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Eric should be Party Chairman. He destroys the left's idea of what a Tory is like.

Having not voted I shouldn't really comment . . .

However, whenever I've seen Theresa Villers on TV I've always been very impressed. She is the type of spokesman we should be giving more exposure to.

A well deserved boost for Eric though.

it is amazing that in politics spin and perception rule ok. while it is true that lie many others pickles works hard he is number 1 at self promotion and taking the credit that does not belong to him. he did not, as he wants others to think mastermind the local elections. there was no central command and pickles was the appointed mouth piece.

in crewe he spent his time getting as much credit as he could for himself while others planned and executed the campaign.

lets not go overboard here!!

Theresa Villiers and Andrew Mitchell are the shadow cabinet's weakest links. Time for David Cameron to say cheerio to them and replace them with people who will be able to deliver in two such important portfolios.

Increased Media Coverage = Rise in Popularity on here, it seems!

Those languishing at the bottom should perhaps take note.

I cannot understand Eric Pickles coming third. As shadow cabinet member for Local government he should be shouting from the roof tops that the EU and this government plan to abolish counties and reorganise other local authorities into regional government with sub regions and sub sub regions. London, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have already been forced into that system. I haven't heard him say a word about it. Is Conservative Party policy to retain a structure which has served the country well or is it to adopt the EU regional government system the objective of which is the weakening of national governments with its ultimate aim of abolition of them.

Ref John Marshall, 0946. Please give corroborated examples or retract. Unjustified spite is a Socialist weakness under pressure, not a Conservative one when we are doing well.

Eric Pickles greatest attribute is that he can articulate in a way that resonates with working class people.

Has anyone seen or heard from Caroline Spelman lately, by the way ?

Theresa Villiers good on tv? I cringe everytime she appears. She is just dreadful, appearing really arrogant and, frankly, really annoying, too. Her approval rating is spot on.

Come on, DC, get rid of her!

Eric Pickles has done a stunning job - no level of praise can be enough.

Theresa Villiers deserves a better shout than she's been getting here. Theresa came to Dover recently - the town is literally awash with transport issues. There is a busy port, Motorway lorry tailbacks, the A2 needs dualling, there is a deathtrap road and we went to the bus depot to boot.

I can only speak as I find and she impressed everyone with the depth of her knowledge and her easy manner - especially the cynical old hands at the port. She dealt brilliantly with distressed families who'd lost loved ones on the dangerous road.

She's also been taking a strong line on the awful BAA for which she deserves credit and strong support. Standing up for the airport user, I suspect in the face of disquiet from certain grandees.

And she clearly knows her stuff, backed by a strong transport team who are all doing good work. For a member of the 2005 intake, impressive.

She's also *not* one of these dreadful people who basically hate the grassroots. So I do wonder whether the time has come to give her a reappraisal and for people to take a more thoughtful look at how she does.

According to the BBC website, Eric Pickles is on Question Time tonight. Along with Ruth Lea who is always very good.

Let's have some more attack in response to Labour's Toff comments. 40% of the Labour Cabinet went to fee paying schools. Harriet H and Ruth went to St Paul's Girls school, Westminster and Millfield the best schools in the country and Harriet is the niece of an Earl. Better honest Tory toffs than hypocritical champagne socialists.

According to the BBC website, Eric Pickles is on Question Time tonight. Along with Ruth Lea who is always very good.

OMG - 2 right of centre people instead of the usual 0.25!

Peter @ 11.03 To be fair to Eric Pickles he has fought against the latest tranche of unitaries – but as you so rightly say, and he has not, they are the sub regions of the EU. Mr Pickles treated the issue as yet another battle with Prescott.

I find this lacuna even odder since Mr Pickles, fronted by tabloid headlines, made great play of Arc Manche and Transmanche both of which have been around for years.

Perhaps it helped that these regions have French names though great chunks of them are along the South coast?

