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Perhaps if we made it easier to deselect some of the bed blockers, it might cure the problem? Was a Quentin Davies going anywhere except in his own imagination?

I am not really being serious about deselection, but there are some dear old souls who need to be found an alternative career path.

We need active MPs, not the "good old gils/boys" in their seventies. Folk who are going to be 70 in the next term (post 2009) should move on. Is a 70 year old going to be an option for a ministerial job in a DC cabinet?

There is now 18 months before the next election and this should be sorted out within 6 months. Chief Whip?

I think this is a truly terrible idea. First, because the very last thing we need at this moment is to become inward looking again. We need to avoid wasting any of our precious time talking about changing the Conservative Party, and focus on changing the country.

Second, because it's just a daft idea. Our MPs must be led by someone who has their confidence and support. If the leader lacks their confidence he must go. That's all their is to that.

I saw the article on Ben Brogan's blog and agree that this issue must be addressed. Some say it is damn near impossible to remove a Labour leader, where as it is too easy to destabilise and undermine a Conservative leader.
I think that the simplest way to deal with this is to up the No of MP's signatures required to trigger a contest. I am not keen on *these* letters written by MP's who get to remain nameless sitting gathering dust indefinitely in the 1922 committee safe.
I think that the 1922 committee should address this problem and correct it.

Completely agree Editor.

Andrew: Tim is not suggesting that MPs shouldn't be able to unseat a leader but that they need to be brave enough to say so. It is wrong that just a few can hide behind anonymity and destabilise a leader. Some of our MPs are just too self-indulgent. Forcing them to go public might force a little responsibility on them.

Alan has already said what I would have wanted to, Andrew, in response to your specific complaint.

I agree that there's a danger of being too inward looking but few things have done our party more damage over the last 15 to 20 years than leadership speculation.

I don’t like anonymity, but here’s the problem: getting rid of anonymity would give the Quislings, sorry, Quentins of this world a season ticket to appear on Newsnight.

I do tend to think that this may not be the best time to be tinkering with the rules. After a successful General Election victory is probably better!

However, I think the problem is that by changing the rules whilst you could secure the future for a good leader (as in this case), the party could, in future, be equally shackled to a bad leader. The reverse is equally true if what is agreed does not achieve the desired affect.

To me, the simple way to address this would be to use a percentage of the parliamentary party (say 25 or 30% or if they wish to be truly democratic 51%) instead of having a set number of MP's.

In this way the actual number of MP's required to unseat the leader is directly relational to the size of the parliamentary party. The more successful the party are, the harder to remove the leader.

This could be qualified by say a set minimum number of letters should the parliamentary party number drop below a certain level.

I also agree that MP's letters of no confidence should have a definite shelf-life and around 3 months seems reasonable after which an MP can either resubmit the letter or let it drop.

I am not sure this idea of effectively 'outing' those who submit letters of no confidence is a good idea. Whilst it may dissuade the faint hearted it also might result in even worse in fighting and disruption and even more adverse media attention.

Andrew Lilico "I think this is a truly terrible idea. First, because the very last thing we need at this moment is to become inward looking again. We need to avoid wasting any of our precious time talking about changing the Conservative Party, and focus on changing the country."

I completely agree, All this idea is is Brogan mischief making at the behest of Brown in my opinion, to as Andrew says make the Conservative party look inward. The time to address this would be directly after a general election, not now.

Such a policy would be inward looking, would suggest doubts about Cameron's leadership within the party when few such doubts exist, would make Cameron seem autocratic/megalomaniac; it would be unnecessary, could lump us with leaders we don't want in future - move forwards, don't make the same mistakes, but don't fight yesterday's wars.

Regarding the post by "HF" above, it is utterly ridiculous and contemptible to condemn MPs on the grounds that they are "too old". Perhaps there are some Quentin Davies-ish MPs around - I wish someone would name these "bedblocking" MPs. I very much doubt that Michael Howard, for example, will be replaced by someone equally competent.

