and undermined much of the good work he has otherwise done.

Brown has had a good press, especially from the broadcast media which have created the illusion of a 'new' government, for all the world as though GB had nothing to do with the events of the last 10 years.

DC has a couple of months to get back on track and learn what (apart from Blair's unpopularity) brought us victory in May. A clue might be that it wasn't Council candidates echoing Crosland etc.

"Stunning by-election victories for the Conservatives in a mining seat and an impoverished inner city district, both former Labour strongholds."

No, not the modern day "Dewey defeats Truman" newspaper headlines that might have been prepared for today's editions. Merely a historical echo of what happened in the late 70s in Ashfield and Birmingham Stechford respectively.

Seats that we stood no chance of winning in a thousand years, just like Sedgefield and Ealing Southall? There are similarities.

Perhaps the main difference is that in those days, faced with a weak and discredited government that had done its very best to ruin the country in its term of office, we not only had a new and appealing leader but also a clear and credible determination to sweep away the old regime and its failings, not simply manage a socialist system better.

As to any suggestion that by elections do not really matter because protest votes against Labour go to the Lib Dems, why tolerate this? In Stechford, the Liberals were in fourth place behind the National Front!

I was proud to be involved with this campaign, it was well organised and we worked very hard, we outnumbered and outworked our political opponents.

Of course we would have liked to have done better, but what we did was fight a high profile campaign that secured defections from our opponents in their heartlands, and made sure the conservatives couldn't be ignored in Ealing Southall.

Ultimately though this was a very safe Labour seat and victory would have required a political earthquake. What I believe we have done is show labour and the lib dems that we can run a well resourced and highly professional campaign, that didn't prove enough in Ealing Southall but it would do so in more marginal seats.

I heard that Douglas Smith, the notorious extreme right-winger in the Federation of Conservative Students, wrote Teresa May's "nasty party" speech.

Correct.

Our Doogie, of course, would know all about 'Nasty Parties' - especially those of the 'Fever' partner-swapping brand.

The infamous speech is therefore as credible and sincere as a Christmas message of peace and goodwill crafted by Saddam Hussein.

Raj, if you aren't a member or even an ex-member of the party, I can't undertand why you are so 'engaged'.

Graham, Mark Field MP put the defections in context in his article earlier today.

"Our consequent attempts to woo the Sikh vote in Southall by exploiting divisions which have wracked the local Sikh and Hindu communities for decades also struck many as blatant opportunism. This warning was conveyed privately to many senior members of the Conservative Party as the campaign progressed but it was apparently ignored.

To many neutral observers these actions betrayed a failure by our Party to treat sensitively the potentially explosive racial divisions within Ealing Southall.

For sure the defection of five local Labour councillors, all Sikhs and whose ringleader was someone who only days before had failed to secure the Labour nomination for the by-election, made for good headlines at the start of the campaign. However, it became increasingly evident that the Conservatives had been manipulated by this dissident group, who were misleadingly presented to the public as having defected on ideological grounds."

Raj, if you aren't a member or even an ex-member of the party, I can't undertand why you are so 'engaged'

Because the Conservatives are the only party I feel I maybe be able to identify with. I simply don't trust Labour enough - ID cards et al. If the Tories lose the next election I get 5 years of Brown on top of what's left of the current parliamentary term - I don't want that, so I am interested in what happens to the Tories.

Thanks Traditional Tory.

Douglas Smith's appointment defies belief. He was to the right of Enoch Powell on immigration. I would paid a grand to watch him canvass in Southall!

Turning away from the modernising agenda is the last thing Cameron should do. These were quite good elections for the Conservatives- they are usually trampled over by the Lib Dems. The only way to continue is to complete the modernising agenda along with the policies to show how the party would change the country. Anything less and it is another 10 years of wilderness.

COMMENT OVERWRITTEN BY EDITOR.

Raj,

People like you may very well detest the 25-30 per cent who are core Conservatives, and think that the way for a Conservative leader to win the hearts of the general public is to trash their beliefs, and belittle them.

The problem is that that 25-30 per cent have votes, and will stay at home if their patience is stretched to snapping point. The grammar school was an entirely avoidable row, handled ineptly by the party leadership.

I have to agree with Ben Redsell (04.40). My late partner, a Party professional, always used to say "it's all very well having principles and ideology but you can only put them into practice if you get elected. They're no good if you don't. Get elected first, then start thinking about the ideology."

As has been said above, these were strong Labour seats. Ealing had its own problems. They were given national media prominence which would have been noticed in Sedgefield and rubbed off there. Sedgefield, additionally, was the recently outgoing Prime Minister's seat, and was contested at the earliest possible moment after his departure when he, and therefore Labour, had a high profile there. Labour is still enjoying the "Brown Bounce" at the moment.

I, too, remember the by-elections in the late seventies, having been involved in one of them. Margaret Thatcher was Leader, the Labour Government was despised, and the tide was turning quite clearly in our favour. But we still lost the by-election, albeit with a decreased Labour vote, because of the demography of the seat and long Labour tradition.

We must not fall into the easy trap of blaming David Cameron. He is by far the most electorally-attractive of the party leaders; he relates to the people of "modern Britain", much as I dislike the term; he is able to beat Brown in Parliament; and the uncommitted man and woman in the pub, the street, the supermarket, or wherever think him credible as a Conservative leader who can win and become Prime Minister. Or at least, that is what they tell me.

We need to stop carping at each other and just get on with working towards winning a General Election.

The response is simple - we learn from our mistakes and then go forward to the next election 'wiser'.

Problem is, most people on this site just want rid of Cameron and think that learning from mistakes is going back to hard-right rhetoic that was so successful that it lost 3 elections.

