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A very good post / summary. Apart from (and I acknowledge it's a personal thing)a visceral dislike of David Cameron, it's the left hand column that has meant I have ceased to vote Conservative after 20 years of active membership. The coalescing in the middle of New Labour-Blue Labour leaves people like me (a Thatcherite, I admit) wholly disenfranchised.

Why is a multilateral approach to climate change leftwing? Is any multilateral approach to any global problem leftwing i.e. global terrorism? reducing barriers to free trade?

7/10 on the crankometer

One agreement: We are certainly losing on tax and spend. In return for a £2bn inheritance tax cut we've agreed to £50bn of extra spending.

One disagreement: I don't believe we are winning on the family. That's still one to be decided although Cameron and IDS have persuaded me.

One question: I'm in favour of ID cards. Does that make me left-wing?

One omission: Aren't the right winning on multiculturalism? That could be added to your list.

Thank you Cranometer!

:-)

I think the left have won the argument that climate change is the world's number one enemy.

I disagree. I'm more concerned about the coming together of evil men and devastating weapons technology.

I don't deny that climate change may be happening but I agree with Lord Lawson that it's better to think about adapting to it than trying to combat it and I agree with the Copenhagen Consensus of economists that there are better things we can do today with our resources that will combat human misery.

It is possible that a multilateral agreement would be market-focused but I fear it is unlikely.

Mark Hudson, David Cameron has done a fantastic job in making the party more pragmatic and more likely to be able to deal with our nations problems once in government. Thatcherite ideology was a big broom approach which was right for a certain period in history, but that era has long since passed. Now we are in the age of pragmatism, politics today goes beyond ideology and is about what is possible. David Cameron has shown himself to be the most pragmatic politician this country has produced. He is a man who will not pursue a goal if it isn't working. An attitude that has sadly been missing in previous leaders of all parties.

The Independent clearly forgets that the Labour party only came to power after accepting the political settlement created by the right. It's one of the reasons that the Tories have struggled in opposition-policies like tuition fees could easily have come from the Tory party.

Ok, Tony, I have just picked myself up off the floor from laughing so much it was painful. I am sure that you'll get a seat from Dave soon after that slavish paean of praise.

Seriously, the problem I have with him is that he has made the Party so close to New Labour as to give people like me no choice but to leave. I want cuts in tax, more grammar schools, less regulation, the choice to buy a Terry's chocolate orange if I want to. I don't want green issues shoved down my throat, an ASBO on my company from Dave if it doesn't do what it says or one that rigs its candidate selection so nakedly to conform to some PC agenda dreamt up in CCHQ.

On a personal level, anyone who is willing to use his children so nakedly for political posturing cannot be trusted.

"The coalescing in the middle of New Labour-Blue Labour leaves people like me (a Thatcherite, I admit) wholly disenfranchised."

Only in the same way one-nation Tories were disenfranchised in the 80s. Under FPTP, you won't always have a party capable of winning that ticks all your boxes; FPTP creates parties that are broad coalitions, different wings of which are in the ascendant at any one time.
If you want a purely Thatcherite party all the time, then you need to move to a PR system. Then, of course, the compromises needed for coalition government come after the vote, not prior.

I mildly disagree on the tax and spend issue. As George osbourne and others have argued, Labour's spending plans out of neccesity are the same as the Shadow cabinet's would be out of principle. Cameron has distanced himself from recent remarks that there would be no tax cuts in a first term, and has rightly argued that transport and education are fundamental to economic growth. furthermore, the promise to match plans to 2010/11 is only symbolic anyway. We are unlikely to be in office until around then.

We have not surrended to Labour on this, although i agree that we are not attacking hard enough. However, the tax commision's make the most of increasing spending by only 1.5 percent while good, arent brilliant. Its becoming a hobby horse of mine but Inheritance Tax makes economic sense, and the idea that it is immoral because it in effect taxes people for a third ( plus) time while there relatives are grieving is pretty weak. Its just as likely that people recieving inheritance think " i'll remember him/her because i love them, i don't want another x reasons to think about them " than it is that they think "blasted inheritance tax".

Cut the overall tax burden , use a 1.5 percent policy, but increase income and business tax cuts at the same time by dramatically increasing inheritance tax... But of course that would make us look plonkers now. ( jumps of hobby horse)

Schools and poverty - not sure the right have won those arguments yet. You need a middle column. On poverty - methinks you are still a little too loyal to IDS.

