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Well done to the Party's Leadership and shadow cabinet. Also well done to Mr Coulson for the press operation. The negative stories on Brown are killing his image.

As the pressure is off, it is time that William Hague sorts out the referendum questions and that the human rights alleged disagreements in the shadow cabinet are sorted. Lance these boils before they fester. If necessary David Cameron needs to spend less time on new policy announcements and get stuck into resolving these conflicts.

Now is also the time to help Scottish Conservatives sort themselves out.

The Lib Dems increase is given perhaps too much importance. 13% is still pathetic for a third party, especially the LDs, who should really be able to hit 20% without too many problems. All they need to do is get serious about it.

This is excellent news; we are going in the right direction without any hint of complacency.
Just as DC is as different from Brown as one can imagine, so too the shadow cabinet is different from the present cabinet and - vive la difference!
Might I suggest that the tories put out more team broadcasts like the one a week or two ago? It showed that there is now real competence behind DC (e.g. I would like to see more of Gove v that twerp Ed Balls).
I am sure the election will come down to competence v incompetence in government.

James Maskell, we need the Lib Dems to be under 18%.

HF - not necessarily, what we need is Lib Dems to take votes off Labour.

Remember its winning seats off Labour that really counts in throwing out this government - pleasure though it is to win them off the Lib Dems. If Labour voters move to Lib Dems then we are more likely to win Labour seats.

When you consider the uphill struggle that every Conservative MP has, and even more particularly David Cameron has in achieving any sort of straightforward or 'fair' reporting by the hacks on the BBC and to a lesser extent on the other Channels, I think DC and the Shadow Cabinet certainly deserve congratulations for their hard work and perseverance.

Michael Gove was extremely effective this morning on AM, and refused to be side-tracked by Marr's pressure on one subject.
Its just a pity that people like David Aaronovitch are so biased that as soon as the word Conservative is mentioned letalone Tory, a red mist seems to come up, so that never, never, never would they concede that a Conservative could Do a good deed or have a philanthropic idea!! And, yes, that is a challenge, not that Mr. Aaronovitch would even read this letalone take me up on it!

HF, of course they need to be lower but they can and should be much closer to 20%. Perhaps I didnt quite say it right the first time.

Its just a pity that people like David Aaronovitch are so biased that as soon as the word Conservative is mentioned letalone Tory, a red mist seems to come up, so that never, never, never would they concede that a Conservative could Do a good deed or have a philanthropic idea!!

Well, surely the same could be said for posters on here - the thread yesterday slamming Brown's team skills also called into question his intellectual capacity and dismissed his cabinet as the worst in recorded history, which (while it has its fair share of duds) it clearly is not.

Fair enough most commenters on here are anti-Labour, it's a partisan website - but it seems odd to complain that your opponents never admit you occasionally have a point or do something right or do something well, when you don't extend the same courtesy to them.

Several Labour MPs at the moment are pleased that Cameron and Davis are standing firm against the 90 day business, they know with Tory backing this nonsense could be stopped. So, an excellent example of bi-partisanship for the good of the majority.

Nice article in the MOS this morning about a bunch of Tory PPCs who inhabit the REAL world. You should link to it Tim/Sam

We need to see much more Conservative focus on the growing rift between the leaders of the armed forces and the government.

There is a scandal developing here with the potential to completely destroy Brown, and CCHQ need to be all over it.

Read the articles by Des Browne and Sir Richard Dannett in today's Sunday Telegraph for more details.

"vive la difference!"

David Belchamber, yes, what we now see are two very different parties with two very different approches. Labour's entire approach is qualified by acting after-the-fact and trying to solve problems with one grand act of legislation. The Conservative approach is 'Preventative' and geared towards stopping the problems developing at their source, which of course is the right way! Labour are continually playing catch up and this makes them look to be the ruled by events rather than exercizing rule over events.

Bruce Bold,
We are not getting paid for our incite. We are not writing in a national paper and appearing on TV failing to give the readers/viewers a clear indication that our views come from one camp.
As you say, this is a partisan website and therefore there is no pretence at even-handedness - which incidently, lets non-members like you regularly have their say - unlike LabourHome - and for that matter LibDem Voice which has a separate internal forum for members.
I would also dispute that we fail to give our opponents any credit:

1.It was this site and its members who applauded Tony Benn's recent speech, describing him in glowing terms despite our political differences.
2.You are allowed to state your views here and we bother to engage with you without resorting to personal abuse. NOTHING EVER appears on LabourHome that is not gratutitiously insulting and no opportunity is given to question this stance.
3. It is the Tory Spectator that gives awards to its opponents and that Sky News says is the best reflection of the parliamentary year.
3.On this site, only a few weeks ago, you would have found many a contributor warning against undersestimating the P.M. The fact that he fails to live up to our expectations is not our fault.
4. Your accusations of blind bias would have be more authoritative if sections of the Labour Party were not making similiar noises.

We, as a confident democratic party look forward to continuing our discussions with you in the sure and certain knowledge that we have the anwsers to your points and therefore do not need to invite you in for for breakfast with our leader, the only thing on the menu being "toast".

Yes, I agree with you, Bruce Bould @ 11.09 - well up to a point:

" it seems odd to complain that your opponents never admit you occasionally have a point or do something right or do something well, when you don't extend the same courtesy to them".

I have a great regard for some Labour politicians, Frank Field and Kate Hoey because they know what they are talking about and display common sense; I believe that they really want to improve Britain and they appear to listen and debate a point, not talk through people as Ed Balls does.

The problem is, they are not in the government as they should be.

What I thoroughly dislike with this government is that they refuse to admit the reality of the situation and claim "that all is for the best in the best of all possiblle worlds", which it clearly isn't.
Until you get a semblance of truthfulness from politicians and an acknowledgement of reality, combined with a determination to apply common sense solutions to our problems, we will never get beyond a PM's ego trip.

Northernhousewife - Bravo!!!, I was going to start a reply/post - Bruce Bould I understand exactly where YOU are coming from! - BUT!! you have done it for me so much better, and I am NOT being cynical as some 'wag' might insinuate!

David Belchamber, I'm afraid I can't share your enthusiasm for Frank Field, a man who said we should bring back the workhouse for the poor! Any politician who subscribes to such a patronizing attitude has no place in the politics of compassion. This sort of statement is not uncommon among Labour's 'Animal Farm' MPs.

Just this week we had Labour MP Clive Efford talking about the unemployed spending a 'lifetime of idleness'. Such people, and such vile caricatura, has more in common with Alan B'stard than with the ethics of public service. Kicking the poor doesn't belong to the politics of the 21st century.

I applaud ConservativeHome for allowing other people's views on the website. It's healthy and makes people stronger in their convictions if they are challenged.

The Chairman of Labour at the University of Warwick refused to join us on a pub crawl because she didn't like speaking to Tories. She must be quite scared that her convictions might not be totally correct; wouldn't life be boring if you socialised with people you always agree with. It might be why Warwick Labour only have about 12 members.

Tony Makara is indulging in some seriously selective and misleading quotation here. There is no way that Frank Field believes in a return to the Workhouse system - please can you supply exact quote and context?

The Clive Efford quote is also selective - he actually said in full is: "it is incumbent on every [MP] to ensure that we do everything possible to ensure that every 16-year-old is in education, employment or training and does not leave school for a lifetime of idleness and unemployment". Not exactly a B'Stard sentiment, surely? In what sense is that "kicking the poor"?

Bruce Bould, what is this? Crown court? Off the top of my head I can't index reference the exact time and place Frank Field spoke about the workhouse but I can assure you that he said it. On the subject of Clive Efford, you are obviously not understanding the context of his 'dig' at the jobless. This sort of attitude should not surprise us from a Labour government that has forced the long-term unemployed to work a 30 hour week for 50pence an hour under the mandatory 'work experience' section of the NewDeal.

