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Osbornes Spectator spiel seems a little contrived. Im guessing his thinking is that the grassroots will now shut up because an uber-moderniser, which he surely is, is talking to the more traditional members with soothing tones.

Im not falling for it.

Another factor in perhaps disuading Gordon Brown is the fact that a majority of Scottish Labour backbenchers are publicly advising against calling an early election whilst the SNP are on such a roll...Gordon Brown (and Ming) could see some big SNP upsets if they go to the polls this year

Congratulations to Angela Cuthbert on her stunning win in Washington East last night.

Labour fought this one hard and were so confident of victory that the Council Leader brought along an official civic visitor from Washington DC, Clarence Davis (they even pinned a Labour rosette on him), to watch them win.

Apparently the result was been called through to Downing Street as we left the count. So no Brown bounce on Wearside and the Tories up to 17 seats.

Fingers crossed, although the result in Cheshire was in pretty solid territory and too much shouldn't be read into this.

Plus the Chester Association are very effective and so it's no surprise results here would be good.

How on earth is the Telegraph front page encouraging? It sells the story of a Tory leader falling on hard times and resorting to the same failed ploy of his predecessors to cope - a shift back to the right-wing core vote strategy of Hague and Howard.

We cannot stop the process - see how it inexorably recurs, no matter how bold the early moves to modernise!

This is, of course, absolute nonsense: he is doing nothing of the sort. He is explicitly and carefully keeping the new modern conerns, but reaffirming the traditional Tory beliefs that never really went away.

Wise, and very good, to be doing so.

This talk of traditional Conservative values is very worrying.

"There may even be a promise to reform inheritance tax"

Hold on, on this very site, Louise Bagshawe confirmed that IHT was going to be abolished as a firm reason to vote Tory.

From epolitix:

"In a continuing bid to destabilise the Tories ahead of their own conference, fresh rumours have circulated of new defections from the Conservatives.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman urged opposition MPs to join her party, as it emerged that two Tory MPs who have agreed to advise the government - John Bercow and Patrick Mercer, will not be going to Blackpool."

I see the Brownite and UKIP trolls are out early this morning and stil posing as Tory supporters.

As for the election that never was, it's been cancelled, those byelections last night have seen to that.

Cowardly Brown will now have to face the results of his profligacy and the UK debt mountain as the economy takes a nosedive early next year.

It's worth pointing out that Peter Kellner, interviewed on News 24 this morning, believed that these results were not necessarily good news for the Conservative leadership; in fact they were good for Labour; because Conservatives have a record of doing better in local elections than they do nationally.

This re-emphasises a point I've made repeatedly on this forum: the attitude that the leadership and its supporters have, that the national party is moderate but that ordinary activists are seen as extremists and hence put people off voting Tory, has not a shred of actual evidence to support it. If therefore Cameron has decided to pay more attention to the views of said activists than to the left-wing MSM, this is great news for the party and the country, and well overdue.

No no no! We should not be shifting to core values, and the leader in the Torygraph is wrong. As Osborne said, this is all part of a balanced view.

Only three months ago, Cameron was ahead in the polls - don't change that winning strategy. Keep appealing to the centre ground - that's how those council by election seats were won.

Louise clarified her position at the time, Chad.

Let's focus on the thread now please...

Looks like a lurch to the right to me.

Which is only acceptable if the modernisers first confess they are wrong a la chinoise.

The last thing we want is the modernisers switching with a week to spare and then blaming a "lurch to the right" for the defeat. Someone bring me a stake and point me in the direction of the Oliver Letwin's coffin.

Aah, thanks Tim.

Let's hope the Telegraph article is right as the 'centre-ground' certainly seems to be firmly in conservative territory right now.

Ed V detailed on QT last night that David Miliband's speech contained nothing new at all, no change of policy, his distancing from being Blair just the line spun to friendly journos to dupe the public

Let's hope this Telegraph story is not the same.

What a time to announce a rejection of the extension to state funding of political parties! Now that is one policy that has shown to be firmly *unpopular* with Tory voters.

I seem to have missed our shadow minister of justice Nick Herbert on the tv taking on Jack Straw. Is he well?

You are clutching at straws with this one. Local by-elections are notoriously poor indicators of any kind of national 'trend'. Turnout is often pitfully low for a start, and there is no national campaign like you had in the run up to last May's elections.

It's wins for Labour all round then: if they go long then they have "lurch to the right" - if they go short they have the delusional warblings above to gull the party into a false sense of security.

If only we could wind the clock back two years and see through the paper thin political fraud that is Cameron. he's neither fish nor foul: on the one hand idiotic appeasement of "greens", on the other a return to using immigration as a key electoral weapon.

The only Conservative Party that will win is one firmly on the centre ground. pro-market, pro-European, pro-enterprise and pro- personal and national security.

It's not rocket science but fools are still trying to apply the solutions of 1979 three decades on.

My local council has been winning seats consistently for that last six or seven years regardless of leader. That is until the last election when we still won, but the return was down. The people I speak to on the doorstep are interested in Immigration, in pensions, in the way that criminals seem to receive preferential treatment over the victims and society as a whole. In other words they are interested in Traditional Tory values of law and order, sound money and prudent government. They are not interested in environmental issues or anything that will reduce their freedom or increase taxes.

Fed up with cameron @9:52 is right apart from one glaring contradiction. If you are on the centre ground, pro market, pro enterprise, pro personal and national security you cannot be pro european. These are mutually exclusive. Europe is the reason behind many of the problems we have. The sooner we unilaterally take back powers and tear up the treaties the better.

