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"Serious reform of the ECHR"? Surely you mean reform/repeal of the Human Rights Act?

One significant barrier to mending the broken society has been erected.

Tim observed that Clarke is not just a europhile but is also weak on welfare reform.

Clearly, part of the Faustian pact that Camerosborne have agreed with Clarke is to move Grayling, a welfare reformer, and replace him with May, who doesn't appear to be.

It smacks of Blair's 'Field moment', when Brown finally forced Frank Field out of the cabinet, to protect Labour's welfare vote. The Tories need to have the guts to tackle welfare reform.

What is Wilted Rose going on about? Ken Clarke has the business portfolio not welfare.

And when ever was Frank Field in the Cabinet???

Never confuse opposition with government. The point now is to get ELECTED. I have little doubt that an eventual Cameron Cabinet will look quite different than the current crowd. ECHR "reform" (or more correctly, repeal of the Human Rights Act) is something for government.

It will be very difficult to tackle welfare reform in the middle of a recession, so perhaps the leadership have decided to put that on the backburner.

Surely you mean reform/repeal of the Human Rights Act?

You can't repeal the HRA - we have to have it or something similar to meet our requirements re the ECHR. If we did remove it the courts would get very edgy and lots of problems would arise as a result.

Reform is possible, but it still has to be compatable with the ECHR.


As I said earlier about Hannan's comment, it is still Tory policy to be in Europe. What our involvement is can be up for discussion, but if you want to be on the front bench you need to at least agree that we'd remain part of the EU - at least while policy remains as it is.

With Clarke rebelling against the Conservative whip 33 times, yet all is forgiven and he gets a Front bench job, but there is no room for David Davis , the most effective opposition minister, is cause to give us all concerns about the drift of the Cameron Conservative party, especially when Cameron’s word on the EU is becoming more and more suspect by the day. Then throw in the English question where Clarke doesn't recognise there is such a thing, while David Davis does, makes one more an more alienated from the Conservative party.

Cameron should have brought back David Davis, it shows him up in a poor light that he didn't.

CONfused - OK, Field was a junior minister, not Cabinet. Ejected from the government, then.

Re-read my comment: I am well aware that Clarke has the Shadow Business portfolio. But the point is that Grayling (a welfare reformer) has been moved from Welfare and replaced by May (who isn't a welfare reformer). Bit of a coincidence ?


It is essential we do not back-burner welfare reform. Indeed, one could argue that a deep recession is the ideal time to make deep changes to the culture as the public mindset is more open to radical reform.

The timing is also good as any changes will take effect as we, hopefully, emerge from recession and there are jobs available for those we wish to nudge off welfare to take.

"Cameron should have brought back David Davis, it shows him up in a poor light that he didn't."

I disagree, Iain. To be sure, Davis would be a big hitter - but the fact is, he wasn't sacked by David Cameron - he chose to walk. You cannot simply leave (whether on a whim or a point of principle) and return at a time of your own choosing - however big a beast you may be.

The economy and civil liberties: John Redwood and David Davis. 'Nuff said.


Cameron should never (and, I expected never will) bring back Davis.

Davis' resignation was one of the most bizarre political moves in the last 25 years. He has demonstrated an instability of character that simply makes him entirely unreliable and unsuitable for responsible position.

He has doomed himself to remain a perpetual back bencher.

"You cannot simply leave (whether on a whim or a point of principle) and return at a time of your own choosing - "

It was a point of principle on which the Conservative party was fighting on the same issue. Ken Clarke on the other hand has rebelled against the Conservative whip 33 times, on some of the issues, like the EU Con/Treaty his rebellion was one of the very few votes that allowed Labour to win the day, like over having the Treaty properly debated in Parliament rather than having the guts guillotined out of the debating time.

Its a very strange day that someone fighting on the same ticket as the party, all be it to a greater extent gets sidelined, yet some one who has rebelled against Conservative policy and helps this miserable Government gets promoted. You may be able to rationalise that but I can't.

Absolutely Goldie, this line up is there to get the Conservative Party elected. What happens after is in the lap of the Gods. I think it's an on balance stronger team than we had yesterday but with the exception of Clarke they're hardly radical.
I do expect a more dynamic and better communicated approach but doubt there will be huge change in policy.