I do not think that the terms "Right" and "Left" have any great significance today.

Surely, what we as electors want, is a government with sensible policies that can actually be put into practice.

We tories have no argument with "education, education, education" or "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime".

Our argument is that Nulab did not do enough in either area to justify the huge increase in taxes to pay for them.

In government we will have to manage both much more competently to give everyone much better value for money.

The PM is a ditherer and the Nulab government has been consistently incompetent.

I think the left have won the argument that climate change is the world's number one enemy.

Arrant nonsense.
There never was any "argument" in mainstream media or political circles, so eager was the whole sorry gang to jump on the "climate change" bandwagon.

The ordinary people however, see through this "green" charade, and that is another reason why there is a fundamental disconnect between the poltical parties and the general populace.

Cameron, Brown, Clegg - out of touch, all of them.

You are just plain WRONG if you think that the left are winning the argument on high taxes. All the polls from YouGov and others show that 60%-75% saying that taxes are too high and the state doesn't spend wisely. At the moment the public don't have the choice of being able to vote for a party that will significantly cut taxes and roll back the state. The three main parties are roughly similar and UKIP will only reduce taxes by a bit.

However, now with the formation of the UK libertarian party which has a manifesto commitment of totally abolishing Income Tax the voters have a choice. This can be done without touching the welfare state at all, yes there really is that much fat on state spending. Income Tax only brings in £150bn and state spending is almost £600bn.

This WILL attract Conservative voters and the party will not be able to do anything to counter it.

Education is a little misleading.

We no longer support Grammar schools, but we support a much deeper commitment to competition and selection?

If our policy is to end up where I think it will, it will be a hell of a lot more "right wing" than Grammar schools, and extremely popular.

Again on tax and spend.... you are, quite understandably ( and not neccesarily wrongly), using the Conservative Party as the sole rep. of the right .

Have a look at the UKIP flat tax policy ( based on a complete freze in Gov spending ) .It seems exciting and the document strikes me as reasonably balanced.

The only real question seems to be ( putting tatics to one side): is the policy to high risk economically ?

Have a look

http://www.ukip.org/ukip/images/stories/pdf/ukipflattaxpolicy.pdf

I agree with your article with one exception, localism.

The recent leak/announcement from Gove that he thought schools that failed should be removed from the LEA is an anti-localist idea.

On taxes the TPA has got a bit better after its awful performance last year when it welcomed tax changes without understanding that it increased taxes on the low paid. But the TPA has a long way to go.

A few reactions:

KR forever: I plead guilty to loyalty to IDS but I hope it's not blind loyalty! I think there is a real sense in which Labour's top-down, materialist approach to poverty fighting is exhausted. The deepest problems of poverty need a fresh approach which includes emphasis on the family, drug rehabilitation, tough love in welfare, new schools provision, support for social enterprise etc. I really do think ideas are on our side here.

David Belchamber: I agree that right and left are often unhelpful describers but they remain useful if inadequate shorthand.

Jim Carr: I hope you are right and I'm wrong.

Caligula's Palace: You are right about the public mood and the TaxPayers' Alliance. My more limited point refers to consensus between the main parties.

Sorry Tim, but there is no real desire in the contry for either the education or poverty. The private/voluntary sectors have not really been accepted. Look at the example of Northclife School in Conisbrough (South Yorkshire). A poor area and a poorly performings school. A charity organisation tried to build an academy and the whole thing caused a near riot. The people who most need NGO help refuse to accept it.

This is a pretty accurate assessment of the policy picture. But I think we're in a phase of our politics where the four-way matrix, of authoritarian to libertarian and of economic left to economic right, is more meaningful than a two-way left to right scale. For example, who would have thought, in the days of Michael Foot (an economically left civil-libertarian) leading the Labour Party, that an authoritarian Labour Party would be pushing the ID card monstrosity?

But competence has also become a major factor in the NuLabor era. The waste under NuLabor has been breathtaking and indeed tragic, largely because their obsession with PPP-related outsourcing and their total inattention to change management in the public sector has resulted in huge new management and financing overhead and spectacular failure to successfully implement new policy. I firmly believe that an competent government of any party that uses best business practices while maintaining a healthy skepticism about outsourcing will dramatically improve efficiency and can bring the deficit down to a sustainable level without any further tax increases.

