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It's probably not an either/or, but a question of which areas we should be bold in and which should be treated with caution. I'd suggest public sector reform is an area we can be bold in as long as it is balanced by caution on spending - that way Labour can't accuse us of "tory cuts" but we can demonstrate a reason to vote for us.

I don't mean to sound like I'm copping out of this one, but I think a balance has to be struck between being bold and reserved. Every single Conservative policy has got to offer people sustainable, appealing change without scaring them away.

Therefore, if the Conservatives can make the case for tax cuts by highlighting government waste and/or inefficiency, the public will certainly listen because the truth about Labour's incompetence is gradually surfacing.

France is freezing spending for five years!


I think I might start to love him as much as Carla Bruni.

Britain is in trouble if continental Europe gets its competitive act together and we don't.

There is no reason to be hasty. Let the poll lead 'solidify' let the May elections come and go. There are 2 years [probably] to the next election. Brown has no realistic chance of recovery. Dont make pronouncements or firm promises on public spending till we know how bad things are going to get. Remember we have only been up in the polls for a few months. Just boring old 'steady as she goes' will do nicely

The Tories need bold, eye-catching populist ideas - which preferably would mortify the politically correct establishment. After all, when the BBC are attacking our ideas, they're not attacking us. And when they attack our ideas, they're helping to spread them too. This is how intellectual revolutions get underway.

Eye-catching policy idea of the week: abolish the speed limit on motorways.

Yes, the daftest ideas are often the best.

Be bold!

"Leading the cautionaries - or tortoises - is David Cameron himself. The cautionaries believe that Brown is finished. They believe that Northern Rock, in particular, is fast eroding the Prime Minister's reputation for economic competence. They do not want to risk the Tories' strong position in the opinion polls"

And that is why he is party leader.

We do not want Brown resigning and being replaced by a new guy with a honeymoon. That is by far the single greatest threat to us at the moment.

I think we can afford to be bold in some areas and should be cautious in others. We should be aware that Brown and Labour are cornered and will lash out, we could ill afford for them to get a lucky sideswipe in. We need to keep them on the ropes. To that end I think the balance is broadly ok, boldness in taking on Brown over his economic record, caution elsewhere. I think we need to re-evalutate the spending pledge and say that we will stick to Labour's totals in Health and Education but in light of the potential for a slowdown in growth impacting the budget in other areas will be more flexible.

I am very disappointed with the lack-lustre
Tory opposition to the disguised Treaty. It would appear that the majority of the European populace are not in favour of it but once again the leaders are power crazy and running amok. It is not the concept that is wrong but the direction and the lemmings are heading for the cliff.

O/T but Hain's resigned.

Whatever policy is adopted it is important that it is seen to be fair.
It is also important, that where ever possible, self-reliance should be the pillar of our society. If one agrees with these principles, then there is no problem with removing those allowances which do not contribute to the basic living standards of the recipient.
Having the courage to introduce such measures will result in a more acceptable and fairer society.

No surprise that I am a hare.

We can surely all remember how nearly the tortoises fouled up by being caught in a November election? We do not have two years. To have any credibility wehave to win London in May and that is far from certain pro tem. Gordon will go the first bounce he gets from now as he can surely see nothing to stay in for. He can still rely on huge bias in the electoral system.

At the risk of being boring, I will say it one more time and that is to be sure of victory we have to energise the "will not vote"s. Only with a higher turnout are we safe.

And that means boldness and populism. England and education; health and wealth.

Now that an economic downturn is inevitable the Conservative party must come up with a strategy to create jobs, this is an area in which Labour has no strategy at all. George Osborne should make the bold move of promising substantial tax cuts to entrepreneurs who want to produce wares for our domestic market and who intend to employ British workers. Those that engage in 'offshoring' should face a punitive tax regime. This will ensure that jobs go to our own people. Entrepreneurs who wish to start up a business from scratch should be encouraged by being taken out of the tax regime altogether for a period. Let them build up a healthy profit so that they can invest, expand and create more jobs. With unemployment projected to rise up to 1.8 million and beyond the nation will be looking to the Conservative party for a lead on job creation.

