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Well interesting that Fraser Nelson appeared to be suggesting in last week's Spectator that Hilton could be on his bike and that CCHQ was going to be radically reformed - presumably to suit the Ashcroft / Coulson axis.

But I do think all this talk of "ubers" is classic triangulation. ie raise a bogeyman that probably doesn't exist and claim instead that you are performing the centre course between the "ubers" and the "cores".

I think the public would probably be more impressed if we just got on with it. Rather than trying to position ourselves.

Hear hear.

The Uber wannabe sell-out drove me out of the Party. They've as much guts as Gordo Browntrousers. If MPs didn't receive a stipend they would all have to go and get a proper job. You know who you are.

I would add that the, imo, unfairly pro-Israel position of the Conservative Party is another intolerable Uber policy, though many would disagree.

Get on with what though Basil? First we have to learn what worked over the last fortnight and what needs to be junked.

Whoops! My last post above doesn't make much sense (what's new?).

The BBC are reporting that the deputy leader of the LibDems, Vincent Cable, has told them that the position of Lib Dem leader is "under discussion".

The least popular taxes are the most obvious - stamp duty, council tax, inheritance tax. Making more taxes more transparent will increase public awareness of the scale of Britain's tax burden.

Yes, but it would also be unpopular! The cut in inheritance tax financed by a tax on "non-doms" was popular because people want to have their cake and eat it, i.e. they want their own taxes to be cut but they want the government to have plenty of money to spend on public services etc.

If the Tories were to make taxes more transparent, people would think taxes had gone up. A case in point would be the poll tax--you don't get much more transparent than that, or less popular.

I would add that the, imo, unfairly pro-Israel position of the Conservative Party is another intolerable Uber policy, though many would disagree.

How is that an "Uber" policy? It unites most of the Party, including Ann Widdecombe and IDS, whereas Cameron was IMO unfairly anti-Israel during last year's conflict in Lebanon.

We had to break away from being a party seen as only concerned with immigration, Europe and tax. We had to show we were a party that has a lot to offer on education, the environment, health and other "moderniser" issues.

The ubers enabled that break and thanks to that we are now able to talk about issues like tax without being pigeon-holed in the same way we were under Howard, Duncan Smith and Hague.

The "moderniser issues" had to be the main focus for Cameron initially. Thanks to doing that we can now reembrace some of the more traditional policy areas. But that is not the same as only talking about traditional areas, which would be a major mistake.

But don't think for a minute that we can ditch the moderniser approach. We wouldn't have made the progress we have without it.

We have to be a party that addresses all the issues, not just the alledged pet policies of the grassroots.

The difficulty with the strategy advocated by Danny Finklestein was that it is was cynical, second rate, and defeatist.

Rather than posing the questions, what do we stand for, what would we do in power, and how do we persuade the voters to support us? it concentrated exclusively on PR. However, if your strategy is solely PR-driven, then it'll be second rate PR, and thus unlikely to succeed even in its own terms.

Bright chap though Danny Finkelstein might be, he's also someone who was deluded enough to think the SDP might be the way forward.

He's now very sensibly seen the light and joined the Conservatives. But for him to now lecture those of us not seduced by the gang of four in the first place is somewhat ironic.

Danny's own experience shows how cautiously we should treate his opinions. Or else view him as a superb contra-indictator. Lol. ;-)

The whole argument rests on the question of getting the balance right. Giving voters what they want in the form of tax cuts but doing that within the confines of what our economy can afford. On crime and social breakdown the multi dimensional approches advocated and on Europe a sensible and workable pro-British policy, one in which we take what benefits us and reject what diminishes us. The voters are looking for a new vision for Britain but one that is balanced and most importantly one that is achievable. The last thing our people want is another government that breaks its promises.

"We shouldn't be Eurosceptic because we want to be Little Britons but because we aspire to play a full part in the world."

Surely euroneutral would be the balanced stance as currently europhiles would not want to join the Tory Party (unless given a shot at joining their comrades within the ranks of your MEPs).

Why not ditch a position which alienates vital support and instead unite everyone with a simple pledge for a democratic generational vote on eu membership every 25 years for example?

Then the tory party would actually reflect the full spectrum of views on the EU, and thus the conversation within the party would be synchronised with the country as a whole.

Such a stance could unite intregrationists, reformists and withdrawalists, which means pulling in vital support from both the LibDems and UKIP.