These results are much more in line with my (albeit very anecdotal) assessment of voters reactions to Brown. Down here I have not met anyone who has been impressed by him. Were not a Labour area but he should certainly be picking up Tory "switchers" here if such a phenomenon does exist. I get the impression that much of his current poll lead is as a result of old Labour voters returning to the fold and is likely to result in him piling up the votes in his heartlands but doing him precious little good in the marginals. If we can take the Southern marginals around the M25 and some of the Midlands we can deprive him of a majority, after which the Labour party will turn on him like the hounds of hell.
The eyes of the country (or at least the country's media) are on us for the next week and we need to show that we are still up to the task of defeating Labour socialism however it is dressed up.
Time for all Conservative posters to say something positive or nothing at all (unless ofcourse you are Brown troll attempting to frighten the horses- I imagine you must be feeling a little less sure of yourselves now boys?)

Oh for the love of God, some people really need to up the dose. I increasingly get the impression that Cameron has played a shrewd strategy. When Brown came in in June, DC went quiet a Labour lead built up election speculation started. End of August DC ups the ante, Labour lead disappears and election speculation with it. DC then goes quiet again particularly this week with the Labour conference. Labour lead grows and speculation hits fever pitch egged on by the Brown crowd.

Is Cameron allowing Labour to talk themselves into an election that would be hard to justify and despite the frenzy would not result in a Labour majority of 100 or anything like it? I'm begginning to wonder who is setting the trap for whom?

It just goes to show how misleading these snapshot polls can be. A few real polls and suddenlt the Conservative party has a 6.2% lead. It makes me wonder whether some polls are specifically designed to undermine Tory confidence. Interesting to seea man from YouGov on News24 this morning saying last nights results were still good news for Labour! As David Cameron says the only polls that matter are the offical polls and last nights results, in the week of a Labour hachet job on the Conservative party look good to me.


Peter Kellner's pronouncements should always be taken with a large pinch of salt- he is so pro Labour the only wonder is he is that not on the BBC payroll. On the same subject, Andrew Neil was a credit to his profession this week but the rest of the Labour Conference was such a love-in it beggared belief. John Reid was described on Ceefax as having had a "distinguished" ministerial career- this was in a news item about his retirement as an MP.

As for "seeds of doubt" being sown in minds-the arrogant Labour braggarts may have achieved just that in the minds of the electorate. Blears and Balls comments about Boris Johnson were bordering on being inciteful- why can they abuse someone for the family background he was born into, when they have (correctly) legislated to prevent the exact same behaviour against ethnic minorities and homosexuals?

Does anyone have the exact numbers from last night, plus the previous results? thanks

Nulabour were euphoric last week, especially with the Worcester result. You cannot just ignore one set of results and not another. It shows how volatile is the current situation.
My own rule of thumb is to look at the situation 6 months ago. Anyone going to the country needs six months of steady, favourable results to be almost certain of winning. Our task is to ensure that Brown never has that extended period of grace.

Balance, balance, balance. We need to talk about it all. It is all important, relevant, and it all connects. We are a political party not a mish-mash of single issue groups. All things impact on all other things. We may not have chosen to talk about the traditional Tory strengths as much recently, but that was for a reason - to get the Man on the Clapham Omnibus to hear that that wasn't ALL that we had to say. There was always going to be a time when we would start talking about the whole picture again. Only, thanks to the work that's been put in, the Man on the Clapham Omnibus will be less likely to pigeon hole us than before. We had to change OBVIOUSLY in order to change at all. Now, let's park the aggro that posters on this site have so enjoyed in the last year or so, and instead focus on listening to the whole picture. What unites us is more important that what divides us.

Andrew Neil has been brilliant this week. He got Tessa Jowell very angry earlier this week. I love it when a Labour politician says frustratedly the word "Look". Neil was just cracking little jokes and she wasnt up for a laugh that day.

"It's worth pointing out that Peter Kellner, interviewed on News 24 this morning, believed that these results were not necessarily good news for the Conservative leadership; in fact they were good for Labour; because Conservatives have a record of doing better in local elections than they do nationally."

LOL, Peter Kellner gives a view on results or polling, just edit in "these results were not necessarily good news for the Conservative leadership" whatever the figures.

One very interesting thing to note about Peter Kellner is his spouse... one Baroness Ashton of Upholland. Name sound familiar? She's Leader of the House of Lords...

I agree James, particularly enjoyed him running rings around Blears yesterday

A couple of other bits of good news. The Times appears to have fallen out with Brown in a big way following his minions attempts to smear their journalists after their 'plagarism' story.
John Denham surely one of Labour's more affable and thoughtful MPs was given a battering on Question Time last night after trying to defend Jack Straw's opportunism and Brown's refusal to hold a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty. The audience clearly did not believe a word he said.

Very wise words from Terry @ 10.22

The current polls are all over the place, the Labour lead, while I don't deny there has been one, is not solid. It fluctuates with each day's news.

I don't envy Brown his decision, but I think he may have boxed himself into a corner. To not hold an election now will look like dithering and cowardice.

We have everything to fight for if there is an Autumn election. Consider:

1. Brown's lead is soft and wavering.
2. His conference speech was not great, the press noticed it was a rehash of old announcements. No rabbits out of the hat.
3. The last in-house Conservative poll (Populous?) that ended up published here showed that his lead was strongest where he doesn;'t need it, and weakest where he does.
4. The boundary change alone will knock 20 seats off his majority.
5. Conventional wisdom has it that poor weather favours us and not Labour (does anyone have any solid evidence of this, or is it an old wives tale?).

