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Tim, I agree with your take on this. Interestingly your analysis is shared by Alistair Campbell, whom I heard speak at a recent event. He said Cameron was all tactics without strategy.

The question is: what is the strategy? For Blair it was - apparently - "modernisation". "Change" - although vital - is not a destination. The rhetoric has been there, but we need to hear more of it.

How many votes have the Conservatives 'lost' since 1992? How many people have worked out- whoever gets in, eventually all will become mired in incompetence and sleaze? How many people have worked out that whoever gets into power all the main questions facing people today will be fudged ( EU, Housing, immigration...)? Thank God, up here in Scotland we have the 'two fingers to the lot of 'em' alternative- the SNP! I shan't bother voting in the GenElec next time- there is no need!

I made a point in a similar vain on my blog a few days ago but also that the last thing the party needs is 'helpful' comments from friends. Not that anyone needs to take a Trappist vow, merely that we all need to be careful how we phrase our advice etc.

I don't think we've helped ourselves by attacking Labour on sleaze. We need to stay above it all.

We need to remind people that NuLab inherited an economy that was coming out of the doldrums, had had its radical surgery, and was on the up. Indeed, we should make the point that Gordo did very little to the inherited model and plans and actually said that.
It was only later when he started dabbling with extra public spending and all the PFI/PPP deals that the wheels started wobbling and he resorted to those infamous stealth taxes.
Public perception is, that whomsoever is in power will bleed the taxpayer dry. This needs to be addressed, very carefully, as the counter mantra is that propagated by the unions of public service sector cuts and loss of services. In 10 years of NuLab spend, our public sector has received record investment (yet another piece of spin and propaganda for waste) which has resulted in zero improvements and record declines.
That 10 years has also seen an increase in the creation of our junkie state with the people dependant on increasingly lavish and macro-managed handouts from the state.
Dc has started doing a decent job, let him get on with it. He is gracefully demolishing the clunking fist rather than the vicious manner that NuLab wanted to destroy the Tories. As for the sleaze all hands to the pumps here please, its an easy target and we should make hay, as in the same way NuLab did to us, though rather more efficiently !!.

In real elections we would get close to 45% now.

We should not underestimate the extent to which we have recovered from a low base.

A good win for Boris Johnson in London is vital for momentum.

A couple of months ago Labour had a 11% lead in some of the polls. Now the Tories have a 11% lead in some of the polls.

Isn't that a massive swing to the Tories?
Before the Tory conference did you really believe that such a large swing could happen in such a short space of time?

The challenge over the next few months is to get the gap slowly edging up for a sustainable double digit lead.

It is incredible how quickly people can think a General Election is won two years ahead of time because the government gets embroiled in some sleaze. The Conservatives need to do so much more to convince people that they are a government in waiting rather than a lesser of two evils.

The Lib Dem bounce will be coming up shortly with a new leader so expect that to dent Conservative poll ratings by a few points, thereby robbing us of an overall majority.

You heard it here first.

Our frontbench is still part-time. Francis Maude, rightly panned by Quentin Letts for his performance in the Tuesday debate, has loads of outside interests. An inventive, committed shadow cabinet could be worth 1% or 2% in terms of media exposure, connecting with voting groups and devising winning policies.

Jennifer I think we have to attack the sleaze particularly where it concerns financial probity. But it is equally important that we keep our own house in order; I'm assuming that DC knows where all the big money is coming from. Brown had a vital resposibility there and he has failed which is why we must attack.

On a positive note we need to promote our local agenda but we must mean what we say. Local police accountability via elected Chief Constables; I particularly liked elected mayors/chief execs that hezzer promulgated at confernce. So some local (labour & illiberal dems) authorities will go mad but that will prove our point.

I think it possible to both attack labour's dishonesty and build our programme.

DC's tactics in PMQs are fine, so long as they remain as constructive as possible with sneering kept to a minumum. Brown is a pathetic speaker and must be exposed. however, PMQs, like the Brown-Blair rivalry is also 'inside the beltway' stuff, it must be underpinned by a strategy that reaches out, and on this they can do more. but with IHT, stamp duty, and recent school policies they are off and running

After all the disasters of 78-79 Mrs Thatcher was not 11% ahead in the polls so I don't think we're in such a bad position now. That is not in any way to be complacent but to go from where we were 2 months ago to now is quite an achievement.
Cameron wants to go further and was urging his troops according to Ben Brogan to work harder, it's gtood advice, too many Shadow Cabinet members are invisible.