The object of the "anti-OAP MPs" campaigners is social liberalism, which is hardly a good "conservative" line. For myself, I distrust all newish MPs. I fear Peter Oborne's article on the new political class has not been heeded seriously enough.

Look, the current system is altogether daft. It just invites instability and does not have the confidence of the MPs. But not because it makes it too easy to remove the leader. Rather, because it is based on confidence instead of challenge and so requires voting against the leader instead of for someone else. The pre-1997 system was much better.

But the last thing we should be doing now is having a debate about whether to change the leadership election system! Of all self-indulgences at the moment, this would surely be the worst.

I support this change and hope other rank-and-file members will as well.

It is important that we protect Dave Cameron from renegade backbenchers.

I have to agree with Andrew. This is a ridiculous distraction.
The way our Leader can best protect himself is by coming up with popular policies that enable him to win elections.
If he loses the election nothing will save him anyway and if he changed the rules to see that something did we would all regret this silly rush of blood to the head now.

We have at most six weeks to come out with Policy B to keep the initiative. Ideally three weeks. We have to keep kicking Brown whilst he is down. Any brain power spent on changing the Part rules is not just a distraction it is a mistake.

Still there have been plenty enough of those so far.

I'm a Cameron supporter Bluepatriot but totally agree with Andrew Lillico.Now is most definitely not the time to have this debate within the Conservative party both for the reasons he states but also because it would smell of weakness. Peronally I don't think Cameron needs any rule change to bolster his position. He's by far and away the best leader we could have anyway.

I don't know about this one Tim but I suggest that you roll out your ideas and then submit them to a vote of all of the ConHome panel.

As we are not going to get a better leader than DC, who has just put Gord Almighty in the dock, surely we should stop gazing at our navels, and get on with formulating some really good conservative policies that Alistair, darling can use to stop the country from going down the pan.
We must however, impress it upon the country that the policies are ours, and any thanks from darling will be gratefully received!

It should be exactly as hard as it currently is to remove the leader. I think there should be unswerving loyalty to the leader of the day, and the party must learn to pull together and unite and show internal discipline, but if a change is needed, make it decisively.

Conservatives tend to be entrepreneurs and risk-takers. That's why the outside-shot candidates almost always triumph over the safe bet. Those bets don't always come off, but the party picks itself up and keeps going.

Labour avoid risks and pick the favourites. Blair is their most electorally successful PM and is remembered for having the gall to go for it over the heir apparant, Brown. Tories don't have royalty. Talent rises, while stars fade. Politics is survival of the fittest: if leaders can't hack the trials of the Conservative party, what hope have they of effectively handling the country?

There is a huge difference between deposing a sitting Prime Minister, especially if he/she has won one or more general elections, and the Leader of the Opposition.

A Leader of the Opposition must earn the continuing loyalty and respect of his Parliamentary party. A sitting Prime Minister who won a general election has a mandate from the British people that should not be taken away by MPs.

David Cameron was taking the Party in the wrong direction before the Blackpool conference. If Brown had not called an election and maintained a 10% poll lead into next year, MPs would have been right to force a vote of confidence.

No, sorry I just don't agree. Seems to me that it is no coincidence that there not having been serious any call to change these rules after the assassinations of Thatcher, IDS or Howard, all more to the right of the party, it is only when a leftist, who may not be too popular with the Party at large, although that is changing now,is leader, that there is a serious call to change the rules. This just isn't right and it looks solely like an attempt to protect Cameron from his own party, that's just plain Stalinist.

I have to agree that any change of rule proposals at this time would be a distraction. The time for this is after the next election. If Cameron continues with his present course he will be quite safe.

What Cameron should do next is concentrate on campaigning hard for a referendum on the EU Treaty. He needs to get out the Hague Battle Bus and tour the country, just as if this were an election.

