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If Ancram is such a blast from the past, then just ignore him. The story dies on its feet if it gets no response. I agreed with what Ancram had to say but the timing of it meant that Cameron could easily have dodged this bullet, but seems intent on standing in the way.

As leader you would expect David Cameron to knock back those who are critical of his approach. Of course everyone is entitled to have their own opinion. However it is not helpful when people try to undermine Mr Cameron when he is working hard to re-estabish the Conservative party as a credible alternative to the failed Labour government. The extent of the defeat in 1997 always meant that the road back to power was going to be long and difficult. David Cameron is getting the party where it needs to be, and he must be helped not hindered.

Yes, Cameron should just sit there, meekly, and take everything hurled at him without complaint.

"Too many of them feel neglected by him and his team... "

Are these people adults or children?

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old condidtions."

I'm happy to continue backing Cameron but the attitude towards his critics does rankle.

Also, referring to local election results as the be all and end all is foolish. Our local results have been excellent every year since 1997...

Perhaps DC took inspiration from the hysterical denounciations of Michael Ancram made by commenters on this Blog? Yes it wasn't helpful and the timing may not have been great but the reaction was out of all proportion.

So well done Dave on giving the Ancram story another pair of legs. If you're really lucky you'll turn MA into persistent thorn in your flesh.

Could Mr Coulson have a quiet word in the Leader's ear about how to disarm a critic without attracting further attention to what the critic is saying?

First and foremost, say nothing. If asked talk up your agenda and treat your critic like an errant friend who you respect but is on this occasion mistaken. **Never show your annoyance**.

Those who seek to excuse DC for this sort of behaviour clearly don't get the plot - by making these silly retorts DC is making a rod for his own back and appears distinctly un-Leaderlike.

Whatever is said by some Dinosaur or latterday Francis Maude there are some cardinal rules for dealing with critics which just don't appear to be understood. It's time that they were or we are never going to get anywhere.

Sooner or later Labour will work out a way to get under DC's skin and if he reacts publicly in a petulant way it may be game over.

I disagree. He shows he's strong and won't be wobbled by Ancram and any other idiots out there who are firmly on the fringes. It's leadership and it's not surrendering the media stage to trouble-makers. In any event, how do you know he didn't clear this with Ancram first...

Cameron just doesn't really care about the parliamentary party. I am quite sympathetic to his ignoring and treating badly some of the right wing idiots but he also treats some of the front bench, and even some of the shadow cabinet, like this. His shadow cabinet reshuffle showed that he cares little for ability or experience and even less about what the parliamentary party thinks. The fast tracking of so many 2005'ers provides no incentive for very loyal MPs to stay loyal as loyalty and ability are not rewarded. If I had been over looked for promotion to a young, inexperienced colleague with little ability that others don't respect then I would find it hard to maintain my loyalty.

In any event, how do you know he didn't clear this with Ancram first...

These problems wouldn't exist if people focused all their energy into getting the party into government. While the Conservative party is in opposition our country suffers. If people are serious about ending Labour's rule they must show some dexterity when making comments to the media.

Why not say "thank you very much, I will take that into consideration" and move on, statesman-like?

David, its not about just taking it. Its about being professional and not rising to the bait. We seem to be forgetting basic political rules here. By reacting to the pamphlet, which in itself is something which Cameron can agree mostly with, hes fanned the flames and given its embers some fuel. If he had ignored it, it would have looked like Ancram was just ranting away to his own group in the Party. Instead he gives Ancram airtime and credibility.

Cameron needs to learn when to fight and when just to brush it off with a shrug. Hes getting a reputation for this approach to his colleagues and it could become a serious problem in the future.

Where is the party chairman in dealing with these critics? MIA

Where is the Chief Whip in maintaining MP's discipline? Did he have no warning about what Ancram was up to? MIA

Our problem is the performance of the shadow cabinet team. Too many are MIA.

Missing In Action

"letters written by people who have been kind to him, returned unsigned or ignored"

That is inexcusable from the Leader of the Conservative Party and prospective Prime Minister. It is sheer bad manners and rudeness. But it is, from personal experience, not surprising considering his education and extra-curricular activities.

