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I would go further Tim. At a time when the parties are carefully stage managed and when leaders only refer to party members when they are "running against them" to court floating voters there has to be a way for party supporters to have their voices heard.

Unless politics has become like football, where the supporters are only their to hand over the cash.

This applies to all the major parties, and its a service to the country at large.

The aim is not to make parties unleadable, but to prevent dictatorship.

Totally agree with you Tim. These surveys do tend to give an accurate snapshot of activist members feelings in my experience and it's good that David Cameron knows that even if sometimes he might not like the results.
I was one of those who supported your decision not to publicise the survey prior to the conference.Had Brown known the result I wonder if he might have taken the risk of calling an election? If he'd gone ahead and won we'd be facing 4 more years of these people instead of a little less than two. You should pat yourself on the back for that! You know of course it will be difficult to get away with it again! With any luck you won't have to.
This is the second recent Diary piece which looks back rather wistfully at the past and I was wondering with Jonathan Isaby soon to come on board you're not thinking of giving it up are you? I would really hope not.

I for one have always supported surveys of members and supporters.

Too often political parties act autocratically, by forcing policy positions upon elected members. THEY CANNOT DO THAT ON MEMBERS OR SUPPORTERS.

Surveys are important for party democracy, and will, for example, hopefully change the current stupid and stubborn (for that's what it is) Tory frontbench opposition to tax cuts.

The grassroots knock what makes voters put the X in the right box, whereas party leaderships are often out of touch with what's happening on the ground.

Sorry, I meant the grassroots KNOW what makes voters put the X in the right box...

"My belief is that David Cameron, as leader, deserves loyalty from all Tory members but he doesn't own the party. We deserve our say - a say uncensored by party officials or mainstream media gatekeepers".

I thoroughly agree with this remark, Tim.
It would be interesting to know how much attention CCHQ and the leadership pays to ConHome; some contributors do have a lot of expertise and experience in managing things that many of our MPs do not have.

Any potential Government needs to listen to the views of the whole nation - not just those that voted for it at that election, not just those that have always voted for that party at every election, not just the members, and not just a small self-selecting sample on a blog - they are bound to be more extreme than the population as a whole, and Graeme Archer regularly pulls apart the statistical usefulness of these polls.

So while Cameron might heed the Con Home polls, by no chalk should he slavishly adopt policy to meet them.

I agree with you too Tim, and I suppose I am considered a 'grass roots' member, and I would like to think that what I post on here, when it concerns the Conservative party attitude to something or other, that there might be someone out there who just might notice. Like last night comments that were made on the possibility of English workers and distinct from Scottish workers losing jobs as a result of this merger/take-over.

So many people said that David Cameron would not stand up for English jobs, that I decided, for once, that I wanted to join the majority to urge him not to forget that English people need jobs as much as Scottish people.

If Lloydstsb have to lay-off people it should be done proportionately in the two countries, unfortunately if the Scottish mafia in Westminster have a say, that will not be the case!

I agree WHS that the CH polls should never be deemed binding but at least they give members a voice.

Tim, It is wonderful to hear the reasons for the editor's decisions. I wonder if this is the way forward for the traditional media?

I think that "special interest" surveys, such as those on ConHome, LabourHome etc. can be useful and constructive for party officials, activists, members and potential supporters, particularly if read (even superficially) in conjunction with the respective blogs from which these surveys originate.
The surveys help only to give a general impression of swings of opinion within particular groups of political interests; however, when looked at in conjunction with the more detailed posts in the blogs, they may provide far more information than could ever be gained from even the most detailed survey.
Of course, whether the powers that be are actually humble enough to take note of the comments is an entirely different matter!

A word of caution here: LabourHome's mistake was not actually running the poll by having the Indy splash it accross the front page. Once that was done the flaws in the polls methodology became so obvious that Alex Hilton became the target of people who were able to use those flaws for their own political ends.

By all means run such polls but be very careful in extrapolating any inferences from them. If Tim is not extremely careful such events become what Robert Worcester of MORI called "Voodoo Polls" and have no significance - both statistically and politically - whatsoever.

When I complete the monthly survey and get to the page regarding Shadow Ministers performance, I usually choose "Don't Know" for almost all of them, due to their total invisibility. Many of them I've never even heard of.

But now I have switched to choosing "Very Dissatisfied" for all of them, as invisibility is no longer an honourable option at this stage of the game.

I often suspect that the likes of John Redwood and Peter Lilley have the experience and mental firepower to each make a better shot at any three of the portfolios combined than the current lot of gormless timewasters, in spite of the biassed media comments they would attract.

And why is DOCTOR Liam Fox not back in charge of the Health portfolio?

Also, can't they find an ex-soldier/seaman/RAF (Regular or TA) to do Defence? Andrew Selous was in the TA but I don't know if he's senior enough as an MP.

Following on from my previous comment, Peter Hitchens, Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn combined, are a far more effective Opposition that the whole of the current Shadow Cabinet combined.

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