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I think that is a very fair comment on Party management and reform. I really think that we will look more than daft in government preaching for the 'post bureaucratic' age before we have put our own house in order.

What is the fantastic education policy - I seem to have missed it.

"An agenda for economic competitiveness"

A Cameron government has to make it profitable for business to compete against cheap imports. This is particularly important for those engaged in manufacturing and agriculture, especially those who aim to supply the domestic market. Such industries should be awarded a special tax status and allowed to operate at a lower level of taxation. New business should be allowed to operate tax free for a period, to allow it to the time to develop a healthy infrastructure. All too often business dies before it has had an opportunity to establish itself. Business will only invest if government allows it make healthy profits.

A fair summary. I would add his time at Carlton as a reason for worry.

One big thing missing from your list is the candidates he has chosen to be the new parliamentary Conservative party. Nearly half of the MPs after the next election may have been selected under his time as leader. What they believe will have an effect after Cameron has gone.

that 10 Downing Street will be home to the Camerons after the next election.
Surely if such an eventuality ever came about, it would be likely to return to the residency arrangements applied during Gordon Brown's time as Chancellor, bachelor Chancellor in the flat (10 Downing Street) and the Camerons at no 11 in the house.

"It is the lack of a track record from David Cameron that is making Boris Johnson's mayoralty so important as a predictor in many peoples' minds."

I can't help but think that if Boris is successful as mayor, it will simply make people want to see Boris rather than Cameron as pm.

Boris' admission about cocaine usage for example was simple and refreshing and certainly didn't stop him getting elected, did it? Seeing James Purnell recycling Cameron's "we're all entitled to a life before politics" response about drugs on QT just highlighted how slippery and dishonest leading politicians are.

BoJo for PM!

Chad will never be positive about Cameron. He is the ukip equivalent of the Daily Mirror.

I'm hoping that a Cameron premiership will be first noticeable in the pay-packet: by the reduction in taxes and NI contributions.

Trust me: people are completely and utterly fed up with Labour's inexorable growth of stealth-taxation to the point where an ordinary income puts you into the 40% bracket. Our natural voters are crying out for tax-relief. Cameron needs to deliver on this - take the schoolteacher and policeman and office-worker out of higher-rate tax!

I think your take is pretty fair Tim.Not sure how important his conduct before he became leader is, but I agree with both your positive and negative sentiments.
Regarding the MEP selection process which you promised to return to after the May elections,is there any news?

Thanks Vince, 2047, I've just added a sixth predictor to reflect your comment. Thank you.

Malcolm: I hope to report again on the MEP selection saga sometime this week.

Simple question - what are the benefits of Conservative Party membership?

Mailings from CCHQ are usually just begging letters. Heartland magazine disappeared years ago. Candidates are selected by open primary. Most events are open to non-members.

The only advantages that I can think of is being able to stand for office and cheaper party conference fees (before Cameron's off-setting taxes).

Non-careerists are Better Off Out of the party! I certainly am.

his ability to work with his frontbench will be crucial. One thing we saw with Blair is a tight team around him but an almost permanently dysfunctional cabinet of sorts... and not just the Brown saga. Cameron must have the strength both personally and in his authority in the party to sack those that need sacking.

The persistent leaving and returning of Mandelson, Blunkett et al isn't something that helped Tony's reputation in the party or country.

The problem with your line on the manifesto - that there are two years to the general election is that it may not be true. People were saying that in Summer 2007, when it was clear as day that Gordon would go to the country after his Conference. That he didn't do so then is one of the clearest proofs that there is a God. Only divine intervention could have saved DC after the hash he made of 2007, up to October.

If Brown goes (after Crewe?), his successor could easily get a bounce with a bit of tax bribery. He would assuredly not make the same mistake but go for a GE three months into the bounce ie even as soon as the Labour Conference 2008.

There is no evidence that the manifesto is more ready now than it was in October 2007. Our support is fragile, we are winning because people really hate Brown. Milliband or Straw, ruthlessly tearing up Brown's inheritance, wouldn't be nearly as repulsive and incumbency offers every advantage.

Hubris invites nemesis - as Boris could probably explain in much greater detail.

We aren't ready for government yet. We do need time to get a clear and coherent policy agenda and theme, and base our policies around it. The author is right - Dave's policies need more beef.

Now let's all click on the 'Stand Up, Speak Up' link to the right side of the page. :)

I think you're mistaking an unannounced manifesto/policy agenda with no manifesto/policy agenda.

We've been gaining and pulling away in the polls for some time now (excepting the bounce) under a leader that's proven to he astute. The one consistent criticism has been: where's all the policies?

Do we really believe that this has been ignored and that the shadow cabinet has been steadfastly refusing to draw up policies on issues? No, of course not. More likely the policies exist in some format but they will be announced when they cab have electoral impact - not two years early where we will give the govt time to either build a case against them or steal them.

Think you might have been a bit harsh in terms of Conservative Party management. The two issues you have quoted were the only occasions in the last 18 months or so where any Conservative MPs felt a need to press him, which surely demonstrates their overall satisfaction with the way things are being run?

I hope you are right Steven (0808). I did put a "yet" in my post and hope that we will see a lot more policy substance in the manifesto.

A very interesting review, Mr Editor, with which I am largely in agreement. I heartily agree with Jonathan at 23.31, though, as I get nervous when people assert "there are 2 years until the likely date of the next election". A good general will always expect the unexpected and there is an outside possibility of the government being defeated in the very near future.

At this stage, I think that DC should reinforce his great personal appeal by delivering a major "tour d'horizon" speech to set out the main aims of a conservative government, with the promise of a detailed manifesto of properly costed commitments nearer an election.

I would like him to identify major areas of government waste which a conservative government would take immediate action to cut back (abolition of ID scheme, attack on red tape, doing away with certain quangos and consultancies and a radical simplification of the tax and benefits system to start with).

He could then, much more meaningfully, promise to share the proceeds of growth - and reductions in government waste - between essential public services and tax reductions.

On the EU, he should pledge that a conservative government would put the question to the nation in a referendum and that the government would implement its wishes.

Whilst I fully agree that shadow ministers on the whole inspire greater confidence than their counterparts in government, I do not believe that the best people are necessarily in the right posts and I feel that several have not devoted sufficient efforts over the past few years to opposing the minister they have been shadowing.

Of course we will quickly repeal the Hunting Act so we can go back to a good old chase and kill! How quick can David deliver that you think?


Fair comment - I think I was talking to many pundits/posters, moreso than your piece. I think the article's accurate barring the party management scores, which I think are too low.

I grant you, the candidate selection aspect hasn't worked well. The A list was hugely unpopular and the MEP selections have been controversial... however I'm not sure the latter can be entirely blamed on DC. The former can be, however I understand exactly why he did it!

The rest of the party management function has been pretty good though. The fundraising has been fabulous (despite the early desertion of some major donors); the media machine was judged (by the industry) to be far superior to No. 10's own arrangements; the electoral organisation is far improved (ref. getting out the vote in key seats/London/maybe Crewe); the party branding is much sharper and more modern (and perceptive); and the agents' network/quality is leagues ahead of where we were 5 years ago - a huge boost to constituencies and activists.

I agree with the downsides you've highlighted but I feel that the upsides highlighted above merit a higher than 2/5 score.

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