"We need to stop carping at each other". Very true. That means that no carping at those who support more grammar schools, want lower taxes and other policies that the Conservative Party used to have.

Cleo should compare the late Eric Forth's majority in Bromley to Bob Neill's. The voters in that constituency showed what they thought of Cameron's Conservatives too.

Sean, why is it that as soon as I mention the refuseniks being disliked it means I do? I don't hate anyone. I'm trying to explain that the public doesn't like them.

What exactly is a "core Conservative"? Obviously not someone like Traditional Tory, otherwise Cameron wouldn't have become leader. I'm sure some members don't like the way he's going, but they're in a minority from what I see (I have friends who are members).

I don't see Cameron as belittling anyone. I think the problem is that some people are far too sensitive. Grammar schools are for them what the coal mines used to be for Labour, a sacred cow that cannot be undermined or even tweaked. The problem was the mindless, "Incredible Hulk"-esque response, not the message. Grammar schools were not attacked, it was rightly pointed out that they were not an answer to the education problem. If Cameron had got his way, it would have showed the party was changing from its perceived "I'm alright, Jack" attitude, and the public would have thought better of the Tories. Unfortunately that was spoilt by the "HULK SMASH!" rebuttal from traditional Conservative MPs.

I mean, bloody hell, don't some Tories understand that Cameron can say whatever the hell he likes in Opposition and then do something different in government? It happens all the time. So what if Cameron talked down grammars - he's not Prime Minister now. Yet they acted as if not throwing a big temper-tantrum would have resulted in all grammars' demolition the next day!

Dismayed, you didn't actually answer cleo's point did you? She raises a point that absolutely no one here has the guts to answer properly - why going back to right-wing policies will win an election when it has failed at the last three.

Seriously, why will it be any different this time? Or do you want to go even further right-wing? What's the "election-winning policy" for 2009/2010? Flat taxes? Scrapping the NHS? Withdrawl from the European Union? Shooting all illegal immigrants?

There's nothing on the right-wing that can save the Conservatives. Until enough of the Conservative party accepts that, they won't win another general election.

----

Cleo, well done for saying that.

Couldn't this website do more to encourage sensible debate about the big issues? The blogs almost always criticise anything that does not fit with a 'traditional' Conservative approach and this only encourages negative comments by all sides.

Absolutely right Raj, the party has to change to win as Labour did in the 1990s. And it has to change fast or Blair's original vision of a centre-left Labour/Lib hegemony keeping the Conservatives out for a generation will be a reality. The Conservatives have to fear a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party. Unless the Conservatives unite behind the leader all this has to be very likely indeed.

As a working-class Conservative who actually talks politics in pubs snooker clubs etc I just find that most ordinary people think Cameron is a "toff" from Eton who has nothing in common with them

A lot of working-class people are very right-wing on issues like immigration. Cameron is a liberal yuppie. He doesnt share those views.

Im really please hes in trouble. The sooner we kick him out the better

cleo, a hung Parliament with the Tories in second place would indeed be terrible.

For one thing, a Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition could conceivably introduce proportional representation, or the transferable vote - either of which would screw the Tories over for decades. The Lib Dems and Labour would have 50%+ of the vote for a long time, so they could run the country between them. The Tories would have to hope another popular party would emerge they could ally with, but that would be a faint hope.

I am not advocating right-wing policies. I supported civil partnerships and have liberal views on crime and immigration.

Cameron is a left of centre authoritarian, not a liberal conservative. He wants to stop new grammar schools, have a centrally controlled NHS, tax and ration air travel and increase government spending in real terms.

By contrast, I want education and health vouchers, tax incentives for more efficient aero engines and tax cuts funded by reducing Labour's bloated public sector bureaucracy.

As a liberal Conservative, I voted for Cameron but now feel duped.

Bloody Minded

So the question goes out again - why did "working class people" not vote Tory in big enough numbers in 1997, 2001 or 2005 when tough immigration policies were put forward?

Come on, if right-wing policies can win elections, why did they fail at the last three? Lets get some answers. Why the continued silence on this matter? What are people here trying to hide or are not willing to admit?

Why didn't the 'It's not racist to want controlled immigration' election campaign bring electoral success then?

Dismayed

1. Vouchers are not popular. Whether you like it or not, they are regarded as being a way for the middle-classes to subsidise their private health care. You will not change their attitude to them.

2. EVERYONE suggests saving money by reducing bureaucracy, but it is never that simple. Every single government tries to sort it out (Conservative & Labour), but makes little progress every time. You are in denial if you think people will believe you can cut taxes by cutting "waste".

Maybe many current Consevative voters want tough sounding immigration policies, tax cuts, vouchers (all the old policies, attract 30% of the vote, loose elections) but to win elections parties have to reach out and that is why the party needs new policies. Or perhaps like Labour in 1992, the Conservatives need a fourth election drubbing to see the need to change.

cleo, I think you're right. The only problem is that if Cameron were to carry on half-heartedly with his current platform, the refuseniks would claim it validated their attitude. Cameron would be kicked out, the bad old ways returned to - it would then take a fifth election defeat to shut them up.

But by then I wouldn't be surprised if all the Conservatives with a full-functioning set of brain-cells had jumped ship.

Cleo = CCHQ Troll

[email protected]:49

You could check our the YourPlatform or 100Policies sections of the site, or you could check the numerous posts on policy questions in ToryDiary when those issues come up from politician speeches (or just Tim's or Sam's head).

For example, I seem to recall a couple of months back that we might have had one or two threads started on education policy...

The modernisers can not look back, the change has to continue.

Raj- get a life. You've been on this site all day !

You're a CCHQ troll too !

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