It depends what you mean by "talk about immigration." Cameron mentioned it in his speech, and he has policies dating back to the days when people complained he had no policies. The party isn't silent on this issue, but I think the balance they've struck in the last two years is right.

It's a big concern for a lot of voters. But the question is: will an emphasis on immigration initiate a swing from Labour and the LibDems to the Tories among those people who are most likely to vote?

The evidence of 2005 suggests that once you discount the core vote, the disaffected non-voters, and the fringe right parties who won't be satisfied anyway, the large number of people outright who are concerned about the issue don't translate to a rich seam of votes.

Moreover, these debates usually are big losers for everybody. There's hot air and spin and vitriol, all of which just shows politicians as a class at their worst -- and, perhaps, promotes the anti-establishment vote of the BNP etc. Cameron can rise above it all he likes; we know Brown won't. And a victory for Brown isn't winning the argument; it's just throwing enough mud at Cameron that some of it sticks.

Yes, it needs tackling, and Cameron has sensible policies which he should make no effort to hide. You can be sure that immigration will hit the headlines in the next two years and Cameron can show his credentials then. There's no need for the party to initiate discussion on this when there are so many other things to focus on.

The unifying effect of the potential election definitely had a positive effect, and that certainly entailed the more right wing elements of the grassroots keeping their mouths shut. If they hadn't, there would be no bounce. If they talk up again, it will sink that lead as quickly as it grew. If we allow the Eurosceptic "let's leave Europe lobby" their head, we are frankly screwed. Luckily, they are keeping quiet, and the leadership seem to have the policy right.

It saddens me that people have short memories.
We were trounced in 1997 on the back of sleaze, division over Europe, loss of credibitlity following ejection from the ERM. The electorate, having given NuLab a mandate was not going to change it after 5 years. William Hague made sensible tax pledges in the beginning, but when Portillo became shadow chancellor, we had to change course. Ultimately we fought the 2001 elections on Euro alone.
Came 2005, under Michael Howard we definitely made inroads (overturning a 160 seat deficit was not on the cards) - the policies were sensible, but still the electorate at large had a feel good factor - low inflation (thank China for that), low interest rates and we were still perceived to be divided.

Now the country has had enough of NuLab - all teh stealth taxes and the raid on pensions, loss of control over immigration, law and order and to cap it all, the enormous amount of money spent on Health and Education without much to show for. As for us, there is Party unity,the country is ready for a real Change in direction and we are winning the intellectual argument.

Let us not point fingers at amongst ourselves or get too triumphalistic but continue to chip away the Brown facade.

The issue of transparency on tax is absolutly key, especially now that we have 18 months or longer to build to the next election. The reason the inheritance tax cut was so popular is not because people really felt the tax was going to hit them, but because they felt it was unfair. Brown has spent 10 years making the tax system less and less fair, and less and less transparent, and its the anger about this that the Tories need to tap into.
If you ask me Osbourne's strategy over the next 2 years ought to be as follows:
1) Declare that the Tories are not interested in tax cuts themselves (bear with me) but all they want to do is make the tax system fairer.
2) Repeat until they are blue in the face "A fair tax system is a transparent tax system. A fair tax system is a progressive tax system" (well even socialists can't argue with that can they?)
3) Under the guise of making the tax system 'fairer' (eg more transparent and more progressive) pledge to reverse Brown's use of stealth taxation and to tax the public in an open and transparent manner.
4) Commit to enshrining IN LAW a set of rules on the amount of debt any government can take on. Ideally do this a month before Chancellor Darling has to announce that he's "revised" Gordon's golden rules again to avoid breaking them.
5) Once you have a commitment to make the tax system more transparent AND restrict debt it should give the Tories all the ammunition they need to target unpopular taxes, without exposing themselves to the cutting services canard NuLab are so fond of.
6) Finally (and this is the master stroke) you say that in order to maintain NuLab's orgy of public spending (which we're committed to) AND make the tax system fairer (which we're committed to) WITHOUT increasing debt (which we're committed to) we're going to have to raise income tax (in the short term at least).

Yes I know its fairly radical, but the point is that you won't get broad consent to reduce public spending until you can show people exactly how much tax they are paying under Labour, and that means shifting the tax burden from indirect back to direct taxation. I call it the "Raise taxes to win" strategy.

We can have all the tax cuts we want as long as we dont cut public services. Either pay for them with rises elsewhere (non-doms is particularly good because no-one likes non-dom tax evaders) or share the proceeds of growth.

