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Theresa Villiers is widely seen to be out of her depth. She isn't cabinet material, more suited to a PPS role in my opinion.

The Conservatives need to get more radical - let's have school vouchers, a flat tax and a social insurance system to replace the NHS. I'm pleased with what Grayling has done on welfare and Davis has done on home affairs. Gove is going in the right direction but needs to go further. Osborne is wrong to agree to Labour's spending plans. We should be committed to not just slowing the increase in public spending but cutting it.

I thought the Conservative party had changed obviously not from the points made by capitalist they have definatley not . clearly right wing nasty party rules !

Lovely summary. I look forward to seeing some tortoises speed up a bit. Perhaps you could work up a nice computer game based around hares, tortoises and policy choices for people to play in the lobbies at Conference?

Balance is the key. Some areas warrant Hare like activity, others warrant a lot of reassurance, like health. The fact is that there are significant numbers of voters who do not want what they perceive just as cuts and they are sceptical about the degree to which efficiency savings can be achieved. Clearly there is room for running public services much more efficiently and effectively but often that requires practical thinking and re-engineering of how things are delivered that has to be bedded in over years. To some the impression of quick savings and cuts carries with it a sense of unthinking and therefore potential risks to frontline services. There has to be a narrative running through any changes with some areas being bolder and others more cautious. Most of all I think its the bigger picture that needs to be conveyed of where we would like to lead Britain.

Most likely we're half way between the month Cameron became leader and the month Cameron will hopefully become PM. A lot has changed, but the moral of the hare is that expending yourself too soon is foolish and invites complacency. One day there'll be a sprint to the finish, but the half-way point is not the time for that.

Some very good points and I'd agree with most. What has happened to Transport policy! Do we have one or anything to say on the matter?

Generally agree with most of what you've written with the exception of Education. I really don't think Gove's proposals will make a huge difference to the majority of schoolchildren. Most children will continue if we maintain current thinking to be educated in 'bog standard' comprehensives taking dumbed down qualifications which will not prepare them adequately for work or life. For me this is the greatest failure of the Conservative party over the last two years.

Interesting that you identify George Osborne as a tortoise. I thought he was a hare in the original post?

Malcolm, I agree entirely although I would replace "two years" with "thirty years".

In terms of his own portfolio he is a tortoise, bluepatriot, but when it comes to political affairs he is more hare-like. He, for example, recruited Andy Coulson and then Lynton Crosby for the Boris Johnson campaign. George Osborne's fingerprints are all over most of the big political decisions taken in recent months.

I don't know how you can say the Quality of Life Report is gathering dust. Did you read the last decentralized energy announcement?

It went far further than the QofL report on a number of areas.

Malcolm at 11am, the education stuff is really radical if you think through the implications - it creates a self-improving system, and gives schools both the incentive and ability to improve, and be more innovative. As a school governor myself I cannot tell you how frustrated I get by endlessly hearing the head and senior leadership team say "We're not allowed to do that" in response to very modest suggestions.

We will be going into the next election in an economic downturn. It is therefore important to offer something different to Labour on the economy. Something that says 'Action' A programme for job creation would be a real plus. A way to do this would be to allow new business to operate in a completely tax free environment for a while, so it has time to build up the infrastructure to create jobs. At the same time existing employers that take on more staff should receive significant tax relief. Reward employers for creating jobs and particularly for hiring direct from the dole queue. Show initiative! Don't go into the next election promising to replicate Labour's failed economic policies.

TM "A way to do this would be to allow new business to operate in a completely tax free environment for a while"

What makes you think that other existing small businesses wouldn't cease to trade and reinvent themselves every 12 months to take advantage of the new tax system that you're trying to promote.

Staying in business past the first three years is tricky enough without having newby competitors undercutting you at every turn. Even if business people didn't disolve businesses on purpose, you would take staff from one business to another as other enterprises fold due to unfair competition.

I think it's vital you get out there and tell the electorate exactly what you intend to do when you get into power, so they can make a reasoned choice.

84pc say that voters aren't enthusiastic about the Tories.

That is the stat that wins the case for the hares in this debate.

