« Tories fall to 31% in new Populus survey | Main | Play Taxman Pacman! »


Mostly sensible and you'll see a lot of this at Conference I think.

A lot of that list is not very attractive to the floating voter, where is the NHS and schools? It shows the problem for David Cameron very clearly though, grassroots members are in another place entirely. I hope that David Cameron realises, unlike his recent predecessors, that he has to reach out to new voters to win the now very near general election.

It is time for those who have overtly undermined the leadership in recent weeks- Lord Tebbit, Graham Brady etc- to decide here and now whether they really want a Conservative Governemnt or another 5 years of the present lot now masquerading as Conservatives.

Extraordinarily disappointing to see the "Toffs Benefit"-abolishing inheritance tax so popular. Since only 5% pay this it is not for the likes of me or 95% of voters! Just about guaranteed to reinforce our image as the party of privilege.You could not make it up. Appeal to the majority of voters, not the few. When will our leaders finally learn this very obvious lesson?

Michael it is time for us to show that we are Conservatives!!

"whether they really want a Conservative Governemnt"

A "Dave Cameron's Conservative" government, you mean? They and many others have clearly decided to wait for a real Conservative government.

There needs to be more for floating voters, this simply looks like 2005 with a few add-ons. It's not comprehensive to build the big tent needed.

Going back to core values, bring us back to 33%.

Which is right where we are now.

"reduces taxation, increases prison places, increases funding for the armed forces"

So, that's reduce the tax take, and increase spending? Not too bright these so called grassroots.......

As cleo said - where are schools and hospitals? One reason the last elections didn't go well was because people didn't know what Tories would do for THEM. Education and health are one of the few things that help everyone.

Whereas slashing inheritance tax only helps the richer members of society, whether or not it's a good idea.

Limitation of new housing to brownfield sites? Sounds like a policy from people who already have a nice house and don't care if others are left without. More selfish Toryness there.

The better off didn't win elections for Major in 1997, Hague in 2001 or Howard in 2005. You've got to appeal to more people - the core vote won't get you anywhere.

Nothing on NHS and Education?

Open goals?

""LONDON (Reuters) - Hospital hygiene measures to tackle superbugs announced by the government this week are populist moves that will have little effect by themselves, a leading medical journal said on Friday.

In an editorial, the Lancet said plans outlined by Prime Minster Gordon Brown and Health Secretary Alan Johnson to deal with deadly infections such as MRSA and C Difficile were not based on scientific evidence.""

""Britain's education system is perpetuating social divisions, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The Paris-based group has warned that the disappointing state of the schools system could leave the economy flagging in the years ahead.

The report said Government targets for schools had back-fired and may have harmed pupils' education.

advertisementThe target for teenagers to score five C grades or more in their GCSEs led schools to push children into "easier" vocational courses, the OECD said. As a result, many schools did not focus on the key subjects of English and maths.

The organisation also said that despite hundreds of billions of extra pounds spent by Labour, the money was not reaching the schools that most needed it.

The result is that children are growing up to be ill-equipped to deal with the modern economy.

The chief author of the report, Anne-Marie Brook, said Britain's education standards were flagging behind other Western economies.

Maths and literacy skills were faring particularly badly.""

Michael it is time to show we are Conservatives!!

Cleo, you are so clearly of the left, why on earth do you not admit it and declare yourself for Labour? Or the Liberals? Persons of your persuasion - high taxing, multiculturalist believers in state power - have two political parties, the BBC, most of the arts establishment and at least half the demoralised Church on your side. What more do you want? To close down discussion altogether? Perhaps that is your motive. Then your left ideology will triumph unopposed, won't it? Well, many of us on this site believe that democracy involves putting alternatives before the public. We also believe in political sincerity, not in the idle "positioning" which has seen electoral turnout plummet to a bare sixty percent of eligible voters. Politics is about the clash of might opposites, not moving the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

This business of "fair pay" for women is quite wrong. "Fair" is all very well, but that's not the same as "equal".

If men and women are paid equally, you will soon effectively compel all women to work. Employers can then cut wages, whilst having a bigger pool of talent to pick from, so it's alright for them. It will increase inequality. You will get two city high-earners marrying, with a very large combined salary, and some family will lose the potential benefit of having a member of the family with a good city job.

British society is structured around families where men go to work and women either look after children, or, if they are at the lower end of the economic scale, obtain some additional supplementary employment. It is a good, if imperfect, system that should not be abandoned.

I have written frequently about the dangers of English Votes for English Laws, so won't again. The rest are all good apart from 14.

Ruddy grassroots this, grassroots that. We will lose on a "grassroots" manifesto. What are we going to do in order to appeal to the 5% of the electorate that have never voted Conservative?

Exactly where does this idea of only 5 per cent of the population pays inheritance tax come from? Have they changed the rules? Last I looked it was anything over £300,000 once debts had been paid off. That would put almost every house owner in the South-East and plenty of them in the rest of the country in the tax paying bracket (well their heirs). And, of course, taxes had been paid on all inheritance before. Am I missing something? Do let me know, all you hight-tax socialists masquerading as Conservative activists.