Agree with James Burdett. As there's unlikely to be an election for two years there's no need to take huge risks but equally we do need to show the public clearly the direction of a Conservative government would take. As Lynton wisely said we 'can't fatten the pig on market day' ie we can't wait to reveal our policies when an election is imminent, it's too late.

Somewhere between the two I think. We have to do well in the local elections this year, but at the same time we have to prepare long-term for a General Election in (probably) 2010.

So that means some eye-catching populism together with continued slow-burning of ideas and image.

It's difficult to find anything more eye catching than Brown's bunker collapsing around him at the moment!

Caution will get you nowhere. Offer a proper low-tax, low-spend conservative alternative, hope that Labour doesn't weather the downturn succesfully, and you have a figthing chance.

But with Cameron's new, open stance on lying, I can't see that happening.

A boldness strategy only smacks of desperation and pork barrel politics. For me the problem or issue is that the Conservatives have been failing to put down markers on the economy and the like when the problems developing in the economy have been telegraphed at least two years ago. For example the grinding halt to public expenditure growth now was even signalled by Gordon Brown in his pre budget reports before the last election, and that was always going to mean a cap on the wages in the public sector. It was then that the Conservatives should have been identifying the problems which would have given them credibility on the economic front and put down the foundations to advance their economic case and argument now.

Tony I agree that the Tories shold produce a policy to help create more jobs but remember who has created one million new jobs since 1997 and who created more than 3.5 million unemployed in the late 80,s and early 90,s .

Where I work we have a promising future and have trebled our workforce over the last five years. The stable economy and the value of the pound have made this possible.

People have not forgotten who created unemployment, especially those up north who suffered the worst ! Maybe this is why the Tories are making no inroads in the major cities of the North.

Also who did,nt vote for the minimum wage to help those at the bottom and said it would cost one million jobs to implement !

The Tories are on a sticky wicket , its going to have to be a good policy to convince most people.

It does not matter how bold you are, you are only as good as your leadership. The Party is led at present by the proverbial Donkeys and when it should be streets ahead of an incompetent and corrupt Labour government it is only just in front. This is despite David Cameron not because of him.

Gezmond 007, Manufacturing has to come back as a way of creating a large number of jobs. This must be supported by a strategy to produce goods for our domestic market. Goods produced in Britain by British workers, money spent in Britain to support British workers. The shift to a service sector economy is the reason why we will always have at least one million people unemployed. The service sector cannot employ enough people for a nation of our size. Only manufacturing can do this. A promise to support manufacturers who aim to supply the domestic market in particular would greatly help the situation and the loss in tax revenue would be easily be recouped by the gains made from taking people out of benefits and into employment.

"ConservativeHome believes that it's time to be bold"

Well as our economy and finances collapse around us we'll have to be bold or go under. The article in question seems a wee bit irrelevant in the present circumstances. (bad timing - not the author's fault)

Cameron / Osborne will have to take this bull by the horns and get it right. It's easy to say that Brown's made a mess of it (I write that ten times a day) but a hard-nosed policy is needed too.

Somebody wants to get the 'won't votes; voting. Yes fine but if Cameron won't hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty even after it's ratified I'll be joining the 'won't votes' since there'll no longer be any point of the Westminster parliament.

David Cameron is doing a great job. We need to put forward our policies with conviction rather than what appeals at the moment.
I think people are sick of the lies, deception and self interest displayed by this government. They want honest accountable leadership which is in tune with the majority, rather than pandering to those of minority groups. To unite people and restore a sense of justice and pride in our nation would go down well.

Make sure the public know the truth about this Government and expose its way of dressing up news and statistics to cover up its failings. For instance they are boasting today that crime figures are down 9%. This is because the villians have found it easier to steal in ways that are not recorded and in cases where the police no longer keep figures- credit card frauds/internet cons and indentity theft. These crimes effect a lot of us but do not seem to bother the Home Office.If you included the numbers here(which frankly are incalcuable) then real crime figures are through the roof.

gezmond it's very hard to estimate the number of jobs the minimum wage may/may not have cost because they don't exist.