So - everything to play for.

Please please, can we pull together and fight the election with unity and discipline. Right now our biggest threat is not Labour, but is internal.

(And no, Traditional Tory et al, it is not Cameron. It is you. Cameron was elected by an overwhelming majority of the Party with a mandate to make the changes he has. You were not).

Whenever I see Blears I think of a mannequin (obviously a very short one!). Its as if shes plastic and just repeats what she is told to. That smile isnt right. Like a serial killer uses to disguise the fact that theyve just slaughtered a roomful of guests at a dinner party.

She just tries too hard to be happy.

"Andrew Neil has been brilliant this week"

James Maskell, yes, I agree. He made horrid Hazel look pretty stupid and made her reaffirm her stupid and nasty remarks about Boris. How on earth has such a petty intellect as Hazel Blears got to the top of political life in this country? Just goes to show the poverty of talent in Labours ranks. Every single one of their cabinet ministers seems to have a character flaw of some kind. Hazel Blears even looks perculiar, with that eerie smile of hers she looks rather like a clown, but without the make-up.

Re Peter Kellner: I hear what you're saying, but my point wasn't whether the results were good or bad for Labour; the point was that local activists are doing better on the ground than the national polls would suggest. Kellner may be misinterpreting these results, but he's hardly likely to be lying about them.

Gordon Brown is a dithering coward. He could have triggered Tony Blair's removal any time in the last three years simply by resigning a Chancellor and glowering on the back benches.

But he didn't have the guts.

He is a rocking horse, not a thoroughbred.

By-election results are real. Polls of 1,300 people, on the internet, can be manipulated and perhaps ARE being manipulated. Don't forget, Labour is the Party which openly tried and failed to manipulate the election for Conservative candidate for London Mayor.

Broon thinks he's being clever by destabilising the Conservative Party, but all this fevered speculation is doing is revealing his psychologically fragile, dithering nature.

The by-election results show that Labour will get TROUNCED if there is a General Election called by this ambiguous fixer. Let's set out some serious policies next week - abolish Death Duties, fight waste, support our brave armed forces, end spin and dishonesty. People are yearning for it and if the monocular ditherer DOES screw up his nerve enough to call an election - we'll knock him off his rocking horse!

Yeah, Labour also threw everything at Rhyl South and we were neck and neck at Lab 442 and Cons 440,


There's a YouTube video of part of the Blears-Neil exchange.

"Is Cameron allowing Labour to talk themselves into an election that would be hard to justify and despite the frenzy would not result in a Labour majority of 100 or anything like it? I'm begginning to wonder who is setting the trap for whom?"

I had not thought of that, and I suspect neither has Cameron, but the irony is that it seems to be working!
Watching the Labour party this week as it grew in arrogance and downright bullying nastiness was a sight to behold. Kinnock's "lets grind the bastards into the dust" gave us a real flavour of the mood.
This Week was good last night, and Diane Abbot made a very important point which backs up your point. She noted that Brown had gone big on Britishness to counter an attack from the Conservatives that never came. It made Brown look opportunistic, insecure and more importantly did not come across as credible to the very middle England voters he was trying to woo. By the way, it is bombing in Scotland too and been an absolute gift for the SNP!
This was always the best strategy for the Tories, to have gone big on Brown's Scottish Constituency would have backfired on so many levels for us and helped Labour.
Even after Abbot made this very valid point, up pops Portillo to say that it had been a mistake for the Conservatives not to play on Brown's Scottishness! Has this guy ever been in touch with the public?
We have watched the Labour party feed the media into a frenzy over a possible GE, and they are responsible because the level of briefing has been staggering. It has been designed to destabilise the Conservative party rather than for any genuine reason like seeking a mandate. It is naked political opportunism at its worst and I think it is now backfiring on them.
No to a debate or a referendum on the EU treaty despite it being a manifesto promise because it is politically inconvenient for Brown and his party, but lets have a GE in NOVEMBER because its political convenient for Brown and Labour. That is a glaring example of the hypocrisy of this government.
Brown is dropping manifesto promises and nicking Conservative policies on the whim of a headline. He is not the change, because he does not seem to have one original or innovative policy let alone a vision to run this country for another 5 years. As for his cabal, well with the Young Turks vs the Wise Old Heads and both seem more interested in how an Autumn election would affect their short and long term careers. That says it all really!

At last! At last! We are aiming for the big, wide open goal instead of shying away from it. No to excessive levels of immigration - at which this poisonous shower of a government has actively connived; no to limp, lib-dem do-goodery over supermarkets and flights; yes to a country proud and confident enough to maintain its ancient identity; yes to the freedom to enjoy the fruits of a market economy such as abundant food and easy travel. We should also reject the advice of Uber-Cameroon, Matthew d'Ancona, who, in this week's Spectator, derides exposing Brown's record as a backward looking whinge. But it worked for Labour. They banged on about Major's tax-rises, if you recall. And no, it need not be defensive or shame faced. We should proclaim it loud and clear: Brown is an incompetent sham. He's stuffed up the best pensions system in the world. He's sold gold at rock bottom prices. He's lavished money on an NHS scarcely any better than when he lumbered gloomily into office. He has stifled enterprise and dulled the economy's competitive edge. Then he has the brass neck to prattle on about his personal life. Put the boot in, Mr C and ALL IS FORGIVEN.

