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So Paul Dacre's newspaper provides yet more pro Brown spin. This is complete rubbish based on a hysteria that some in the media are trying to whip up.

It was widely predicted that the Conservative lead would evaporate once there was a change in Prime Minister. It was also widely predicted that it would come back after the Conference IF the Conservatives were truly popular once more.

Given that we won 900 council seats barely 3 months ago, given that we are beginning to roll out some real policies I would expect us to be ahead by Christmas. However given that we have a new PM who is rapidly giving the impression of dumping large parts of the Blair government's policies I am hardly surprised that the declining Lib Dem vote has transferred across to the Labour party, once more giving them the lead.

A lot of this poll lead is down to tactical unwind and LibDem/Labour switchers.

I could not agree more with Ben. Why give air time to this sort of bleating? Why assist Dacre in his "GB is the bestest conservative evah" spin?

Or let's have a new series of Tory Diary headlines. "Is the Sky Falling? Chicken Licken Demands the Truth!" "The Tories' Brave Sir Robin offers alternative strategy when Danger Rears Its Ugly Head!"

To remind everybody; local results in July showed the Tories with an 8.6% lead. Is that accurate? Probably not. But in no elections since Brown's takeover have we seen anything like the Labour swing predicted by the polls and this includes ES.

Read Oborne’s article.

It is a clear headed appraisal of where we are and where there’s hope for the Party’s reassertion.

"Both of these two areas should allow David Cameron plenty of scope to plan his fightback, to define himself as a politician, and to set boundaries between his own beliefs and the fundamental statism of Gordon Brown's Labour Party."

Well this thread started off with a couple of old buffers spouting their obligatory denunciation of any fresh thinking. It is the sclerotic mindset in the Conservative Party that is so tiring, the almost religious belief that it has a right to office and if you believe in The Leader all will come right. It is increasingly bemusing.

Oborne makes some valid points. Lose the next election and the fifth defeat seems pre-programmed. Crematoria up and down this land are carrying Conservative voters off in the very age groups most likely to vote, and even they may have been less enthusiastic in recent years as they felt ignored as pensioners by all parties.

If the Conservatives cannot increase turnout by bringing Abstainers to vote for them, they are finished - not because Labour is popular, simply because it can fish better pools half-full. When you bottomfish Labour wins, fill the tank and Conservative voters return to vote.....but they need to be attracted.

At present there is not a lot to choose - Darling will probably be a more convincing Chancellor than Osborne, and Ruth Kelly or Theresa May is a toss-up. There is not a lot in it. The Conservatives have been out of power too long - they only returned to power after their last long exile in coalition with Lloyd George.

In fact Baldwin was frightened Conservatives would never again hold power which was why he was so instrumental in the 1922 split. It might be that the Conservatives have marginalised themselves - geographically that is self-evident.


I am interested in your view that the Tories need to increase turnout but how/which policies?

Crisis? Only in the sense that the party does not seem to understand that a good general knows when to quit.

The worst thing that can happen is that Cameron tries to make everyone happy by adopting a few Conservative policies and otherwise continues his pinkish policies. That will make everyone unhappy.

It should by now be clear that the Cameron experiment has failed. Cameron can't complain about disunity as everyone are - at least officially - behind him.

Therefore there are two choices: Either keep Cameron in which case the party will split in two. Or drop Cameron and learn how to *sell* Conservative policies.

I would like to see a vision based on delivering *choice*: the government should only provide essential services, allowing people to shop around. If the Conservative Party can't provide a vision that sells Conservative policies, they are in the wrong business.

As tomtom says: getting the abstainers is the way forward.

It is not that the Conservative Party 'may' split: it has already done so and that is why it is out of office and showing little sign of getting back again. I am one of the millions who voted New Labour in 1997 and whilst not willing to keep doing so have no intention of supporting this pale pink, wishy-washy outfit who got it wrong on supporting New Labour over Iraq and who are soft on Immigration and Identity Cards, weak on Tax Cuts and Intrusive Government, deluded the over so-called Global Warming scam and obstructive to a sensible pro-EU stance. Clarke was and is right over all of those areas. Not for the first time the Tories might well be termed the 'Stupid Party'. As such you are unelectable.

Mr Oborne raises some indications of problems. What is not mentioned is the fact that we are THE MOST local of all the parties. In 1997 we had less than half the councillors of Labour and fewer councillors than the Lib Dems. Today we have nearly 4,000 more than Labour and twice the number of the Lib Dems. A truly remarkable turnaround. Something that has almost entirely been due to local activity.

The real problem we have is with the centrally controlled activities and the MPs. These have failed to win by elections, failed to professionalise, failed to run effective media relations, been disloyal, selected too many part time shadow cabinet ministers and failed to deploy modern IT.

The local Associations have mainly done a good job. A pity that the Regional and Central parts have in the main let the party down.

Peter Oborne Would be far better telling the truth about Brown than making up hysteria about the Conservatives. Conservatives in Canada may marvel at the Brown spin but they would be less impressed if Peter Oborne and his cronies in the media gave the public the truth about Brown and his Flood defense cuts and lack of investment by Labour. Instead of regurgitating Browns rubbish.
Come on Peter why not tell them that Labour has forced building on the flood plane and is still failing to fund flood defense by at least £20Million a year. Meanwhile the Country has hundreds of thousands of people without adequate quantities of Drinking water and days without electricity. That scandal is the truth, but of course if he wrote that he would not get into the Labour party press briefings and is terrified he will miss something. When he and the rest of the media realise all they would miss is more fiction and start telling what is really happening then we will see a meaningful shift in the polls!

After reading HF and Mr. Colliers comments, I can see that the Conservative party really is in crisis. The problem is denial.