Remember that Michael Ancram was a prominent Cameron supporter during the Leadership election. He is a true gentleman, unlike Our Dear Leader, who is behaving like an arrogant Old Etonian boor.

DC should stop dissing internal critics?

What a pile of crap. Of course he should slap them down - in fact the more vigourously he kicks his enemies (internal and external) the more serious he looks about his programme and his policies.

Of course it will (further) alienate many of the idiots, ideologues and 'no surrender to the electorate all we need is to be more right wing because it worked so well in the 80s' brigade, but in all honesty the only people who believe that the Tom-Toms of this world are indispensable to the Conservative Party are, well, they themselves.

Bunch of idiots.

I think Cameron has a death wish. About the one subject that the Brown government is out on a limb was precisely the one to which Ancram paid the most attention - namely the EU Referendum question.

So he doesn't want to talk about and the media have noticed ./ Ancram asks for a Plan B if Brown tries to steamroller it through. Today as the blog illustrates with its video the cross party campaign for the referendum gets under way Cameron wastes his credibility in attacking a decidedly friendly critic. What a prat!

Well, he did give Mr Cameron a bit of a slap without warning. He is a blast from the past in all senses and his pamphlet doesn't signify a lot more than 'look at me' because he used to be a right-on One Nationer.

On the other hand, the lot of an unloved back-bench MP is a sorry one. Why is he standing again and why has he been reselected? Would the Devizes chairperson like to comment?

I think it's a calculated move to balance the "lurch to the right" headlines -- which the Change message cannot afford.

Just to pick up on yet another half-arsed comment from 'moral minority' who states that it is unsurprising that DC hasn't personally responded to all and every letter written to him by people who supported him, "considering his education and extra-curricular activities".

Again - what a stupid, unsupported, chippy thing to say. Does 'moral minority' know any OEs? What sort of extra curricular activites is he talking about (DC stalks therefore doesn't write letters...).

Do these people believe that leaders have time to respond in person to every unsolicitated piece of advice or brown-nosery?

Don't they reckon that there are more important things to be doing than flattering the already hyper-stoked egos of pompous back benchers who believe that they have it all sorted because they are, well, around?

Why doesn't the 'moral minority' either grow up, or ship out - and let the rest of us get back to winning an election

The real problem is that DC has been inconsistent with his 'slapping-down' policy. Graham Brady got the boot for his grammar school comments, Dominic Grieve did not. John Redwood gets away with having a pop at Gummer & Co - even before their policy review is published - and seemingly gets away with it, Ancram gets a full broadside. Baby Bercow and Col. Mercer (who was on TV last night as 'Security Advisor to the Government') have seemingly got away with their treachery. I'm afraid it is open season for dissent of any kind. I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens when DCs best friend Zac Goldsmith goes ballistic when the Party finally agrees that we have to have an energy-mix that includes a nuclear element. Will be interesting to see what sort of 'slapping-down' he gets....

I want all Conservatives to think carefully before they open their mouths...
Tip -try taking your own advice sometime soon Mr Cameron.

Truly brilliant post Nostradamus. Thank you.

Zac, start your engines.

Don't worry, Simon, this is one "idiot" who's already 'shipped out' - though quite how this is going to help those of you that remain to win an election any time soon isn't entirely clear to me. Still, I suppose now the Party is (rightly) going for Internet campaigning, those of us who previously tramped the streets are surplus to requirements in every respect.

For the record, I have met many Old Etonians, both inside the Party and out (such as the City). The only one I liked was William Waldegrave, a genuinely nice and intelligent man.

The others were arrogant snobs who regarded those from less privileged backgrounds as social inferiors, i.e. oiks. They would be nice to your face when they wanted your help and then drop you when you were no longer of use to them. That will resonate with MPs who voted for Dave.

I have a friend who was Oxford at the same time as Cameron. The Bullingdon Club, filled with OEs, had a terrible reputation. There were reports of cocaine-fuelled orgies with prostitutes as well as drunken trashing of restaurants.