Cleo, Brown has pinched old Tory hospital policies, e.g. more matrons, mainly developed by Dr Fox. Lansley's proposals to create new quangos are hardly vote winners. An election campaign should concentrate on attacking Labour on hospital and A&E closures.

Cameron has backed Labour's schools policies, i.e. backing City Academies and opposing more grammar schools in counties where there none. I want a policy to introduce Charter Schools and education vouchers. They have produced outstanding results in cities in the US and Sweden, especially in poor areas.

lurch to the right and Gordon Brown is home and dry and the Conservative Party will never win.

'we will lose on a grassroots manifesto'

We are going to lose anyway, we may aswell go down with a little class and the support of the membership.

The grassroots are the core voters so not surprising they want core issues - we need the non-core, the floaters who drifted into Tony's big tent or thought Charles Kennedy was such a nice young man to vote for us. Evidence is they are turned off if we bang on about the same issues or are angry rather than optimistic. Gordon Brown's cornered the market in aggressive pessimism.

On 1 to 9 - already pledged or strongly indicated. Not sure there's much more to add to what David Davis hasn't already said on immigration - but the carpers on here are deaf to all but they want to hear. On EU we've already promised a referendum; suppose the hearing aids were turned off. There must of been background noise when we pledged more prison places and abolition of early release.

No 10 - if Scotland is getting more per head on the basis of per capita transfers to English Districts or regions with similar social issues or geographical problems then perhaps there's an argument. It's certainly time to reconsider how central UK funds are allocated to the four nations (Northern Ireland gets the most IIRC)

But what Cameron needs to do is present an attractive alternative to Dour Brown that covers the core stuff but is wider and about invigorating Britain. There's no great passion for Brown - just a grudging belief he's a safer pair of hands. Cameron needs to tell the country why it will be better to make the change. Meanwhile his best shadow ministers remind everyone that Macavity WAS there and last week's re-hash of US electioneering and already announced and failed policies was just the soul-destroying speech it was meant to be. Brown doesn't want passion or to whip up debate; he wants people who don't care, who vote for him because he, along with his little helpers like Tebbit, Mercer, Brady and Bercow, have undermined the public perception of this Party and its leadership.

Cleo, you seem unable to post anything other than slogans most of which could be written by a Labour spin doctor.
I suppose to balance things up we get Jorgen monotonously claiming that the modern day Conservative party is not rally 'Conservative' at all. Both are wrong in my opinion and both are seemingly completely unable to make any substantive points.

These policies do not represent a "lurch to the right". Numerous are already party policy (the referendum on the constitution, for example). Scrapping ID cards will not be seen as a "lurch to the right", nor lower stamp duty, nor protecting small shopowners. The important thing is that we don't *replace* action on public services with these sort of policies. These policies are hardly extreme - no leaving the EU, no zero net immigration, no major income tax reductions.

So why does that bother you, Cleo?

I really am incensed at the lack of competence of some senior and highly paid apparatchiks.

Over 18 months of Project Cameron and half the public aren't sure what he stands for. Many others are browned off (pardon the pun) with Nasty Party green taxes and spiteful shots at families who take their car to a supermarket.

Time to go back to basics at Blackpool. A winning manifesto would appeal to large sectors of society on the issues that will make a difference to their lives:

* Make it clear that there will be no road pricing. (1.8 million people immediately onside).

* Adopt some Taxpayers' Alliance suggestions to cut out real waste in public services.

* Disregard the main home when calculating inheritance tax, and decrease the impact on estates worth less than £1m

* Balance this by taking the lowest paid out of income tax altogether.

* Adapt Oliver Letwin's ideas on looking at lifetime-based taxation and savings.

* Simplify the tax system, so that the public and the IR/HMRC can understand it.

* Make public servants and the Crown Prosecution Service personally responsible for wasting citizens' time.

* Ban local councils from wasting money on political projects, grants and advertising that have nothing to do with providing core local services, unless local residents have 'opted in' - akin to the trades unions political levy.

* Replace EU membership, which offers the potential for unlimited immigration, with a trade and co-operation relationship.

* Commit to deporting criminals, including illegal immigrants.

* Provide a network of support services for families struggling with the problems of debt, plus involving their children in constructive activities so that they don't resort to anti-social behaviour.

* Commit to lighter-touch government and far more support to help people manage their lives and their communities.

Dale, great let's become a pressure group. Politics as against political theory is about tacking your course to the prevailing winds. The winds have been against us for about 14 years. We have to listen as well as act - the Conservatives in Canada lost a couple of years ago, dropped the policies that the public didn't trust (core stuff to many activists) and then got a minority government.

Brown's little helpers (as per my earlier posting which vanished into the Ether) Tebbit, Brady, Mercer and Bercow have managed to make the core unsure that Cameron supports the list above. Points 1 to 9 are already either policy or have been well indicated as policy. They are not enough to win.