Don Collier, a large part of the problem with journalists like Mr Oborne is caused by
1) An inept media relations operation at CCHQ/Team Cameron (we pray Coulson fixes it).
2) Part time/lazy shadow cabinet MPs who spend too little of their time researching and then briefing journalists.
3) The failing "stunts" for which Hilton is blamed.

Jorgen, I believe that you are a UKIP supporter. If true I suggest you post elsewhere. If untrue then what are your solutions?

If the Conservative Party regain there hunger for power and the loyalty they always showed to the leader of the party they will win the next election. If they don`t they will not and you will have a Labour government for the next ten years.

Crisis? What crisis...?

Sorry I disagree. The National media seek to be the opposition which they are not. In order to maintain the myth they oppose the Conservative Party NOT the Government.
The Media team at CCO are not inept, far from it they are stoical. Not many media people would stay in a job where they are largely ignored or misrepresented.
Blogs an communities such as this have such a large following and the media an ever decreasing one because of this

I have absolutely no connection to UKIP, have never voted for them, don't even read their web-site(s), but due to the lack of alternatives I may well vote for them in general elections until the Conservative Party get real Conservative policies. However, I may choose to abstain.

Solution: many abstainers are not voting because they don't see anyone fighting for their interests. I would think that they generally are solid middle class and deep down inside Conservative. We should provide a Conservative vision for them and sell it: they will consider immigration and security a serious problem; they don't believe any Government will provide a good deal so they want to buy services themselves. etc.

We should all boycott that Mail (not that I buy it). Vote with our 50ps.

It is very worrying tosee just how swiftly the leadership has imploded when faced with Brown.Cameron and his team totally misread the direction thatBrown would take.To compound this they had also just picked a nonsenical face with their own side on the future direction o0f schooling.

Therefore at just the time when we needed to fight Brown our activists are demoralised and we appear to be running away from "traditional tory issues"

Cameron shouldrecognise that the right of his party is not the enemy.If he truly wants passion for power he must look to issues that build a consensus amongst ourselves whilst at the same time resonating with the disaffected electorate.It wil serve no purpose for the leadership to berate cornerstone and other social conservatives whilst Brown announces more and more retreat from blair's casinos and 24 hour drinking.We are being badly outflanked and unless we respnd with credible principled agenda based on solid conservative principle we are doomed.

Jorgen, we went big with immigration and security in GE2005 and lost. Do we just repeat the mistake?

No- the Conservative Party in not in crisis.

We have the most MEPs. We have the most councils.We are the official opposition in Wales. We got the most votes in England last time out.We have money. We have a core vote that makes 180 seats rock bottom.We are in opposition to a failed government- that is our 'crisis'- we cannot understand why many voters choose those idiots above us. That is what all the beef is about at the moment.

If Mr Oborne wanted an honour from Labour, he should have paid for it like then rest of them !

The issues of immigration and security have come to the forefront of political concerns among the populace, inc people from ethnic minorities. It is foolish NOT to address these concerns.

"Nature abhors a vacuum" and electors abhor a policy vacuum.

Prior to the 2005 General Election I was of the view that if we didn't get to 200 seats, then it was more likely than not that the Party would have split by mid-Parliament. We didn't quite make that threshold, which was psychological - I had thought that having a "2" at the start of the seats number was crucial to the belief that we could win the following time - or indeed ever again. But I was wrong - we haven't split and show no signs of doing so. Insofar as there was anything worthwhile at all in my analysis at that time, perhaps I had underestimated the optimism that Blair's departure would generate - the sense that with our Great Enemy departed, we might again stand a chance. Perhaps, also, changes in political culture, such as the rise of political blogging and the fact that it is much more vibrant amongst Conservatives than Labour, are also important because they make it seem exciting and worthwhile to be a Conservative.

Be that as it may, it seems to me that over the past couple of years we have done well enough that it should be clear to all concerned that, indeed, we can win again. If we get our act together, perhaps even next time. But there's no need to despair even if that starts to seem unlikely. For if we argue for what is right, we will win in the end.

This quote says it all - and is the reason WHY you must NOT retreat to the right. I'm no Tory, but I also don't want a one-party state for the next 20 years:

"I am coming to wonder whether we have entered a period of permanent centre-Left government lasting many decades, and that we in the Conservative Party are now doomed to irrelevance. We'll become just a permanent debating society."

Put simply we are only in a "a very grave crisis" if we allow ourselves to get into one.

Are we in one at the moment? No... unless we continue with our latest relapse into introspection and self-flagellation.

The leadership needs to get its act together, the parliamentary party need to remain disciplined, the membership need to remain level-headed (as by and large we have been) and our supporters in the press need to also adopt some discipline not to mention perspective.

There is no crisis unless we allow there to be one... our fate is in our own hands.

Have Redsell, Tory T and Collier read the article? I doubt it.

Oborne is absolutely right, and he doesn't write from a left-wing perspective. Anyone using this article as an example of Dacre's anti-Tory stance is being idiotic.

The article is not, per se, anti-Cameron. It is anti the current Boundaries Commission arrangements, recognises that the Tory party has always had difficulty in preventing its traditional right wing squabbling with the pragmatic centrists, and describes Britain's state finances as "desperate". Finally, he states what we all know is true about the EU treaty that Brown hopes to sign without discussion with his party, let alone the country.

Oborne is a Tory, as anyone who has read his output over the past decade will know. He was very excited at Cameron's arrival on the scene and championed Dave in the Spectator. I suspect, like so many initial supporters, he feels let down. He wants the Conservatives in power, doing a good Conservative job.

But he is honest enough to tell it how he sees it, and if that doesn't make good reading for the Cameroon cheerleaders on this site, so be it.

Is the Conservative Party in "a very grave crisis"?

If improving our share of the vote in two constituencies we shouldn't have a cat in Hell's chance in is a crisis, bring it on.