What is Conservative Home doing to prepare the ground for Clegg taking over the Lib Dems?

A number of times, I've logged on hoping to add my thoughts on a lib Dem leadership thread, and there hasn't been anything.

I think, to borrow the Clinton cliche, 'it's the economy stupid'.

Until the economy takes a downturn (which would appear to be imminent) a significant number of people remain largely unaffected by the tax/borrow/spend philosophy of Labour. They have made up shortfalls in their income by using credit cards and re-mortgaging their house. This is about to end.

Not only will people start hurting but they will be far more receptive to Conservative ideas of lower taxation and a smaller state.

Not long to wait.

There may be 'legacy' issues at play here which may be retarding our trajectory. Grammar Schools, Huskies, Bullingdon and so on.

But I'll maintain that in the age of retail politics its not enough to trash the competitor's product to sell your own.

Our brand is still too fuzzy. That means people don't know whether to buy into our agenda, even if they are mightily upset by the alternative.

We should be aware that in this situation the some of the 5% the Leader would like is more likely to come from the still inflated 'others' vote. Greens, nationalists, regionalists, special interests such as hospital campaigners. In other words people who need to be convinced we stand for something.

Lib Dems have this approach of building a coalition using policy. They are out of the game because of leadership issues and their pro-Labour/anti-Tory slant.

If we are to close this deal its going to mean more definition to our presentation. There's still plenty of time and these opinion poll leads represent preferences more than loyalties. Easy come, easy go.

Maybe a weary cynicism about politics in general? Will the next lot really be any better than the last lot, seems to be the feeling. Where are the policies to enthuse? Where are the policies that are different in real substance from those of the competition?

I suspect that the Tories will win the next election on the basis of the present mob being a shambles, rather than through positive motivation for the showcase of policies. That outcome would be fine by me, in terms of booting NuLab out, but it would be so much nicer if, at least in part, the Tories victory arose from distinctively different policies.

I can't agree with Janet Daley. Politics is a knockabout business and everyone involves has to have a vicious streak otherwise they just wouldn't survive. David Cameron's anger at PMQs reflects the anger of the country. He must continue to show that, when Labour screw up and damage our country David Cameron and other Conservatives must launch a vicious tirade. We can't let a government, any government, get away with failure.

Q: What are we saying on core issues?
A: Not a lot.

The other factor is that a lot of Labour voters have decided to indicate that they are not going to vote Labour and are in the "lets be friends" part of ending a relationship.

These voters are yet to commit to another party, so it will take a little time for them to get back in the dating game.

We just need to look professional and some of the shadow cabinet need to work harder.

There also remain some very weak systems in the party's operation which Caroline Spellman seems unable to improve, even though she has a reduced range of responsibilities.

Any chance of the Lord Ashcroft boil being lanced by just dropping his donations to £50k now that we are so flush? Maybe he should do it voluntarily?

One other factor impeding growth is the woeful support in Scotland. 12% and 13% there is acting as a drag on our overall numbers.

Scottish Conservatives needs a new Leader and someone to sort out the internal party there.

A timely warning to DC and co -- if they're as good as I hope they are they'll pay heed to Mr Ed's wise words

Alan S, yes Maude's performance was poor. He just looked tired. The chap has too many commitments and seems too stupid to understand that.

'I can't agree with Janet Daley' -Tony M. No. Neither do I about this and almost everything else. The Telegraph does itself no favours employing such a columnist.

For God sake have some patience. What Cameron has achieved in the last couple of months is nothing but amazing. This swing started after the Tory conference and the latest Labour sleaze has only added slightly to the swing. You've got to remember how many of labour's voters are working for the government or drawing benefits. It will take time to win these people over. As for any LibDem revival after the leadership election, we don't need to worry too much as most of the LibDem's gains will come from labour. So while our points may not rise much above the 40% mark, the gap should still widen between us and Labour.

All this talk of why aren't we doing better is not helping.

We are about to enter into an economic downturn, then it will be interesting to see if Gordon Brown's self-cultivated image for economic competence holds up. The Labour economy has been an illusion anyway, their much vaunted grown has only been generated through credit led demand, so it was always going to be a temporary thing. Now that the credit has dried up Gordon Brown can't keep creating the illusion of growth. Real long-term economic growth can only be achieved by supporting the supply-side, and not through credit creating artificial demand. I've always maintained that the economy would sink Labour because Labour's economic miracle has been built on tick.

"We can't let a government, any government, get away with failure."

Unfortunately many Tory MP's aren't up to the job and let the Government off the hook, after all its not just at 12pm on Wednesday that the Conservatives need to hold the Government to account, its 24/7, and as we saw on Any Questions, the likes of Caroline Spelman, even when offered an open goal, wasn't able to score against them.

But apart from feeling that the second tier of Conservative spokesmen aren't up to the job, I believe there is incoherence in Conservative policy areas which is also setting the party back. I realise that George Osborne is the current pin up boy in the Conservative party ranks, but I think people are over hyping one announcement on IHT, for other than that he has made precious little head way on economic matters, and with the economy turning down the Conservatives shouldn't be just sitting and watching , but George Osborne out there putting down markers in order that people see there is an alternative.

Another for instance is housing, here the Conservatives are in great danger of being wrong footed by Brown's house building plans, for he is going to paint the Conservative party as Nimby's. The counter to this strategy is to show up the housing crisis as a product of Labour's mass immigration policy, and you do this by opening up a debate on population sustainability.

Firstly we shouldn't uneccesarily beat ourselves over the head. We are doing well, its not all becuase Labour are doing badly. People have warmed to our approach when we have put across positive and practical ideas about what we would do. However we do need to balance attacks on a failing Labour with a clearer picture of what we stand for. That is emerging and needs to be punctuated by a roll-out of regular ideas and messages that build up a strong positive, aspiring and quite patriotic picture of where we wish to take this country.


Iain, yes, there needs to be a co-ordinated rapid-response team ready to pounce the minute any Labour failure is announced, ready to get quotes from the shadow cabinet and have those quotes beamed around the media. The ideal persons to do the job would have to have aggressive media skills. The shadow cabinet need to be looking for an opportunity to strike at Labour falsehoods, like the much vaunted claims that we have 'full employment' everytime Labour make that claim it should be debunked with the facts.

conservativevoter: "What is Conservative Home doing to prepare the ground for Clegg taking over the Lib Dems? A number of times, I've logged on hoping to add my thoughts on a lib Dem leadership thread, and there hasn't been anything."

I have the results of our survey to publish soon. I'll try and do it by early next week.

Why aren't the Tories doing better? The first question is why are they doing well.

1. The leader isn't completely unelectable like the last three.

2. The party appears to be united, or at least its unity is not currently a subject of note amongst the press.

3. Finally, and most importantly, the government has been unlucky, and has handled it badly. The press vultures are circling.

So, why not better? Because the Tories don't look like an alternative to the current government. Their front bench is full of peculiar looking relics who don't even register on the public's imagination. Cameron looks plausible but not statesmanlike. He doesn't appear to have the grit needed to run the country - he appears to be soft and weak. Finally, the Tories are pretending to be something they are not. The one time the Tories came up with a policy that was true to their beliefs, it was popular - and that is the inheritance tax suggestion. If you have principles,and are true to them, policies which match the principles, instead of scurrying around after the latest fad, you'll get higher poll ratings.

IIRC isn't is Mr Cameron's 2nd anniversary today?

The lack of love for us should not come as a surprise to any of us, and it certainly should not bring about a knee jerk reaction. We have never been a LIKED party. Certainly not since Thatcher came in, and probably (though I havent studied the 60's and 70's much) not really since Macmillan. Thatcher won elections on competence and because the opposition was unelectable. It's not as if she was ever regarded with warmth by the majority of the public. We represent the old ruling class -we are perceived as 'posh', and in a society where every shred of deference has now disintegrated, to be identified as posh is to be a ridiculous novelty (Boris Johnson)at best, and a despised minority at worst.

The criticism I hear levelled at Cameron again and again is 'smarmy'. Never mind that Tony Blair was every bit as posh; he got away with it. People have a huge problem of being lorded over by someone with a plummy accent. They don't like to be reminded that there is a class above them that others belong to. I saw a focus group (Labour infiltrated I think, but still) on a news programme viewing Cameron's conference speech, and they hated it when he adressed his priveleged upbringing. They said it was insulting to think they would be prejuiced against him for being posh, yet in the next breath they were all saying he'd probably never been in a real school, and a load of utterly prejudiced drivel. None of them seemed to realise (or want to realise) the glaring contradiction in what they were saying. It's not a logical thing, it's a subconcious but very powerful gut reaction that people have against us, I'm utterly sure of it.

The only solution really is what we are doing already, detoxifying the brand, displaying positive and logical policies, and presenting a compelling alternative to Labour. Eventually when it comes down to it people will overcome their feelings and vote for us, and hopefully learn to love us.

You're right, James. That had escaped me!

Click here to revisit ConservativeHome's archived blog of the leadership race.

Having left the Party for UKIP because of Dave and his direction, I am rather amazed at the above. Whilst I am profoundly depressed that my Party of 30 years is now some metropolitan, liberal slightly harder version of the LibDems, you all seem to be doing rather well.

Ok, I do think Brown would have won a GE quite easily if he'd called it. However, he didn't and Dave / Gideon have played a blinder since then, hence the strong poll ratings. Two years is a long time, politically, but there is now a real possibility of a Conservative Government. I may personally not like what I see, but credit to Dave et al., they have made the most of the New Labour project unravelling. I wish they wouldn't admire and ape so much of it, but that's for another day and another thread.

As the Editor rightly suggests:

"Those PMQs - and PMQs now - should nearly always be used to reinforce David Cameron's image as a statesman with a broad interest in the challenges facing Britain".

The polls are probably still volatile - a swing of 22% takes some explaining, apart from an excellent conference speech and a whole lot of disasters for Brown.

Passingleftie claims that we still don't look like an alternative government and, whilst I think we have made huge strides here since the conference, s/he has something of a point.

Recently, DC has made a point of allowing other members of the shadow cabinet to have their say in the media and that is working. We have seen several others than just Osborne, Hague, Davis and Fox and the others are good.

We need now to work on justifying our lead by filling in the details and demonstrating that we are more competent than the government. If we can't do that in the present climate, then we are not a fit alternative but I believe that we are.

You mentioned the other day, Editor, the formation of an implementation unit and I believe that there is a very fertile thread there for us to add our suggestions.

Finally, DC might ad lib a bit more at PMQs. He had two wonderful examples yesterday: one was when Brown claimed to have spent a lot more on Defence than we did, surely DC could have riposted that we had a Ministry of Defence, whereas Nulab has only had a Ministry of War.

Secondly, Brown made his usual claim about inheriting an economic mess from the tories. Cannot someone (Ken Clarke?) please rebut this deceit by quoting exactly what the balance of payments surplus was that Brown inherited and what the deficit is now?

"...The only solution really is what we are doing already, detoxifying the brand, displaying positive and logical policies, and presenting a compelling alternative to Labour..." simon 12:29

I'd have thought that apart from being spot-on that is also fairly strategic, if one defines tactical as scoring points over daily events. Just because the cunning AC says something we don't necessarily have to assume that he believes it or is trying to be helpful to us. Can't help feeling, now it's all water under the bridge, that the hysteria of CH threads during July and August did much to feed a media story about what Fraser Nelson referred to over at the Speccie as "the doomed Tories". (Actually come to think of it, that's a bit Pte Fraser too.) I doubt that lasting public sentiment in the summer was quite so anti-Tory or right now quite so pro-Tory as polls show. I'm sure Brown would have won easily enough if he'd gone to the country immediately after Blair's retirement, what might have happened in mid-November is anybody's guess and in Spring 2010 it's for Cameron to lose. Meanwhile it could certainly argued that steady persistence as well as subtle strategy (cunning plans?) might work quite well.

I have just got to this thread and having read the Editors ideas on the subject, I proceeded to the first posting - I am afraid that if anybody is going to take a comment by Alistair Campbell of all people, as advice that might be worth taking for the party in opposition to him...... I would probably do the opposite of what he said!

I know our policy is to impose limits on immigration, but we need to be reminding people more about that.

WHY are we so frightened to talk about that?

NW Supporter, no the party should be talking about population sustainability, not immigration ( it will be immigration by default, for that's what's driving population growth ) for by talking about population sustainability it neuters Labour's and the BBC's racism charge, it also meshes well with Cameron’s green agenda, for you can't have environmental sustainability without population sustainability, which puts Labour and the BBC on the back foot with their incoherent stance on global warming yet also pursuing population growth here ( via immigration), and it would be a useful argument to challenge Gordon Brown's house building plans on, rather than what is going to happen where Brown will accuses Conservative councils of being Nimby's for not wanting their areas covered in housing estates.

PS I have yet to hear the BBC accuse Labour of being racist with their plans to stop unskilled non EU migrants gaining entrance to the UK, as the BBC ( Humphries on the Today program ) accused Damien Green of racism when the Conservatives suggest that immigration could be cut by limiting non EU migration, a policy the BBC immediately called racist.

"no the party should be talking about population sustainability, not immigration"

Its this politically correct avoidance of the main concern for people ie immigration that is making Cameron and the party look ineffectual

At the moment immigration and its related aspects is an open goal. It is in all media outlets everyday but Cameron and most of the front liners are generally afraid (or told not) to speak about it. And people wonder why we are not higher in the polls!

I can just visualise Thatcher cringing in fear at the thought of upsetting the liberal left BBC and heaven forbid Labour the opposition. They might even come back and claim racism - oh no we can't cope with that!

The immigration debate, which the left has tried to anchor to racism, is now no longer taboo. One of the main reasons being that most of the immigration coming into our country is now white. Labour's entire approach to racism is bizarre. The practice of positive discrimination is of itself racist and very insulting to members of the black an Asian communities. Its as good as saying they are not good enough to get jobs on their own merit and have to be given a leg up. I hope the future Conservative government will end this patronizing and racist culture.

"Its this politically correct avoidance of the main concern for people ie immigration that is making Cameron and the party look ineffectual"

No its actually the heart of the issue, and its my view that the Conservatives make the tactical mistake in getting embroiled in the consequences of population growth, the provision of houses, transport, public services, whilst failing to raise with the core issue, population growth, a problem they can lay at the door and blame on the Labour Government who have failed to have any view on this, other than Blunket's, who saw no limits to population growth. I think the electorate would be much more impressed with the Conservatives if they identified the core divers of the problems, rather than trying to out bid the Government on dealing with the consequences of the problems.

The Telegraph's Iain Martin agrees with the ConHome analysis. Thank you Iain!

I agree with Tony Makara, and 'Daily Referendum @ 11.41, but I also think that David Belchamber @ 12.51 made some good points, particularly in his last paragraph about the balance of payments surplus that Brown inherited, which has turned into a deficit now.

I don't think that the general abrasiveness of the TV media and confrontational attitude of some interviewers should be underestimated, and because of that some of the newer 'faces' in the shadow cabinet could do with a sort of induction, so that they don't look less effective than they really are in front of the public.

Much for agreement here, especially George Hinton @ 10.46.

IMHO the last two PMQs show that DC is striking the right balance in demolishing the Out Of Control Freak. The sleaze is definitely something to be talked up politely but firmly at all times.

It is also encouraging to note that all of the past talk of "heir to Blair" has evidently been ditched. We can see in any event that the actual recipient of the poisoned chalice of Blair's legacy is proving himself to be a reversal of the Midas principle - everything he touches is turning to base metal, if not to rust.

To answer the main question, let's look at it through the eyes of an elector. "OK, I'm never going to vote for that lot again. Now convince me why I should vote for your lot. Are you seriously going to clear up the mess and make this country fit to live in again, or would you just sweep it all under the carpet?"

In other words, it's what to do about the ratchet effect of socialism. Who knows - the moment we make it clear (with more specific examples) that we don't simply aspire to manage the existing set up better than Labour, and that we will dismantle the ratchet with a view to reversing it, might be the moment that questions of the kind that started this thread off will go away altogether.

We all know what you mean by a deepening of the Conservative agenda - back to 30% in the polls

I'm not sure that Passing Leftie will welcome my agreement, but he makes some telling points in that analysis.

There is, I think, quite a strong desire to chuck out this government, among the public, but at the same time, real scepticism about whether we can do any better.

Well I don't want to be complacent but we're doing light years better than we were in the summer. Don't forget three polling organisations are showing us with the biggest lead since 1988 and Labour down to its core vote.

We hardly need to be doing as well as Labour did in the mid-1990s to ensure an election victory, considering that led up to the biggest landslide since 1935.
Maybe the word "even" should be inserted between "doing" and "better" in that question. We should be patient.

I say we should be asking this question in a years' time, if we even need to. This post does smack a bit of negativism in my opinion.

What a grubby little story the Mirror has dredged up ... and how clearly it seems to be making something out of nothing. The truth I would imagine is that Jack and Doreen were indeed invited to pop in before the other guests who were obviously personal friends of the Camerons had dinner! I would hazard a guess that Jack and Doreen are staunch Socialists and couldn't resist the opportunity to take a swipe at the Conservatives - duly helped (or exploited perhaps?) by one of the most left wing newspapers still surviving!!
If David and Samantha need to learn anything from this experience it is that they should be a little more careful who they invite through their doors in future.

I agree Votedave: "even" between "doing" and "better" would have been fairer. Thank you.

We anoraks need to remember that the vast majority of the population has absolutely no interest in politics and absords things almost by osmosis, hence the old adage, "when you get fed up of saying it, they are just starting to hear it".

Brown's woes started with the cancelled election and have got worse and they've been big enough news to sink in. Our policy announcements, timed to build on Conference success and the non-election have been drowned out. Swedish style schools and divesified energy haven't even registered with "the people" yet. Our immigration proposals have sunk because we have stopped repeating them, I think.

We have benefitted from the Labour Party's troubles, we are yet to benefit from our policies being understood. Interestingly, Clegg's similarity on some issues may help - if he wins. Unfortunately, IMHO, he won't, because LD members are almost all lefties, so they won't vote for a "yellow tory".

One difficulty that Brits always seem to find themselves in is looking for simple answers to questions which are complicated.

If getting to 45% was easy, Hague, IDS and Howard would have found it. Not to mention Major!

I saw the Blair big idea in 1997 was to say that the economic problems are over so we are the best party to run public services. (Their basic electoral points could have been blown apart, but never mind,) The rhetoric of Tory right wingers over cuts played into his hands and Labour have been able to win three elections with their main message that the Tories did, and will, cut public services. Services were expanded but I suspect few voters realise, in the mean time Brown scores points.

Finally a point about public workers. I don't see this. Public workers are fed up with constant reorganisations and silly economy drives and targets. An offer that changes will be slow, redundancies small and stability important would probably pull in loads of public sector votes. Look interested in the services but muzzle the head bangers though.

Am finishing but above is just a sample.

For crying out loud! This is a pretty easy answer.

Just remember....before Brown called off the planned Autumn Election, he was walking on water, Cameron's leadership was under threat and the Conservatives were widely seen as flailing and failing -- even the die-hard Cameroons on this website started to recognize it.

So: the reason Labour is faring so badly is a) because Brown made a spectacular error in first encouraging speculation that an Autumn Election was in the works and then calling it off, b) a streak of bad luck that followed immediately after and c) Brown's own limitations as a communicator and a leader.

It has nothing to do with the Conservatives. Cameron isn't at 45% because Cameron has been, thus far, a decent opposition leader not a brilliant opposition leader, of a decent Conservative shadow cabinet, far from a brilliant shadow cabinet.

If you want to be at 45% you got to improve your game. By quite a bit.

The leader isn't completely unelectable like the last three.
IDS had built up a large amount of policy developed on principle that also was strongly pragmatic. Michael Howard quickly abandoned this and went for a few slogans and an immigration policy that appeared to have been drawn up on the back of an envelope, and soon got boggeddown in arguments over whether the immigration quota was realy a fixed figure or not with the suggestion that figures for asylum seekers could be carried into following years.

Then there was the dismissal of Howard Flight for merely suggesting that if more efficiency savings were found that there might be more money for tax cuts and other spending priorities - this is a matter of sense, whether they favour high or low spending or whatever economic system anyone with any sense will impliment reforms where either spending turns out to useless, worse than useless or can be done more cheaply in a different manner with similar benefits.

Easily in 2005 under IDS the Conservatives could have got 35% of the Popular Vote, the Liberal Democrats would not have gained seats and Labour might have ended up with a wafer thin majority, IDS might have ended up as PM in 2009, however the MPs having given the party members 2 choices to choose from were determined to blame the members for this - it amounted to the fact that supporters of Ken Clarke could not accept that he lost and the Portillistas felt cheated that Michael Portillo had not been one of the final 2, the whole Betsygate thing was an excuse and later IDS and his wife were found by a parliamentary investigation to have done nothing wrong.