It has been reported that Cameron, whilst at Carlton Communications, had a dreadful reputation for trying to bully and intimidate financial journalists. Jeff Randall of the Daily Telegraph can provide the details. His posts about Cameron on this site were priceless.

Yeah - Cameron should never criticise his detractors. That's exactly what Mrs Thatcher would have done - kept quiet.


It looks weird (and weak) if someone deliberately chucks a drink over you in a pub and you pretend not to notice it. A quick and effective whack (Ancram = "blast from the past") and then turn back to the conversation you were having. DC got it exactly right.

Personally I would have gone OTT and beaten the absolute crap out of Ancram - not just for dissing the leadership but for being such a pathetic egotistical jerk as to imagine for five seconds that he could lead the Conservative Party.

That's why I'm not leader and Cameron is. A matter of judgement.

I think it is a warning to other people to think about party discipline. to outsiders we look a joke with hypersensitive supporters throwing their toys out of the pram at a moments notice with each nuance of policy. If we want to win the next election and get rid of this pretty despicable at times Nulab govt we are going to have to hold ranks, maintain disciple and fight as unit, together. this constant sniping and backbiting is harmful and we need to belt up and get on with it.

"Too many of them feel neglected by him and his team... "

"Are these people adults or children?"

Totally agree with that comment David, in fact I am getting more and more annoyed at this demand that Cameron should spend time soothing the ruffled feathers of those within the Parliamentary party. They should not need this kind of treatment at this time! They should be grown up enough, and have a hunger to see their leader concentrate on the task they, and the members of the party have set him. His job is to get a Conservative party elected to government, his MP's should share this responsibility and be helping him to achieve this, end of.
Some of our MP's demand the right to independent view when they go to the media trashing either the Leader, the party or their colleagues. Some use the argument that Cameron does not devote enough time to individuals, that is the kind of excuse that holds no water and says more about the individual than the leader.
If your ego or character is so thin that you would defect to Labour or pick up the phone to a newspaper to trash your own party's election prospects on that basis, then you are not an asset to the Party, or the leadership who are trying to achieve the mammoth task of getting us elected from a base of less than 200 MP's.
In fact just thinking about the daily trashing that Cameron takes from the media, in particular Heffer and his ilk does make this faux outrage if he dares to make a comment in response to some of the more unhelpful in his own party seem a bit petty and childish.
In fact, while this kind of unhelpful intervention goes on the media will keep asking questions of Cameron about disunity within the party, giving a non answer time and again shows weakness not leadership. He has to comment occasionally and that should be accepted without this kind of naval gazing angst. Lets stop trying to tie his shoe laces together in the middle of the race!

It was the Cameroons who started the sniping and backbiting. They targeted the traditionalists and Thatcherites to show that the Party had "changed". Team Cameron treats large sections the Parliamentary party with thinly-disguised contempt. Most have little or no experience of the real world.

David Cameron only worked at CCHQ and the Treasury as a political adviser before a few years in public relations. Yet we are supposed to believe that he can run the country. George Osborne has only worked at CCHQ and as a Departmental adviser. Yet we are expected to believe that he can run the nation's finances.

Previously our top team had real world experience, e.g. as QCs (Howard, Howe, Clarke), business (Heseltine, Nott) or journalism (Lawson).

The public is not stupid. We will only win an election when swing voters think our team have the skills and experience to run the country better than Labour. Cameron and Osborne do not offer a credible alternative.

We are therefore stuck with the core vote of around a third of the electorate. If the Lib Dems and UKIP get their acts together, it could be much worse.

"Personally I would have gone OTT and beaten the absolute crap out of Ancram - not just for dissing the leadership but for being such a pathetic egotistical jerk as to imagine for five seconds that he could lead the Conservative Party."

There are many more appalling comments like this one, but I for one hope that they will continue to be posted.

That way we can all see that the Cameron Party is just as nasty arrogant and bigoted as the party of Thatcher.

More so in fact.

Well I think Ancram was wrong to say what he did (although I do think this story was blown up by the group of liberal brainwashers at the BBC).

If anybody has a gripe with Cameron, they should speak to him behind closed doors or write to him.

The fact is, Conservatives have a choice - do we want to be in government, or not?