Of course people like Oborne are churning out this trash. Because he know that, in a year to two years' time his beloved Labour Party will be out of power and he'll be denied all his secretive 'briefings'. Let's ignore them. The British people won't be fooled.

Oborne is one of the worst, along with the Danny Finkelstein, "conservative" journalists in this country. His pieces are superficial tripe that would shame a GCSE student. The Spectator was right to get rid of him. Why Dacre continues to publish his nonsense is beyond me.

The Conservative Party is NOT in a crisis, it's just the leadership! If most of us think DC,at the moment, is speaking total bollards, then i don't hold out much hopes for the public 'out there' think that he is speaking total sense. Cameron, due to sheer ineptitude, has kebabbed himself: first- tha 'a' list; second-Grammar schools; third- Somewhere in Africa over being in the country whilst south-central England is knee-deep in water. Cameron, i believe, has over-reacted in the 'change to win' philosophy. Yes, we need to reach out to people; yes, we need to have an overhaul of policy; but we sure as heck do not want to turn into 'LabourBliar style part II' or the bloody LibbyDems. In my mind, he only has up to the time the 'new' policies are announced. If they turn out to be pc-gestures (that really affect no-one) that avoid the real problems facing the country, then he must go. I think my overall score for DC since he took over the leadership will be a c-. He is capable of more than that. Time he stopped sodding around.

Children, children. Why are you all getting so excited about a shallow tabloid jeremiad written in bad faith by an unpleasant and inauthentic character like Oborne?

(Actually, I know why. It's because the Editor thought it should be highlighted. Hmm.)

The best judgement on the Tories in today's papers, by a country mile, comes from Charles Moore. He has the wisdom (and temperament) that dyspeptic hysterics like Heffer lack.


Is the Conservative Party in "a very grave crisis"?


This from the man who always, whenever he has the opportunity, likes to remind us all that the Conservative Party is 'dying'. No thanks.

Lets have a plethora of parties all representing macro political ideals and combine that with proportional representation. No more arguments about direction, everyone happy with their political allegiance, complete and utter stasis in Westminster, which would mean the civil service can de-politicise its-self and run the country for the best without any interference. we might then have schools actually educating kids and a health service that works and border security keeping undesirables out.
It's either that, or time for Cromwell to stop rotating, and stage another putsch.

The party is acting like it is a grave crisis by being disunited and factional, this is not the way for a party wanting to replace the government should behave

The conservative party is not in crisis. That is not to deny that it is internally possible that the party could choose to tear itself apart and become an irrelevance. Remember the purpose of the Blair/Brown "project" was always to entrench a semi-permanent centre left government as is not uncommon in other parts of europe.

Brown is still working for that. He is pushing all the buttons he can find to stir up dissent in the conservative party. Right now a number are foolishly biting.

We need to stick together and focus on winning. Abstaining, voting UKIP etc. only leads to Brown winning both the election and his "project" goal.

The a reality in our system of voting is that one can either vote for a labour PM or a conservative PM.

I choose to vote for a conservative PM.
I choose to accept that our appeal must stretch from the centre to the right. I do not choose to attack and disparage our party - I may disagree with some of the policies but that is part and parcel of supporting a party not a pressure group.

Talk of a crisis is only inflating the Labour lead in the polls. Embracing a UKIP agenda is not the road to success - unless I missed something I can't remember UKIP making major inroads in the recent local or by-elections or even in the opinion polls.

We should laugh off any talks of a crisis as hyperbolemwhile accepting we have and DC have and the shadow cabinet have an awful lot of work to do.

What tosh! I though better of Oborne.

The only grave crisis will be if we panic and allow the temporary popularity of Brown to make us change course.

I think this nonsense about Brown being a startegist is completely over done. What exactly warrants this appraisal.

Was the fact he waited so long for Blair to go a masterpiece in political stratagem - I think not!

Actually, fro what I am hearing the general public is not paying the slightest attention to what Brown is doing in policy. He is just not Blair and getting a popular bounce more from a sense of relief!

Politics is a long game - we should know - having spent ten years out of power. He who panics at the first sign of trouble loses!

Cameron's Crisis

too long to post here.

Enough of this rubbish. Time to take the fight to Brown. We (and I mean all Conservatives) have two jobs.

1) To constantly point out to the public that Brown is deceiving them. I think the leadership need to give direction with concise phrases that adequately convey the deceit. The way labour appear to do it is they create the soundbites, brief their MPs and journalist friends and those soundbites are repeated. ad infinitum e.g. Cameron is the Tories Kinnock. or Don't panic (designed to induce panic). This then puts these messages into the public and media subconcious. The only way I can see of combatting them is to constantly show them for what they are with our own soundbites and this is where cchq need to think. Actually labour get even cleverer than this because if their activists are challenged and are shown to be lying they will say "Yeah, but all politicians are liars" and the last line of defence when Blair was being slated(and I am sure it will make a reappearance for Brown at some point) is " Yeah, but there is no one better". These are very clever strategies as they concede they are not perfect whilst still inferring that the opposition are at least as bad if not worse. This constant battle of words needs to be seriously thought about and countered or else we will struggle to get anywhere.

2) There needs to be a positive narrative again from the centre of policies and arguments about policies. So people are worried about unlimited immigration for many reasons. What we have failed to do is counter Labour's propaganda as we are afraid of looking right-wing. Enough of this being on the defensive, however it is dangerous ground when you are playing by Labour's rules (If you look carefully I have just retrenched a soundbite i.e afraid of looking right-wing). We must put forward our policy concisely and point out every single time a Labour politician uses a soundbite to make a point or deflect debate. They must become afraid of looking contrived and deceitful and the only way to do it is to be constantly on guard.

It's only a crisis if people like Oborne keep telling the public that it is.

For crying out loud, Brown has dominated the media for a month because he is head of a newish government. It won't last, but of course we need to actively promote an alternative as well.

Is the Conservative Party in crisis?


#1 Membership: Does the party have more or less members than the 'terribly right-wing and unpopular' Howard era?

#2 Popularity: After 18 months of Cameroonism, is the party on course to reduce Labour's majority?

#3 Vision: If you asked the man in the street what the Conservative Party would do differently from Labour, what would they be able to say?

Unfortunately, despite the Cameroons openly slating the obvious failings in 2005, in straight comparison they have delivered a *smaller* member base and currently look set to let Brown double the Labour majority Blair achieved over Howard.

If you can't see the crisis in that then recovery will be impossible and the party will simply sleepwalk into a fourth consecutive defeat and as Hague himself is alleged to have said, 'electoral oblivion'.

Bill Gates says winners always look for the bad news and act on it. Losers bury their heads in the sand and deny what is blatantly obvious to the rest of us.

Crisis? What crisis?
It is simply ridiculous for conservatives to panic at the recent opinion polls.
To date Cameron has done an excellent job, far better than any fair minded conservative dared hope prior to his election.
The big test is the policy documents coming out next month, thankfully before the Party conference.
These policies need to come up with real solutions and some radical tax initiatives to help those on benefit and crucially on less than £15000 p.a income for a family.

I left a comment on The mail which they ignored as usual.

I said that it makes a good read by focusing the notion of crisis totally onto the Conservative Party. In fact Brown's vulnerable on the Constitution, with a growing revolt detectable amongst Labour backbenchers, and it is quite possible he would loose a Parliamentary vote.

Voters too are interested in this issue, and as Sedgefield shows Labour is especially vulnerable to erosion of its vote to minor parties. Brown's rhetoric 'British jobs for British workers' and the promise to repatriate 4000 illegal immigrants is not aimed at Conservative voters, is it? He is clearly concerned by the erosion of his vote. No mention from Mr Oborne about labour's vulnerabilities as usual, Mr Dacre.


Dacre employs Oborne, Brogan, Platell and others because they are willing to tell the world thst Cameron is useless and Brown is a great statesman.
So far he hasn't been able to intimidate Letts, Waterhouse and McKay.

Instead of another day of fruitless arguments, why not do something more constructive?

My 10 suggested Tory anouncements for a summer fightback, in no particular order:

1. We will prevent any more A&E closures, patient choice requires more hospitals in an area not less. Privatised cleaners will be scrapped in order to control MRSA.

2. Elected police commissioners, more prisons & drug rehab, border police, phone tap evidence, scrap id cards.

3. Reform benefits system to get people back into work. Cap on total income from benefits an individual may receive. End marriage penalty, etc. etc.

4. English Votes for English Matters

5. City academies, streaming/setting, moves toward voucher system (without the criticism of grammar schools this time).

6. European Constitution referendum (continous attacks on Brown all summer).

7. We will scrap road pricing. Put extra money for research into green-car technologies (fuel cells etc.). Would discourage tory councils from introducing conhestion charges. (also insert policy group ideas here).

8. Increase military spending until our forces are properly equiped, re-introduce military hospitals, automatic citizenship for Gurkkas.

9. Religious symbol ban in schools (a la France). Employers to get the right to ban religious symbols/dress if they wish.

10. More green spaces/parks/play areas in urban areas, city beautification/tree planting schemes, anti-graffiti, environment affects behaviour of those living there living there. Quality of life.

Also, say "moderate conservatism" "moderate policies" etc. instead of "centre-ground" "the centre".

There was a good comment in the Times today.

"there can be no Conservative crisis unless the party talks itself into one"

If the party wants to get through this, it needs to get itself through this. If it starts running around like a headless chicken, it will be in crisis.

It's that simple.

HF, this is what I would like to see.

It is of course up to the next leader (I doubt Cameron will want to change enough) to find out what keeps the abstainee (or is it abstainers?) from voting, that is the Conservative of them; the abstaining losers will always be losers and the abstaining socialists won't vote for us anyway.

Jack Stone obviously has a new career intention as a comedian. He claims that the Tories have always shown loyalty to their leader. I don't think that Hague or IDS would agree with you on that Jack and let us not also forget how Mrs Thatcher ended her term as PM and Leader. Disloyalty to the leadership is more a hallmark of the Conservatives than loyalty is Jack.

9 points behind in the third-term of a Labour Government and no crisis. Are you all that deluded?

Thatcheroon, of course we have already announced many of these but it would do no harm to restate them.

I'm very jealous of your excellent nom de post and wish I had thought of it!

"9 points behind in the third-term of a Labour Government and no crisis. Are you all that deluded?"

How is this any different from Major's bounce? It may be a third-term Labour Parliament, but we have a new PM. Just about every new PM gets a chance from the public to do things differently.

The only people who are deluded are those that think Gordon Brown should not have got one.

Raj, there is no "Brown bounce" as he is not new plus very few people like him. What you see is a "Blair-gone recovery".

The difficulty with the party is that it is percieved by the electorate as being fractured and unstable. The deep differences of opinion on policy frequently lead to hostilty and division. This makes the party unfit for government and the depressing fact is that many voters view the tories with ridicule and mirth.

Now when the old Labour party faced remarkably similar conditions pre-modernisation, there was eventually a split with the SDP finally breaking ranks. If the conservative party cannot unite by the next term (assuming we lose the next election) I think the conditions for split may be approaching (the Geoffrey Wheatcroft scenario where the party 'dies')

The alternative is the labour route, modernisation and change driven by final realisation that they are irrelevant, however how exactly this pans out will depend on circumstances at the time. The simple truth is that the conservative party only survived in the past by changing and adapting, and will only survive if it continues to do so.

The Labour Party has not won three general elections because it didn't split, it has won three general elections, because it did!

Oberon Houston | July 28, 14:15
"The simple truth is that the conservative party only survived in the past by changing and adapting, and will only survive if it continues to do so."

Correct -- but not by becoming indistinguishable from NuLab.

Ken Stevens "Correct -- but not by becoming indistinguishable from NuLab."

Can you actually give any reasons why you believe they are indistinguishable? Or is this just poorly thought through lazy rhetoric.

Crisis, what crisis ?

Trend West London Tories have never had it so good (just a shame they forgot what life and people were like in the rest of the Country !)


Ken can doubtless speak for himself, but FWIW I note that he didn't say that the Conservative Party is currently indistinguishable from New Labour. He merely said that we should aspire/try to be (or, perhaps, that we wouldn't "survive" if we so became indistinguishable).

If the conservative party cannot unite by the next term (assuming we lose the next election) I think the conditions for split may be approaching (the Geoffrey Wheatcroft scenario where the party 'dies')
There might be a possible reverse situation to that of the early 1930's, in that case various elements of Labour and the Liberals joined with most of the Conservatives in the National Government which eventually coalesced into the Conservative Party, Labour bounced back to a great extent in 1935 and won a landslide victory in 1945.

Many apparently desperate to abandon principles in a bid for power in the Conservative Party might join Labour or the Liberal Democrats following which the Conservative Party might regroup and in 2 or 3 General Elections return to government with a radical new strategy?

I know of several party members who are not renewing their membership. They perceive DC as a Jonah. Those who constantly tell us that everything is hunky dory are turning a blind eye to what is happening to the leadership.

Cameron hitched his wagon to the Blair caravan, whereas Brown has deliberately turned away from Blair recognising that the electorate had had enough. Cameron has been courting the Lib/Dems hoping that they would back him with his green/global agenda, but they have ignored him and now appear to back Brown as a more convincing Leader.

Brown has outwitted Cameron on every move and he either wakes up and starts behaving like a Conservative, or he will lead the party to destruction.

Andrew Lilico "Ken can doubtless speak for himself, but FWIW I note that he didn't say that the Conservative Party is currently indistinguishable from New Labour. He merely said that we should aspire/try to be (or, perhaps, that we wouldn't "survive" if we so became indistinguishable)."

Sorry, Andrew but I think it was pretty clear that Ken believes we are a carbon copy of New Labour. I am fed up with comments like this. It is at best lazy thinking and I feel if you can't justify such a comment then don't make it. Otherwise explain why you feel this way in a rational way.

But voreas06@15:09, would you not agree that there are those within the Conservative fold that *do* (or at least *did*, until recently) want us to become the new Blairites - the true heirs of New Labour? Wasn't that precisely the idea - not a caricature of them by their opponents, but their proud boast about themselves? It's all very well saying that that is lazy thinking - and perhaps that is correct - but it was *their* thinking, not anyone else's!

So when Ken or others urgue us not to become copies of New Labour, they are not shooting at straw men. They are shooting at an important (and by no means silly - though in my view mistaken) view that is absolutely at the heart of the current debate about the future of the Conservative Party.

Most people on this site simply believe that the party does not have to change, (because they do not want it to) and that one more right-wing manifesto and all the voters will come back.

Cameron is Leader of the Opposition but he hasn't been leading and he hasn't been opposing. He ought to start doing both without delay.

He could begin by coming out against taxpayer funding of political parties. If he has been listening he will know that three-quarters of all voters (including Conservatives) are opposed to this anti-democratic idea.

He should also make a "firm, bankable promise" to call a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty as soon as he is elected.

The Party and the country are crying out for Conservative Leadership. Cameron should start offering it PDQ.

It is very difficult to lead when the grassroots denounce everything he says.

voreas06 | July 28, 14:36
"Can you actually give any reasons why you believe they are indistinguishable?"

From my perspective as an ordinary voter who would prefer a Tory government to the present Labour one, the impression I get is that the Tories are trying to occupy the same ground as Labour - but, please sir, that ground is already occupied. It may well be that you have or will have a different configuration of policies to NuLab but, as an unsophisticated oik, I can't call to mind anything tangible that make me think "Ah, yes, Tory policy better than Labour in such & such a respect". I can iterate what I think is wrong with Labour but I lack a mental concept of what the Tory alternative is. This doubtless reflects on my own lack of intellect - after all, there have been all sorts of things discussed on this site in the months that I have been reading it - but unfortunately no soundbites leap out for instant recall (I haven't gone back to revise the topics to properly fulfil your request as the whole point is about what sticks in the mind of us proles). Given that I'm an ordinary voter who is taking an active interest in where my vote should go next time, how much more difficult it must be for the masses of more passive voters and even more passive non-voters that you will be seeking to evangelize.

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm an ultra EUphobe (- Love Europe; hate EU) as the extent of extra-territorial governance is making the political complexion of UK parliament ever less relevant. If against that elephantine background you & Lab are contesting the same ground then the situation is a bit like the unofficial variation of the SAS motto: "Who Cares Who Wins"!

In many other policy aspects, I'm amenable to persuasion; after all, I was brought up in a staunch Old Labour household in the 1950s and, irrespective of her political slant, the sight of Gwynneth Dunwoody, sets the heart racing nostalgically.

I await the Tory soundbite list with bated breath.

Of course there is a crisis in the Conservative party .

It is in ignoring the elephant in the room ie the constitutional injustice and absurdity of the later day "United " Kingdom wher there is nor effective representation for England per se . ie no English Parliament .

Reason for this - I don't really know - something to do with a doggedly obscurantist/nostalgic mindset and a refusal to recognise reality - England is where Conservative support is - all the rest is not really relevant . Stop the crazy unrealistic thinking over a few MP's in Scotland and Wales and get accept reality . Grasp this and go where Brown is unlikely to follow ie for an English Parliament.

The British Union will survive an English parliament perfectly well .


re terminal -
if Brown comes out for an English parliament - which he could just do -then for the Conservatives that would be an historically terminal event .


I for one have always argued for change. And I have always supported Cameron as leader. But in my view Cameron's changes have mainly come in the wrong dimensions. The change we needed was to shift our focus onto the key questions in which Labour had its lead - health, education, the economy, and not spend our time on fringe issues or questions that nobody thought we could change, such as Europe or immigration or fraud-and-waste. No General Election in British history has, I'll warrant, ever been won or lost on the issue of immigration.

But switching the focus to health and education and the economy is a quite different thing from (indeed, a largely incompatible thing to) abandonning Conservative policy positions and distancing ourselves from the thinking of Conservative intellectuals on these questions. Perhaps the Conservative brand needed "sanitizing", but that was *us*, not our policy positions.

The great error of Cameron's reign so far has not been that he had too few policies, but that he had too many - that he was *against* reform of the health services; that top-up vouchers were "ruled out"; that an expansion of the 11-plus was, from the start of the policy review process (I'm not talking about the overblown furore following Willett's speech) "ruled out"; that top-up vouchers in education were ruled out (again, from the start); that tax cuts were *ruled out*; and so on. None of these things was necessary. All of them reflected the same mind set - that the problem of the past ten years was the thinking of Conservative intellectuals, whom the Party leadership has regarded (and still regards) as an embarrassment, instead of the problem being the *Party leadership*. They still don't accept that the problem has always been *them*, not *us*!

Major didn't lose because the Party was impossible to lead. The Party was difficult to lead because Major was *wrong*, on almost everything, and we lost because Major was wrong.

Hague didn't lose because the Party was split after defeat. He lost because he totally failed to offer any coherent picture of what the Conservative Party was *for* in the era of New Labour.

Howard didn't lose because the Party was ill disciplined. He lost because his policy programme was vaccuous.

The problem was always them, the leadership, and it will only be when they accept that and stop trying to blame *us* - saying how nasty we are, or how our opinions are irrelevant or delusional, or how our ideas are unsellable - that we will be back on the road to power.

Andrew [email protected]
I think what Osborne said was an example of a poorly thought through soundbite that had an expectation that Brown would give the appearance at least of lurching to the left when he took over, therefore Osborne probably said it to appeal to middle ground floating voters scared at the thought of left-wing Brown. Brown has certainly not Lurched to the left in fact probably the biggest change he has made is his tie from red to blue helping to fuel the perception that he has gone to the right.

The "heir to Blair" comment itself showed that there was far too much respect for how Blair operated, and there probably is now for Brown at the top of the conservative party. It is imperative that they stop admiring and start passionately despising on behalf of the British people.

To go back to your original point. I don't believe any of this "Heir to Blair" stuff has much to do with what our party would actually do in office. The manifesto and policy groups will give an indication of that, but to me Ken was implying that we were going to copy New Labour policies, incompetence, legislative attention deficit etc etc. I don't believe we will for one minute and policies like scrapping ID cards means that means we will never be a copy of New Labour.

Ken Stevens@15:20

Ok well if you are a europhobe out of the two parties that have a realistic chance of winning the next election which is calling for a referendum and which is happy that their meaningless "Red lines" haven't been crossed.
We now need to present the call for a referendum on the european treaty not as boring old europe but as the effect that Brown's selling out could/will have on people everyday lives that they will now have even less say on, and we need to promise a referendum at the next election.

Jake | July 28,15:47

The constitutional position of England is my other dogmatic bugbear, the baby elephant in the room [dog, bug, bear, elephant?? How very anthropomorphic!!].

However I regard it as secondary to the overarching EU question. Regain control of UK first, then revitalize its constitutional arrangements.


I agree that we wouldn't be remotely like Blair if we were to win. That makes it all the more frustrating to hear "heir to Blair" or "Blair settlement" soundbites. If we are going to sell being different, we need to argue for it.

Andrew Lilico@15:53

I think Cameron has done brilliatly on Health. I mean really this is the only time the Conservatives have led Labour on who is most trusted with the NHS.

I don't believe tax cuts have been ruled out, just uncosted upfront tax cuts.

I can understand the position on vouchers in health, it looks gimmicky, administrative and like one rule for the rich and one rule for everyone else ditto education.

Ken Stevens:

What further do you want the Conservatives to commit to in regard to the EU.

Don't you think their position is different from Labour?

Our lead on health with melt like snow in summer, unless we have a coherent alternative position of our own to offer. At the moment, we don't. A no-position position is all very well mid-term when people feel like the government is drifting. Closer to the election, it's only consequence will be that we have nothing to say, and that will (if it occurs) be a disaster.


"I can understand the position on vouchers in health, it looks gimmicky, administrative and like one rule for the rich and one rule for everyone else ditto education."

If you are correct, that should have been a conclusion of a policy review that considered these possibilities along with others, then rejected them. (As it happens, I am not in favour of top-up vouchers in health - I would go for a social insurance model (something else that was ruled out before we began the review) - but rejecting the ideas of Conservative intellectuals in these areas should, if it was going to happen, have been the *answer*, not the *startpoint*.)

Ken Stevens@16:12

I 100% agree it annoys me no end that the party don't want to commit to English Parliament or as far as I am concerned even better would be devolution to a Borough or County level. As it stands though Labour I believe have come up with no solution and are more than happy to carry on as is. Whereas at least Cameron is committed to English Votes for English MPs.

Glad to hear somebody offering constructive proposals. These are the 10 policy announcements I'd like to hear Cameron roll out over the summer:

1) Promise to divide HM Revenue and Customs back into two separate bodies - Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise.

2) Repeal the Consolidate Fund Act 2005, stripping the Treasury of the power to issue funds out of the Consolidated Fund.

3) Scrap plans for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, restoring its power to the Law Lords.

4) Revoke the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, giving choice back to business.

5) Scrap plans for "super casinos".

6) Replace the rail watchdog group Passenger Focus with a series of geographically separated groups.

7) Revoke all pardons given to soldiers executed for cowardice and other offences during the First World War.

8) Scrap the Consmer Credit Act 2006.

9) Increase the age of candidacy for public elections from 18 to 21.

10) Scrap the proposed Commission on Equality and Human Rights.

Andrew Lilico@16:26
I don't think it is fair to say there is no position. Certainly both Cameron and Lansley have said they want an independent board to do the day to day running of the NHS. If I am honest I would rather have a localist answer but at least a centralised board should mean the removal of Targets that are counter-productive.


Of course, the government's policy is also to have an independent regulator. There is, of course, a difference in that the Lansley proposals (as I understand them - I've only read through the main document briefly and seen what was in the press) involve a full-blooded economic regulator capping prices etc, whilst the government's proposals have the regulator taking a patient interest oversight (and, I think competition issues?). I think that the difference will be too subtle to sell to voters.

voreas06 | July 28, 16:05

"..to me Ken was implying that we were going to copy New Labour policies, .."

Sorry if I gave that impression. Seemingly the inklings are in the other direction (which is also unhelpful to your cause, if in reality it is not so much the Tories lurching leftwards as Labour sneaking to the right!)

It is more the feeling that the electoral sales campaign will be akin to "Daz washes whiter than Persil" or vice versa. Different formulations & additives but similar base ingredients.

Simplistic, I know, but there needs to be a solid perception of real or alleged differences in product in order to attract new customers and create brand loyalty. At the moment I'm not madly keen on your product; it's just a little better than the two other realistic options on the shelf.

I note from debate on this site that you are all still deciding on the product specification & packaging. Best of luck.

Cleo, leadership has to be earned and it can only come when those being led have respect for the Leader, respect that must also be earned. Unfortunately having never really led anything substantive before in his life Cameron does not understnad those key points.

Winning a leadership election is just the beginning of earning the respect of those led and in a democracy that is wholly right and proper. Consistently denigrating and ignoring your own party, its members, activists and MPs is not leadership it is the behaviour of a spoilt brat who has somehow come to believe that he has some kind of devine right to lead which in the 21st century nobody has, not even Royalty.

Unless and until Cameron accepts that he has to carry the Party with him, not attempt to trample them underfoot, then he will continue to be on the receiving end of trenchant criticism from all those who do not agree with him on his New Labour lite approach.

Oh and [email protected] you are completely and utterly correct in what you say, Brown has measured the mood of the people in a way that Cameron with his focus groups and nebulous polling has manifestly failed to do and he can see that the last thing that the electorate wants is an heir to Blair or any continuance of the new Labour pink agenda. This is a public mood that we could have, and ought to have, been in a position to take advantage of. What a shame and what a missed opportunity.

It works both ways Mr Angry. If the party wants to win then it has to be prepared to be led. Problem is the party clearly does not want to be led unless it is with the old failed policies. As such the party will become an irrelevance and a right-wing debating society.

John Leonard | July 28, 16:22
"What further do you want the Conservatives to commit to in regard to the EU. Don't you think their position is different from Labour?"

The difference that I see (and it is indeed an important one) is that Tories have started pressing for a referendum on the EU treatystution-- but so are some Labour MPs and a major Union.

What I would like to see beyond that is a thoroughgoing review/national debate on the extent of our involvement in EU, culminating in a referendum on overall nature of UK membership (Fully in? The slower lane of a two-speed EU? Trade only? Resign?). Otherwise we will periodically face the same sort of situation over & over again and each time losing another little salami slice, until the whole sausage has gone without us realising it.

What if Brown renegotiates one or two of the headline elements of the current draft? What would be the Tory red line as regards continuing to demand a referendum in that eventuality? To what extent will your Europhile patrician elders curb any tendencies towards institutional Euroscepticism?

Ken Stevens@16:50

If as you say the two things that mean most to you are EU treaty and West Lothian question then to carry on with your metaphor:- ours is the only product that will give you any satisfaction at all. Most of the other products won't wash at all, or worse in the case of Labour and the lib dems actually make your whites filthy.

Looks like we can conclude: the broad church is very, very, very broad. The next step is up to the Conservative MPs.

voreas06 | July 28, 17:14

Yeah, I'll buy that but it'll be more of a distress purchase than an actively enthusiastic choice.

However, those potential voters for whom those two partially effectual ingredients are of less significance than in my case, you still have to add the Zing!!! factors.

Btw, re an earlier post, I prefer the tag of EUphobe rather than Europhobe. The latter implies distaste for our mainland cousins, whereas I can demonstrate strong EuroAffinity since childhood. Indeed, clearing out late Mum's papers, the jottings on the back of a photo of a strikingly handsome young man lead me to think that it is only one of life's little quirks that I am blogging here rather than on the German equivalent -- KonservativeHeim perhaps?!

It is at least heartening that so many people have taken the trouble to post their view that there is no crisis.
Particular points:- John Major lost the 97 election because the electorate were bored with us as we had been in government for so long. Remember he had won the 92 election. These days, as the entertainment industry and fashion and gadgets show, everything has a very short shelf life. The Labour Government will find the same, and the new, shiny PM Brown will too.
I don't see all these "pinkish" Cameron policies which have been mentioned. Unless they mean those anti-discriminatory measures which common decency would wish to see in a civilized country.
Here's an idea: if we are Conservative members and/or voters why don't we just stop whinging, and restrict our comments to supporting the Conservative Party and its Leader. That's the only way we shall win a General Election.
So, I'll make a start - here's one vote for Cameron.

"the last thing that the electorate wants is an heir to Blair or any continuance of the new Labour pink agenda. This is a public mood that we could have, and ought to have, been in a position to take advantage of. What a shame and what a missed opportunity."

