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David Cameron is right. Why shouldn't the Conservative party work to build a winning level of support in places like Wigan. It is precisely in towns like Wigan where Labour have let people down the most. The Labour party has had a monopoly on local government in Wigan for generations yet areas like the Worsley Hall estate are completely run down. Incidently this is an area that has seen very positive investment from the private sector around the JJB stadium. The Worsley Hall estate presents a good contrast between failed public sector housing and thriving private sector enterprise.

Poverty and class distinctions have widened under Labour and it is in Labour heartlands like Wigan that poverty is most extreme. This really is cause and effect. The Conservative party must work to take towns like Wigan away from degenerative Labour rule. Labour arrogantly assume that the Labour vote in Wigan and other redbrick towns is guarenteed, that is a patronizing stance that must be challenged. These towns do not belong to Labour.

Nick Robinson: "This would amount to a commitment to re-negotiate Britain's whole relationship with the EU which is precisely why the Tory leader wants to avoid it."

David Cameron is facing the litmus test of his 'repatriate powers from Brussels' aims with the call for a post-ratification referendum.

'Repatriating powers' means changing ratified treaties, so if Cameron ducks a post-ratification referendum, it will leave the Tory 'third way' of EU reform with power repatriation (against full integration of withdrawal) in tatters.

Cameron needs to keep the pressure up now, but he must surely know that post-ratification, the heat will turn from Brown to himself.

Absolutely agree Tony.
Judging by last Thursday's by-election result the Conservatives are already challenging Labour in places like Wigan. I have to say the fact that we won and then held a seat in central Wigan suprised me.

Wigan MBC, Wigan Central
Con 1013 (48.2;+3.9), Lab 827 (39.3;+6.2), Community Action 262 (12.5;+5.6), [BNP (0.0;-6.3)], [Lib Dem 0.0; -9.5)].
Majority 186. Turnout 22.8%. Con hold. Last fought 2007.

I like David Cameron's way of describing the EPP.

Glad he's taken my advice (well I gave it on this site after Tim posted a piece on Hague stumbling over the issue on the Today program) , yes, my advice on not answering hypothetical questions. Well, it's an obvious one really, but Labour are so obsessively tactical about dealing with us, we need to get a bit smarter at out manouvering them.

btw...Anyone in London going to Westminster this evening to see Andrew Mitchel speak in the Jubilee Room? TRG have organised it, its on UN reform. I'm going along, should be interesting.

Tony Makara | October 23, 11:57
"..Why shouldn't the Conservative party work to build a winning level of support in places like Wigan. It is precisely in towns like Wigan where Labour have let people down the most.."

Good idea!

Deliver the speeches and press conferences from such places. Get amongst the local people and demonstrate understanding that the edge of the world is not delineated by the boundaries of Notting Hill and Islington.

Go on the chicken 'n chips circuit as well as the rubber chicken one
- but be very wary of ruining it with gaffes such as Mandelson's guacamole moment (whether or not apocryphal).

Good stuff, looking forward to hearing about what the party plans to do about the parlous state of non-private education in this country.

It's clear from all the league tables and analysis of results that state schools are barely improving at all, whilst private schools are leaping ahead in bounds.

Obviously this means we should be trying to make state education more like private education - but for the many - not the other way round (which is the inevitable outcome of Labour's ideology).

Nothing raises the spirit more when bedridden with flu then seeing Tories attacking Labour on numerous fronts.

Cameron tearing Brown apart in the Commons, Osbourne proving his mettle as future chancellor at conference, Grayling producing an assured appearance on the politics show attacking the chaos of the benefits system and Gove opening up a new front on traditional teaching in education.

Even Blair is proving to be a useful ally to the cause in not stopping his friends from providing Seldon with damaging quotes about Brown.

Cameron has every reason to be confident. As we did successfully throughout the 80's, we are winning the intellectual arguments. Salient points regarding Wigan, no area should be considered 'out of bounds' and as the public trust in Brown withers ours will grow in the North.

It is Osborne not Osbourne, Michael.

Wonderful initiative to ask questions on behalf of readers-- new media democracy in action!!

My question to DC would have been:

An Oxford University study today suggests the UK population will be 75m by 2050 at least, 6m higher than current projections. The current UK population is 60m and the increase would be equivalent to two new London-sized cities. Is this sustainable? And if not, what can be done to curb such huge population growth?

(the answer - if he is honest - would be nothing, as we're in the EU).


Hi Tim & Sam, at the next press conference con you please ask what Cameron's view on the Conservative Muslim Forum's recent report is please. We have still had nothing but a deathly silence from the Party leadership on this, and it is an important issue.

Thanks Felicity, blame the man flu....

Thank you Mr Angry. I should have asked that question today. I was stuck for something different... which is why I will seek questions next time!

Tim and Sam;

You might ask what he intends to do about the shameful story, that as there is insufficient legislation for MP's to debate and so little time given to EU derived legislation, that there is insufficient activity to occupy MP's time at Westminster, so they will be giving extra leave.
Extra leave which means they now get 90 days hols per years, 3 times the national average.
Great outrage all round.

Hypothetical question avoidance is a red herring.

Surely *every* question about what Cameron would do if in power is hypothetical? The entire Tory election manifesto will be hyothetical. Every policy announcement is hypothetical.

None of it will occur unless some dependent future event occurs.

I'm sure he'd have no hesitation in answering this question:

"If you win the next election and ID cards have been approved and introduced by the government, will you repeal them?"

So why does he have so much problem with:

"If you win the next election and the EU treaty has been approved and introduced by the government, will you repeal it or offer a referendum to repeal it?"

If you want to watch the conference I've now embedded a video to the bottom of the post.

Chad 15.20 - now that you've been kicked out of UKIP and kicked yourself out of your own one-man party, why do you come on here just to be negative?