Now it is mid-term, Labour in 1989 got 42% in the EU Elections and went on to get 34.4% in the 1992 General Election. In the 1983 Local Elections Labour got 35% and yet only got 27.5% in the General Election - coparisons between different types of elections and also opinion polls and elections are not very reliable, how would you vote if there was a General Election tommorrow? Even this ignores the campaign itself - The Attlee government, the Conservatives under Alec Douglas-Home, Labour under Harold Wilson in 1970, Labour under Jim Callaghan after the Winter of Discontent, the Conservatives in 4 successive terms all made a substantial recovery from mid-term difficulties and did far better than espetially "the polls" suggested. And Labour had difficulties in 2000 and yet won a large majority the following year, in 2004 the EU and Local Elections were dire for Labour and the following year they won an overall majority.

There is an electoral cycle just as there is an economic cycle, and there is a media political reporting cycle to generate "stories" in order to make it appear that there are massive upheavals going on all the time, because the notion that having been up someone might suddenly be down sells newspapers and makes it seem like journalists are actually doing something, doesn't matter who is up or down, they get fitted to the story.

If getting to 45% was easy, Hague, IDS and Howard would have found it. Not to mention Major!
The Conservatives got 46% of the Popular Vote in the 1992 Local Elections. IDS was removed after only a couple of years, who knows what vote the Conservatives would have got in the 2004 Local and EU Elections if he hadn't been, people remembered Michael Howard handling Water Privatisation and being a prominent figure in the failing Major administration. IDS kept true to his beliefs on Maastricht, he had no part in the removal of Mrs T and was not associated with the failings of the Major administration.

IDS kept true to his beliefs on Maastricht, he had no part in the removal of Mrs T and was not associated with the failings of the Major administration.

True, but he was associated with the rebels who undermined Major from 1992 onwards. As leader, IDS could not command loyalty from his backbenchers because he had not shown loyalty when a backbencher himself.

He was also a poor public speaker and his Commons performances were an embarrassment.

A nice man on a personal level no doubt. So was Michael Foot by all accounts (and incidentally, Foot was a genuinely impressive platform orator, and not bad in parliament either). But both were elected for negative reasons - because they were not their main rival for the party leadership - and neither were ever likely to come within a mile of winning a general election.

So was Michael Foot by all accounts
He is and always has been well meaning, he was notoriously impatient and quick tempered though.

and neither were ever likely to come within a mile of winning a general election.
The Conservatives election results improved during IDS's time as leader, as for being a Maasricht Rebel, most of the Conservative Party, indeed most of the country were and still are opposed to the Maastricht Treaty.

On the other hand Michael Foot saw Labour support nosedive 2 years into his leadership, there was no SDP type split under IDS - IDS stood for actually fairly One Nation policies mostly, not the nationalise almost everything and spending wishlist and screw the rich, not to mention unilateral nuclear disarmament that Michael Foot stood for, not only this but Michael Foot tried to pretend that he was prepared to hold onto Polaris in the short term - there was an obvious sharp division between Michael Foot and Dennis Healey on a large number of issues.

As leader, IDS could not command loyalty from his backbenchers because he had not shown loyalty when a backbencher himself.
Neither did Winston Churchill, how loyal was John Major to Margaret Thatcher? Hestletine, Hurd and Major all pulled the ladder out from under Margaret Thatcher.

Harold Wilson rebelled against the Labour government over Prescription Charges and yet went on to be PM.

John Smith rebelled against the Labour position on Europe - indeed he was the leader of the rebel Labour MPs during Heath's administration without whom the accession to The Treaty of Rome by the UK would have fallen, and Edward Heath would have seen such a defeat as neccessitating an imediate General Election, didn't seem to harm John Smith's political prospects, he was a cabinet minister from late on in 1978 and Labour leader in the 2 years before his death.

'As leader, IDS could not command loyalty from his backbenchers because he had not shown loyalty when a backbencher himself.'

Major could have solved the whole Maastricht problem by holding a referendum. He refused. IDS and others were correct to rebel over a single point which was of importance to the country and over which the government was riding rough over public opinion.

By contrast, the undermining of IDS when he was leader was conducted simply out of personal malice and was across the board, simply because some individuals, the same section of the party which had called so strenuously for blind loyalty when they were on top, didn't want to accept the membership's verdict on the leadership contest.

The Conservatives election results improved during IDS's time as leader

This really isn't saying that much - they could hardly have got any worse.