Abolish inheritance tax. A truly Tory policy. It affects 7% of estates, has a huge tax-free element and primarily affects the finances of wealthy middle-aged people. I'm sure you can pull out a few hard luck stories of people who are disproportionately affected by it, but the tax is going to have to come from somewhere else. Income tax? VAT? Some other tax that affects the poor as well as the wealthy.

Still, nice to see the true colours coming out after a couple of years of pretending to green and concerned about poverty.

Spot on James and Tony re Hazel Blears! She does look spooky!!

And other James (not Maskell). Quite right we do need to pull together and fight like fury to win. I want Cameron as PM not Brown regardless of any differences of opinion.

PS) Though please don't repeat the tired old mantra that he was elected on a mandate for change. He was elected because he spoke better then Davis at conference, looked good and sounded good and had no baggage. Maybe this has been his mistake too - he imagined the whole party base supports wholesale 'modernising'.

I agree with James Maskell.

I think DC is going to let Brown continually up the ante with more bizarre statements. Why intervene when the old duffer is sounding more and more surreal.

What on earth is Labour lurching right for?

Didn't Brown say he wasn't giving up the centre ground? I agree too, the Tory feign to the Left has seen Brown jump right into unfamiliar waters. I bet Brown pictured with Mrs. T did wonders for that core vote in Sunderland.

Brown's left the centre well and truly deserted, Labour always, always lurch right before an election. This time DC will be well reminded to stay put.

The Telegraph headline today strikes me as phoney war propaganda. Centre politics like IDS' social responsibility research stays and that has been very well received. So a few of the whackier green ideas goes, everyone breathes a sigh of relief, after all they were only ideas. Blears was clutching at straws on R4 Today this morning.

Straw looked mightily stupid yesterday too. As for Harman, she'd be better off selling jam at the WI.

The conference next week, rather than the staged few minutes to say nothing new, DC is going to unleash the big guns, Davis, Hague, Osborne and Gove to all give big speeches.

Then a big, big speech from DC, just one.

Leave them wanting more.

The polls will pick up and it's all off until Spring.

Thats Dep Ed. I think it was great the way Andrew Neil had Hazel Blears standing next to him looking like a little girl as he patronized her with the child-friendly explanation using cookies as policies. Nice idea from Andrew Neil.

I've just done the latest YouGov survey. A standard tracker to start with, but then it includes questions on which dog do you think represents each party leader(!), and who would you prefer as Conservative party leader if DC resignes following a significant Conservative defeat(!!!)

Tim and Sam, any chance of a diary piece on the sublime Times article about Prudence in today's Times. It would be a nice warm up for the Conference, and a stark reminder of what we have had from Labour over the last 10 years.

Gimmicky Gordon is in danger of spinning himself into orbit this weekend. Last week we were fed the story that Brown was hunched over his desk dissecting hourly polling updates all weekend. This week we are told that the momentous decision to call an GE will be taken on Sunday which just happens to coincide with the start of the Conservative conference, this is becoming farcical briefing on a scale that not even Campbell managed whilst running the No10 press operation.
Lets hope the WHOLE Conservative party gives Brown the political equivalent of "Houston we have a problem"!!!

My own view is that Labour support is very soft indeed. I think they will be screwed in Scotland and their majority reduced substantially on a low turn out. We could even win - that all depends on the Lib Dems.

If Brown had any integrity at all, it would not be a difficult decision about whether to call an election. He would know that it would be a totally cynical and opportunistic abuse of the electorate to go now half way through a Parliament with a majority of 60.

Can anyone tell me when was the last time a PM called an election less than 3 years into a Parliament with such a secure majority? I don't think it ever happened in the whole 20th century but I'd have to consult my library to go further back than that.

If CCHQ has any sense they already have drafted the poster of Brown (looking shifty in his old Chancellor mode, perhaps holding up the budget box) with the caption: "Snap Election: What does he know that we don't?"

_The polls will pick up and it's all off until Spring._

If he doesn't go now after all this hyped up frenzy I think we would be justified in putting the boot in and smacking Gordon around for treating democracy as a party-political stick to beat his opponents with. It is a most unedifying display of naked self-serving opportunism, it is rotten and if he backs down we should make him pay.

The Telegraph leader is excellent news!!.We now must have a united conference along the lines articulated by Ian Dale in today's telegraph.There is a massive opportunity here for Cameron heneeds to sound positive, and to drive home a conservative message on the key themes of Crime,Immigration and the family.

It is absolutely essential that DC pay no attention to those who talk about policy confusion.Drive a truly Tory agenda in Blackpool.This will energise the activists and resonate with the core vote.

DC has painfully "decontaminated" our brand in the eyes of many he now needs to attack.I have never felt that Brown would go in the Autumn. Next week will kill that possibilty for good!!

"I bet Brown pictured with Mrs. T did wonders for that core vote in Sunderland."

Mike Thomas (215cu, good point. As Brown 'gives the appearence' of lurching to the right he is going to lose left-wing votes. I think its very interesting that there was a healthy swing to the Conservatives in such a strong Labour heartland. We must remember that the Labour vote in Sedgefield was hugely reduced by 14% only recently. The fact that the gap between the rich and poor has widened under Labour may well be a factor. Blue collar workers are struggling under Labour and Gordon Brown even abolished the 10p starting rate. Those on the lowest income are hit the hardest by Labour.