"what we as electors want, is a government with sensible policies that can actually be put into practice"

David Belchamber, absolutely spot on. I'm fed up with governments that promise the earth and don't deliver. Often because their objectives are far too too ambitious. The great thing about team Cameron is that each policy objective is within the realm of the attainable. We don't want government to promise utopia, we just want government to promise to do what it can realistically achieve. One promise honoured, not matter how small, is worth a thousand broken promises.

Editor, the one area where the next government must make a difference is in welfare reform. Currently welfare is like a landfill site, with a huge mountain of people who have been dumped by the system, relegated to a passive, secondary status in our society. We all have different views on how welfare should be reformed but all agree that change is necessary. Chris Grayling has come up with some good ideas on the subject but still more is needed, in particular structured pathways into vocational training. I'd like to see JSA replaced with a work-training grant after a prolongued period of unemployment. That way people could train while receiving benefits. Unskilled means unemployed, so we need a skills revolution built into welfare in order that unemployment doesn't become a dead-end.

"The coalescing in the middle of New Labour-Blue Labour leaves people like me (a Thatcherite, I admit) wholly disenfranchised."

Posted by: Mark Hudson | March 30, 2008 at 11:45

I really get bored with this sort of post. Mark Hudson is up front enough to admit that he hates Cameron, but to claim he dislikes Cameron's policies because he is a Thatcherite demonstrates he hasn't followed what Margaret Thatcher did. Or, like some of the posters claiming to be Thatcherite on this site, he is really a Labour troll having a stir.

Yes, Thatcher's behaviour in government shows that the modernisers have more right to claim her legacy than the headbangers. In fact, it could be argued that Thatcher herself was never a "Thatcherite" in the sense that some use it.

Coming from a Labour point of view, I'd disagree with you on a couple of things:

Firstly, I wouldn't say you're winning when it comes to tackling poverty - the very fact that Cameron has to constantly talk about tackling poverty shows that the left has won that moral argument.

Secondly, I wouldn't say you're winning when it comes to family either. The man, woman and 2.4 children nuclear family is dead. Gay partnerships are now widely accepted and there are more single parents around now than ever before. Now minute tax-cut bribes will reverse that.

And thirdly, you should add constitutional reform to the list of Left victories. Your party now widely supports the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Greater London Authority as well as further devolution beyond that. Democratisation of the House of Lords is now seen as inevitable and the majority in this country think First-past-the-post is unfair and outdated.

Doesn't really seem like the right is winning much these days. The irony is that after Labour spent so long trying to mimic the Tories in the 1990's in order to get elected, it's moved full circle so that now the Tories have to copy Labour in order to get into power.

Boris Johnson is the perfect example of this. If he said what he truly believed that he wouldn't have a prayer. But because he's copied many of Ken's most radical policies and now suddenly agrees with the congestion charge, he's more electable.

Whether it's Boris, Call-me-Dave or Auntie Annabel Goldie up in Scotland, your party is proving that the only way you can win is by moving to the left and copying us.

David Sergeant, for your information, I am fully aware of Margaret Thatcher's record since it was she who caused me to join the Conservative Party in the first place in 1984. It was also David Cameron's pathetic politically correct posturing in 2005 that caused me not to renew my membership after having been an Association Chairman in Sevenoaks, Kent and a local councillor for 8 years.

I am not and will never be a Labour supporter, but I shall be putting my name forward to stand against Damian Green in Ashford for UKIP.

"I think the left have won the argument that climate change is the world's number one enemy."

If I remember correctly it was Mrs Thatcher who took forward the debate on climate issues, didn't she sign us up to Sao Paulo ? wasn't it?

Northern Monkey: you are right - the left has won on constitutional issues and you are right to say that the left has led on gay equality issues.

I think you're wrong on poverty and family however. People aren't left if they are pro-poor. IDS is motif the left but is more pro-poorthan most on the left. My key point is that the right is now engaged with this debate and setting the pace on solutions because the one club poverty policy of the left - more and more state welfare - isn't reaching the very poorest. Conservatives are fundamentally right to stress the importance of the family in beating our main social problems.

that should be IDS is not of the left. The perils of blogging on an iPhone!