I am one of the biggest admirers there is of Margaret Thatcher, I wouldn't enjoy the quality of life I do today if it wasn't for her, and neither would all these left wing idiots who attack her.

But her policies were right for the 1980s - something different is needed today. A new prescription. It's the same sort of thing - we need a leader who can clean up Labour's mess but the problems are different.

Cameron might be the man to do that. Let's give him a chance. If you've got a gripe with him, do it out of the way of the media and the BBC for goodness sake - it's what they want.

Ive got plenty of gripes with Cameron Helen.

Does that mean he'll see me to discuss them if I ask politely?

Let's get this in perspective....

After a concerted fightback from an 8% deficit to level-pegging, lots of good headlines, a major policy review document...

Ancram let's loose not a new pamphlet but a warm over of an old one. Doesn't tell CCHQ and makes a bee-line for the Telegraph.

I took the trouble to read it (and I will never have those minutes of my life back).

Cameron is absolutely right to admonish these people who cannot grasp the concept of going to the leadership with concerns.

If Senior Tories have an issue, go to the leader NOT the BBC and papers.

As for Cameron rising above it, velvet gloves... iron fists.

Ancram crossed the line, frankly, if it was me, I'll have withdrawn the whip for a few weeks.

I see that Mike Smith, not satisfied with his 'Traditional Tory' guise, has decided to import from the old CDA website another of his multiple-personality-disorder creations - 'Alistair', the puritanical Thatcher-hating leftist.

Are you being paid by Tim to erect a Potemkin village of comment, Mike? If not, you should be.

To Helen and Mike Thomas - You have both inadvertently hit the nail on the head and exposed one of DCs major flaws. It is exactly that he does not listen to those who differ from his own (or rather Steve Hilton’s) views that is now forcing all these dissenters to speak out. Several senior Tories, both in and out of Parliament, have been to see DC and apparently he simply pulls down the shutters. He is happy to take £2.5m off party donor Johan Eliasch and then ignore him. Now he is off to work with GB. Back in December 2005 he told Ancram that he would like to use him as a sounding board and to pick his brains on issues, I understand Ancram is still waiting for the first call –not that it is going to come now! So now he blasts off a pamhlet in frustration. Col Mercer was treated quite badly over his 'black army' comments. The delivery of his message was certainly inept but the issue he was trying to raise was worthy. Had it been treated properly by DC i.e. should have used it as an opportunity to open a rational debate about race issues in a modern society - that would really have shown the country that the Tory party had changed. Whatever you think of Col Mercer he was made to stand infront of the firing squad wall too soon - it is to his credit that he he did so and did so without a blindfold. Now he is off to work with GB. The emerging maxim is 'if you are gonna treat people like sh*t don't stand infront of the fan when you dish it out'.

As furious as I was with Ancram I would agree with this editorial.Telling Ancram that his views 'signify nothing' does not achieve anything. I thought DC would have learned a lesson from the 'pointless' and 'delusional' fiasco.
On a more positive note I was quite gratified to see that Ancram recieved approximately no public support from any Tory MP.Are they learning to be discplined at last?

"He (Cameron) must be a unifying figure and he's only given a 11th hour burst of life to the nearly dead Ancram story".

Absolutely, Tim. I have only just read Ancram's article but that is clearly more than have some of Ancram's critics. The timing was very unkind but there was a lot of sound common sense in it and, had Cameron played it cool, he would have made a link between his "brand" and, say, Margaret Thatcher's without too much difficulty, which might have defused the situation.

From Malcolm: I was quite gratified to see that Ancram recieved approximately no public support from any Tory MP.Are they learning to be discplined at last?

If only, Malcolm. They're probably too busy with their second jobs to have noticed there was a spat.

Hmm. The only thing I'd say about 'blast from the past' is that it's actually quite flattering to Ancram. A blast? More of an elastoplast. From the distant past.

'"Too many of them feel neglected by him and his team... "

Are these people adults or children?'

Adults. A good leader respects those he leads, and appreciates that they can often have expertise and knowledge exceeding his own.

One of Cameron's problems is precisely that he treats his followers like children when they deserve to be treated like adults. It's quite reasonable to protest about this.

Poor old DC, damned when he flexes his leadership muscles and reviled when he doesn't.

Time for a little bit of solidarity in the party, get the same hymn sheets disseminated and make sure everyone knows the words.

"They're probably too busy with their second jobs to have noticed there was a spat."

Yes, what has happened to Oliver Letwin - too busy at Rothschilds? According to the party website he is still "Chairman of the Party's Policy Review and Chairman of the Conservative Research Department". There have been several major policy reports published in recent weeks and we have not heard a cheep out of him. Is he on strike too?


Simply put I'd don't agree with you and you come across that you are clutching at straws.

90% of what you have written is conjecture, the other 10% fantasy.

Dear Mr. Cameron,
We can only be lead if we like where we are going. I am willing to forget the awful repositioning stuff if we get good conservative (small "c") policies. What we have had recently is a series of good starts but with more punches pulled than a boxer throwing a fight. In the mess Labour has put us in, that will not do.
Ancram's pamphlet was remarkable from a centrist, sometimes leftist member of the Tory ex- hierarchy. He was absslutely sound on the EU, because a Tory Government can not produce even the halfway reforms suggested unless you promise to return self-government to Britain. If you want Government, you need to know what you want it FOR. You need to have the will to argue your case and carry out reform. I don't see this happening yet. I shall wait and see.

If the party has concerns it should go to the leadership in private and not do it in full view of the public because that just shows divisin and the only winner is Mr Brown.

Cameron should be thankful that Ancram published his pamphlet during the silly season rather than at the party conference in Blackpool.

Ancram merely fired a shot across the bows rather than aim a torpedo at the engine room.

It was nothing compared to the bile and treachery that IDS suffered at the hands of the Portillistas before Blackpool in 2003.

If the party has concerns it should go to the leadership in private and not do it in full view of the public because that just shows divisin and the only winner is Mr Brown.

Haven't you 'floated' back to your natural home in the Labour Party yet, Cleo?

I love the way Dave plans a big fanfare for his 'Cameron Youth' project, then blows a raspberry instead and keeps the Ancram story running.

As the Telegraph has confidently predicted, Autumn is likely to see a new bout of internecine strife. The only way Cameron can prevent it is by showing conclusively that the PC changes are stone dead.

He's made a start - but it's not enough.

Problem is most people on this website agree with Ancran's sentiments. They would not criticise Cameron for fighting back otherwise. They believe that one last big campaign on the old issues will bring a Conservative landslide. They do not understand that the country has moved on and that the party has to respond to that and fight on the centre ground. If the party does not move on then it will loose badly at the next election and if the Lib Dems have any sense they will elect one of their modernisers Orange book people and then the Conservatives really will be in trouble and in terminal decline.

Problem is most people on this website agree with Ancran's sentiments

Correct, Cleo. Glad we agree for once.

And so do the vast majority of grassroots Tories

Mind you, as many of whom are old enough to be Ancram's mum and dad, he may be regarded as a dangerous liberal in some circles.

Mike Thomas – pray tell me which part of my comments are fantasy. All my points about Ancram and his phone call – fact, as told by Ancram and Cameron in Dec 2005; Eliasch saved the Party from embarrassment re declaring donors names, he has now resigned as Deputy Treasurer and gone to work with GB on climate-change issues, Mercer, we all know about – I accept that my interpretation of his demise, what could have been done etc could be construed as fantasy – in which case most of the Tory Party I know are all in my fantasy world. I know of one very senior Tory on the Party Board who recently went to see DC with his concerns and was basically told to ‘sod off’.

Conjecture, fantasy are all maybe’s, the one true fact is that DC will not listen to the concerns of the wider Party especially if they differ from his own master-plan. There are none so blind as those who will not see. If you think that Ancram, Mercer, Bercow etc are one-offs, think again.

Cleo, Cameron is addressing the right themes but with the wrong policies.

He can improve the environment without bringing in new taxes. New technology can deliver bigger carbon reductions than increases in air passenger duty.