I was interested to read of Theresa Villiers and of her performance in Kent. In the last survey I voted "dont know" when asked to rank her contribution overall. Having seen such a good report of her ability in carrying out her Transport portfolio task, I wish her abilities might be publicised better. As to the rather ungenerous assessment above of Eric Pickles` contribution, or possibly lack of it, at Crewe and Nantwich, all I can say is that he came over brilliantly on the television, rather reminiscent of "Uncle Fred" Woolton. As long as he can perform the election campaign tasks allocated to him and he is not just an "eyecatcher" he will be worth his (considerable)weight in gold when the big moment comes.

Pickles has played a blinder. At last the party seems to have woken up to is talents. It is a great relief that we have a common sense, plain speaking down to earth person fronting the Tory party on tv. How can those champagne socialists accuse us of being toffs when we have someone like Pickles as our spokesman? Not only does he 'get it' about the need to appeal to the centre, and his development of the lovebomb, he is also able to work alongside people as a team player. From what I heard on the grapevine, he and Stephen Gilbert worked brilliantly together. Some might say they were the odd couple, but they delivered a stunning victory.

So come on, altogther now - "PICKLES FOR CHAIRMAN!!! PICKLES FOR CHAIRMAN!!!!"

I have to agree.

Whilst I have a great deal of respect for Caroline Spelman, she'd be a much better departmental shadow.

With Eric Pickles campaigning insight, with his "man of the people demeanour" and with his undoubted management skills, as we head into General Election territory, Cameron would be mad not to put him in charge of Central Office.

Like Charlie Elphicke, I would like to jump to Theresa Villiers' defence. Theresa very kindly came to Birmingham during the local election campaign and impressed with her knowledge of the transport issues facing an area like the West Midlands. Her easy-going unstuffy attitude certainly went down well with the activists that met her.

In my own campaign, I received a visit from Philip Hammond who was more than willing to brave a torrential downpour whilst canvassing. His work on the 10p tax campaign should be applauded.

Andrew Mitchell too deserves a better deal. His response on the Burma Cyclone and Burma's disgraceful ruling junta was far better than anything the Foreign Office could muster.

As for Eric Pickles, activists who met him at the Crewe Campaign HQ liked his good humour and respected the fact that he understood that to win the by-election was going to be a team effort from everyone, not just the party staff behind the laptops. His approach was an inclusive one, and he was rewarded by the excellent result then and by his impressive showing in Con Home's survey.

Pickles for Chairman would certainly be a good move.

Theresa Villiers has a fair rating. Her overly cautious 'Peter Mandelson check your pager before speaking' approach is jarring with the public's yearning for politicians with some gusto and the 'cohones' to speak their mind. From the comments, it would seem she appears very good, one on one, telling people what they want to hear though in private.

In any case, I think she is going to be rather tied up given the imminent meltdown in her association given the bizarre and sudden departure of their legendary election winning agent, Stephen Payne.

Will she avoid the inevitable second wave of blood letting following their famous coup against their Council leader only weeks after a tremendous election victory in 2006?

I concur with comments regarding Ms Villiers - she is not a good frontbench spokesman. Andrew Mitchell is also quite dire. If they care about the cause they should move aside.

I also have grave concerns about Francis Maude.

Eric Pickles is the perfect tonic, even if he is a pro-European Tory!

Cameron needs more hard working Northern MPs with regional accents from normal backgrounds around him.
Pickles is a hero.

Re: Trent Harrison 13:18. Apparently it was Villiers herself that instigated Stephen's departure. I'm not sure how much of that it true, though.

What I do know is that Stephen Payne was the Agent there for over a decade. He was the one that got Villiers selected as the candidate in 2003, got her elected in 2005. If she did organise his removal, then that was a huge mistake. You're right- Stephen is nothing less than a legendary, election-winning Agent.

We need more totty in our frontbench team.

Nadine Dorries might be the answer. And the lovely Julie Kirkbride should be better utilised.

I must say I have always seen Andrew Mitchell as a most able shadow miniter, but one who gets little media coverage.