The NHS is about to undergo a major re-structuring with local hospitals closed and replaced by super-clinics and fewr hospitals. The SNP made a big thing about this in Scotland (where the proposals were not as radical) and that helped get them above Labour. Where is NHS is the list above?

While the environment un-prompted only rates 10% or so on importance, when prompted (i.e. people are reminded) it rises to a major concern for 60%. OK people don't want new taxes but if we offer tax breaks? There will be no taxes on super-market parking but I hope we see action on real policies that address emissions and energy security.

The list above is a list based on politics of fear - that works for Governments but oppositions need to offer the politics of hope.

"lurch to the right and Gordon Brown is home and dry and the Conservative Party will never win."

Yes. Because ordinary people don't care about crime. They're not bothered that elderly people can't walk down the street without being mugged or raped. Ordinary people don't care about immigration. The fact that Brown won't be happy until foreigners outnumber English people is of no concern to them. And ordinary people aren't interested in Europe. They don't care that we are about to sign up to a constitution which hands over many of our cherished powers to the Germans.

No. They don't care about those at all, do they?

Simon Denis I am a floating voter who was attracted to this party with David Cameron's centre ground progessive politics talking about issues that matter to me. If the party strays onto the old issues then I will not vote for the party and so won't many others.

Just about everybody I meet and with whom I have discussed current affairs seems to share core voters' concerns. Floating voters of the all is well in the best of all worlds, I meet few if none. Actually thinking about it the last person who sticks in my mind as seeing core Tory desires as unfeasible was a very successful multi-millionaire businessman whose attitude was you can't change the world so just make money.

On the IHT point I sympathise with some critics. Raising the limit seems the fairest
way to deal with it. For a lot of people (perhaps most) it may well be an academic non-issue with the pension situation no better IMO and arguably worse than what it was twenty years ago and residential / nursing home fees for the elderly in the order of £400 to £1000 a week per person.

No more Cleo-bashing now please. If you don't agree with her please deal with her arguments or simply move on and make your own points...


Cameron is the leader and he is entirely responsible for the mess the party is in. He put people off from day one.

I am fed up with the comments of so called conservatives who are seeming to will a Labour victory.
Those who are forever running down David Cameron should look hard at the alternative- do they really want another 4/5/ years of Gordon Brown?

What they appear to desire is s return to the eighties - the Lost World - and the party reduced to the 1997/2001 levels of Commons MPs

We must remember that the Conservatives had more English votes last time than Labour, yet we are effectively being ruled by the Scots via the West Lothian issue- that is sufficient surely for us to go out there and get the English to understand this and the corruptness of the so called Scottish/welsh devolutions.

They should remember that you can do NOTHING in opposition except wish what might have been.

Fair enough - but since the other parties deal in exactly the way you seem to wish with precisely those issues, why do you want to add a third party to your collection? Isn't two enough?

Michael m rightly reminds us that "the Conservatives had more English votes last time than Labour"; but instead of playing on that strength the modernisers decided to change everything. What was it now: deeper, wider, faster or some such other tosh. If you aren't aware where it has got the Tories check out the YouGov poll in the Telegraph.

Bill, the 30% or so who didn't support Cameron might have put off from day one but actually most of the party did and do. It's time now to decide if you want 5 more years of Brown - if you do, go on undermining the party, if not then get on board.

There are an angry minority in this party who don't want change; I've seen them red-faced and simmering at party events. They use Labour's spin (call me Dave, Hugging Hoodies, flip flop) in their arguments but all they offer is a return to 1987. The world's changed since then, Thatcher's generation have grown up and they don't vote conservative.

Look at the polls - the 35-45 year olds who were children, teenagers and young adults during Thatcher's years (its 28 years since her first election victory) are the strongest supporters of New Labour. They prefer the Tory-lite version propounded by Blair and Brown. That used to be a Conservative age group the marrieds with children and mortgages.

We get our vote shares from the old but they unfortunately die off - 2.4 million every four years. That's our core vote disappearing over time. That's where Tebbit's missing voters have gone. If we want to win any future election we need to get the middle aged back, we need to get the young enthused.

Singing the same old tunes will not get us there. Being angry with the world won't get us there. Saying that we don't need to change won't get us there.

Sorry first para should read
Bill, the 30% or so who didn't support Cameron might have been put off from day one but actually most of the party did support and do support him.


Despite falling within your 35-35 demographic I have always voted Tory. I think my octogenarian father has done the same. As I get older I find I share more of his views and note his predictions are often more perspicacious than many Tory MPs. Just because people are old, does that mean their views should be discounted?

I applaud what Cleo writes. People, there are floating voters out there. They exist. They are not sitting there longing for Tories to become harder and meaner and more Right wing and then voting if they do. They need to see that you have learnt a lesson.

Polling the grassroots? Imagine if the Labour response to 4 election losses in 1993 had been to poll their lunatic activists and surliest union leaders. How clever would that have been?