One last bite at this cherry from me. I think that the Editor believes that making changing the leader harder will reduce speculation about alternative leaders, but I don't think that's right. For example, I believe the Lib Dem system is more like that the Editor advocates, but that does not stop speculation about Huhne, Clegg, et al. Indeed, it probably lumbered them with Kennedy for longer than was useful.

Leadership speculation is a function of the leader's performance and the available alternatives. The main driver of leadership speculation since 1992 has been how poorly our leaders have performed, not the ease of replacing them.

Political parties go through rough times, no-one knows when an MP will let the side down by damaging behaviour. Often a noisy vocal minority can make a party look to be riddled with dissension. So a leader has to be able to ride such problems. David Cameron has proven that he is a hard-skinned leader who can take the knocks and bounce back. Leaders have to be given time to get things right. A political party that keeps chopping and changing its leader does not command respect from the public. Continuity and stability are essential in building up trust. Of course leaders can overstay their tenure, as we see in Australia currently, but for the most part they need a good solid run.

If any rules need changing it should be for the benefit of the country not the party leader or political class in general, and that would be to find a way to ensure sitting mp's face some real kind of competition for their seats.

The only way to ensure MP's with large majorities always remain focused on serving the people rather than settling down for a comfy career insulated from the people is to introduce competition for their seat.

Perhaps an open primary of the sitting mp and at least one challenger?

So let's hear less about how to protect the political class, and more about how you could better serve the people.

Surely the time to consider anything as unnecessary as another change to the Tory Party's internal rules is after a successful General Election win? I'm not sure this is really sending out the right message.

I dont agree with this policy and suspect it is a bit of teasing by Brogan to get us talking about the necessity for a change of leader. Let the LDs go through this talk now. The current system is fine for the time being. Lets move onto more important issues such as health, schools, the economy, crime and immigration.

I see we are again going on about Europe and the Treaty. While we should of course mention our pledge to hold a manifesto and pressure the Government into holding one, this seems to be the only issue we are talking about at present. Could we please start talking about other issues?

I agree that we should change the rules on removing the leader, but this is not "What David Cameron Should Do Next".

It would look self-serving if David Cameron involved himself in this in any way. If there is to be a change, the changes should be driven by members.

We should also take the vote on the leadership away from activists who have no real stake in the party's success and leave it with MPs (who do).

"We should also take the vote on the leadership away from activists who have no real stake in the party's success and leave it with MPs (who do)."

Activists do have a stake in the party's success. They want to have a Leader who will lead the Party to electoral success and govern effectively. How many Parliamentary and council seats would be won without the hard work and donations of the members? A fraction of those we have at present. That's why the members deserve to have more, not less, democratic rights in the Party.

Mike A is typical of those, especially on the Left of the party, who have utter contempt for its members. That attitude, exemplified by Maude and Howard's disgraceful plan to disenfranchise the members, has cost the party tens of thousands of activists and donors. Just ask the candidates in target seats who are struggling to find deliverers and canvassers.

Moral Minority: I'm not sure whether or not the 2005 proposals have cost "tens of thousands of activists and donors", but one thing is clear: they were a bloody stupid idea, which was demonstrably wrong.

All the clever people told us that it was absolutely essential to remove the selection of a leader from the membership, to avoid appointing an unelectable swivel-eyed right-wing extremist (I paraphrase the arguments, but that was the gist of it). When the proposal was thrown out, there was then a run-off election which in itself went a great way to improving the party's standing, and resulted in the selection of that well-known swivel-eyed right-winger, David Cameron. Does anyone think Gordon Brown (elected nem con) has a stronger position than David Cameron (elected by Con members)?

Look back at the major troubles experienced by the Cameron leadership (whatever your views): Brady/grammar schools; Ancram/Thatcherite legacy; Quentin Davies defection; Gummer's tax on supermarket parking; Mercer on the Army; Mercer & Bercow working for Brown. It's the damn MPs who've been causing the trouble. Again.