If we start to convince ourselves that any and all tax cuts are popular (i.e. a core vote strategy) and start cutting services we will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

And by the way, the party wasn't 'uber controlled' and avoiding core vote issues until mid-august, then suddenly changed. Immigration policy was set out last November. More prisons, border police and importance of family has been policies ever since Cameron became leader. Sharing the proceeds of growth has always involved tax cuts. Osborne said at last years Conference "We will reduce public spending as a share of GDP over the economic cycle."

The notion that Conservative Party activists are a great barometer of the social temperature or the cultural settings of the country is quite amusing (in a nice gentle way I mean!)

The opponents of modernisation - including the esteemed Editor - seem to assume that to be a moderniser implies that one wishes to have higher taxes, less control on immigration etc. It does not. I think you will find, in most cases, that the ubers are motivated much, much, much more strongly than the anti-modernisers are, by the solid, central importance of getting a Tory majority at Westminster, before we can have any Tory agenda in government.

All I would offer to this deliberately and deliciously provocatively titled story, is that while it's really important for voters to know we will reduce taxes, control immigration - it does not follow - at all - that we require to campaign primarily on those issues. It's just as possible to make the case that campaigning on tax and immigration actually has a deleterious effect on our vote (because those who would support us on those issues over any other will do so anyway; but we risk losing the 4 million others who - perhaps wrongly - do not prioritise those issues when choosing where to place their X). I believe (only my opinion) that the data is more strongly supportive of the moderniser hypothesis than it is of the Editor's.

Your comment is absolutely spot on, Mr Editor. Now can we see a return to reason on the issue of schools? The current position is contradictory and untenable and concedes far too much to socialist assumptions. It has also allowed BBC bias on the selection issue to flourish unchallenged because it can now say that all three front benches oppose it. Worse, the last grammar schools are under a renewed threat. Believe me, Brown and Balls will twist the knife as viciously as they can in the open wound that is conservative education policy. Six out of ten now favour a selective system. Let us have the guts to offer it to them.

Has ConHome decided it's had enough of all the party unity, and that instead we need a great big fight (which they'll happily provoke)?

It's the only explanation I can find for this provocatively-titled content-lite offering, coupled with yesterday's desire to change the rules so you couldn't unseat a party leader.



Did I say that I believed modernisers wanted higher taxes? No.

Am I an opponent of all modernisation? My PS made it clear that I was not.

Did I say that we should campaign primarily on taxes and immigration? No.

Debate on blogs would be so much more illuminating if people addressed the real views of people rather than the stereotypes of them.




Surely, Adam, it's important that we learn the right lessons from recent events? I presume that's what this post is about.

How can you marry up a call to make it harder for leadership speculation to destabilise Cameron with a post about ubermodernisers and then say this site is trying to promote disunity Adam?
It doesn't add up - this post is about keeping the party united.
Osborne rightly criticised uber-modernisers just as he should uber-traditionalists.
The provocation seems to be coming from you my friend.


Where have you been for the past two years? I believe this site was actually founded to promote the 'and' fusion of traditional and modernising ideas.

Sorry Graeme, but your post was complete rubbish because it sought to fight and dismiss an approach than no-one is actually arguing for.

I suspect the debate about modernisation will take a new course once Ming Campbell resigns tonight. We'll be faced with a much younger, vibrant opposition


What is an uber for ignorant sods like me?

The party has to modernise and talk about improving public services for all and protecting the environment. The message has to appeal to non-Conservative voters. The message that came out of conference was certainly balanced between core issues and new issues. I felt it was balanced a little too much in favour of the core issues and would have liked more on the environment. I feel that Europe is being talked about a bit much at the moment and the party can easily become obssessed by it and this puts people off.

Ming is resigning, the Conservatives had better be careful.

It's just been announced on ITV as "Breaking News" that Ming is to step down - Just what we did NOT want!!!

good post and article editor but where's the evidence the cap on aselyum numbers is a bad idea? Emotion? If we're to gain votes on immigration we need to be credible......

Graeme, I am surprised that you think that. Instinctively, I support the moderniser desire to broaden the terms of debate. However, the Portillista mantra for much of the last decade has been that the Conservative Party must spend at least as much as Labour; that public is good and private bad; that unrestricted immigration is an unalloyed benefit; and that the Tories can never aspire to do more than manage slightly better than Labour the substandard public services imposed on us by the left. This is a counsel of despair which deservedly has generated little support. It will be progress if David Cameron has now realised that....even if John Bercow has not.

Danny Finkelstein's political track record is one of repeated failure - as an SDP activist and Conservative political adviser/candidate. Only the Fourth Estate and Westminster Village would employ him.

Now that Campbell has gone we're about to see a vibrant and revitalised LibDem party again dominating the centre ground of British politics.

Why vote for Tories masquerading as Liberals and Liberals masquerading as Tories when you can vote for the real thing, untrammelled by hypocracy dishonesty.

Forget those polls. It's a whole new ball game now.

Good article Editor,

The polls would suggest that the public are very receptive to tax cuts. They would clearly like to decide what to do with their hard earned money and not have it given to numerous new labour targeting exercises.

Where the modernisers have been successful has been in decontaminating the Tory brand and they should receive praise for this.

I don't think there should be such a division within the party between modernisers and 'the right'

Surely we can offer tax cuts and be seen as a progressive, modern party in tune with 21st century concerns?

"good post and article editor but where's the evidence the cap on aselyum numbers is a bad idea?"

It's a matter of humanity. Unless you can explain, for example, why giving safe harbour to X number fleeing from genocide is fine, but X+n are people we don't want to bother about.

Who leads the Lib-Dems is utterly irrelevant if our party continues to push forward confidently as the party with the ideas and the future in mind. The Lib Dems can never win. This is about getting rid of a tired Brown Govt, which is itself only an extension of the failed Brown-Blair project.

I am a post modernist!!!

Seriously though, we do need to be relevant and that means tackling those elephants sitting around the room in a constructive and responsible way.

That means we talk about emotive issues but we do so with restraint, respect and Boris Johnson well out of earshot.

The ubers were/are too narrowly focused and in politics that sort of internal agenda is bound to fail.

We must always look outwards, espousing responsible policies and looking always to act in the best interests of the country.

I find this thread a bit sad really. You obviously have contacts within the highest echolons of the party Tim and I suppose are aware of the stresses and strains that go on there but I hope the new found unity prevails throughout the party. Describing fellow Conservatives as 'ubers' or the 'rightwingers'really doesn't move us forward much.The party will only be successful if both are working together.We got a fairly balanced ticket at the conference,I hope that balance is maintained and that an overwhelming number of modernisers,rightwingers and grassroots Tories will continue to support the party in a wholehearted way.

outsider: "good post and article editor but where's the evidence the cap on aselyum numbers is a bad idea?"

I understand support for very strict limits on immigration but asylum is a different matter.

We should never set an artificial limit on the number of people we'll accept who may be fleeing terrible persecution.

We should encourage other democracies to share the responsibility of providing refuge for the persecuted but an artificial limit on asylum as proposed by Michael Howard was a bad policy imo.

The title of this thread is trying to stir up a non-debate. I don't think anyone has seriously argued that we should abandon all talk of tax, immigration or Europe in our move to modernise. 'Modernisation' is shorthand to describe the process of returning the Conservative party to the centrist agenda that is a) necessary to win an election and b) necessary to run the country once the election is won. And c) the right place for us to be.

The clear and consistent narrative that has been presented, particularly over the conference, is the Conservatism that is right for today.

As Graeme says, though, most people who care enough for it to swing their vote KNOW what we stand for in relation to those 'core' issues. What we need to do is reach out to the 4% of swing voters AND the 40% of people who just don't vote at the moment, and of course to the third of voters who stuck by us through the dark days. Preaching to the converted is no use; extremism in either direction is no use. We need to ensure a consistent, coherent and positive stance so that people have something to vote FOR. The most important thing that 'modernisation' has done is to allow us to present this balanced message.

Thanks for your comment Fiona.

There have been senior members of the party who have argued that we didn't need to talk about the traditional issues - that our traditional voters would turn out without being wooed. That was a nonsense view and I'm glad it has now been repudiated.

You may be right that these issues are now a non-debate. Perhaps we've all given some ground and arrived at unity. I hope so. I'm just worried that we don't lose the rebalancing of recent weeks. That we won't go back to radio silence on immigration. That we don't ever take the grassroots for granted again. That we don't say that tax isn't a potent election issue. That we don't go back to appearing that we want to tax holidaying families out of the sky.

If we're all agreed on this I'll shut up about übers. I promise!

Don't be so kind to Fiona (Melville), Editor.

Her Platform10 blog is proving as popular as pre-Coulson Cameroonism.

Iain (I want a seat) Dale may have praised it to the high heavens but thread after thread receives zero comments.

It has no edge.

It has failed to rally anyone but Westminster villagers to the modernising colours.