Many Conservatives do not understand that Labour fundamentally changed in the 1990s and is no longer a socialist party. It is in fact rather more centre-right that that because its leaders recognised that this is where most voters are. The Conservatives response in the recent past has been that it must be more right-wing and this makes the core vote cheer and nothing more. The proper response should be to fight labour on the centre ground and highlight that the government has failed to deliver while promoting a better, brighter future. That way the party can attract the floating voters and fight to win power. What is the point of a political party if it does not have the ambition to win votes and govern again?

Singing the same old tunes will not get us there. Being angry with the world won't get us there

If people are happy with the world they're going to stick with the present lot, aren't they?

I am angry with the loathsome drunken, drug-ridden debauched sewer that is 'Modern Britain' and in my opinion anybody who isn't angry doesn't deserve to call himself a Tory.

That's why the sunshine and clouds of 'Call me Dave' get no respect from me.

The priority now is to get back to a truly Conservative Party under a truly Conservative leader. If the 'Roons don't like it they'll find a welcome elsewhere.

It's very interesting to learn from Ted that traditionalist dissidents are making an increasing show at Tory events. Maybe I'd better get along to a few more.


For two consecutive elections, the 'old tunes' progressively reduced Labour's majority.

In 2005, the party sought to seek why it couldn't go the extra few yards and actually win, and it found, that the public, wait for it, *liked* the policies but didn't like the image.

Now call me stupid, but looking at that, I'd say the policies that were popular should have been kept, and the bit the public didn't like, the image, would need to be worked on by adding to this popoular base, newer, broader policies that help to change the image.

The message should not have been about 'changing' but 'broadening'.

This would have kept the tradtionalists on board and broadened the party's support.

Hopefully, next week, belatedly will be the beginning of this, and although too late for the next election, if pursued consistently, it will deliver victory in the future.

And please, please, drop the support for the extension to state funding of political parties! - is both wrong, and opposed by the majority of the public (source: electoral commission) and the party (source: conhome)

Obseration: Many of the responders to this survey are not grassroots members but dissafected folks on the fringes of politics. Teir views are hardly going to prove populist. Secondly, this site seems to attract the more radical right, even from within the party, therefre this will skew the results slightly again. But, having said that, I do think that a large section of our grassroots would subscribe to the list of policies above. Now, if they also were numerous enough to win a general election then we would be onto a winning formula. Unfortunately they are outnumbered by a large margin by voters who don't. Therefore, its not a winning formula at all, but a losing one. Groundhog day all over again.

ps - More money for prisons and the army, no levelling of taxation and tax breaks for married couplesand abolish inheritance tax. Mmm, this sounds like the views of the focus groups Blair employed who wanted world class rail and transport, but not to pay for it. A wish list of stuff in other words. I've got an idea, lets forget politics and use survey's to decide on coordinated policy.

Ted, I love how you constantly talk in extremes, how you allways talk about the past 3 losses. What about the 33% of people that did vote for us? If so many of our core voters die every 4 year, then how come our vote share has increased over in the past 2 elections?

We are clearly in a much worse position now than we ever were under hague,IDS or howard. Losing an election doesn't make you a pressure group or a right wing debating society. If you look at the DETAILS of polls then you will notice that david cameron is now much less popular than the conservative party, you will notice that what you call the 'core vote' policies are the policies that people want and you will notice that people do not trust david cameron to run the country because he is a lightweight.

Whether you agree with the public's criticism of david cameron or not, you cannot deny that it is his fault, it is not the cornerstone groups fault that he is seen to not have strong beleifs. It is not the thatcherites fault that he is seen to not have clear policies.

I was a cameroon when cameron was working. Now I am not a cameroon because cameron is failing. Maybe that makes me a traitor and a turncoat but atleast I am being realistic.

I will conclude by saying that it is not the repositioning of the tories onto the centreground that has lost david cameron my support, it is the pathetic way that the tory party has been run over the past 18 months, a part time shadow cabinet, a press operation that is practically non-existant, politics of photo ops and sound bites (and not even good soundbites), here today and gone tommorow policies and most of all David Cameron's serious lack of judgement.

But Ted, your arguments make no sense. Cameron did try and change the party by shifting it to the left and look where it's got us. We're further behind Labour than ever and we'll probably do worse than the 2005 election.

We do need to change to win - we need to change the leader and change CCHQ to get rid of the jobsworths and Notting Hill types.


As you have admitted previously you are floating voter who has voted for three different parties (in the last 5 years?) I do not think you speak with much authority. I personally think your description of the increasingly authoritarian Labour Party is naive and uninformed particularly as you no longer support them.

In fact I would love to see you espouse your views to a hall full of Scottish Labour voters. Although, I would suggest if you do so you go with a police guard.

Just because it is your take on things doesn't mean to say it is anybody else's.

What you do demonstrate though is that you have little idea of what Conservative Values are. Surprising as you are a regular poster here.