Found them!

Cheshire County - Gowy: C 1863, Lib Dem 1419, Lab 307, Ukip 107. (May 2005 - C 3936, Lib Dem 2666, Lab 1555). C hold. Swing 1.8% C to Lib Dem.

Chester-le-Street District - Chester Central: Lab 324, C 89, Lib Dem 81, BNP 51. (May 2007 - Two seats Lab 411, 389, C 172). Lab hold. Swing 1.6% C to Lab.

Dover District - Aylsham: Lab 661, C 108, Ind 59, No description 1. (May 2007 - Two seats Lab 831, 808, C 311, 287, No description 75). Lab hold. Swing 11.6% C to Lab.

Dover District - Maxton, Elms Vale and Priory: Lab 365, Lib Dem 274, C 252, Ind 70, Ukip 65, Ind 56. (May 2007 - Three seats Lab 733, 647, C 624, Lab 602, C 566, 545, Lib Dem 381, 296, 291, Ind 243). Lab hold. Swing 5.1% Lab to Lib Dem.

Kent County - Dover Town: Lab 1860, C 1348, Lib Dem 420, Ind 300, Ukip 256. (May 2005 - Two seats Lab 6194, 5888, 3455, 3122, Lib Dem 2658, 2255). Lab hold. Swing 5.5% Lab to C.

Northamptonshire County - Lloyds: Lab 1093, C 375, Lib Dem 311, BNP 265. (May 2005 - Lab 2620, C 886, Lib Dem 707). Lab hold. Swing 3% Lab to C.

Portsmouth City - Nelson: Lab 791, C 682, Lib Dem 548, Ukip 90, Green 78, English Democrats 71 . (May 2007 - Lab 840, Lib Dem 717, C 711, English Democrats 199, Green 168). Lab hold. Swing 0.0% C to Lab.

Sunderland Borough - Washington East: C 1196, Lab 994, Lib Dem 206 . (May 2007 - C 1245, Lab 1220, Lib Dem 441, BNP 195). C gain from Lab. Swing 3.7% Lab to C.

Figures are still to come for a Mansfield District by-election.

"If Brown had any integrity at all, it would not be a difficult decision about whether to call an election. He would know that it would be a totally cynical and opportunistic abuse of the electorate to go now half way through a Parliament with a majority of 60."

The probelm with that Londoner is that we were demanding that he call an election from the moment he took over to give himself a mandate. I notice we've gone a bit quiet on that lately. Lol.

There must be a God up there as otherwise I am not sure where these apparently good by election results came from. We can only hope they persuade Brown not to go in November as otherwise I fear he could increase his majority. Clearly he is managing to fool a good proportion of the electorate including some of our own gullible supporters. Why dont we concentrate more on the EC referendum etc which the Sun is keen on. Remember the Sun's previous boasts ' The Sun wot won it' etc.

Also if Brown doesnt go now, the economy may deteriorate, the public may at last start to see thru him and his parties new policies which are merely repeats and we may also improve. Honestly how many shadow ministers could ably fill the 3 main positions in government below PM?

I think he'll call an election

Steve @ 12.22

Actually we haven't. This week we've been calling for an Autumn election.

O do wish we'd start using the phrase:"Stop dithering Brown, and call an election."

Let's make it clear that that is what he is doing.


"Another factor in perhaps disuading Gordon Brown is the fact that a majority of Scottish Labour backbenchers are publicly advising against calling an early election whilst the SNP are on such a roll...Gordon Brown (and Ming) could see some big SNP upsets if they go to the polls this year
Posted by: MacTory | September 28, 2007 at 09:22 "

Absolutely . They'll get murdered in Scotland if they go for it .
Brown is deeply UNpopular in Scotland and the SNP will clean up .

(By the way , it has always struck me that Tories and SNP are capable of getting along far better than Tories and Labour . )

John Denham surely one of Labour's more affable and thoughtful MPs was given a battering on Question Time last night after trying to defend Jack Straw's opportunism and Brown's refusal to hold a referendum on the EU constitutional treaty. The audience clearly did not believe a word he said.

That's because Denham doesn't have a leg to stand on. He left the Cabinet over the war in Iraq, and rejoined the Cabinet - whilst we're still at war in Iraq.

His trying to justify himself on national TV was pitiful (and hilarious) viewing. I thought Ed Vaizey was excellent, and so indeed was Nick Clegg.

Goodness knows why Nick Clegg isn't in the Tory party. A small government libertarian, who, during last week's Lib Dem conference, looked pained at having to justify their absolutely ridiculous immigrant amnesty policy.

As for Andrew Neil, he has more intelligence than the entire BBC news and current affairs team combined.

His patronising of Oona King on last week's This Week was a joy to behold: "Listen, wait around at the end and I'll teach you a few basics about economics."!!!

Want to win votes? Abolish income tax for people earning £10,000 and under. Brown won't help the poor. Why can't you?

We obviously shouldn't get carried away by one or two local election results - we could never win Washington and Sunderland West - only a 19% swing would be enough! Dover, however, is winnable.

We can only hope that Brown doesn't go in November. Unless we can claw back about 7% during conference, he'll still win.

I've always disliked Blears - her mini-rant about Boris was pathetic and showed that Labour are still happy to indulge in peurile class rivalry which will do them absolutely no good with floating voters and the first-time 1997 Labour voters who we need to vote for us. 'As for Harman, she'd be better off selling jam at the WI.' Mike Thomas @ 11:18 - I think you're being unduly generous.