He could have promoted the selection of more women candidates without the sexism of the Priority List. You start by encouraging experienced women councillors to apply for their local seats. Many are just too busy with family commitments to apply elsewhere. The Priority List encouraged inexperienced women without families to apply around the country. My association's shortlist proved that.

He can increase investment in public services AND fund tax cuts from savings in bureaucracy, e.g. getting rid of Labour's hundreds of new quangos.

You are right about the Lib Dems. A Clegg leadership would give Dave many sleepless nights.

If cameron hadn't got a death wish he'd have responded publicly to Ancram's positive suggestions with something along the lines of "That's the trouble with being a party leader - everyone thinks they can do the job better" Then he should have shut up.

Instead he goes into overdrive and gives the hacks what they want - "A SPLIT". The man's an idiot with a death wish. And today he's presented on a plate with the biggest political story for weeks and he ignores it - I'm glad Gove, Heathcote Amory et al didn't ignore it.

How great it must be to have all the answers 'Moral Minority' to our partys problems especially as your solutions seem to be so pain free. As it's obviously so easy why don't you tell us all your real name? Then we might all clamour to elect you as leader!

I am distinctly uneasy about these allegations about what did or did not happen in the "Bullingdon Club days"...mentioned earlier in this thread

Sounds like a ticking time bomb

I fear the tabloids may have an angle which they will expose during an election campaign...

Maybe this is why the astute Trevor Kavangh of the Sun says "Brown will win and win big".....

Allegations are one thing but if there is a grain of substance (pardon the pun) the public will take flight.....

DC dismissed of Michael Ancram’s pamphlet as a “Blast from the past that signifies nothing”. But many have noticed that the pamphlet is full of good and common sense – actually full of true Conservative values.

I recall some spokesman issued a statement, responding to Michael Ancram, which went on about having to live in the modern world.

The common theme here is despising the past, and all this sounds very Blairite. I recall Mr Blair was considered as having no care for our nation’s history and traditions. But people were glad to see “cool Britannia” Mr Blair replaced by the more serious son of the manse who apparently has a (sometimes functioning) “moral compass”.

Perhaps some people need to acknowledge that not everything that is modern is good, and not everything that is old and traditional is bad.

Mr Cameron must surely realise this, with his policies on supporting marriage and on crime as solutions to the brokenness in modern (I used that word deliberately) society. Much of what Mr Ancram has said seems to fit well with and support what Mr Cameron is seeking to achieve. So why not see how Michael Ancram, as a party elder statesman, can contribute and welcome what he said? Also being an older statesman and grandee, a more serious and gentlemanly type of figure, he could help counter the effect of the more staid and serious Mr Brown. But Mr Cameron just trashes MA. Sad.

Ancram is not the equivalent of Benn. For Cameron to suggest as much is low. So often, just when I find that perhaps the wet faced ad-man might, just might, make an acceptable choice in the voting booth, he comes up with some petulant, personal, spiteful riposte to perfectly legitimate criticism. It has crossed my mind that the whole Ancram moment is a clever ruse designed to stymie Labour's "lurch to the right" nonsense - but I doubt it. The agony of the tory party lies in its being led by men of no convictions. They are adroit careerists, without the guts to reach past the media class into the hearts and minds of the British people.

Cameron is fast becoming the Tory equivalent of Neil Kinnock but without the panache..........

Yet again, Ed, time to change the name of this site.

The blowhards, fools, ideologues, sock puppets and UKIP loons who are represented on every one of these leadership threads are wildly unrepresentative of the Conservative Party, true Conservative ideals and the Great British Public.

I am off to Platform 10.

Brown to extend language tests for immigrants

Tories to unveil plans for tough energy regulations

It says it all, this is why David Cameron will not win the next General Election, concentrating too much on middle-of-the-road and inoffensive topics while Gordon Brown is not afraid to tackle the topics that really bother the people of this country.

Under Cameron tories have no hope whatsoever in the next election. If you guys think that jumping on the latest fashionable bandwagon (i.e. being half-pink, half-green, fluffy, leftie, woolly) is the way to win elections, you haven't a clue. Sad really. If I wanted to vote for a bunch of sitting-on-the-fence tossers, there is always the Lib Dems. Why emulate them?

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