John Leonard-

You should be trying to attract new voters not attack them; there in lies your problem.

Cleo, how long is it going to take for you to realise the Conservatives do not want you, are not interested in your opinion, they see you as a figure of fun.
When will you learn that if you are not Conservative through and through you will never be welcomed to the fold.
To be part and parcel of this elite as they like to think of themselves, you have to be born a Conservative.
At the moment they see you as a figure of fun, just there to be ridiculed.
Conservatives want your vote but are not interested in your opinion.
If you require any proof of this just look at the way they treat people who dare to disagree with them, there are plenty of examples up and down these threads.
They even treat some of their own in the same manner if they dare to disagree.
Wake up girl and open your eyes, face reality.

When you are over single digits behind you really need to secure your base and not worry about the floating voter. Cameron & Co have focused too much on the middle-ground and not enough on people who actually vote for them.

Mr Davidson: if things were alright pre-Cameron, why did we get thumped three times in a row?

We did well in the by elections recently. Brown's poll ratings are being boosted by previously abstaining anti-Blair Labour voters in safe Labour seats, apart from anything else.

"we are effectively being ruled by the Scots via the West Lothian issue"

Michael, that's not true. Labour won 96 more seats than the Conservatives alone in England at the last election, plus majorities in England alone in 1997 and 2001.

There are only four Scottish MPs in the Cabinet, out of 23 cabinet ministers. Yet more than 80% of shadow cabinet ministers come from the south east and all but 3 went to Oxbridge.

We should sort out our own representation first before blaming "the Scots".

Thank you for that insight Effie- the party will never win with attitudes like that.

Gosh what an increase we've had
1997 9.8m votes & 30.7%
2001 8.4m & 31.7%
2005 8.7m and 32.3%

So last election we had 1.1m less votes than we had at end of John Major's complete shambles of an administration, but yes we had gained 1.6% of share in 8 years, we only need to gain another 9% or so. Wow, if we keep going as we were that core vote strategy would lead us to victory in another 4 or 5 elections!

We managed to add 300,000 voters and 0.6% of vote share last time with the most unpopular governing party ever to win an election. Sleazy, in an unpopular war, but could we attract many more voters?

Lord Tebbit btw. thinks our manifestos in 1997, 2001 and 2005 were left wing according to his last "supportive" missive in the press. He was one of my political heroes.

My pints on our attractiveness to the sub 55 age groups doesn't apply only to the current rash of polls. Go back and look at those we were leading in in the early part of the year. Unless we accept that for the large majority of the electorate the more we sing the old tunes the more we remind them of our parties massive economic incompetence in 1989 to 1993 the less likely we are to ever form another government.

Effie, you are hilarious, and I say that as someone who has seen how the Scottish Labour party operates. You might know one of their star pupils, one Gordon Brown. They have form for being very nasty and tribal, some of Brown's most festering feuds with some of his colleagues have their roots back in Scotland.
Cook, Reid....

i have to say i completely agree with Ted. you can tell the make-up of CH just by looking at those poll results. Unfortunately the fact is that in todays world we'll never win using the old agenda. we need new ideas and new policies to appeal to the younger generation, to ensure that the party doesn't die when most of the members contributing to CH do.

It is not those who have stuck to their principles who have undermined the party Ted.

It is those leading it who thought they could mould it in their own image and ignore the wishes of the members and the silent majority in the country.

We do not need a 'modernised' COnservative party. We already have one of those and it is called New Labour. What we ned is a real alternative. Something that the grassroots realises but too many people both on here and in the leadership have failed to grasp.

If you are going to throw numbers around like that Ted then I should point out that in 1987 the Conservative party polled 13.7 million votes and got 42.2% of the vote under a Thatcherite Tory banner.

And in 1992 that rose to over 14.1 million votes under another avowedly right of centre manifesto.

So if you want to claim that a Cameroon policy is really working better than a proper right of centre manifesto then perhaps you could point out where those 5 million votes have gone?

Scotty | September 29, 2007 at 19:33

Scotty if you want hilarious, just listen to Hague's interview on BBC 24.
I heard him make almost the same speech just prior to taking Tony Blair on at a GE.
The only difference is the location. This time it is in Blackpool.
It would frighten Hague half to death if the Tories did win as it would severly dent his bank balance which is more important to him than the Conservative party, plus the fact he would have to work full time at it.
Now why would he want to do a full time job when at the moment the taxpayer is paying him a full time wage for his part time work?
Besides is this not the character that was leader when the Tories suffered their worst defeat in living memory?
Or did I imagine it?
I put your enthusiasm down to youthful high spirits, I will not dampen it any further.
Have a good night.

I think the problem with these debates is they are mostly about left-right, either-or, modernist-traditionalist. All slogans that are meaningless and actually add to an environment of debate based on perceptions and less on authenticity and reality.

The tiny number of "anoraks" on either side of these debates get ever more heated leaving the vast majority of supporters and the public more and more perplexed. Parts of the media have deliberately fed this. A cynic would argue thats how they aim to create the next round of stories eg Tories are too uncaring and to the right, then Tories are somehow not Tories and too left/centre, then they're lurching to the right again etc etc.