On Blears, she did n't do too well against the milder than Neil Ed Stourton on To-day. When he pointed out that a lot of the stuff in Brown's speech would be difficult or impossible to implement eg deporting EU nationals she switched to "we're ambitious". She then switched (seeing she was in a bit of a hole)to attacking Osborne for changing his mind on supermarket carparks, which, as Stourton fairly pointed out, he had n't actually endorsed .

It is absolutely essential that DC pay no attention to those who talk about policy confusion.

He doesn't have to. The press will do it for him.

The Cameron non Core Vote strategy is now in total disarray.

Andrew James @ 12:43 "We can only hope that Brown doesn't go in November. Unless we can claw back about 7% during conference, he'll still win."

I simply cannot see that. He may emerge as the largest party or with a risibly small majority I grant however how could throwing away a majority of 60 for a hung or practically hung Parliament forced to rely on Lib Dems be represented as anything short of a disaster.


Yes, reading it back it does strike as an insult to the wonderful ladies of the WI.

Apologies to any WI members.

If ever there was a time for objectivity this is it.

For heavens sake, do we really think a handful of by-election results is an acurate measure of the voting trends likely to be seen in a General Election? If so, the Lib Dems are likely to romp home with a massive increase in their representation in Parliament. Not likely!

Forget these by-election results, they are influenced by local factors and are not at all reflective of the current standings of each party in the country.

It's time to get real. Yes there is an increasing chance of a General Election and we have to get ready.

Frankly I'd rather hear Caroline Spelman taking a whack at the likely disenfranchisement of many voters who have moved home and consequently are no longer on the electoral register, which came into force on 1st December 06 and so will be very old on 1st November 07. A snap election now spells potential chaos for electoral administration.

That's more likely to deter Brown than any Conservative by-election gain.

Oh dear. The last thing we need is to start banging on about Europe and immigration again. They're very important issues, and they worry a lot of people, but the idea that they're a silver bullet electorally has been disproven time and time again. We need to be taking away Brown's legs on the education, transport, crime, the NHS, and above all, the economy. The last thing we need is to be preaching to the choir and trying to appease the lunatic fringe. It may shore up a few votes, but the time and media coverage would be so much better spent colonising new terrain. Cameron has strong credentials on Europe, immigration and the environment. This is not the time to go wobbly and defensive. There's too much at stake.

"(By the way , it has always struck me that Tories and SNP are capable of getting along far better than Tories and Labour . )"

Yes, the SNP were formally known as the Tartan Tories years ago. Although there has been a rise in the leftie brigade in the party and its written into their constitution that they won't work with the Tories, there is still a strong right leaning group within the party as well. Salmond and Goldie appear to have a very good, warm working relationship at Holyrood.
In fact both Salmond and Goldie are head and shoulders above Stephens and Alexander at the moment performance wise. If we have a GE just now, it will be interesting to see how the SNP do against Labour and the Tories against the Libdems.

Whenever the turn-out is low, the Tories do better; see results from the May 2007 local elections.

When a Westminster election comes along, you can be sure that all of the usual Labour dependents will 'rouse themselves from their armchairs, away from day-time telly, to get themselves down to the polling booth to put a cross in the box next to that nice man who keeps increasing their weekly pay cheque.

So many won't vote Tory, or won't vote at all, when a national election comes precisely because the Tories don't offer anything as an alternative to the neo-Marxists.

It comes down to trust. It's all very well talking about issues such as Immigration, Europe, Law and Order, etc; it takes a lot more to then actually do something about it.

Unfortunately, with Cameron at the helm, there is no chance of the Tories ever doing anything to break the status-quo.

There is no reason why Brown should increase his majority if he goes in November.The fundamentals remain unaltered and a reinvogorated Tory party could easily deprive Brown of his majority.

This will not be easy and requires a lot of discipline from all sides but it is perfectly feasible.As a barrometer consider the views of the Scottish Labour MPS.By a majority of 2 to 1 they oppose a rush to the polls!!

Provided Cameron keeps his head and unites the troops next week we can be in good spirits.Don't believe the spin.

Christleton, Littleton and Guilden Sutton are my Step-Father's ward. People around there are extremely sceptical of Cameron (many would make the commenters on this site look like uber-loyalists), but at the same time very happy with the performance of the Conservative Party locally. I'd be very careful about interpreting swings there as indicative of voting in a General Election.

But we're bound to take Chester anyway - it was always a natural Conservative seat, and with the majority so low it is now undefendable for Labour.

well done Nick Varley up in County Durham's Chester Central.

Nick ran a great campaign and at 18 is someone to watch!

To hold off the Lib Dems and BNP and with a small swing from Labour to Conservative in one of the most deprived wards I've campaigned in was a great result and well deserved.

I've just heard that Darling is putting an additional 2+p on petrol tax from October 1st - seems odd timing if they really plan to have an election this year?

It is said that opposition do not win elections, the sitting government loses. The snide remarks made at the conference make Labour look decidedly unpleasant.

In effect they were trying to say that someone who was born here, has the right to vote here, was brought up here and pays taxes here, should be excluded from high office because they went to a public school.

If someone in the Conservatives said similar about someone because they were from another minority the equality mob would be all over them.

Following on from Old Hack's comment, according to my ERO's office the situation is even more confused since if you notify changes using the rolling registration procedure this will be OK but if you return the annual registration update then this does not come into force until 1st December

Old Hack,

Any gains in Labour heartlands are good news, regardless of what kind of election.