The fact is Labour spent all their time in opposition saying that they feared for 'The poor and the sick' under Tory rule. Yet, from the moment Labour have come into office they have done nothing but stamp on the faces of the poor, time-and-time again. Animal Farm Labour, so meek in opposition, so brutal when they have had the whip hand of power.

I'm afraid "I can assure you that he said it" doesn't cut it for me if you are trying to engage in a serious debate.

You can't go around ascribing outrageous views to your political opponents without backing them up with evidence - especially ironic as earlier in this thread you complained of "vile caricature" of the poor by Labour!

My original argument anyway was that political discourse might be a bit healthier if both sides respected the other a little more. This kind of straw man tactic illustrates my point.

Bruce Bould, I respect anyone interested in constructive political debate. After all that is the essence of democracy. I'm also glad to learn from others if ever I am wrong on an issue. I believe the day we stop listening to others is the day we stop learning. So, yes, I'm all for mutual respect. However its hard to respect a Labour government that is so steeped in double-standards. There are some politicians that I admire in some ways yet find no common ground with. For example I mentioned earlier Yvette Cooper who I think is a great little fighter and clearly a woman with a lot of spirit, and while I like her pugilistic style I don't support her policy perspective. Same goes for Ruth Kelly who I know is a very nice, well-meaning person at heart, and I certainly support her views on abortion. However that has to be qualified against her support for the loss of life in Iraq and her string of mistakes in office. So I recognize that politics isn't black and white, that every rose has its thorns, but politics is a tough business and sometimes its in the national interest for us to put the boot in.

Patriot: You are right, we need to start positioning ourselves to attack the Govt. on the way its treating the Army.

On the lib-dems - tactical voting is still a danger.

Bruce and Tony, can we perhaps come together on a crucial issue: teaching young children to read. I - as a tory - concede that the Blair/Brown government has vastly increased the funding in health and education but - again as a tory - I would contend that too much has been wasted because of bad management.
In education Nulab does not want us to look at the huge failings at age 11, it only wants us to see ever rising standards at GCSE and A level.
However, if 30% to 40% of kids cannot read, write or count properly at age 11 what hope have they got in later life?
Michael Gove has produced a plan to focus on reading standards at age 6; he concedes that it will not work for all kids but he wants to scrap the key stage 1 tests and concentrate on a simple reading test.
That makes sense to me but it has immediately been condemned by one union and Lord Adonis' comment this evening is to describe the initiative as "cobbled together" and designed to "draw attention away from the row in the tory party about grammar schools".
I stand by what I said in the final para of my offering at 12.25.

David Belchamber, I agree completely. More focus must be put on teaching young children the 3Rs and I support Mr Gove's proposals. As you say that fact that four in ten of eleven year olds can't read is a shocking sign of failure by a Labour government which promised to make education a priority. I seem to remember that everyone at my school could read by the age of eleven, so what has happened to todays kids? I don't believe teachers have become sub-standard but teaching methods are clearly failing. How are kids taught today? What is different about teaching methods used today and those used thirty years ago?

That's all very well, but if the teachers go up in arms we had better make sure we have our story straight. Better to make an effort to get at least some proffesional support before pounding the war drums. I have lots of time for Gove, I just hope his tactics are up to his good strategy. Without the two its all a waste of time.

Just watched the lib-dem leadership debate. What a fiasco.

I think Clegg is atrocious. No policies - at all, and very petulant. It is probably good news if the Yellow Peril select him, but the main reason they are low is because people have decided they are an irrelevance.

But there is a sting in the tail - their slumped ratings will mean they redirect their efforts to holding seats, so they could still hold seats disproportionately - but not if we do the work.

we need the Lib Dems to be under 18%
What the parties need at a General Election to put their programme into action is more votes then anyone else in 325+ seats, beyond that the Liberal Democrats could get 18% or 28%, or 13% and hold any number of the other 325- seats.

It's still 2.5 years into a parliament, 1.5 years to go with a year to spare.

If opinion polls were some kind of indicator of likely future success then Labour would have won in 1983, 1987 and 1992; they didn't.