I agree almost entirely with consertivehome's analysis.
One of the points I found most interesting was the conclusion on Home Affairs: 'Overall rating: Hare (but narrative needed)'.
I could be wide of the mark here but David Davis may be wary of constructing a bold narrative in his policy areas. I know the leadership election is ancient history, but it may still being having knock on effects. David D's mantra (rightly) has been 'Unity, Unity, Unity all is Unity'.
David D's loyalty was amply demonstrated in l'affair Conway. He can now chill out and feel free to be bold. I think Da Boss wants him to be bold.
This comes with a warning however; being bold doesn't mean calling the PM a liar.
We're falling into a trap of slagging Brown in quite a personal way. I know it makes us chuckle but its really not very constructive. Da Boss is primarily the guilty party.
We accuse Brown of not possessing verbal dexterity and then bash away at him with a verbal jackhammer. It's perfectly possible to forensically unpick Labour and therefore demonstrate where they have strayed from telling the truth.

a-tracy, of course you have a valid point, but if such a scheme were implicated there would have to be certain ground rules. Any firm applying to operate tax free would have to meet conditions to prove that they were completely new. We really need to do something about job creation because we have to start getting people off benefit and the only way to do that is to create jobs.

Is there ANY point in saying anything, as after I type my messages I'm told it will be withheld as I may be spam. Please get this sorted or I'll have to leave this site, which would be a pity as I was throwing the towel in with old labour.

I see that your overall rating for Liam Fox is a "Hare sat on by tortoise".
Shouldn't that be a hawk flattened by a tortoise?


Transport and welfare reform are the two areas in which I would really like to see us beef up our policy. We need to develop a coherent and well thought out policy on opposing congestion charging- potentially a huge vote winner in London. John Redwood is the only Conservative I have heard make the case for the car. I cannot accept that vertically integrating the railway is a sensible or sustainable view. And there is the problem of Theresa Villiers, who does seem to have been promoted too early. She should be making hay up against Ruth Kelly, but her media and parliamentary performances are generally woeful.
There is also an awful lot to be done on Welfare Reform, while strenuously resisting going down the 'Nasty Party' route again. We should steer well clear of single mothers and compulsion on both political and moral grounds. The New Deal is a huge white elephant which should be scrapped as a priority by a Conservative Govt. We should look to pilot an area- London would be ideal- in which we privatise the JobCentres and ask private companies to staff and maintain them on a results based contract. We should seperate Employment from Pensions and Benefits, and have a designated Ministry tasked with training, upskilling and monitoring the long term unemployed. We should pay JSA and Housing/Council Tax Benefit for a maximum of 6 months, and then make any future payment of these benefits conditional on the participation in some form of voluntary work or compulsory training. Under the New Deal, the Labour Party is currently training a vast army of 18-24 years old in London to become "sound engineers" or DJs. Ideal for working in the Black Economy.

I would conclude by saying that Cameron, Osborne, Hague, Davis and Gove deserve top marks. They are clearly high calibre people of Cabinet rank. I would also like to see Dave repay his considerable debt to Michael Howard by making Michael Lord Chancellor if we win next time. I am less sure about others in the Shadow Cabinet. Alan Duncan is becoming something of a Court Jester. Liam Fox is consistently over rated (by the Right) and is underwhelming. May, Villiers and Spelman appear to serve no purpose. Grayling needs to think through some of his ideas a little more before making them public. The positive news is that we have some really good people from the excellent 2005 intake who will really be pushing for their places soon.

"There is also an awful lot to be done on Welfare Reform, while strenuously resisting going down the 'Nasty Party' route again. We should steer well clear of single mothers and compulsion on both political and moral grounds."

London Tory, yes, I agree, the Conservative party can't claim to be the party of the family when it is taking mothers away from children in the formative primary school years. When the kids are in secondary school it would benefit a mother greatly to work but while the kids are at primary they are too young to be left at home during the eleven weeks when school is not in session.

On benefits, tests for people claiming IB are fair enough, as is the expectation that people attend jobsearch centres and take work if it is available. What is not acceptable however is that the long-term unemployed, very often those who have difficulty learning, are forced to work for nothing like criminals on mandatory community programmes. If a Conservative government wants to introduce the long-term unemployed to a structured work programme then do the decent thing and pay them a proper wage. Look to the 1980s community programme for examples of how to do this. This way a Conservative government would be creating waged work and making a real difference to misery of unemployment. Such a waged programme could cover a number of work/training programmes from care work to construction.

The long-term unemployed could also be placed with an employer for a training period while receiving benefit and then after that person has completed the training the employer should be expected to offer the person a job, which of course they would have to accept. Of course it won't be able to put everyone back to work, David Cameron and Chris Grayling need to understand that, but any vacancies that do exist should be filled and a Conservative government should be pulling every lever possible to make sure that those jobs go to the unemployed where possible.

The nightmare of welfare dependency cannot be cured without creating jobs and George Osborne must make job creation an economic priority. He can do this by letting business breath, cutting the tax regime on business and letting entrepreneurs make a healthy profit which they can re-invest to expand and create jobs. The one thing the Conservative government must not do is sit back and accept the situation as inevitable.


It is not my habit to disagree with you. Indeed I agree with much of this assessment but on one particular subject I have to take you to task (again).

Shame on you for being so disingenuous! How can you criticise William Hague on the EU and at the same time claim EVEL is a radical move. Where do you get that from - Ken Clarke's publicist? It is not a hare like policy. It is a geriatric tortoise of a policy.

Fact is it is the dubious minimum (without doing nothing) that could be done to improve the current dire situation. A soppish flawed con to the English based voter.

When linked with its associated topics, constitution, democracy, devolution and localism, party and parliamentary probity and competence, political status of public services, EU sovereignty etc. the policies proposed are little more than inconsistent tinkering solely aimed at bolstering its Parliamentary sponsors.

There will be those who say it is not important. To which I would as 'Then why have these related issues dominated the media for months'? Yet all we see proposed is too little too late.

Seems to me that these geriatric tortoise-like policies are going to have to be dragged screaming into the 21st Century. That is of course if they are not declared expired in the meantime!

All these issues achieve is to distract politicians from doing their real jobs and as a result undermining the public's confidence in politics and Parliaments effectiveness in addressing the real issues in this country.

The sooner they are dealt with once and for all, the sooner politicians can start doing their jobs properly and we can start debating the real issues. It's about time the Conservative stop messing around and produce policies that will fix them instead of extending and multiplying the issues and wasting the taxpayers money and the electorates time!

Editor, could we have some potted biographies of the leading shadow ministers?

I am particularly interested to know who in the shadow Treasury team is either a high powered economist, or has run his or her own business or has held senior posts in large companies.

Has Theresa Villiers ever run a large enterprise?

David Belchamber, the party should encourage every shadow cabinet member to go on courses in the city to learn how the markets work so that they have a better than average knowledge of this crucial subject. I read one time on John Redwood's website how John studies business courses to keep upto speed on the world of finance. What a great attitude John Redwood has, if only others would follow his example.

The long-term unemployed could also be placed with an employer for a training period while receiving benefit and then after that person has completed the training the employer should be expected to offer the person a job, which of course they would have to accept.
Isn't going to happen, because employers are not going to allow themselves to be chained into employing someone at the end of training, they want to be able to get rid of someone they don't want and don't want to be answerable to some outside organisation on it.

Some outside body cannot dictate the terms & conditions of jobs at the end of any scheme - there can be a situation in which employees face being disqualified from benefit if they fail to accept something considered suitable, businesses are not welfare organisations though, they have work to do the way the employer wants and if someone doesn't fit in whether it is their fault or not they are out the door.

Best to scrap such schemes, focus on cutting overall social spending and slashing regulation and taxation, simplifying the welfare system - no wasting time bothering employers with half arsed welfare schemes. This might mean leaving most people to sink or swim by themselves more than before.

Got to agree with John Leonard.

The slowest tortoise of all is the constitutional team. No English parliament and a confused faltering clarion for an EU referendum post hoc.

Filling out the policy portfolio is essential stuff and is taking place nicely .

On a particular point I do not think that Osborne has yet established supremacy over Brown/Darling and this needs to be done . Northern Rock is a major disaster for the national debt and yet the government are extricating themselves from it . This needs to be hammered home perhaps with a series of City meetings and policy seminars with selected journos present .

The Conservatives are coasting ahead but not dominating . They need something else . I don't think they appreciate the full extent of voter disgust with Westminster . That parliament is simply discredited and it is not going to regain credibility any time soon . Too much muck and too long doing it. This applies not only to "expenses" but also to the whole implosion of public standards deliberately initiated by Blair in 1997 and quietly fostered by Brown .

This is a major oportunity for the Conservatives . One which they are not seizing . There is an obvious opportunity in proclaiming policy support for an English parliament and English government which would take over 80% or so of the work of the British government which would be reduced in size and concern itself with British affairs only . The model of the Scottish government now familiar to English minds serves nicely . Above all the Conservatives would emphasise that it would involve a new ethical start .
(far away from sleazy old Westminster village )

policy needs time to be formulated , announced , filled out and to take root in the public mind .
There is time . Don't waste it .

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