Francis Maude MP is consistently underated, I thought his performance on Question Time last week was the perfect alternative to the truly bizarre Hazel Blears.

The most overrated member of the Shadow Cabinet must be Alan Duncan MP, who appears to veer between a wish to replace Boris as the Tory Party's resident skittish turn, and a wish to replace John Bercow MP as our resident, hand wringing useless wet.

Anyone who was in Blackpool last year or at the Spring Forum in Gateshead this year will not be at all surprised that Eric Pickles is getting the recognition he deserves. All power to his elbow.
As for "More Front bench Tottie..." OMG. please - positive discrimination is not the answer. Promote through ability and suitablity - or end up with sub-standard mediocrities like Hazel Blears, Dawn Primarola and Yvette Cooper - to name but three.

Nadine Dorries and Julie Kirkbride totty? Alexander King should visit his optician pronto!

I am surprised Liam Fox is rated so high, is this just because he is classified as right wing? surely he should be rated for the his job in Shadow Cabinet and from what I hear he is not highly rated by the Military.
David, Bucks

Posted by: Anon | May 29, 2008 at 13:35

Really? What makes you think that Villiers herself pushed him out of the door? I did her that Stephen's partner was 'resigned' as Villiers correspondence secretary some months back.

Stephen's a right 'payne' a lot of the time but he has certainly earned his keep there from election performance.

What is most odd, from what I have heard, is that for something that was 'mutual agreed', and on Stephen's initiative, he left rather sharpish, they have changed all the locks and computers, not a word from their Chairman (a Councillor) in over a week, apparently Officers (all Councillors) were clearing out his desk etc. No sign of a farewell leaving party either. Most odd.

Speak to any of the Politburo in Barnet and Pravda like responses come back that 'Stephen just wanted to leave, it was all amicable'... Sounds as convincing as USSR style statements that President was well and healthy when he'd been dead for three weeks, now mouldly and being eaten by the rats!

Eric Pickles is a great man. He's been proved right about strategy, and a lot more besides.
Excellent communicator aswell.

We owe him a lot. Thanks Eric.

The situation about Stephen Payne seems really fishy.

A sharp exit, no leaving party (after all he had done for the Association and the MP?), locks changed, no word from Chairman or the Officers.... sounds like he was pushed out.

The smilie re: Barnet/USSR seems quite apt. I wouldn't be surprised if the Association crumbled without the Agent there.

I think Liam Fox should move away from Defence and be replaced by Patrick Mercer, who has frontline military experience and also has seen firsthand the New Labour Defence Shambles when he went to offer his thoughts to the GOATs. I also believe we should have shadow secretaries for the Army, Navy and Air Force, all of whom will have served in the respective arm of the military. This would contrast with Labour's attitude in giving the job to the awful Des Broone part time.

I like Fox a lot, but think he's too much of an out neo-con to be speaking on behalf of our Forces and far too close to Washington. Fox would be excellent in another high profile front bench role.

As someone who works day to day in the transport sector, I have always been wholly unimpressed with Theresa Villiers. She was described by one senior CEO in the transport sector I know as being like an enthusiastic A Level student, who is out of her depth.

She has no standing in the transport sector whatsoever. If we believe in the wisdom of crowds, then we must assume ConHom readers have an accurate view of her abilities.

Chris Grayling, who came before her, was brilliant and hugely respected. I sincerely wish he would return.

Otherwise, how about prmoting someone like Eric Pickles who would be great at Transport?

This countryman asks that you give some credit to the Crewe and Nantwich Association which has been making steady progress for years. They provided the base for the campaign success enjoyed by Edward Timpson – and Eric Pickles. See through the hype.

Fox is far too close to Washington?

If so, he's the only member of our frontbench team who could be accused of that.

I think that his work in support of the Anglo-American alliance has been absolutely fantastic. The Americans think very highly of him.

I'm not disputing Fox's work with the Americans. I just think that he would be better suited to another role. I'm more interested in what our troops think of him than what the Americans do.

The last thing we need is the US State Department having a cheerleader at the MoD.