I find this catalogue profoundly depressing. It would seem to me that in the core areas of belief and principles socialist ideas prevail and that conservative ideas seem to be "nuts and bolts" affairs . To put it another way "we can manage the decline of our nation better than the socialists can. " That's the essence of Cameron's approach.

Apologises Editor for posting my comment on the wrong site - it should have been here:

Interesting report in today's Telegraph and headlined:

Brown has lost touch, warns Labour minister.

"Fairness means equal treatment and opportunities for women and ethnic minorities in the workplace, not skilled white men denied career opportunities in the name of equality."

Mr Lewis urged Mr Brown to put policies on crime and poverty ahead of those of global warming. He said that the public also wanted people caught carrying guns and knives to be imprisoned for ten years.
Mr Lewis is the most high-profile minister to speak out amid growing evidence that Labour is losing the support of the so-called "Essex man" - a crucial group of floating voters whose conversion to Tony Blair helped elect the current Government.

This group of C1 and C2 working class people live in the south and Midlands and are growing increasingly concerned about the sharp rise in the cost of living. Issues such as immigration are also important". (Well who would have thunk it)

Labour is getting worried and is talking about change (but going to the Right, Dave and not Left). quoting: "white men" denied opportunities; losing support of Essex man; 10 years imprisonment for carrying a gun or knives; increasing concern about immigration.
The sort of policies that you could read in the BNP manifesto, Dave.

Well Dave, come the next election you could be fighting it out for the Essex man vote (appealing to Lib/dims for votes will be old hat). You could well be seen to the Left of Labour.
Time to give Maude and Co the big heave ho Dave (sorry Jack) and cancel the next meeting advocating lengthening paternity leave again. Time to move back to the toxic zone - detox has had its day. In particular I like the reference to the global warming hysterical junk mail being placed on the back burner after the policies that really matter.

Labour could reinvent itself and become a real threat Dave. The loss of perks and expenses concentrates the mind. This Mr Lewis is dangerous, voters could get to like him.

"the congestion charge"

First developed in concept by Milton Friedman. Not someone who most people would call left wing.....

"I am fully aware of Margaret Thatcher's record since it was she who caused me to join the Conservative Party in the first place in 1984."

Ah, a glory hunter unaware of Tory traditions prior to 1979. Figures.

"Labour is getting worried and is talking about change (but going to the Right, Dave and not Left)"

Let them. The election will be won on the centre ground, not by copying the BNP, which you seem to imply should be the case. One of the more disgusting political parties, and Labour will lose far more if it is seen to be pandering to them.

Interesting points Editor, but I would also probably include the issue of religion and secularisation as another victory for the Left.

Whilst you do not have to be left-wing in order to be athiest or secular, there's no doubt that more left-wingers hold these ideals than right-wingers. And as your article concerning The Economist's left-right data between the UK and US shows, this country is becoming increasingly secular and religion is viewed with increasing suspicion.

"Labour is getting worried and is talking about change (but going to the Right, Dave and not Left)"

Let them. The election will be won on the centre ground, not by copying the BNP, which you seem to imply should be the case. One of the more disgusting political parties, and Labour will lose far more if it is seen to be pandering to them".

What I am implying is that Labour will swing to the Right. You can be as disgusted with that as you like.

I hope the battle against increased taxpayer funding of political parties hasn't been lost.
Its a disgusting far-right idea.

"What I am implying is that Labour will swing to the Right"

Given it's a centre left party, that would mean a move to the centre. Further moves to the right may indeed happen, but it would be unlikely to result in any electoral benefit to them, given the losses that would result on their left flank, and the fact that it would reinforce the image of the Conservatives as a moderate centre right party, which would likely attract floaters who previously liked Blair.

"You can be as disgusted with that as you like."

I'd be disgusted if it decided to copy the BNP, nothing more. Most right minded people would be.

It may also be considered that the comments by Lewis could signal a resurrection of Labour of the policy to try and push the Tories way out to the right. While Labour would have no real inclination to go that way, sending signals to try and panic the Conservatives into considering such a move would have electoral gain, as it would allow them to again lay claim to the centre ground, and that the Tories have yet to learn any lessons. The answer to such a strategy would be to hold course.