Make no apologies for this thread Tim.

The party must know that tax and other traditionalist measures saved the party from being defeated by Brown.

The mods cannot be allowed to return to their old ways.

If Fiona has come round from uber to balancer I think she should be welcomed.

Ultimately when we gain power it is Coulson and Ashcroft who will deserve the plaudits.

Hilton may have helped things a little in terms of rebranding but it is substance that is now winning the day and unfortunately until this october that was sadly lacking in DC's leadership. Cameron must now be strong and make sure that cameroonism doesn't get hijacked by those who just don't understand the reality of politics,.

Alan S: The party must know that tax and other traditionalist measures saved the party from being defeated by Brown.

The mods cannot be allowed to return to their old ways.

And just when agreement about a balanced (note, not Right wing, not leftist, balanced) policy agenda - which I believe has always been there, even if we (all) have not communicated it as well as we could - is becoming the theme of the day, there's always one who can't resist standing up and crowing "Right is right!". Wrong.

In the interests of balance and good debate, I'm really trying to restrain myself now from asking "you and whose army precisely?"...

Grow up.

I would like to say a word on the Europe issue. I think it's very important to recognise that the Conservative Party's electoral problems over Europe (notably Hague's disastrous Save The Pound campaign) were not caused by adopting the wrong stance, but by investing too much hope in the public's interest in the issue.

Federalists depend on public apathy to ensure that every divestiture of sovereignty goes unnoticed, and this approach has been richly rewarded. I believe as Conservatives our aim should not be to scream and shout and try and make the public care that our powers are being handed to an unnacountable supra-national body, but simply quietly to prepare for such time as we can take those powers back with the same ruthless determination with which they were given away. We have found that the average British subject is unlikely to rush to the ballot box in terror at losing the pound, but how much less would they be roused by fear of losing sub-section 62 of some arcane piece of European legislation?

I think we should stop looking at Europe as an issue at all, and deal with each aspect of policy on it's own terms, without seeing it through a European lense. The party should be suggesting radical policies in areas like agriculture and fisheries, policies which might or might not require some repatriation of power. Where this is the case, we should let our opponents bleat about the primacy of EU law, and see if Joe public gives a monkeys.

"We should never set an artificial limit on the number of people we'll accept who may be fleeing terrible persecution."

You do realise that there are 60 million people in this country, many of whom are already supported by the State, and 6 THOUSAND million in the rest of the world? Are you seriously suggesting that no matter how many of those arrive in this country, with no more than the clothes they stand up in, most unable to speak English let alone with employable skills, we should let them in and look after them?

Nobody is talking about "artificial" limits, merely a realistic appraisal of what is possible and what isn't, especially taking into account that, as we are constantly told, we no longer have an empire and interfering in the rest of the world's affairs is no longer any of our business. Moral superiority doesn't build houses or create food or clothing.

It's fairly obvious that it's wrapping everything together. Rebranding and modernisation but retention of traditional values updated for today. The 'And' theory if you will which seems spot on much as I dislike theories in general! Lol.

I had to laugh though at Graeme's comment at 17.28:

"The notion that Conservative Party activists are a great barometer of the social temperature or the cultural settings of the country is quite amusing (in a nice gentle way I mean!)"

Presumably you believe our party leadership with their vast array of different social backgrounds is much more in tune with the average person?! Ha ha.

The Editor's comment was that the grassroots are in many ways more representative of the country, compared to our parliamentary party and leadership. They are. Fact. Which is why the apparent need to confront and insult them in recent months (including by yourself Graeme, albeit in a playful manner) has been so irritating.


I really sorry Alan S but you are so wrong about the issue of the modernisers, Platform 10 and the way it engages with member of our Party.

The Conservative Party has always adapted/changed to meet the needs of this Country, yet you seem to be attacking the very quality that has made our Party so successful and this is where Platform 10 comes into its own.

To think we could continue to sing the same tune that we had in 1997, 2001 & 2005 and would win the next election is simply wrong. The majority of voters did not nor do they support them. So lets not make the mistake of condemning any section of our Party or their websites.

Platform 10 like the Cornerstone Group website gives the modernisers and traditionalists somewhere to kick off debates on those difficult issues that as a Party we need to get to grips with.

And let me point out - Not all discussion goes on line, recently in my constituency we have been taking some of the issues from both of these website to discuss at CPF – so please don’t knock them.

There are three websites that I check out all the time, this one of course, Platform 10 and Cornerstone. Long may these excellent websites site continue and thrive.

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