No more comments about Stephen Payne please. I don't know the situation and don't want to be discussing potentially controversial assertions about him.

"Otherwise, how about promoting someone like Eric Pickles who would be great at Transport?"

Eric was Shadow Transport Minister a few years ago and did an excellent job. Chris Grayling, over-rated IMHO, was as bad as Villiers when he held that brief. Chris is a good attack dog but poor on policy.

Who are these people who think Sayeeda Warsi is good? She's not; Dewsbury 2005 was a perfect example of how not to run a campaign. If we're going to be tokenistic why not put somebody with real talent, such as Shailesh Vara, into the Shadow Cabinet?

Interesting results.Im sure Caroline Spellman and Ms Villars are staunch workers for the party, but they come across badly on TV.So does Francis Maude and Oliver Letwin. Liam Fox is popular but has he gor what it takes>>?

London Tory, May 29th - 11.38,

Why don't you just cast your vote for (supposedly) New Labour? What, who are the working classes?

Don't you work? Where is the definition, (some sort of) means test?

I accept that (supposedly) New Labour (would) like to "button hole" the entire, ECLECTIC, Conservative movement as "Toffs" and then some - working but not working class, well spoken but ashamed of it, of order and behavioural standards but 'holier than thou', hypocritical, money grabbing, voracious and deceptive, inclusive (possibly)but divisive......

That said, and be these aspersions as they may or may not, please DO NOT PATRONISE THE (SUPPOSED) WORKING CLASSES - that is, after you have managed to define them without patronising, 'pigeon hole', bile ridden class distinction withuout substance.....?!

Eric Pickles is great. So is George Osborne, Adam Afriye, Kenneth Clarke, William Hague, Liam Fox, David Cameron, Caroline Spelman (why are you inviting negative criticism of her just because she hasn't been "seen or heard" for the last couple of weeks.....?), Boris Johnson - and so was John Major (yes, he was....). Get it?

As long as you 'label' people, and worse, categorise them with lame 20th Century, dubiuos, eponymous epithets, we will not truly rise as a Party - inclusive, dignified, judgemental only on merit with compassion for those who falter, nonetheless encouraging but challenging, a traditional values bias with an enforceable law and above all, opportunity for every man, woman and child backed by an efficient but inclusive state - especially for the sick, infirm and old - and your like will see us falter as a nation, only to facilitate prejudice, inequality (and worse, masqueraded as EQUALITY..) and snobbishness. NEW LABOUR PERSONIFIED!

I understand you Sir but we cannot embrace anything other than that which I have hightlighted above - we are not able to return to inequality thank God. We must and more importantly, must want to include, devour prejudice and privalege but not 'cow tow' to the socialist mantra of 'equality but I'm all right Jack....'.

50 years ago, there was a working class. Now there is none....or there shouldn't be - Eric Pickles or otherwise....!!

Andrew Carr


Therese Villiers is dreadful, truly dreadful! There is no other way to put it.

Re: Editor | May 29, 2008 at 17:18

Not like you to shy away from 'potential controversy'.. maybe you meant 'potential defamation' ! Having read the comments difficult to see anything other than kind words about (the unmentionable person); it's Theresa Villiers who seems to be the subject of attack in this thread.



Could we please just drop this Stephen Payne thing? His name wasn't on the list I voted on. It sounds like very localised internal he-said-she-said and hence of no general interest on this site.

Let's just move on please.

I didn't see his name on the list either so lets not talk about a non important person. Bring back those councillors that left in 2006 I say. All of them. They added class to the the old bunch.I agree about Theresa Villiers though. David cameron must act now. After all he is the listening party SO LISTEN.

just moved to number TWOS.

The auroras on the gas giants seem, like Earth's, to be powered by the solar wind. In addition, however, Jupiter's moons, especially Io, are powerful sources of auroras on Jupiter. These arise from electric currents along field lines, generated by a dynamo mechanism due to the relative motion between the rotating planet and the moving moon.

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