When people try to talk about broadening policies or appeal to help more of the public and get the extra votes we need, it is too often defined in the terms of the fanatics ie "centre" as being midway between left and right and somehow wishy washy etc or alternatively the false idea that the centre cannot adopt some more right wing measures. More commentators then get sucked into this lazy thinking. Whatever anyones views on DC, a simple fact is that most people supported Cameron for many months (witness polls and many of the surveys done by this site) and he held a lead in the polls for a long time. I think they thought, rightly, that he is articulate, more modern and positive and they liked the talk of social responsibility. Ironically they therefore wanted, and were yearning for, the next stage. The next stage needs to respond to the interests of the bulk of voters and what they actually vote about. Perhaps centre ground is too simplistic a definition and maybe common ground is closer to what we need to understand. On some issues the public have very strong views rather than being middle ground, while on others they are more middle-way.

All parties have to steer the way through all the above climates and its best to decide on a clear course. I think it is vital to concentrate on the big four - crime, health, education and economy. But its not enough for a party to have a menu of ideas there must have a strong thread that unites all this and enthuses and makes clear to the public what we stand for. When Cameron talks - as he has done consistently - about crime, health, responsibility we do well and a theme begins to emerge. I've heard some say that perhaps too much navel gazing by external policy review groups muddied things somewhat but it can also be said that it was honest and bold to have those debates.

I like though the original theme that was emerging around responsibility and practical measures on crime and would like us to go back to that as we did in the August fight-back when the polls came back to us.

Overall I like the social responsibility theme, it needs developing and a few clear messages being concentrated on. I think Cameron needs to focus on what he has actually consistently talked about and feels passionate about - the issues around our communities and how they get the health services and safe, crime free conditions they desire.

I beleive we can win a GE if we focus on what matters,


Richard Tyndall:

1979: Tories 46% vs Lablib of 52%
1983: Tories 42% vs Lablib of 53%
1989: Tories 42% vs Lablib of 53%
1992: Tories 42% vs Lablib of 53%
1997: Tories 31% vs Lablib of 60%
2001: Tories 32% vs Lablib of 60%
2005: Tories 32% vs Lablib of 56%

The fact is Labour have changed and the Conservatives have not.

So if you want to claim that a Cameroon policy is really working better than a proper right of centre manifesto then perhaps you could point out where those 5 million votes have gone?

You might like to consider that 1992 was 15 years ago. And, fifteen years later after 10 years of a New Labour government, the country as a whole is slighly more leftward than it was then.

The centre ground is not in 1992 'tax bombshells'. It's in 2007 public services such as the NHS and schools.

''It's in 2007 public services such as the NHS and schools'' - Edison Smith

Yes they are very important. What are our policies? That's right Labour city academies and Labour's model of healthcare. So much for 'its time for change'.

'The fact is Labour have changed and the Conservatives have not.'

Ofcourse we have changed, the manifesto that i currently being witten will be nothing like the last 3. We are now a modern compssionate party. We have strong policies on the enviroment and social justice. But where has it gotten us? Even further away from office.

What rubbish, city academies and the NHS internal market were conservtive ideas and policies under the Major Govt.

Many Conservatives do not understand that Labour fundamentally changed in the 1990s and is no longer a socialist party. It is in fact rather more centre-right that that because its leaders recognised that this is where most voters are.

ACL Blair elected Labour Leader by 15% membership

2005 Labour returned as Government with 21.6% eligible voters backing it

So where are the voters ? That is 78.4% that did NOT vote Labour

It's interesting to see the following in the International Herald Tribune


With Brown considering an early election, possibly within weeks, worried Conservatives have called for a return to familiar political territory. They are urging Cameron to abandon his modernizing project and court the party's traditional base.

Writing in The Spectator, a right-leaning magazine, ex-Conservative Cabinet minister Norman Tebbit said Cameron's attempts to distance himself from the legacy of Margaret Thatcher — who won three straight elections from 1979 — had been costly.

It has uprooted the party, leaving "its voters looking for security — most notably, to Gordon Brown," Tebbit said.

In a survey of more than 1,000 party members by a grassroots Web site, most respondents urged Cameron to abandon his focus on the environment and a pledge to match Labour's public spending program. Instead, they urged him to fight any future election on cutting taxes and raising defense spending — issues promoted by the party's right.

"Immediately when they get into difficulty ... they go back to the nasty party roots," Labour Cabinet minister Peter Hain told British Broadcasting Corp. radio on Saturday.

More than half of those questioned by Conservativehome.com called for a greater focus on curbing immigration, an divisive issue that Cameron has largely avoided. Only a third said they believed Cameron's environmental drive could help win an election, and more than half said his call for new green taxes would lose votes.


the percentages you quote are, in the context of overall public support such as Ted and I were highlighting, largely meaningless due to the massive reduction in the number of people voting for any of the main parties.