This is why DC has to keep the social responsibility aspect to his policy, plenty there to attract wavering Labour voters.

I feel once Brown looks at were his gains are (in already rock solid seats) and where the Tory gains will be (in key marginals) the election plans will be shelved.

The boundary changes reduce Labour majority by 10 already. Assuming we can hold our current number of seats, that leaves 25 seats holding the balance of power. With the Lib Dems flatlined at 13-15% everything falls on Ashcroft marginal machine and turnout.

Unsettled weather and a colder than average winter are the long range Met Office forecast. Labour will not want a low turnout, they never prosper on one whereas the Tories do.

"Labour will not want a low turnout, they never prosper on one whereas the Tories do."

On that analysis I dread to think what would have happened in 2001 if turnout hadn't been 59%.

Mike Thomas

That analysis is a little too text book for my liking. What about other factors- Pelling in Croydon Central for example, where we can now expect to lose.

I can only repeat what I have previously said. My London seat has a Tory majority of 5,000, the feeling I get from the electorate PRE-CONFERENCE is that we are going to have a very hard job to hang on here.

"We could even win - that all depends on the Lib Dems"

True blue, Ming has already indicated that he swould prop up a Labour government in the event of a hung parliament. Thats why anyone thinking of voting Liberal will in fact be voting Labour. This message must be pushed by the leadership in media interviews. The only way to get change is to vote Conservative. A Liberal vote is a Labour vote.

James Burdett "On that analysis [commenting on low turnout favours Tories] I dread to think what would have happened in 2001 if turnout hadn't been 59%." Michael Portillo, as MP for Chelsea and one of only two remaining MPs, would presumably have become leader! He might then have moved into early overdrive in his present flirtatious relationship with Diane Abbott, so that she defected, therefore modernising the parliamentary party to 33% BME at a stroke...

Old Hack:

I agree. Whilst I think it might be Brown's best bet to win, I am still unconvinced that he will call an early GE.

The main reasons are:

- Despite what the polls says I still think there is a good chance that he will be returned with a significantly reduced majority (20-40) because of the regional differences in people's preferences.

Anything other than an increased majority will be seen as either a pointless waste of money or a defeat.

- Apart from opportunism has he any reason to go now? There are as yet no burning issues for which he needs a mandate and he has more than two years left of his term.

- From their party conference they have very little of substance to put into their manifesto. Most of what has been proposed is receiving negative feedback from the media as being gimmickry or Conservative Policy. They are suffering from 3rd term malaise where all the big ideas have been tried.

- The majority of the public don't want an election according to recent polls (55% against an early election).

- The Murdoch stable seems to be getting increasingly unhelpful.

He might go in May but my gut feeling is that he will still leave it until 2009.

oops that should be Mike Thomas

The argument we put in June that Brown should go to the country for an immediate mandate no longer applies. He explicitly rejected the need for that then, so cannot say he needs a mandate now just because the polls tell him he might win. If they call an election, we should endlessly replay the clip this week of Ed Balls saying that "it depends where the balance of risk is" because it would show (a) it's just a cynical calculation and (b) they are frightened that the economic chickens will come home to roost if they leave it any longer.

Whichever way you look at it, the first mid-term election since universal franchise called by a Government with a large working majority would be an abuse of Prime Ministerial power. Amusing that Brown said earlier that he thinks the PM's (prerogative) power on this should be reduced. Perhaps he would just be trying to demonstrate that earlier point by reductio ad absurdum?

I may be the last Tory in England to give him this credit, but I really don't believe that Brown is that cynical. Oh heck, perhaps I do...but I don't believe he isn't bright enough to realise that it would expose him fatally to that charge.


I agree. The Current Bun is getting more an more unhappy with Brown, their coverage of his speech was scathing. As was the Times Blog too.

In so far as the 'bounce' I think the whole thing is starting to deflate because he is rehashing, spinning and not changing at all. A few stunts but they haven't really rocked the Tories in the long term.

If you fancy a punt, I'm with Guido on this and back the Tories as the largest political party come the election. A 4.3% swing is not impossible.

Why would Brown call an election if it was unlikely he could win bigger than 60-odd seats?

Mandate? Is his ego really that fragile?

On second thoughts......

I simply don't get it. He has a fair better chance of making a difference over the next 6-12 months and then going.

There are too many banana skins, EU referendum? Public Sector pay? Housing market? Economy?

Blair left it right to the last minute with a read between the lines of "Your mess Gordon, you deal with it."

And we shouldn't forget that, even if some of the media have lost their senses over the summer.

Labour will not want a low turnout, they never prosper on one whereas the Tories do
In 1951 Labour won the highest proportion of those eligible to vote that any party has had in any General Election - the Conservatives narrowly won a majority, that was a very high turnout election.

Labour came back into power in 1964 and won on a lower turnout than at any time since the 1930s. In 1970 Labour lost the election when there was quite a high turnout.

In February 1974 there was quite a high turnout and yet Labour's vote fell quite considerably. In October 1974 there was a sharp fall in turnout and Labour won a small majority. In 1979 with a sharp rise in turnout the Conservatives swept back into power - Labour's total vote in those 3 General Elections was in total numbers within a few hundred thousand votes difference. The change in turnout was due overwhelmingly to Conservative voters abandoning Edward Heath and returning when Margaret Thatcher was leader.

