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It will be interesting to see how the LDs respond. While we hope they hold back from shoving Ming out, I give him six months tops. Im sure Huhne and Oaten have been meeting their respective campaigning teams already to plan for the coming campaign.

brilliant article - spot on

Rumour has it Brown will be having fritters for lunch today...

In sum, the modernisers got it wrong and the old guard have been justified. Low tax coupled with tough crime and immigration policies are not only just, they are popular. But beware. Brown is down but not out and he is already twisting the knife in the grammar schools wound. He will have Cameron back on the ropes in no time unless urgent preventive measures are taken and taken NOW. At present, the tory education policy is untenable. Grammars, it says, "entrench social disadvantage" - except for some mysterious reason in Buckingham and Kent. The truth is they do no such thing. Selection benefits everyone, everywhere. The comprehensive ignores the weak, drags down the strong and neglects the middle ability range. So-called "differentiation" is a joke - an attempt to substitute the efforts of one, harrassed teacher for what should have been done by means of mass examination. The sooner Mr Cameron withdraws from the "modernising" agenda on this issue too, the better. He can champion the values of a tailored education system, which takes the trouble to identify a whole range of talents and then cultivates them - academic and vocational talents included. Let him send Willet's out to perform a mea culpa press conference, appoint Brady to the education brief and fight to save the last bastions of genuine schooling.

Gordon Brown has been exposed. He was given enough rope and he hung himself. Gordon Brown's attempt to play party politics over the prospect of an election have blown up in his face. He is now a dead man walking.

David Cameron has shown the British people that he is light years ahead of Brown when it comes to vision. Gordon Brown in contrast looks like a tired old man, fatigued by failiure and unsure of his next step.

Tim, you say: "It’s true that much of the Gummer-Goldsmith plan to unilaterally save the planet has been ditched". I know this is what you wanted, but did that really happen? Can you point us to the speech/statement saying what was being accepted and what rejected? Did Ainsorth's speech include that (I haven't heard/read it, so maybe it did)?

I know that supermarket car parking charges (little to do with greenery, more preserving the small town High Street, and irrelevant to large cities) and VAT on domestic flights were rejected, but what else was? My own impression is that much of it has not yet been either accepted or rejected (for instance, stamp duty concession for greener houses?). I hope so, because to reject such a report wholesale would smack of superficiality and actually would undermine the Cameron brand. You can't talk about being so much greener, and how global warming is one of the most important longer term issues facing the world, and then abandon it all without so much as any further debate. Can you?

I also find the Guardian's editing of your piece quite interesting. What a surprise that they picked up on your criticisms of Cameron. So helpful to have the Guardian readers being told that the things that might be making some of them think about voting Tory have all now been so downgraded!

'On candidate diversity, gay rights, commitment to the public services and, above all else, a new one nation emphasis on fighting poverty, David Cameron is clearly a very different and more mainstream politician than Michael Howard.'


(1) Candidate diversity has been achieved by trampling on the membership and sacrificing merit on the altar of political correctness. And it will produce no benefit. In my experience, most people don't know who their local MP is, never mind the candidate, and they care only about whether they will represent their views and be a good constituency MP. I've never, ever, had someone say to me on the doorstep that having a white middle-aged man as a candidate puts them off. Merit has been sacrificed, activists snubbed, to please a tiny minority who won't vote Tory anyway.

(2) A new emphasis on fighting poverty? A new emphasis on social breakdown - but you if you look closely, this is just the old commitment to marriage and personal responsibility dressed up. If anybody has committed to reducing poverty per se, I've missed it.

(3) Commitment to public services? Cameron has committed to keep spending lots of money. So did Howard.

(4) Gay rights? Cameron won't repeal Labour changes , but does anybody really think Howard would have?

Cameron has two things going for him:
(1) He's likeable in a way I don't think any previous Tory leader ever has been. That makes it that much tougher to pin a charge of extremism on him.
(2) The political weather is moving right. Immigration is no longer a taboo subject. Europe is no longer a taboo subject. That means that Cameron can say and propose things and be listened to where Howard wouldn't have been.

Much as I am pleased with the boost to our party's fortunes and the damage done to Brown's political reputation, we need to keep our feet firmly on the ground.
As your financial adviser would tell you, what goes up can come down, and opinion polls since April have been jumpier than the Mexican Bean futures market. And remember, the opinion polls still point to Labour being the largest party with a uniform swing.
To my mind, the most significant 'finding' is the collapse of the LibDems; Labour remain in the high 30s. So we have to be very cautious in our interpretation of the true position on the ground.
I find it hard to believe the LibDems will remain this low - particularly if they have a successful 'leadership realignment'.
Let's stick with DC's strategy of appealing to voters who see themselves as centre-ground, sensible and non-partisan. I agree with the idea of a balanced programme, as it is the only way any LibDem recovery will be through picking up disillusioned Labour voters, and not Tory supporters.

The paper article seems to have been somewhat cherry-picked, removing a lot of your critique of Gordon Yellow

Londoner, I don't think we'll be adopting the "Happy Planet Index" which indicates that 1974 was the year in which it was best to live in this country in place of GDP.

Richard Ratner R.I.P.

What recent events have proved is that we do well when we forget about the tiny minority who think the parties future is an either/or - trad/modern - left/right fight. The vast majority inside and outside the party want to unite and fight Brown on a balanced ticket of practical policies. More of that and we will win, no ifs and buts,


Sean @ 12:04: If Tim meant that silly happy index point, then that is fine. I agree it was totally bonkers as anyone sentient above the age of about 8 in the 1974 UK would know (Zac G wasn't). But I am not sure how many actual policy recommendations were based on that.

What bothers me is that we must follow up "climate change is a large problem that needs tackling" with some actual and credible policies to do so. A balance to things to be done domestically is what we should be urging internationally - and with Bali negotiations coming up, I think in December, that is the area on which in the shorter term we now need to make a positive contribution. If we sit back and let Brown and co take lots of credit if anything is achieved there, lots of good work will have been undone. Perhaps some collaboration with Arnie in California might be in order?

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