Put some real figures to those percentages and you see that the problem for the Tory party is that they have lost 5 million voters who have, to a large extent, not gone elsewhere. They have simply decided that all of the three main parties are unrepresentative of their views.

This is not a plug for any of the minor parties either as they have failed to capitalise on this and provide any sort of reasonable alternative.

But the fact is that in 15 years we have lost 5 million votes, not to the other parties, but to a feeling of 'a plague on all your houses'.

Start coming up with policies that reflect that huge frustration in the country rather than simply trying to control the relatively few votes which constitute the 'centre ground' and you might finally see the Conservatives starting to make headway again.

In 2003 Patrick Mercer criticised Clare Short "She knifed her boss in public" and in 2007 after David Cameron rightly sent him to
the backbenchers in shame Mercer responded to the question "is David Cameron a man of principle" with a two fingers gesture
and publicly knifed his boss.

The much vaunted Mr Mercer also said of the conduct of Clare Short "She lacks moral courage and principle. I don't care who you work for,whether it is a milkman or the Prime Minister,you have to be loyal to your boss" By his own reckoning if one lacks loyalty to the boss then one is lacking in moral courage and principle which would perhaps explain his act of collaboration with one said to be seeking to destroy the Tory party.

Perhaps many in the Tory party would regard Mercer’s words to be sheer hypocrisy, spouting so venomously ethics about loyalty, and then when loyalty to his boss is of paramount importance, showing treacherous disloyalty, and all conveniently excused under the flag of patriotism.

Some would believe that the worse he said of Clare Short "The fact remains that we now have one of the most dishonourable and deceitful figures in power.",is now relevant of the would-be, by hook or by crook, Homeland Security Minister, now working hard in the Gordon Brown tent.

It could perhaps be said that when David Cameron thinks of Patrick Mercer he thinks of the words of Mark Twain.

"You take the lies out of him, and he'll shrink to the size of your hat;you take the malice out of him, and he'll disappear."

If Gordon Brown is victorious and inflicts another dictatorial government upon us encroaching upon our civil liberties (identity cards etc.)what will be said of collaborators that knifed their boss at a time when Cameron and his people so needed the undivided loyalty of all members and what will be said of the Tory people of Newark that regardless of the fact that 81% of members disapprove of the conduct of Colonel Blimp their loyalty was also decidedly not to their leader?


not sure why you do it but your twisting of the basic facts in this way says far more about the sort of person you are than it does about Pat Mercer.

Just to remind people of the facts you so carefully ignore. Pat Mercer accepted the offer from his military colleague (not Gordon Brown) only after seeking and gaining clear approval from the Whips and the party hierarchy. He did so on teh understanding that he was to deal with an area of national security which everyone agrees supercedes the sort of petty party politics you are indulging in.

There is absolutely no correlation between Mercer's actions and those of Claire Short since he took his decision with the blessing of the party.

The people of Newark have clearly decided that Pat Mercer was right in this decision and they are the ONLY group to which he has to answer as he is their MP and representative. What ever the national outcome of the next election I am sure that is one thing that will not change as the people of Newark know a good MP when they have one.

It is a shame Cameron and yourself do not have similar foresight.

The promise of a referendum on the EU "not a Constitution" is a sure-fire vote catcher and Gordon Brown must realise this, so watch out for a counter-blast in the Labour election manifesto. The Conservative manifesto should aim to be the more convincing. This should not be too difficult as Labour has already reneged on its former promise on this issue.

Richard: The other way to analyse it is that things are so good, nobody can be bothered. If this is the case, then reacting to a percieved need to move right would make things worse!


It maybe convenient to say that I am twisting the facts but with the fact that 81% of members think that Mercer was wrong to accept Gordon Brown's invitation to advise his government and that Mercer and his wife Cait had received many telephone calls from activists calling for his dismissal as an MP and the fact that Sir John Starkey, who knows David Cameron, criticised Mr Mercer's actions.

Sir John said: "Loyalty is paramount. If you can't serve the leader then you undermine him, which is what Patrick is doing, and that is unforgivable."

Now does that sound like Mercer had approval from the whips and the party hierarchy? I don’t think so.

However, I can see that Pat is like a demigod to you and through your rose-tinted glasses you idolize him to the point he can do no wrong.

No, the people of Newark did not decide Mercer was right, you decided he was right, the Newark Tory party decided he was right, but the people of Newark consists of the many and not the few.

If you could see what I see, know what I know, you would be on the phone telling the great pretender to sling his hook.

You have no worries, come rain or shine or voodooism Mercer will prevail in Newark and have the likes of you firmly under his thumb for many years to come.

Well to judge by the comments in the local paper there was only one person who thought Mercer had made a mistake and that was a certain John Starkey, a close friend of Cameron's. Not you by any chance is it?

Both the reaction in the paper and the reaction from every single person I spoke to in the town of whatever political persuasion was that he had done the right thing in rising above petty party politics.

