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Selecting the single most important issue at the next election I found quite challenging; NewLab have made such a complete mess of law and order,education, managing the economy (personal debt now greater than GDP - how does Brown sleep at night), the NHS, immigration lack of control, threat of terrorism, social breakdown, tax burden, lost sovereignty, the shambolic devolution, they are all important.
A set of policies that enable people to once again take control of their lives, make their own decisions on how they live their lives (less nanny state, much less), can feel confident that the govt has the citizens' best interests at heart and not their own, can feel safe on the streets, have confidence that their children are not just being groomed to pass exams but are being educated, and that our own govt is making decisions and not Brussels would be a good starting point.
I'm sick of touchy, feely, mustn't offend anyone, approach. Bring back freedom of speech, reduce the interference by jumped-up jobsworths, transfer rights to the majority from the minority pressure groups.
The shadow cabinet has to make it's presence felt; I had to answer "Don't Know" to most of them, they are just not visible.

Peter Brown you just took the words out of my mouth - particularly with regard to the invisible shadow cabinet. Do they actually do anything? If so I've missed it.

Aside from all the obvious things we would like from a Conservative government, I think most of us want to stop - and reverse - the outrageous personal infringements that this wretched government have imposed upon us. A government should facilitate people to live their own lives - not direct them at every stage.

Until all Conservatives do what the Labour Party did in 1995 (threw out Clause IV and united behind Tony Blair) we shall continue to lose elections. All of us have to swallow our pride and unite behind David Cameron whether we like all his policies or not.
Also, please, can Central Office be sure David, and his Shadow Cabinet, are properly briefed before launching an attack. This latest fiasco over hospitals has done us as little good as the "grammar schools" episode.

I agree with everything said above. Editor Tim Montgomerie is right to highlight the part-time frontbench as he did in his article for the Guardian. We can't expect to defeat Gordon Brown and his 6am starts when our team are all in the City and Chambers making money for themselves. If they don't want to be a full-time Opposition they should move aside for people who do.

I am not sure of the value of the survey asking what will determine people's votes at the next election. As it is not asking what will determine our own votes, or what we think actually ought to determine people's votes, surely this is just self-feeding from previous such surveys?

For instance, it always amazes me that surveys show so many people apparently voting on the health service. Sure, health is important to people, but there have been very few recent elections when there has been much difference between the parties on other than peripheral aspects - this is particularly so at the moment. But it would be a brave respondent, in view of all the previous polls on the subject, to put it down as less than "fairly important". I wonder whether people feel it OUGHT to determine their vote, because that puts them down as a wonderful caring person, when what they will actually vote on, as ever, is perceived economic competence (particularly the aspects that most affect them).

As a longstanding Party member it has rarely been difficult for me to decide how to vote. But in 1997 I was heartily sick of John Major, and the tipping point to ensure I stuck with him was that he pledged to maintain hereditary peers in the House of Lords. If there has been such a survey then, I doubt that would have been one of the questions. Come to think of it, you don't even have a category now for Constitutional issues, despite the Bill of Rights, English votes for English laws etc. My vote has also been determined in a number of elections by Europe, and I would still change my vote in some circumstances on that. But it is difficult to put it as an "extremely important" issue if similar surveys as yours all keep saying that people don't vote on it.

For ME, the most important issues at the next election will be the direction on tax (not specific pledges, but the knowledge that one party is lower tax than the other), the Constitution (but am worried if we endorse elections to the Upper House), Europe and civil liberties (junking the poll tax and having a Home Sec who recognises the threats to our liberties). It would also be very important to me if the party I wanted to vote for did not have credible policies and strong intent on tackling global warming. Whether anyone else will vote principally on these issues, I don't know - but, if I were in active politics, I would make it my business to try to persuade people that they ought to. I don't think Winston in 1935 concerned himself with whether rearmament showed up in an opinion poll as people's most important issue!

By the way, this "broken society" stuff plays well, but how does it fit with Cameron's optimism and contentedness with modern Britain as it is? I do not disagree with it as a good unifying theme (after all drowning in consumer debt and having inadequate pensions might even be symptoms), but merely thought I ought to ask.

I tend to concur with all of the above - but I would go further to say that unless our front bench raise their games substantially and actually master their briefs, we will continue to have little real influence on the political agenda of the UK apart from the odd cringeworthy soundbite in the papers which fades from popular memory within 48 hours.

Labour have the benefit of relying on a politicised civil service and an army of taxpayer funded 'advisors' to do the business of government. We do not have these immense luxuries and until we start working a damn sight harder with what we do have, we will not progress.

There is a difference between what people say they are concerned about and what people vote about. In my view law & order; health; education and the economy are the big four a party has to get right and look coherent on. Do that and have a few practical, bold ideas for each and we will make headway,


When one asks a question on Europe, one has to presume one means the European Union. That in itself is not a subject, like defence or education health etc, because the EU covers a bit of everything, depending which control our Westminster Parliament has handed to Brussels. So answering some questions is not easy for the above reason.

I object to having to be classed as 'Rest of South East', as if anywhere not London south of Birmingham and east of Swindon has no identity.

It's called the Home Counties.

Fiona Chapman, very good points. The Conservative party is a huge organization with very wide-ranging opinions, and not everyone will agree with everything all of the time. However there is one thing we all agree on. We want to see an end to Labour rule in our country. Therefore its in the common interest of all to put their differences aside and work together for victory at the next election.

Utterly mundane question but is ConservativeHome registered in any way with the Information Commissioner's Office to handle survey data?

Conservatives should stick to their principles that made this country great over the last 100 years. The support from all sections of society would follow.

We should care better for those genuinly in need, fight for our public services, give pensioners the better deal they deserve, be hard on crime, including on the hoodies who do it, and give leadership on tough issues like immigration.

And cutting taxes to more effective levels, to grow the economy, can help achieve these things.

But our first responsibility must be to defend our democracy and nation. The keystone of democracy is that the people should decide how and by whom they are governed. So why did the Conservative front bench team not respond to the Chairman of the Pro-Referendum Rally's email or go to the Steering Group's meeting.

Perhaps when we stop listening to wet-behind-the-ears advisors and start listening to and defending the real people of this country, we will do better. It can take courage to accept the truth.

Bob Spink MP
Chairman Pro-referndum Rally Steering Committee

When it came to giving opinions on the shadow cabinet, again I had to vote dont know. Those who nhave irked me with their comments outside of their brief (Duncan for example) have a very dissatisfied.

Its ridiculous that we have a shadow cabinet of such talent and its wasted. Whats the point of a shadow cabinet if the shadow cabinet barely gets a word in edgeways?

However there is one thing we all agree on. We want to see an end to Labour rule in our country.

So in Scotland by your logic Conservatives should be allied with the SNP

Bob Spink MP
Well said, Leadership take note, it really isn't that hard to articulate the way forward in a simple, straightforward manner!

"So why did the Conservative front bench team not respond to the Chairman of the Pro-Referendum Rally's email or go to the Steering Group's meeting."

Pick up the phone and ask them?

If you have to rate someone's performance as a "don't know" then stop. "don't know" equals very poor, as they are either doing nothing or what they are doing in ineffectual or they are incapable of raising issues with the prominence they deserve.

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