What is certain is that large proportions of people of working age are stuck on benefits, while illegal immigrants are being used "off the books" to perform cheap labour, particularly in building and agriculture. There's no simple answer to this - but it's definitely a problem that needs to be addressed.

On the hares/tortoises issue it has to be a bit of both I think. The Labour Party has been overwhemingly successful in framing the terms of political trade in this country.

I think we need to look at things like insisting shops show pre-tax prices on the shelf and add the tax at the till. They do this in the US and it is a daily reminder of how much is paid in tax. If the UK did it I believe people would ask more about wha they are getting for their money - however irritating it might be when you're looking for the correct change to pay for something! That's the underlying change in the terms of trade we need to put in place and it will take many years before the "government should sort it all out" mentality goes...

"The shift to a service sector economy is the reason why we will always have at least one million people unemployed"

Emm, no, actually, Tony (13.24) the size of the economy and the workforce is that reason. It's called structural unemployment. That one million are the people who don't work due to illness, who choose not to, who are unable to, who have been recently made redundant, who are seeking a better opportunity, etc. The concept of "full employment" that you advocate has been discredited since the 1970s, and only ever belonged in Soviet circles of thinking.

For all intents and purposes, we currently have full employment. There are sinks where the government has done disgracefully little, but for the most part, everyone who can work and wants to has a job. Now, that may be about to skyrocket, it may be nothing to do with the Government, it may even specifically be in spite of them, but suggesting that as there are a million unemployed, there are therefore a million people that can be put into work tomorrow is, simply, laughable.

"The tortoises versus the hares... How bold should the Tories be?"

Well, that depends on the issue.

Now that the economy seems to be crashing down all around us, we should be bold on that issue. We must hold Gordon Brown to account, since he is the arhitect behind the New Labour economy.
We must also have radical and bold solutions to how we would fix the mess they have put Britain in.
Welfare reform is another area where we should be bold. I think the people of Britain supports this, and David Cameron's speech was generaly well-received.

However, there are two issues on which we should be careful, and that is Europe and immigration.

Immigration. We can not afford to "racialise" this issue. We should criticize the government for the way they have handled the recent flow of immigrants,
and we must develop sound policies for how we would reform the system.

Europe. The Tory Party must hold Gordon Brown to account, and fight the Constitution every step of the way. We must also have a clear strategy for what we should do if the Constitution actually gets ratified in the House of Commons.
I think most of the people agree with us on these very emotive issues, but we can not afford to be seen "banging on and on about Europe and immigration", for that is how New Labour will try to portray us.

A very interesting analysis, Editor, but Peter Hain's resignation will now put even more pressure on Brown wrt Wendy Alexander and his own deputy leader. The party would be foolish not to be in the best possible position to fight an election any time from now (May anyone?).

It is not quite a "hare and tortoise" situation (as Jonathan at 12.35 pointed out the tortoise approach would certainly have lost us a November GE had it been called) but rather a "caution or boldness" situation.

Several people have suggested a mix and I think that is correct.

I believe we must be bold enough to convince the electorate that a conservative government will do what a conservative government should do i.e. conserve what is good in our society (there must be some things left!) and reform that which is not.

I would like them also to be bold in stating that initially they were not going to try and make life even better for those who are currently well off but to concentrate on the IDS agenda and try and make things perceptibly better for the most disadvantaged in our society. This does not include continuing to pay benefit to those who make no attempt to work.

It means doing the sort of things Tony Makara suggests for creating new jobs and rearranging tax and benefits, so that anyone with a low paid job of up to £10k p.a. will pay no tax (nor receive any benefit, unless more than £10k p.a. is genuinely needed).

The loss of tax should be largely offset by the savings in benefit and bureaucracy.

Conservatives should state that they support the Union, that they will restore the balance between the EU and parliament, that they will restore the independence of the civil service, the police (I would chuck the universities in as well) etc subject to proper accountability in each case.

Above all, the conservative party must convince the electorate that they would form a government to govern in the interests of the nation in contrast to the example of Blair, Brown et al.

Finally, wrt to George Osborne, while I agree he is becoming a very potent politician, I remain of the view that he is that; a career politician. He is not an economist or a businessman and I am afraid it still shows as shadow chancellor. I plead for someone like John Redwood to be added to the team.

"and only ever belonged in Soviet circles of thinking"

I agree with most of what you say about unemployment, but that last part is an
The goal of full employment was an important part of the "Keynesian consensus", and was thus an important part of the economic policy of most Conservative Prime Ministers prior to Margaret Thatcher (Churchill, Anthony Eden, Harold Macmillan, Lord Home and Ted Heath).

'Full Employment' isn't a socialist policy as some people seem to think. Full employment means all those who are able to work being in work and actually contributing to the economy in terms of production rather than simply being a drain on the public purse while rotting away on the dole. It is better in the long-term for a nation to have full employment. When we consider that money is paid to the unemployed as disposable income, plus rent, plus council tax it surely makes more sense to get them into waged work. We should allow those entrepreneurs who create new jobs to grow to certain size before they pay a penny in taxation. Let them establish the infrastructure necessary to create jobs and only bring them into the tax regime once they are making a significant profit. There are only two ways to look at this, either government creates the conditions in which new jobs can be created, or we continue with the dead-end policy of trying to manage mass unemployment. The only way to get people off welfare is to support the entrepreneurs who can create those jobs.

This excellent analysis does rather underestimate Ashcroft's influence. He is the big beast in the Tory jungle.

He pushed for the inheritance tax policy. Osborne and Coulson chose to side with the most powerful player in the room. But what was a humiliating private setback for DC became perceived as a public triumph for DC a week later.

Also the Boris team is still not functioning effectively. It has been a bad time for Ken but Boris still doesn't have a proper press handling team for example.

We must be bold. The Labour Governemnt of 1978-79 was in dire straits, but Mrs Thatcher did not let it sink by itself - the Conservatives at that time went onthe attack, with bold policies. We must dothe same.

Further tax cuts would be a good start, as the Inheritance Tax plans have clearly won us support; another essential policy would be a firm promise to repeal the so-called reform treaty, the Treaty of Lisbon, and giv epeople a referendum, thus remedying the betrayal by both the LibDems and Labour.

We talk of tax cuts as if they're an end in themselves. They aren't, they're a means to an end.

Let's start by talking about what tax reductions (aviod the word 'cut' being associated with the Party) would achieve...

...we want to give families more of their own money back.

...or we want to stimulate economic growth to create more jobs.


You get me? People want to know the end reult not the mechanism for achieveing it.

AS for Europe, most floating voters aren't that bothered.

Where I'm sitting, we have to convince a whole load of Lib Dem voters to come back to the fold.

We need to give them and a load of others a reason to vote for us.

George Osborne pulled the rabbit out of the hat with inheritance tax and moved the opinion polls significantly.

Let's move it further by being bold with allowances. Why for example should anyone on the minimum wage pay tax? Raise the allowance, to Minimum wage +10% and make tax allowances fully transferable between family members, then remove a load of bureaucratic and expensive allowances to pay for the changes.

That will give low paid and families a direct and large benefit that also benefits the rest of us. Make it simple, it will work.

The concept of "full employment" that you advocate has been discredited since the 1970s, and only ever belonged in Soviet circles of thinking.
Full Employment mean't a different thing outside Communist countries, in Communist countries people sat about in factories employed nominally, but doing nothing! In for example the UK the concept of Full Employment allowed for what was believed to be an inevitable minimum proportion unemployed at any one time not including those classified as unable to work or severely disabled - it used to be 3% but crept up to 4% quite some time ago as was noted by academics such as John Kenneth Galbraith.

In the old Employment Service in the 1990s, any area with employment under 4.2% was considered so I was told one time to have negative unemployment because that was considered to be a natural level of unemployment - so an area with 2.8% was considered to have minus 1.4% unemployment according to ES statistics.

Automation has mean't that unemployment is simply higher than it was, in many cases it is cheaper to use machines than employ people.

Jobs can only be created if there is a need for them in that sector and that particular organisation and there are people available able to do those jobs, any other attempt to create jobs externally will result in non-jobs.

Job creation is a diversion, the thing to

Yet Another Anon, academics and orthodox economists like to make the concept of full employment as abstract as possible. Radical economists would not accept 3% or 4% as being full employment. The fact that we have 1.6 million on JSA makes a mockery of Labour's claim on their website that we have full employment. Their other claim 'More people in work' is equally ridiculous. I do not class working part-time and having the wage topped up as being in work proper because the burden on the welfare state is the same. Only Labour could create a situation in which a person in part-time work can claim more money in tax credits than they could claim as JSA if they were not working. Paying people tax credits to work part-time is as bad as the government paying employers to employ people for six months under the New Deal.

The only way to eradicate the welfare burden is to create new jobs and the only way to create enough new jobs is to completely restructure the economy. That will have to involve supplying the home market and doing something to control imports. People baulk at the idea of protectionism, but it is something that will have to be embraced if our country isn't going to become a second-rate country dependent on others to provide the wares and foodstuffs we need. Great nations supply their own market and export to foreign markets, do we still want to be considered as a great nation or have we passed into the history books already as a former power?

In my view most contributions are not quite hitting the target. The old Tory problem of thinking only policies get votes is alive and well. With the present policies "bold" inroads could be made by putting them within an overall, east to understand, package. E.G. "Tories stand for the British being treated as, and allowed to be, adults. (Just think - canvasing a council estate, they say "I vote Labour" you say "OK no problem, some people just want to be told what to do")

However, the Tories also need to provide a story that meets peoples perceptions. One point above about unemployment; under the Tories it did go up to 3.5 mil because they took over from Labour with it rapidly rising and the highest in Europe and it got to 3.5 mil before it turned round. I.E. it was Labour's unemployment, when the Tories left in 1997 it was amongst the lowest in Europe. Also Labour have lost well over 1 mil manufacturing jobs while the last three years to 1997 saw an increase of 400,000 manufacturing jobs. And there is so much more.

It's a long thread and i haven't read it all so i apoligise if i am repeating points that have already been made.

I'd urge caution - the isn't going to be an election for ages and policies - especially bold ones - just open up potential lines of attack.

Thats not to say we don't need policies we do because it's those that win over the media and opinion formers that drive the voters. But we need to be careful - 18 months is an eternity in politics - lets not go through the policy debacle of the Tax guarantee, or the Patients Passport - or any of the other policies that once in the real world went down so badly we couldn't mention them and actually hurt us.

This government is self destructing - we can and should wait.

One furthrt point - non-voters aren't non-voters because we aren't radical enough for them. They are non-voters because politics as a topic dosen't interest them. They choose to not vote rather than make an uninformed choice - if they become engaged it will because the economy or the security situation makes them feel the need to. Then they will react to our current positions just like everyone else.

The Clarke approach to politics - Dont read it; have an opinion anyway and its the wrong one.

Non voters are non voters because they cannot see any discerable difference between the three parties and can't be a*s*d to choose between tweedledum and tweedledummer. There are 3 milion lost voters who put Major in office (but not of course in power) and who couldn't be bothered in 2005. They want to believe, in Obama terms they want hope. They are faced with high taxes, crap public services, their country becoming the 25th province of the EU and no way of saying No.
They are our people - they are just not Dave's people.

If the general idea is to give Gordon Brown more rope with which to hang himself, then I for one will agree with a wait and see approach. His reputation as a safe pair of hands has been fatally eroded, not least by Northern Rock, which looks likely to be hanging round his neck for some years.

The state of the housing market will be the key in the next election in any case. If it starts to turn up ahead of that then Brown could stage some sort of comeback; if it doesn't he is doomed. In the 1970s this did happen but it took three years of inflation at 16% in 1974, 24% in '75 and again 16% in '76 to eradicate enough of consumer debt to make that possible. That won't happen this time round as an article on figurewizard.com - House price Crash or Correction? points out.

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