In Answer to david @ 1847:
I believe it would be fair to say that most people would not be "disgusted" (which is what you imply) with these sentiments expressed by the MP Mr Lewis.

Fairness means equal treatment and opportunities for women and ethnic minorities in the workplace, not skilled white men denied career opportunities in the name of equality."

Mr Lewis urged Mr Brown to put policies on crime and poverty ahead of those of global warming. He said that the public also wanted people caught carrying guns and knives to be imprisoned for ten years.
Mr Lewis is the most high-profile minister to speak out amid growing evidence that Labour is losing the support of the so-called "Essex man" - a crucial group of floating voters whose conversion to Tony Blair helped elect the current Government.
This group of C1 and C2 working class people live in the south and Midlands and are growing increasingly concerned about the sharp rise in the cost of living. Issues such as immigration are also important". (Well who would have thunk it).

Read it again David and tell me why it is all so disgusting.

"I believe it would be fair to say that most people would not be "disgusted" (which is what you imply) with these sentiments expressed by the MP Mr Lewis."

No it isn't, but never mind.

David:

The centre ground can be in the eye of the beholder and what is thought to be the centre ground one year is not the next.
As Macmillan said, "Events, dear boy, events".

Very intersting post and thread. Whilst I agree with most of what you write in terms of who'se winning and who'se not I do disagree with you on which ideas are left and right wing outside the economic sphere. For example I know many people who would glory in the term rightwing who are profoundly against British military intervention anywhere. Equally, I think Jim Carr is wrong over the climate change debate. Is it left wing to believe in man made climate change? I really don't think so. Where the debate is is what to do about it. Enviromental taxes (as most additional taxation is) tends to be favoured by more left wing people but many on the right accept that man made climate change exists and must be tackled.
Finally I hope you're wrong regarding the decline of the nation state.We need to win the election first and then win the battle within the Conservative Party.Time will tell.

Labour won the argument in 1997 and it was perceived that it was because they had dropped their left wing centralist position. Over time it has become clear they did not. They just spun it differently.

Now we have Rentoul consoling himself with the idea that the only reason the Conservatives seem to be ahead and that Labour's poll rating have dropped below 30% is because they have put on left wing clothes.

Of course it could have nothing to do with the fact that the electorate is rejecting the left's thinking?

As for the ideas above that the left is supposedly winning on, I would suggest that they, for various reasons, rate amongst the main reasons why Labour are at such a low ebb in the polls.

In my eyes the left is losing on all fronts at the moment and David Cameron needs to be careful he doesn't damage his own chances by validating their failing policies.

That said, it will take time to reverse Labour's failures and that does mean that in certain areas the Conservative may well need to be conservative in making changes.

It is disappointing that the conservatives do not have the courage to advocate a policy of 'the best man for the job' rather than going along with the diversity agenda which puts second raters into so many positions.No wonder so many white men are disillusioned with society and politics.

Malcolm Dunn:

Finally I hope you're wrong regarding the decline of the nation state.We need to win the election first and then win the battle within the Conservative Party.Time will tell

Indeed I find it puzzling how the Editor feels that the left can be winning on the demise of the nation state yet the right are winning on localism. Centralism as represented by bodies such as the EU are the very antithesis of localism.

I think it's fair to say that the left is winning at present simply because Labour are in power and are imposing their will on the country. However, as I perceive Conservative Policy, their aim is to restore the nation state to some extent. Whether people believe it is unachievable (presumably through EU intransigence) is irrelevant. Conservative Policy is to recover power for the country. People will vote, in part, on that commitment.

The very fact that the country seems to be rejecting the left's thinking at this time and localism is seen to be progressing suggests that all is to play for.....

John Leonard's two recent posts highlight another aspect of the left v right battle, namely the ratchet effect of socialism, whereby the higher taxation and widespread regulation and banning imposed by left of centre governments is all too sadly left in place when a right of centre government comes to power. It is of little use to win a series of battles - and then the war - if the sole aim is to occupy the wreckage and manage it better than the wreckers rather than to rebuild what they have wrecked. "We will make a difference" could be an ideal campaign slogan but it must carry the conviction to do so.

Agree with David Belchamber that the notion of left and right is almost completely meaningless. Perhaps even thinking in this way could box in our ability to innovate and gain the trust of the public.