In 1983 the drop in turnout was mainly among those who would have voted Conservative - Labour could even have failed to get a quarter of the vote if it hadn'tve been for Conservatives not turning out to vote because of worries over the size of the Conservative majority.

In 1987 and 1992 turnout was sharply up and the Labour vote recovered and Labour recovered to where they had been at the 1979 General Election pretty much.

In 1997 most of those not voting would have voted Conservative - there is always considerable reluctance to remove incumbents and just as in 1979 it was always possible Labour could have pulled off a victory - it could have been a lot closer in 1997 than it eventually was if turnout had not fallen.


All valid points. And then there is what Gordon knows that we don't. Something good around the corner or something nasty?

The more you think about it the more questionable the whole of this media election fever becomes? I wouldn't put a penny on any date for the general election at the moment.

If he had gone to the country when he first became PM he might have been better off. September election and a RA-Ra victory conference celebrating his new mandate. Of course Labour were in no shape to go at that time.

Interesting times......

Hang on : we've been pulverising the Labour Party at local elections for years.
In my opinion it will reinforce a labour decision to go early. Labour know that the conservative associations per say are very healthy and complete killers. Labour will want to deal with us before we do any reforming of CCHQ: after all it is a complete basket case and the only difference between the national elections which we lose badly and the lcoal elections in which we sweep all before us, and have been doing so for years now. Labour central office will wipe the floor with CCHQ as per usual, slaughtering our lot
like the mediaeval serfs that they are. That is why Labour will go early.
Our stunning local election victories have had no impact on the national picture over the last few years, and I doubt will do so over the next two months.
I am sure that this is the way Labour are thinking:
after all it is the truth, and Labour have been very scientific in their approach to political realities in recent times.

I read Osborne's stomach churning interview in the Telegraph. The panic nearly jumped out at you from the page. The rank opportunism is what irritates me: One week tax cuts, next week no tax cuts. One week, hug a hoodie, the next week tough on law and order. It's pathetic and profoundly depressing to see the way this once great Party is now lead by two clueless, PR-obsessed trustafarians.

Michael Portillo, as MP for Chelsea and one of only two remaining MPs, would presumably have become leader! He might then have moved into early overdrive in his present flirtatious relationship with Diane Abbott, so that she defected, therefore modernising the parliamentary party to 33% BME at a stroke
I can't really imagine Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott in the same party, their "flirtatiousness" actually is merely a friendship dating back to when they were school friends.

Andrew James 12:43

We can't win Washington and Sunderland West but the last two local elections have seen us nearly 1000 votes ahead in Sunderland Central and last night was a swing of 4% on top of that.

Nearby Tynemouth and Stockton South are better still.

It is fantastic news for the Conservative Party in the North East that there has been a Conservative Council Gain in Washington. Well done to Angela Cuthbert and her hard working Team. Also, congratualtions to Nick Varley in Chester le Street. I was out canvassing with him ten days ago. I don't think that Chester le Street has seen so many Tory Activists together. All fifteen of us!!!. If there is gong to a General Election the nights are drawing in up North, Gordon, the nights are drawing in!!!!. Also, in the Labour Heartlands the Christmas lights will be up soon!!!. Does he really think that they will turn out to vote. I doubt it. Gordon is a modern grand Old Duke of York ..........

Thank you all for your help in my by-election.

I am pleased to have made a swing from Labour.

I firmly believe that to have come second in a by-election in the area that we fought was a genuine achievement, especially since there was four candidates: including Lib Dem and BNP.

My only plea is for absolute Party unity. If Cameron had not been leader, say it was Davis, there is not wat I would have manged second place.

If you are a personal critic of Cameron, please don't voice it because he is the only show in town.

He has managed to make us electable again, and whether the old right wing stall warts like that or not, it's a huge achievement.

I was involved in the Washington East by-election and the Labour Party just could not believe that they had lost. We ran a really good campaign, had a first-rate candidate and agent, while councillors, activists and supporters alike worked flat-out over the past month. But the key was that we already had a Councillor elected in May, (by 25 votes) and the ward residents noted that he was hardworking and very involved.

Two further points. I agree that the view that Thatcher photograph will have done Brown no favours at all in the Labour strongholds and within this ward that seemed to be the case. Secondly amongst those Conservative activists to whom I spoke there was precious little, if any, support for Norman Tebbit; contempt is perhaps a more apt description of his words about David Cameron, spiteful was another I heard said. Fortunately up here the voters were not listening to Tebbit; they were good judges.

Taxing inheritance - a truly Labour policy, in that it takes from moneys already taxed; it involves ever greater numbers of people; it penalises success; it stigmatises riches; it defines as "rich" the modestly well off and punishes them; it interferes with the decisions of the individual; it weakens the ties which bind the generations; it makes everyone more dependant on the state. Oh, and it makes a piffling contribution to public revenues. A perfectly stealthy, spiteful, envious way of causing the lucky and the industrious to suffer. Yes, passing leftie, you have a lot to be proud of.

Re Cllr Dixon @ 00.50. This is good sensible stuff. When we put candidates in early and they are down-to-earth and work hard they can take lots of Labour votes. What I read into what Cllr Dixon said and I have found in others parts of the North, is that winning is nothing to do with the ridiculous debates about left-right, either-or, trad-modern etc. Its simply about a practical focus on what voters are interested in and hard practical work to show you will help them with those issues. Its not bloody rocket science. Whether fighting an election at council ward level or a whole nation level, the best chance of winning emerges from focusing on what matters and being credible, coherent and clear about what you stand for.



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