As for the Liberal Democrats, the surge they had in 2005 was largely on the back of attitudes of many in the General Public on the Iraq War, I'm sure they are eager to build on that position, but every sign is that they will have a setback on what is a position in which they have far less support than the Alliance did in the 1980s and actually probably less support than the Liberal Party did in 1974.

The Liberal Democrats have benefited from a concentration in their vote built on the backs of the Alliance, but really unless they get a deal on STV (which neither main party is willing to give them) they have little prospect of playing any greater role in things in the future.

This sort of attitude should not surprise us from a Labour government that has forced the long-term unemployed to work a 30 hour week for 50pence an hour under the mandatory 'work experience' section of the NewDeal.
Technically they haven't forced them to do anything, indeed this is a continuation of the principles of past schemes - people can sign off if they want, there is no compulsion to claim benefits, although there are problems with the current system.

So far as Frank Field goes, he seems to favour a mixture of increasing JSA, but limiting the time it can be claimed.

Frank Field seems to want the best of both worlds though in having both high contributory benefits especially The State Pension and also wanting to maintain high spending on assistance benefits and make them universal.

Realistically welfare has to move to universality for the sake of society, but current levels of benefits and free services relative to wages are nowhere near realistic, focus has to be on preventing destitution while minimising affects on public spending and the economy, there have to be cuts in rates of benefits for most existing claimants to hold costs down, the labour market must be deregulated and taxes must be cut.

This would leave a situation in which few would actually starve, but any kinds of assistance to those near destitution would be no more or little more than for anyone else, this leaves them the option of accepting that they will live in near destitution for the rest of their lives, or attempting to remedy their situation by securing renumerative employment.

I have no doubt that the Liberal Democrats will significently improve their poll rating once a they have chosen a new leader, and clearly that will have a significant effect on the polls. Possibly it may be to Cameron's benefit, but I doubt it.

Many posters here blithely assume - for no good reason - that the LibDems will not eventually reassume their old position as the preferred party of protest. Sadly, they are suffering from tunnel vision induced by their atavistic (not to say 'odd') tribal attachment to the Cameron Party.

I was cured forever of that ailment soon after the advent of the appalling John Major. That's when I left the claustrophobic atmosphere of the tribe and joined the Human Race.

"Traditional Tory" - why not join the Lib Dems if you wish us harm. Oh, and btw, I supported David Davis.

JJB [great initials!]
Trad. Tory has to stay within the Tory fold as its "tunnel vision" is the only one wide enough to allow his regular postings, prior to him taking his happy pills . No other political "home forum" allows traffic as broad as the M25 to travel through it's tunnel.
As a person who is interested in views from outside the party [and certainly from outside a small and ever shrinking factional group within it] I had a little look on Lib Dem Voice yesterday while the drama unfolded -
"Neither of them are very good"
"Yet to see his [..NC's] famous communication skills"
- only two examples, but my favourite has to be,
"not a patch on Cameron"
BTW thanks for the compliment on UK Polling .[Sally C].

Thanks Northernhousewife [Sally C]. I should have spotted you were the same person as the comments were refreshingly factual and sensible.

Regarding some of the comments on this thread and elsewhere, the LDs do well when one or both of the two main parties is unusually unpopular, and provided the Tories look like a potential government, there will be no problem dealing with someone as vacuous as Clegg.

Did anyone know that the Liberal vote has always fallen when Labour governments are ousted? The Liberal vote fell in 1979, 1970, 1951, 1931 and 1924.
A good omen for the next election - I hope.

That is true - although history doesn't always repeat. Really, the Lib Dems should have been doing badly all along since 1997 because in the 1970s they did appallingly under Labour.

However, they have held up because the Tories have been unusually weak until around 2005. I don't see how they can avoid a substantial drop next time, because I think Labour is guaranteeed about the same 35.5% (losses to the Tories, and gains from the LDs) aswell as a Con increase of several points - we don't know how many yet.

I usually get on well with Labour people on a personal level, because they are usually well intended, and I respect them as our main opponents and welcome a two party system, and would like to see the destruction of the Lib Dems.

is it just me or does anyone else find Ed Balls insufferable?

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