There's an interesting line of argument in the States right now -- see Gary Hart's column in today's Huffington Post blog -- that politics is about a past-versus-future rather than a hard-edged left vs. right thing. I think you would see that if you could imagine Cameron running against McCain (or, shall we say, Norman Tebbit) in, let's say, a Tory Party primary election; the McCain/Tebbit ticket wouldn't stand a chance. By the same token, voters are tired of government control freakery; today's Tory leadership offers a refreshing alternative to the 40-year process of centralisation that has reached its nadir under Blair and Brown, but were the Tories to try and turn the clock back 40 years on moral issues, I daresay a lot of voters would reluctantly put up with yet more nanny state.

We seem to be tinkering while our country in its morals, its economy its role are all falling to bits.

It's depressing.  We have a government so nasty, with an undercurrent of class hatred, as well as utterly incompetent but the opposition cannot get to grips with the evil nature of it and contents itself with merely damning its foolishness but aping its attitudes.  Meanwhile there's a large slice of the population which is sick at heart and wants something inspiring to work towards and for.

Cameron may be a nice man but he lacks all vision or guts.  We don’t need tinkering and patchwork - we need radical solutions. The public’s in the mood for them now.

If a Thatcherite like Mark Hudson feels disenfranchised, libertarians are in an worse position. The Conservative Party has lost its belief in individual liberty, free markets, low taxation and limited government. IDS, Fox and Hague parroted Bush's phoney propaganda about WMD and were just as hawkish on Iraq as Bliar. The Conservatives even, under Michael Howard's leadership and allegedly at David Cameron's personal behest, supported ID cards.

The blue column is rather weak. The police are happier persecuting the middle classes for thought crimes than catching thieves. The nationalised police monopoly needs to broken up. The BBC and licence fee should be abolished. Localism means giving power to individuals and familes rather than municipal bureaucrats. Education vouchers are not the answer. The real problem is socialist indoctrination of our children in state schools.

I wil have let my Conservative Party membership lapse and will not renew it. Members are treated like excrement by CCHQ. Even worse, Party democracy is a sham. The Priority List discriminated against white, heterosexual males who don't work at CCHQ. The European candidate selections shows that women candidates can come second, third or lower in ballots and be gerrymandered to the top of the regional lists. David Cameron proposes capping individual donations in exchange for taxpayer funding of his Party.

No British party is worthy of the libertarian vote. The Lib Dems are statist. UKIP is literally dying and will be destroyed by more factionalism and splits. The old cliche "don't vote, it only encourages them" has never been more apt. I will be abstaining in the forthcoming London elections and rather than sanction David Cameron by voting for Boris "ban plastic bags" Johnson. How depressing!!!

I'd so like to have agreed with Voluntaryist above in respect of the "libertarian" wing, because his opening statement is correct, but the issues he then proceeds to object to are largely trivia, unimportant to the overall majority, or nonsense, like the alleged "socialist indoctrination of our children in state schools".

There are far more significant libertarian objections: the insistence of a large section of the Conservative Party (including the editor of this site) to meddle in private matters like taxpayer subsidies of the married.

This leads me to the point I was motivated to respond to in the original list, which is family policy - because I disagree that the right is winning this battle (or rather, I think the left is losing it but the right isn't close to a reasonable alternative) and nor do I agree with the blurb explaining why it is believed the right has won.

Yes, the stats do show that married couples are more affluent, stable and bring up more successful children, but you're confusing cause and effect: the reason why that's the case is because more affluent, middle class people get married, not because the institution itself somehow miraculously lifts people out of poverty.

If more "underclass" (a really unpleasant term) couples married, the stats would simply be dragged down, not the well-being of their children up.

Which is why the State bunging money at married couples is unfair, will fail, is not libertarian and is one key reason why the right is unable to promise to reduce tax sooner rather than later.

It is truly pathetic to see confirmed that which actual conservatives have known for a while now; that rather than fight our corner and articulate and propose conservative alternatives the Conservative party has just given in to the so called liberal consensus in the self interest of its leaders.

The issues on which the right is said to be winning are largely the ones that don't really count and it is truly sickening to see people who claim to be Conservatives defending that quisling and craven betrayal on CH (yes Tony Makara I'm talking to you........... amongst others)

If you want to see a leftish and liberal nation then go and join a party that genuinely stands for that, you have a choice of at least two, but stop destroying from within the party that offered a right of centre alternative for those of us who do not subscribe to Polly Toynbee and the BBC's worldview.

It is complete rubbish to attempt to claim that any advance in the fortunes of the Tories is because of the acceptance of Labour principles, it is because of the electorate's desire to see a meaningful change from the Labour mismangement of almost everything. When they see that in fact there is little real difference between the major parties anymore then they will give up trusting, or voting for, any of us.

Interesting post!

I would've thought the right has designed general thinking on Europe.

It could be ignorance of the right-wing on my part but aren't you pretty euro-sceptic (at least superficially) and haven't you brought the country with you?

Few are aware of any of the benefits of EU membership and many would pull out altogether.

RE: Mark Hudson laughing at Tony Makara. I can't help but think that these ultra-Conservatives are a big part of what keeps you guys out of contention for office. You prove to ordinary people that Tories haven't changed despite what Cameron is trying (to his credit) to achieve - not that I'm an admirer, of course...

Whe these people say they want "choice between parties" - I'm afraid I have to laugh. The choice offered before now was between two hapless, useless, dogmatic extremes. One administration would simply undo the work of the opne before it.

On an even cursory inspection, any fool can see there are plenty of differences between the parties and we shouldn't pander to dogma on either "wing" - those days are, thankfully, over.

Hapless, useless extremes. Hmmm, I suppose that's why Margaret Thatcher won 3 huge election victories in a row and developed a politico-economic ideology that has been emulated by governments of all colours the world over.

This fool happens just to want less government, less tax, less political correctness and less blathering on about all this green crap that the average punter doesn't give a monkey's about. I would also like it to be my choice to buy a chocolate orange and not David Cameron's.

"One question: I'm in favour of ID cards. Does that make me left-wing?"

Why are you in favour?

This thread epitomises what is rotten in the state of the party. The party rides high in the polls on the back of calamitous administration by Brown's government and a population angered by the class warfare of so many NuLabourites. The lead is an ANTI-Brown lead.

There is no burning optimism in Tory ranks, however - just gloom because all Cameron offers is a tweaked version of NuLabour.

This lot of Cameroons will never lance the boil caused by our real government in Brussels. The party by a substantial margin wants a new start there. Will we get it ? NO!

Will the leadership do what's needed - free the health service to be run by professionals instead of by an army of professional bureaucrats making all problems worse? No - of course it won 't

Will the leadership realise that the few productive bits that are left in our economy are being strangled. These and those in the poverty trap need urgent tax cuts, not as a 'sweeetie' if we are good but as an incentive to do better. But the Cameroons are wedded to Labour's high-tax policies.

I can see no point in voting for them, however horrible the alternative.

Not right wing - civil liberties and localism. Localism is an EU-favoured concept (subsidiarity).

Schools reform - like the Swedish system? Not right wing. With selection and the topping up of fees? Right wing.

State funding of political parties? Neither left nor right wing. Wrong, either way.

The mistaken view that people getting married makes couples what they are rather than they get married because of what they are is right wing. "Empirical evidence" my arse. It's a bit like draining the mercury out of the thermometer and claiming you've reduced the temperature.

"Secondly, I wouldn't say you're winning when it comes to family either. The man, woman and 2.4 children nuclear family is dead"

What I find curious is that anyone should regard a decline in traditional family structures as some sort of "victory". If it is a "victory", it's one that has been won at the expense of large numbers of children, particularly children from poorer families. I doubt if Attlee's government would have regarded it as a victory for the Left.

Among the middle classes, the nuclear family is very much alive and well. That gives middle class children an even bigger advantage in life over working class children. I'm not sure how that represents any sort of victory for the Left. The only way in which a left wing victory can be claimed, I suppose, is because family breakdown increases welfare dependency.

Where I think Tim is right, is that I doubt if anyone in intellectual circles seriously challenges the view, now, that children brought up by both parents living together tend to do better in life than children who aren't.

Overall, though, it's far too early to say who's won and who's lost on most of these issues.

In all likelihood, the intellectual climate favours the Right, at the moment, but that may change, or never be converted into policy.

"Hmmm, I suppose that's why Margaret Thatcher won 3 huge election victories in a row"

It was almost immediately followed with three Labour election victories. How has "choice" fared since?