If the punchy Eric Pickles WoW performance is a taster of things to come, yes please.
Blew the silly woman away like I've never heard before. Splendid, even better than The Toynbee/Littlejohn put down!!!

As I said earlier about Hannan's comment, it is still Tory policy to be in Europe. What our involvement is can be up for discussion, but if you want to be on the front bench you need to at least agree that we'd remain part of the EU - at least while policy remains as it is.

No Raj, it is not up for discussion. Britain's involvement is defined by the various treaties. What the Conservative policy is on this or any other subject that is EU competence is completely irrelevant. Even if you guys win the next general election you will not be in power. But it looks like having the trappings of power is more important to Conservatives these days than the reality. Pity.

The Human Rights Act primarily incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law and thus makes it easier to obtain the rights guaranteed through UK courts. Repeal would not remove people's main source of objections.

If I understand correctly, signing up to the European Convention on Human Rights is a prerequisite for membership of the Counsil of Europe, which in turn is a prerequisite for membership of the European Union.

The new Shadow Business Secretary is being interviewed on Sky News, and already a Conservative Government seems that bit closer.

Welcome back to the grown ups.

"You can't repeal the HRA - we have to have it or something similar to meet our requirements re the ECHR."

So what happened to the fundamental principle of our constitution that no Parliament can bind its successor parliaments?

“If we did remove it the courts would get very edgy and lots of problems would arise as a result.”

I thought that the judiciary, ultimately, is obliged to implement the laws passed by Parliament approved by Royal Assent. Has this changed?

Anyway, the European Convention of Human Rights is a harmless document with which no sensible could disagree but it is a statement of principles rather than a code of law. The problem is that it has been “developed” in all sorts of ways that its authors never intended by activist judges, both on the Continent and here in the UK. We need replace the HRA by something more definitive and less open to interpretation.

Both Davis and Redwood should have ben brought back. As for Clarke no way.

There are two reasons that Cameron won't employ any "better-off-outers."

1. Not a single one of them is suitable for the front bench.

2. Cameron is a member of the political class, and as such is relatively pro-EU. He has to pretend not to be in order to keep the support of the grass roots.

You'll see I'm right - you can watch the EPP commitment bite the dust after the Euro-elections.

John Moss: "It is essential we do not back-burner welfare reform"

OK John, perhaps you would like to explain to Teresa May how we are going to move over five million people off benefits and into work? because thats how many people we are talking about if you add all the single mums, disabled and others onto the close-on two million that are already finding it impossible to find work.

I was so pleased when James Purnell adopted David Freud's quick-fix plans for welfare reform because I know these plans are 100% doomed to fail and the Conservative party will have to come up with something very different indeed.

The only way to stop people from falling into long-term unemployment is to create fully-waged public works programmes into the benefits system, so that after a given time people are offered a guarantee of real waged work and not workfare.

Teresa May must now reject Labour's egalitarian drive to force the mothers of very young children and the very old into work that simply doesn't exist. Teresa May will be far more successful if she focuses resources on helping those on regular JSA to find pathways into work. As it stands the welfare reform net is being cast too wide to be effective. Its time for realism in welfare reform.

"Cameron is a member of the political class, and as such is relatively pro-EU. He has to pretend not to be in order to keep the support of the grass roots."

You are correct, Resident Leftie, but I question your motives for wring this. Was it to wind up our Tory friends?

Purnell will keep his job if Cameron wins. But we knew knew that anyway.


Davis has made his point about civ-libs and should have been put back in the ShadCab with this reshuffle. He is one of most popular MPs we have and can really appeal to those hard working class voters.

Hard to see, as matters stand, how it could be asserted that the economic team "has been considerably strengthened" when John Redwood - who has contributed regular, accurate and practical economic analysis on his blog ever since Northern Rock - and Michael Fallon remain outside it. In the interests of balance, as with many others I may be wholly out of sympathy with Ken Clarke's views on Europe but have no problem with his return if he punches his weight against the man whom we must now call Lord Mandelson (to use Simon Heffer's description).

"Teresa May must now reject Labour's egalitarian drive to force the mothers of very young children ........ "

Perhaps. But she also needs to come up with policies to discourage single women from having children when they have no means of supporting them other than state [ie taxpayers] hand-outs.