DC in The Sun 26th. September 2007:

"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations.

No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum."

Now it is clear he has, 27 days later, resiled from that position.

Each must draw his or her own conclusion from this and make such judgement as they deem fit.

I wrote yesterday of the need to set out with clarity what our policy is when the Treaty has come into force. It simply is not good enough to talk of this being a hypothetical situation.

If the treaty is to be abhorred before it comes into force, why does it become any less abhorrent if it does come into force? If it is against the British National interest now, why is it suddenly on 1st. January 2009 in the British National interest?

All this hypothetical stuff is a bit of a let down, Dave. What the public wants and expects after all your nonchalant leaning over the despatch box and swaggering, macho, disparaging destruction of Broon’s character, regarding the new EU Treaty as being the old Constitution re - constituted, is some red meat, Dave. We need to be told urgently that come what may there will be a referendum on the treaty, if it is passed, when you take office. Anything less means that the golden tonsils will sooner or later be facing another crisis.
After your promise to deal swiftly with the EPP problem (what happened) Dave, we have every confidence in you that you will fulfil your promise on the referendum as reported in the Sun - hypothetically speaking. Bad news, Dave. Memories are short, but they ain’t that short.

Hi Perdix,
If you take the time to look back since conference, I've been very supportive of the balanced agenda that emerged from it as I have been a long supporter of the 'prog con' or 'and' approach espoused here.

However, on this issue, when I absolutely want to get behind Cameron in beating Brown to a pulp over his broken pledge, I find someone who is equally trying to avoid a referendum on his watch.

It's just too easy to call for a referendum when you are not in a position to deliver one (switch Brown and Cameron, Brown would be bashing Cameron to deliver the referendum wouldn't he?), it takes real conviction to deliver one when you are in a position to do so.

Brown has bottled it, but, sadly (really) Cameron is not showing himself to be any different.

Let's be careful discussing what Cameron should do about an EU referendum if he was in office. The fact is, he isn't in office and Europe causes divisions. We never will be in government if we start falling out amongst ourselves.

If Cameron does not first hold the promised opposition day debate - and hold it soon - that will be a breach of promise and the consequential forfeit of trust .

This treaty / constitution is bad - Cameron says so repeatedly. So why cannot he follow that through to its inevitable and logical conclusion and say---

"The treaty is bad for Britain. When returned to power we WILL hold a referendum and carry through the people's wishes from that referendum."

Christina, (October 23,23:52) I agree, and this is beginning to feel more and more uncomfortable.

What caused the huge swing in the polls was the perception that the party in general and DC in particular had suddenly emerged from the shadows with some bite and conviction - if the lead is to be retained the electorate will now be anticipating a firm committment from DC to a referendum after the next election (and frankly making that committment now is the only vanishingly small chance we have of cornering Brown into having one before ratification).

If DC doesn't soon commit to a post election, post ratification referendum I predict that the polls will swing back towards Labour. Voters will perceive that Cameron's attack over the treaty will have been superficial, made only for political advantage and not out of conviction - opening up the taunts about PR again just when the swing voters and traditional Conservatives who have been sitting on their hands thought that their old party was coming back.

This treaty is very dangerous for Britain, and if handled by the leadership with the conviction it deserves it could propel the Conservatives back into power. On the other hand, if Cameron starts to give the impression that he is only posturing it could do the party immense damage.

Have we had any discussions yet with Gisela Stuart about crossing the floor and joining the Conservatives?

From the FT:
"An aide to the Tory leader told the Financial Times the calls for a post-ratification referendum were “rather like buying back a house after you've sold it. You can do that but only if the people want to sell it”."

So once powers are signed away, they cannot be returned? How does that sit with "Repatriate powers from Brussels"?

Never has it been clearer that Cameron will do nothing to halt the march to a federal EU and that his 'repatriate powers from Brussels' line is a sham.

Tell me again anyone - where are these other centre-right parties or MEPs who are going to join the Conservatives in a new group? The new Polish election winners - almost clones of the Tory Party - have announced that they are staying with the EPP and Topolanek and his Czechs are already on the move back to the EPP. All that is left are the nutters, the odd independent and others totally out on a limb in their respective countries. And, remember, there must be six nationalities to form a group.

Social justice seems to be delegated and forgotten about until the report comes out. There isnt much laying of the ground is there?

In the news this week, another childrens home is being proposed in Thanet. Thanet is one of the most deprived parts of the South East and we are struggling to deal with with other authorities sending their children to us, breaking government rules. we have a lot of problems down here and sending vulnerable children right down here is going to have a detrimental effect on them and on the local authorities, which have enough problems as it is.

Since Cameron's refusal to promise a referendum after an election victory, I too have felt that he is being opportunist. If the imposed Treaty is bad for Britain, there should be no hesitation from a principled political leader to promise a referendum should the next election be won.

Of course, if Cameron's real position is that he doesn't think that the Treaty is bad for Britain, but we should have a referendum on it anyway, then his refusal makes sense.

I am a "wannabe" Tory voter, but Cameron's obvious dishonesty - you can hear it in his and Hague's stumbling and unconvincing answers - is putting me off.

How are we to "repatriate" *any* powers from Brussels without "renegotiating" or if necessary reneging on previous treaties?

This is a question which Labourites will ask - so you had better have an answer!

I applaud the visit of Mr Cameron to the USA.
I wonder if it would be possible for Mr Cameron to suggest to the US Postal Administration, and Royal Mail in Great Britain, the desirablity of issuing a joint postage stamp, or series of stamps to commemorate the 100 birthday, on November 20th 2008, of Alistair Cooke. Mr Cooke was one of the most celebrated of British-American journalists and broadcasters who did much to further British-American understanding, and hence friendship, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Thank you for your attention.

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