As for the examples of rebels who went on to great things: there's a difference between standing up for a principle you believe in, even if it means going against your party line - and both major parties have honourable traditions of people who have taken such action - and systematically working to bring down your own government or prime minister. Churchill never did that to MacDonald, Baldwin or Chamberlain, even though he opposed them bitterly on first India and later appeasement. Major certainly seems to believe that IDS and the other Euroseptics crossed that line.

the undermining of IDS when he was leader was conducted simply out of personal malice and was across the board, simply because some individuals... didn't want to accept the membership's verdict on the leadership contest.

That may have been A factor, but surely the main problem was his embarassingly poor performances at PMQs and when giving set-piece speeches. He made Major, who was a pretty dull public speaker himself, look like Cicero. Leaders just can't get away with that in this day and age.

As IDS has proved since leaving the leadership, he is genuine and can come across very well in a TV interview, and is perfectly capable of delivering a powerful speech on occasion. But he just couldn't do the big set-piece things. Some people are born leaders, and IDS sadly was not.

Yet Another Anon, I don't think this is really the time to be chuntering on about Iain Duncan Smith being a better leader than Howard -he was a walking disaster, and his staunch support of the Iraq war against all the evidence and public opinion was a supreme piece of folly which cost us dear in the subsequent election and was a boon to the Lib Dem's, who managed to increase their numbers of MP's even with a pissed leader. His time as leader was painful to anyone who cares about the Conservative party, and is frankly best forgotten.

chuntering on about Iain Duncan Smith being a better leader than Howard -he was a walking disaster, and his staunch support of the Iraq war against all the evidence and public opinion was a supreme piece of folly which cost us dear in the subsequent election and was a boon to the Lib Dem's
Michael Howard tried to have it both ways, supporting the war while being quiet about it. The government's position on the war was another thing. The government should from the start have emphasised the benefit or removing someone who was destabilising the security of South West Asia, was destroying Iraq's environment, wrecking the Iraqi finances through extravagance and gross mismanagement, led by people leading playboy lifestyles errecting statues to themselves (Idolatry is forbidden in Islam as it is in Judaism and Christianity) and massacring it's own citizens, indeed the Ba'ath Party had little popularity out of a tiny part in the middle of the country. In the 1991 Ceasefire Agreement they agreed on limits to developing new guidance systems and to a 150km range limit, weapons inspectors discovered missiles before the war that had not been declared that were in breach of the agreement. In addition further missiles used during the war that were previously unknown breached the limit and after the war weapons inspectors found new missiles in development that breached the 150km limit and had prohibited new guidance systems.

The Ceasefire Agreement was re-affirmed by UN Resolution 1441 and later resolutions, the regime were required to co-operate unconditionally with inspections and they did not. If you breach a ceasefire agreement then ceasefire is breached ie there is a de facto state of war.

The regime certainly would have resumed development of nuclear weapons when attention turned away, as for Chemical & Biological Weapons, there is no waty to know if they were looted, or sold during the war or they may have been moved around - current Ba'athist leaders may well know where any such stock is - Iraq covers a big area, there are still large paramilitary stashes of weaponry and ammunition the police and military don't know about in the UK which is far smaller.

The Rumsfeld strategy was flawed, more troops should have been committed from the start and the cuts in the UK Armed Forces from the mid 1980s on, especially those of the 1990s have taken a severe toll on the ability of the Armed Forces to adequately carry out their duties in a world that is as dangerous as it has ever been.

The Liberal Democrats (although not all - Paddy Ashdown is one notable supporter of the Iraq War, and there are others) rode a wave that was all, of a coalition of jingoistic pacifists and those opposed to military involvement of UK forces abroad. International relations are never easy and the UN Security Council is a talking shop more to do with allowing China to consolidate it's annexation of Tibet and Russia to continue Tsarist\Soviet policies in Chechnya, and France who not so long ago were letting off nuclear weapons in the South Pacific and sinking ships in other countries territories, there was a lot of hypocritical posing over the issue of the War in Iraq on both sides, but especially by the anti-war lobby.

Quite incredible that Tories still post messages in support of the IDS leadership.
I have a vivid memory of the 2001 leadership campaign- IDS addressing a local association in a blazer and grey slacks. The average age of the audience was 70+. We had just lost to Blair by over 250 seats, yet they cheered him as he basically promised more of the same, unpalatable medicine.
Forget the cringing "Quiet Man" speech, the phrases like "this is flim flam", the frog in the throat every week, IDS' one huge, unforgiveable error was to lock us in with Blair on Iraq. However noble the motives, he was totally out of his depth and by doing this, he basically signed our death warrant in the 2005 Election.

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