As I said before you are most certainly twisting the facts in that you ignore the one important point in all of this. It was done with the permission of the whips and the party hierarchy has admitted that.

You may not like that decision but in that case you should take it up with the party.

I, and the rest of the people in Newark voted for a representative in Parliament, not a party yes man. We are extremely happy with him and the work he does for the constituency. That is why, in spite of your unfounded mudslinging, he will get re-elected.


I doubt there are very many people either here or elsewhere in the country who believe things are that good.

What they do believe is that it doesn't matter who you vote for because no one is going to make it better.

By the way John,

if you actually knew anything at all about Newark you would know that Pat Mercer and I have been involved in a long running and public disagreement about his support for the massive expansion of the size of the town.

There are certainly no rose tinted glasses here. Just a recognistion that the sad sniping he has received has come from those who have little or no understanding of the concept of constituency representation in a Parliamentary democracy.


I hardly think the comments in what is perceived by some to be a one-sided paper speak for the multitude of the people of Newark furthermore there's no comparison to be made between those few you spoke to and the opinion of the majority, so don’t jump to the happy conclusion that the few represent the belief of the many.

If I were a close friend of David Cameron I would have strongly advise him to accept the decision of Mercer to stroll off into the Gordon Brown tent without recrimination or suffer more Mercer backlash for wholly justifiable condemnation.

When a true friend of Cameron's called Mercer’s conduct "unforgivable" that is utterly incontrovertible proof Mercer does not have the approval of his leader nor does he have the approval of the grassroots of the Party, 81% disapprove of his decision which I think represent more than your few.

However, I’m sure you will certainly accuse me of, twisting the facts, and regale us all with your rendition of, For He's a Jolly Good Fellow, which many now deny, except of course; those poor misguided souls that look at Mercer through rose-tinted glasses.

For your edification I do know lots about Newark and I know that the majority of people did not vote for Mercer unless of course you believe 6,464 represent the will of more than 100,000 people.

If Mercer is all that you would have us believe, how did you excuse the fact that he took part in a publicity stunt to donate blood which he could not give and gave an entirely different explanation to that given by the Chief Executive of the National Blood Service?

How did you excuse the fact that Mercer had "extensive contacts" with the notorious FRU?

How did you excuse the fact that he was one of the Conservative party’s most influential supporters for the Iraqi war that cost the
lives of ten’s of thousands of innocent people, and in that war, he gained great recognition and advancement and we became the target of terrorist attack?

The MP for Newark said that gun crimes were like joy riding. He said people were killed by cars, but cars were not banned. The 1997 handgun ban was, he said, "nonsense" and "a knee-jerk reaction" but not to the parents of those 16 dead children. How do you excuse that?

Through rose-tinted glasses, where morality and disloyalty are disavowed!

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking I know little of Newark or Pat Mercer.


it is very clear from your comments that as I said you know very little about either Patrick Mercer or Newark beyond what you read off the internet. Hardly the basis for a rational or informed commentary.

As I said there are no rose tinted glasses here and I disagree with a number of his positions - incidently not on those concerning either Iraq or the ludicrous gun laws on which I believe him to be absolutely right. I also knew and am glad that he had the courage to operate with the Force Research Unit which is much maligned by the ignorant left.

You seem to know or care little about the system of Parliamentary democracy. You may not like the system under whch our MPs are elected but that is the system that exists and it is certainly better than any of the alternatives so far proposed. To somehow claim as you do that a majority of over 6000 leaves an MP as somehow illigitimate is a simply perverse position to adopt. More to the point even many of those who did not vote for him have voiced their support for his decision. Which is exactly as it should be since he was elected to serve his constituency not the narrow party interests you seem to advocate.

Pat Mercer continues to serve his constituents extremely well and again your petty sniping says far more about you than it does about him



Once again, you fall back on wild assumptions spouting all sorts of absurdities, like you have little or no comprehension of what I have said, but then I think you are a narrow-minded person with a doubting Thomas disposition clinging desperately to the silly notion, that all that I know, comes from the internet.

Your amoral line of reasoning given in opposition is farcical and so very predicable.

One thing is absolutely clear, I grow weary of your drivel and neither have the time or the inclination to brook such wrongheaded rhetoric


do you not think that perhaps you leave yourself open to these attitudes since you refuse to post your identity.

Everyone who is intersted in the debate around Pat Mercer knows who I am and can check anything I say because I give my full name rather than using a pseudonym or an untracable first name.

As such I post in the full knowledge that if anyone doubts anything I say they can check it either generally or specifically in Newark or with Pat Mercer.

You on the other hand unfortunatly give the impression of conducting something of a vendetta against the man and persist in using only evidence which could be gleaned from the web.

So whether you grow weary or not is immaterial. The fact is that you have thrown around unfounded accusations in an attempt to undermine a Conservative MP that you happen to have a problem with.

As such I am more than happy to challenge you on any and all occasions.

Enough of this now methinks. Thread closing.

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker