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The Tory front bench is still stuck to its 2005 playlist when all looked rosy with the economy. They need to realise that the first Conservative term will be dominated by economic problems.

Dirty tricks afoot to cover Brown's pathetic Premiership, aided and abetted by a declining MSM, methinks.

Westminster Wolf.

Exactly. The problem is that no-one can predict just how bad they are likely to be.

Only a simpleton would now be detailing policies which might be thoroughly inappropriate in 2010.

The opinion polls would suggest that the public aren't exactly deserting the Tories because of a lack of detailed policies at this stage.

A few lukewarm editorials are only to be expected.

"While the Brown government has taken firm decisions on a range of issues – such as the need to develop nuclear energy, the need to expand London’s Heathrow airport and the need to streamline planning laws – the Conservatives sit on the fence" IT TOOK THEM ELEVEN YEARS TO MAKE THESE DECISIONS!!

The toughest decision of all that will prove whether Osborne is serious or not will be whether he'll control public spending or carry on matching Labour.

This is the FT. Apart from the planning laws which have nothing to do with making Britain competative but more to do with Brown dealing another hit at democracy for his benefit the comments on Heathrow and Nuclear power are wide of the mark. We must accept that the FT is Labour supportive and expect bias like this.

What is Tory policy on Nuclear power?

This is certainly a lukewarm editorial - but could it not perhaps be seen as a challenge? A Throwing down of the gauntlet...

Time for David Cameron to respond!

"We must accept that the FT is Labour supportive and expect bias like this".

Posted by: David Sergeant | July 05, 2008 at 11:28

Of course we must expect such bias, David, but there are things the tories can do to counter it.

David Cameron has so far got away with saying virtually nothing about certain important issues that will have to be addressed in a manifesto.

The EU and energy are among these.

He has now got to reassure us that these are under consideration and name the shadow teams that are working on policy.

I only hope that this is really the case and that a comprehensive manifesto could be wheeled out at very short notice, because I am not convinced that we could have done that last autumn when Brown so nearly called an election.

jeff: At the beginning nuclear was a policy of "last resort". It has moderated somewhat since then but the policy is still journeying...

The FT doesn't support anyone specifically, they will support any party/government that they believe will be the most business friendly. After all the FT is the paper that like to be thought of being read by the people who OWN the country.

Exactly David Sergeant @ 11.28 - If this article is anything to go by, the Conservatives can at least be assured of one hard fact, that when they do get into government, no matter that to begin with they will be clearing up the debris left by this ..... lot, the media hacks such as the ones in the Independent and the Guardian, will be sure to pull each idea to pieces, while at the same time trying to put the blame on the Conservatives - still - for so many things having gone wrong!!

You know there is something that I would really like to happen - if one had a wish - I wish that all the vindictive hacks the love pulling Tories to pieces, could be forced to run this country for long enough to see how UTTERLY USELESS they would AND as an extra bonus it would be nice if their own pensions depended on success!!!!

Could it be that the press is demanding a concrete Tory agenda because things are getting so bad under our current 'Government of all the Ineptitudes' that it's almost a plea for reassurance?

I have an FT subscription ( nb delivered free) - FT is very good on economics but very poor on comment and leaders . The anti- cameron line has been there from the start.

With City am being free and more up to speed , it is time for the FT to stop posturing and change a good few of their writers

Did I miss the actual announcement of building nuclear power stations at specific times and in specific places?

Didn't I read that the volume of air passenger traffic is declining and that "leading scientists" are predicting the end of the world, partially because of aeroplanes? Did I also miss the fact that our air traffic control system is overburdened and that Heathrow is a shambles from one end to the other?

If I did not miss those will someone please tell us, with convincing facts, why a third runway is needed?

Lastly, and the point has been made so I am only echoing - can Cameron or Osborne have any idea how bad the situation will be in two years time? I suspect that it is much worse right now than Darling will admit.

"This is certainly a lukewarm editorial - but could it not perhaps be seen as a challenge? A Throwing down of the gauntlet...

Time for David Cameron to respond!"

Posted by: Sally Roberts | July 05, 2008 at 12:05

A fundemental problem with the Conservative party since Maggie left is that, unlike every other party, it hardly ever responded to any comment, never mind gauntlets. Even when it does it has tended to use Sir Humphrey type language and look silly anyway.

I suspect a note of desperation in Sally Robert's contribution.

Are Patsy Sergeant and David Sergeant related?

No, not as far as I know!

The FT's pro-Labour stance fascinates me since it seems to date only since nu-lab - it is certainly not historic. Sometimes you read and blink - yes, this is pink paper and no, it's not the Guardian.

"The leftie FT: it's as pink as its pages."

Olive Peel at 13:43 has it right. Business comment is generally well balanced - my listed plc employer gets fair coverage despite some poor performance recently. But the FT's political writing is risible, especially the pro-EU bias. Like sbjme19 at 14:51, I cannot understand the FT's support for Labour either. In fact, given sterling's abject failure in the ERM and the subsequent golden economic legacy left by the last Tory government in 1997, the FT's pro-EMU, pro-Labour bias is incomprehensible.

Are Patsy Sergeant and David Sergeant related?

Posted by: Mark Hudson | July 05, 2008 at 14:43

No, not as far as I know!

Posted by: Patsy Sergeant | July 05, 2008 at 14:49

Not only that, we live at oposite ends of the Country. I am not aware of having any daughters that far south.

The FT became the Guardian years ago, why people shell out for this pinko paper is beyond me.

Maybe the "captains of commerce" no longer read it and just retain the subscriptions for appearance.

My Times Guide to the House of Commons 1992 states that the Financial Times became a surprise backer of Labour under Neil Kinnock. The FT's left leaning therefore goes back some time.

There's a lot of people attacking the messenger on this thread!!!

The FT is largely correct about the lack of tough decisions taken by Dave so far.

I think many commentators on here have it right. The business comment and analysis in the FT is still relatively informed and rigorous, although it has found itself wanting in responding to the rise of such organisations as Reuters, Bloomberg etc. I have it daily for a quick skim through on the train to Canary Wharf and then settle down to the Telegraph crossword.

This said, I agree with its sentiments on Dave's posturing, which is all too accurate. However, the overall political analysis in the FT has been woefully inadequate and poorly argued for years.

If you think the FT is a big supporter of Brown, then take a look at this article from a few days ago, "Grim realities of living in Brown bunker":


Maybe the most damning piece on Brown I've ever read. Especially given the FT's very high journalistic standards. Anyone who reads the FT regularly will know that in terms of accuracy and lack of bias in their news coverage, they are head and shoulders above the rest of the British press. And some of their regular and guest columnists are very impressive individuals indeed. Even if you don't agree with their views you have to respect them.

"The FT is largely correct about the lack of tough decisions taken by Dave so far."

Posted by: Alan S | July 05, 2008 at 16:17

Sorry, I just don't believe sensible people are writing this stuff. All sorts of decisions have been made by Dave, he just hasn't said where he would put atomic power stations or produced a detailed plan for London airport expansion. Please can people understand that, however useless Brown and his government are, Dave is still only leader of the oposition (for two more years!) and not in a position to research much detail. More, if he came out with details Brown's government would imediatly rubbish them and would have no problem about being dishonest about it. (Although they may pinch the ideas later.)

I worry that apparantly sensible people seem to fall for this BBC/Labour spin.

The journalists asking for more details about Tory policy are from newspaper or institutions (the BBC is asking too) that are not supportive of the Conservatives. Frankly they are looking for ammunition to attack the Tories with. Naturally the party has to produce a detailed program of governance, but the time to reveal the detail is in the run up to 2010. Elections are really won in the 9-18 months leading to an election and rarely decided during the official campaigning period. The Conservative goal now should be to get within 12 months of an election while staying 20+ points ahead in the polls. Providing ammunition now to media critics will not serve that goal.

"The FT's pro-Labour stance fascinates me since it seems to date only since nu-lab - it is certainly not historic. Sometimes you read and blink - yes, this is pink paper and no, it's not the Guardian"

The FT became pro-Labour (in terms of its editorial stance) as far back as 1987. It opposed most of Thatcher's economic reforms.

It's a very strange example of a paper being at odds with the views of the people who read it.

How many people read FT leaders? What the FT is doing here is promoting the big business agenda on planning (get rid of local decision-making), energy (build nuclear power stations) and airports (expand Heathrow). There are no votes in any of these policies so why should an opposition support them. Cameron has kept his distance from the big monopolists beloved or the FT and the EUrocrats (plus New Labour of course).

The FT is written by and to a significant extent also ready by a rich ideas and professional class who can afford left-wing liberalism.

Pretty naive analysis from the FT. Cameron is following the Blair mid-90s playbook - i.e. doing absolutely nothing that could piss anybody off. That's the beauty of opposition: you don't actually need to do anything - you just try to appear pleasant and wait for the inevitable disillusionment with the government. I'd be surprised if Cameron didn't have serious plans which he has chosen to keep private.

I am certainly not despairing, David Sergeant (and I too wondered if you were related to Patsy?!) but I do think it is important to respond to the challenge implicit here.

"Maybe the "captains of commerce" no longer read it and just retain the subscriptions for appearance."

That I think is close to the truth. I have never found the FT to be worth the effort of reading it, I have never found their political/economic arguments/leaders thought provoking, that is better done by reading Randal, Bootle, Haligan’s etc articles. The wall Street journal is better for market reports, and Reuters Bloomberg etc are better for market sensitive information. The FT is there just because its expected to be part of the furnishings of an office, and because peoples position demands they carry a copy of it, but these people usually dump their copy of the FT when they get to the office and nick their juniors copy of the Sun to read.


I ask other comment makers: Who provides the most insightful, fastest, best value political insight?

This site, Guido fawkes, Iain Dale and Dizzy or the mainstream papers?

The FT asks that as David Cameron is not in favour of Heathrow expansion, which other airports will he grow to meet capacity constraints?

This must be lazy thinking and I would have thought the FT could do better. Mr Cameron recently stated he was in favour of high speed rail. High speed trains would eliminate the need for many domestic flights, freeing up some exiting airport capacity for more important long-haul flights.

Environmental policy needn’t be about more taxes. Rather it can be positive and forward-looking, about providing attractive competitive environmentally alternatives, such as a modern fast, reliable electrified railway system.


It's not as simple as that.

Many domestic flights are connectors to international flights.

Also you can bet it will take 10+ years to build hi speed rail links in this country. Just think how long it took to build the Channel Tunnel link. The only way it would happen fast would be new planning laws but as the FT reminded us this morning we are against new planning laws.

As far back as 1987...Mmm...perhaps. I certainly remember articles very critical of Labour's higher taxation policy they were proposing in 1987 and 1992.

Many domestic flights are connectors to international flights.

Some proposals for high speed railways include links to Heathrow, which presumably would make those connecting flights, also, less necessary.

David Sergeant @ 15.22 - If I understand you correctly, it is very gracious of you, but actually I am not young enough to be your daughter!

Freeborn John @ 17.12 - I couldn't agree more with your whole post, and the first two sentences about the real reason why the BBC and journalists 'want' to see what policies the Conservatives intend to have when in government - so that they can pull them all to shreds - is all too true!!

For a long time now I have been in favour of speeding up planning for major infrastructure projects by offering very attractive CPO's. The cost of not doing something vastly exceeds paying residents say double the market value of their houses. Far better to give people a handsome pay-off and prevent planning blight while getting on with the job.

I agree with every word David Sargeant has said.
I call for patience and am backing the tortoise over the hare. Why on earth would we want to rush our policy thinking and end up making a complete mess of things like Labour has? There will be a Conservative manifesto published when the time comes - I can guarantee it!

"Mr Cameron recently stated he was in favour of high speed rail. High speed trains would eliminate the need for many domestic flights, freeing up some exiting airport capacity for more important long-haul flights."

Is it still conservative policy to support the building of those hover trains?

"Much more important than the immediate slowdown - significant as that may be - is the longer-term uncompetitiveness created by more than a decade of tax, regulation, bureaucratisation and increased welfare dependency."

Which is presumably why Cameron has said he will seek to increase the amount of tax revenue taken (though perhaps not as a % of GDP - we'll see how that works out in a recession) and commit himself to maintaining Labour's spending plans for the first years of his government? Owait-

I have siad i so many times but the FT and Economist (along with the Tories and much of the establishment) backed ERM. None of them are omniscient.


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