Much as I understand the causes for thinking it should be hard to remove the Leader and lament the loss of Margaret Thatcher I oppose these changes.


Well, for every Margaret Thatcher theres a Ted Heath.

No system that may promote arrogance or complacency in the Leadership can ultimately be good.

A wounded or impotent leader who does not command the support of the backbenches is worse than a change of leadership. Ask the Lib Dems.

No change of rule can alter political reality or the perceptions that cause leaders to fall.

There is no prospect at all of a leadership election so why the introspection? Unhelpful.

Mind you, I can't resist making one observation on the question of whether MPs have too much/too little influence on the process. The Men in Suits deposed IDS without the formality of an election and would no doubt do so again should the need arise, whatever the views of activists.

Engaging in further 'reform' of the party structures and rulebook would be madness. It would look self-indulgent, mainly because it would be self-indulgent. It would make Cameron appear paranoid about his leadership being under threat, when it's never been safer. And it would distract from the real politics of tax proposals, the EU reform treaty, NHS spending etc..

Add to that, it would result in a bout of infighting as people fought over whether the proposals were a good idea or not (they're not by the way).

Has CH taken leave of it's senses?

Oh, and as the issue of bed-blockers has come up:

- whilst there are some utterly useless MPs this does not correlate with age. People like Sir Peter Tapsell, Ken Clarke, Douglas Hogg and Ann Widdecombe are great Parliamentarians, even if you don't expect them to be lined up for a ministerial Mondeo. Indeed, we need decent backbenchers who can't have the wool pulled over their eyes by their own government - think of the work done by Kate Hoey, Frank Field and Gwynneth Dunwoody on the Labour benches.

The last thing we need is to build in a defence for Dave.

There are complaints from MPs that he rarely speaks to them, and the A-list, Grammargate, previous rejection of tax cuts and so-called withdrawal from the EPP shows that he tends to treat the membership and some MPs with contempt. Its key that Dave and any future leaders, are kept keen to the common sense inherent within the wider party. As the tax cut debate recently shows, when he listens to the party he actually does far better.

There should be a right for the membership to call a leadership election provided enough signatures are collected. It should not be the sole proviso of MPs.

"Activists do have a stake in the party's success. They want to have a Leader who will lead the Party to electoral success and govern effectively."

Is that why they took ten years to choose a leader who wasn't a bald weirdo?

We should have an open primary to dilute the narrow interests of our membership, or a system whereby MPs and PPCs (who have a real interest in the survival of the Party) water it down.

The problem the Party has is the inability of our membership to accept the need to move to the common ground. It took the Labour Party a series of crushing defeats to realise they needed to change.

We are, apparently, not there yet.

Mike A seems to think that only the MP's and candidates have any stake in our party. This is both ignorant and grossly insulting and does make me wonder if he's not a Labour troll up to no good.

The power and position of MPs, and especially of, as yet unelected, candidates, is legitamised by their representing a political party made up of tens of thousands of members and it is those members who make a party a party and not just a minor pressure group. Politics is about differing views on how we should be governed, it affects us all not just MPs and it is because they hold views on that that people join a political party expecting in return to have their views taken into account.

The disgraceful idea espoused by Mike A, that members are just there to give money and deliver leaflets and are otherwise not to be trusted with anything else, let alone a say in their choice of leader, is exactly the view that has alienated so many people from politics and even from voting.Democray is about the voice of mass groups of people being heard and acted upon, it is not just about the views of those professional practitioners who think that they know best but so very often don't, as they stitch up the plum jobs between then over a brandy and soda.

Oh and btw Mike A, why exactly does our leader need to have a full head of hair in order to be any good? That statement alone shows you up as the anti-democratic weirdo.

"We should also take the vote on the leadership away from activists who have no real stake in the party's success and leave it with MPs (who do)."
What utter codswallop, cant you understand that the activists ARE the party,without them there would be NO MPs nor Party

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