Mr Angry sums it all up. Cameron has indicated assorted right wing policies, Brown makes out he is thinking (not doing) about some of them and presto Brown is smarter the Cameron and in the lead. Mr Angry you are really Mr Panicker. To summarise, Brown looks as if he is going to pinch some Tory policies so Cameron has missed an oportunity. This is Mad

Unless they mean those anti-discriminatory measures which common decency would wish to see in a civilized country.

Oh you mean the crap "we're With Labour" education policies....well they are a turn-off.

Frankly I am getting tired of "anti-discriminatory measures" and would prefer something more along the lines of the national interest and looking after the bulk of the population.

I really think it is about time politics started taking note of the mainstream population before they opt out of the political system completely. Once that happens the singing and dancing bands in Westminster are finished...and frankly patience is wearing ever so thin

Ken Stevens:

I am in a similar position to yourself, except that I decided to rejoin the party when Michael Howard became leader. I have had my doubts about David Cameron but increasingly I think he is going in the right direction. He does have a long way to go before he provides what I would like to see but as it stands there is no chance of any other party providing that so the Conservatives are my only option.

Anyway, and these are only my perceptions, I am possibly more sceptical than you. I actually believe that we are better off out. For me there is no need for the debate because I no longer believe there are general benefits from being members of the EU as it is.

Whilst it remains a federal institution it offers nothing to me.

However, that said rather than taking the UKIP 'get out now' approach I believe that it will be far less disruptive to depart organically. Consequently, Cameron's position makes sense to me.

My understanding of the Conservative position is that any significant transfer of powers to the EU should require a referendum.

That suggests the vast majority of the treaty would have to go and that would be unacceptable to the rest of the EU. So I'm not sure red lines as such comes into it.

Brown might pull a few rabbits out of the hat but I cannot see that they will be sufficiently substantial to change the Conservative Party's stance.

Either its a substantive treaty or its all been a waste of time.

Furthermore, Cameron has repeatedly said he wants to take powers back from the EU whilst maintaining close relationships on issues such as Climate Change and Security.

I also suggest that the fact that the likes of Ken Clarke are openly opposing current policy so publicly suggests that they have lost the private battle and fear that their federalist cause may be in severe danger.

Others with much greater insight into the inner workings of the party may have a different view.

The polls on the treaty suggest that this country is in no mood for it or for any revamped versions of it.

Therefore, I suspect the Conversatives are set on a course over the EU which will remain constant.

Hopefully, there will be confirmation of this in the draft manifesto to be published later this year.

The other point I'd make is that even Farage is only calling for the referendum at the moment.

I suspect this is because a treaty rejection by the UK may cause far more upheaval in the EU than people here expect.

Already there are some calls for us to be given a downgraded membership and no doubt some calls to get rid of us all together. Further resistence in the UK is likely to frustrate the major Pro-EU nations even further.

This is the key thing to me at this point. There are so many variables as to what may happen that currently, I think Cameron is wise to stick to his current position and let events unfold.

A rejection of the treaty will give any Eurosceptic government the mandate to renegotiate our relationship and that is what I think Cameron is aiming for and that is when I think the proper debate would begin.

Of course Cameron has to win a General Election to get into that position and that is a whole different story.

Alexandre Ledru-Rollin

I am their leader therefore I must follow them

Tory Girl: July 28, 2007 at 14:51
Mr Angry: July 28, 2007 at 17:00

The two most sensible posts on this thread by far.
Only problem is Tory girl and Mr Angry you are never going to convince the "Know it alls" on this blog site.
You may as well give it up as a bad job as there is more mileage from spitting in the wind.
They remind me of "Turkeys voting for Christmas"
I watched D.C. on the news today, nobody and I mean nobody had a blind bit of interest as what he had to say, in fact the reporter treated him more like the joke he is rather than the Leader of H.M. Opposition. He did not even get a mention on the ITV News.
He made a brief visit to Witney, wellies at the ready for the photo shoot, then went M.I.A. to Rwanda during the worst of these floods, then came back onto the scene minus the green wellies this time, to take a pot-shot at the government which fell on deaf ears and the usual open-neck photo-opportunity.
The man should not wash his neck he should polish it as it is made of brass.

Cameron is a commie. What do you expect?

I can't stand this any more. I supported Cameron until a few weeks ago when he gave any kind of responsibility to that foul mouth fruitcake Sayeeda Warsi. Straw on the camel's back. More and more party members are getting sick of the Cameron project. It simply cannot last much longer with so many party members against it and more joining them every day. Why bother supporting a party that doesn't represent me any more? Where is the centre-right alternative to government?

I had to laugh out loud when I read that some people here are now up in arms against Daily Mail. So it's their fault now is it? What's your favoutite newspaper then? Guardian perhaps?

What a sad bunch of commies you lot are.

There will only be a 'crisis' if you lot keep talking it up. It will then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'd quite like an answer to the earlier question though about why ConHome thought to highlight this article against others. Makes you think, doesn't it .... hidden agendas and all that ....

My 10 suggested Tory anouncements for a summer fightback, in no particular order:

Is this a fully costed program?

John Leonard | July 28, 18:18

I'm pretty much in tune with contents of your post.

if we are Conservative members and/or voters why don't we just stop whinging, and restrict our comments to supporting the Conservative Party and its Leader.

Because "David Cameron's Conservatives" don't have real Conservative policies.


Who knows, who cares

All I know is that as a lifelong Conservative supporter, one time member and activist, I will no longer vote Conservative or support them until they stop trying to be Nu-Tory and start adopting some proper Conservative policies.

And I have at least half a dozen or more friends and colleagues all of whom have campaigned actively for the COnservatives in the past and all of whom who have said exactly the same thing.

Richard, they can't hear you as they have their heads stuck in the sand, chanting tra-la-la-la-la.

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