Mark, surely your idea of choice is not limited to a choice between conservative and conservative? What about the rest of us?

I don't think what you want is foolish but I think it's foolish to consider those positions absolute rather than relative.

Political opposition should be to oppose what is wrong, what they can make a case for - not opposition for opposition's sake. A monkey can be trained to do that. Conservatives have given up the lost causes - so have Labour - that's progress.

By the by - the average punter will give a monkey's about climate change when he's bailing water out of his house.

As a matter of fact, you can buy a Chocolate Orange in almost every retailer in the country. They're promoted on television by an obese woman!!

Once one goes beyond a narrow definition of "left" and "right" in terms of the policies and critiques offered officially by political parties, and into the wider groups of intellectuals and policy-makers that are right- and left-wing, I think that two of the debates in the left-hand column above (those "where the left is winning") can be seen actually to be being won by the Right: the NHS and military interventionism.

On the NHS, there is no serious intellectual defence of the concept of a monopoly provider of healthcare in the traditional form. It's hard to know what else to say. This is just an argument that the Right has won. Even the Labour government is implementing all kinds of additional private sector involvement. For now, Gordon Brown may be inclined to stall some of Blair's late-conversion reforms, but the reality will not be any more sustained than Dobson's abolishment of the internal market. Indeed, on the NHS it seems to me that the Conservative Party is far behind the intellectual game, and has adopted a position comfortably to the left of Labour - quite unnecessarily and quite unhelpfully to the cause of better healthcare in this country.

On military interventionism, doubtless many on this site are opposed, and many casual commentators in the public. But liberal interventionism, understood broadly enough is the only intellectual game in town. Realism got a bit of airtime when Iraq seemed to be going particularly badly (and because a number of Bush's senior people were isolationist or realist), whilst some leftie Conservatives are now in a dalliance with multilateralism. But the momentum of history is all with liberal interventionism, and it is completely clear that there will be more and more military interventions, for humanitarian and similar imperialist purposes, in the future. Everyone who disagrees is just going to have to get over it.

'Liberal interventionism... is the only intellectual game in town'-Andrew Lillico. Are you saying that to stimulate a debate or do you really believe that?

Promotion of homosexuality: definitely something the left has won and the right has backed down on, as far as those in authority or who want to be in authority are concerned. The right won't even address it for fear of being thought gay-bashing or unprogressive - there's votes in it, after all!

History moves in spirals. The political climate today is similar to the Heath-Wilson era 64/78. The policy followed by these two venal wights and their cabals of toadies was not to upset any vested interest. Wilson bailed out, leaving Callaghan as a scape-goat for the mess he had caused. Sounds familiar? The Tories finally had enough of of the sailing choirmaster and selected the second most successful PM of the 20th Century and first woman PM of the UK ever. Maggie sorted out 14 years of centre -party misrule and left the country a better place. (Before anyone goes on about the miners, I lived in a mining village. It wasn't remotely like the Mary Poppins world of "Brassed Off.")Her main achievement was to make a left-wing party unelectable, hence the rise and rise of the golden-tongued liar as a centerist sheepskin for the traditional loony left wolves who are now desparately clinging on to office.
The next Conservative PM will have to make some very hard decisions to prevent the country from (a) disintegrating and (b) going broke. Is Cameron the man, or is he just the latest incompetent centerist?

Promotion of homosexuality: definitely something the left has won and the right has backed down on, as far as those in authority or who want to be in authority are concerned. The right won't even address it for fear of being thought gay-bashing or unprogressive - there's votes in it, after all!

Posted by: Terry | March 31, 2008 at 13:42

And what would be the right-wing approach to homosexuality, Terry dear? Harvey Proctor?

Promotion of homosexuality: definitely something the left has won and the right has backed down on, as far as those in authority or who want to be in authority are concerned. The right won't even address it for fear of being thought gay-bashing or unprogressive - there's votes in it, after all!

There maybe votes in it in your twisted world Terry, you [email protected]

I remember Lord Hailsham, when he was Party Chairman, telling the Party Conference that even if after every reforming Tory Government there was still 10% of Socialism left then we would ultimately become a Socialist state. It almost happened pre-1979. Why don't we ever lean from the lessons of the past

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