Welfare reform should still go ahead. Of course it will be important to make the reforms sane and humane. We would not get very far with an agenda of cuts right now for those on benefits. In fact as many of you are aware JSA is already one of the worse unemployment benefit rates in the civilised world. I do not expect us to increase it massively, but we have to recognise that part of the reason we have so many people of invalidity payments is in no small part down to the shockingly low income that JSA represents. I would not support a repeat of Maggots 1p rise for those unlucky enough to have lost their jobs. Welfare reform is a big challenge, but we should not lose sight of the fact that most people who become unemployed want to get back into work as soon as possible. Absolutely we must not repeat the mistakes of the Thatcher administration, which means we should not turn the unemployed into scapegoats. Finally lets remember that people who have paid into a National insurance scheme have a right to benefit. Welfare is not a give away or something for nothing, the vast majority of claimants have earned their JSA and deserve better not worse payments from the state.

Of course he's trying to make trouble Davidathome. Best ignored.

Agree totally with The Bishop Swine on welfare reform - the number one way in which one can properly reform the system is by promoting the idea that self-sufficiency and self-respect are worthy, if not essential, aspirations. It is self-defeating to treat the workshy as untermenschen - an attitude that helps no-one, but creates massive divisions within society, rather than offering the opportunity for social mobility by understanding the motivations of the 'have-nots'. Offering more equitable wages and fairer tax breaks for low income earners, a 'welcome, we're glad to have you' ethos by employers, and the (dare I say, oldfashioned) idea that to own one's own home and not have to rely upon others contributes to one's dignity - after all, there's nothing as cold as charity - are good starting-points. It is astonishing how greatly a change in attitude may change a nation.

The first significant test (to my mind) will be the vote on excluding MPs expenses from the Freedom of Information act (this week? or next?)

MPs addresses (and some other info) is already excluded - so this move is just to hide what they spend our money on.

As one of these evil statutory instrument things abstentions count as a vote in favour.

I (for one) will be very disappointed in every MP that seeks to exclude themself from legislation that every one else has to obey...

Its clear than many people on all sides of the political divide are starting to realise that the punitive aspects of welfare reform are counter-productive and will only create an all-around climate of hostility and bad feeling towards any government that tries to implement it.

Treating those on benefit as if they are dishonest and fraudulent is not the way to help people. Sadly the DWP to some extent has become institutionally biased towards those on benefit.

Of course no-one is going to object to positive welfare reform aimed at providing training and pathways into work. Thus far the government has got its attempts at welfare reform horribly wrong. Within the New Deal itself there has been a form of workfare in its mandatory work experience programmes, these programmes lasting from 13-26 weeks, forced people to work a 30 hour week for an extra 15 pounds on top of benefits. In effect that meant people working for 50pence an hour.

Not only was this an exploitative rate of pay but those forced to do the work in order to continue claiming their benefits were being used to stock shelves in supermarkets that had denoted to the Labour party.

No-one would have objected if people had been paid the going rate, but to expect someone to work for 50pence an hour is bound to create resentment and perhaps even led to people moving onto other benefits to avoid being exploited for free labour.

This example shows the problems with workfare as a concept, it can lead to people being used for cheap labour and that in turn undermines those in actual employment.

If government is serious about eradicating long-term unemployment then it must build fully-waged works programmes into the benefits system. Then no-one will ever become lost or exploited in the benefits system again, because after a given time they will be offered waged work for a period of say 12 months.

This is the only way to fight long-term unemployment, because there simply are not enough jobs and there won't be enough jobs in the future unless there is radical change to the way our economy is structured.

Michael Howard has been much under rated in my view. He has actually a fantastic record if you are a Tory. In the 2005 general election he pushed many seats into marginals and he has brought on a lot of talent.

I think Cameron is mad to do this. Why did he not bring back Davis? Bring in Duncan-Smith? Clarke is a man not to be trusted. Grayling replacing Grieve is another mad choice. Should have moved Grayling to DFID, get rid of that total wet Andrew Mithcell. I will consider cancelling my membership.

Sally R

You are right David D walked BUT he did it to make a point and a vital point it is. He should have been given a position in the Shadow Cabinet.

It is my ferverent hope that the next (and the country's next) Conservative Government will roll back the legislation that has led to our loss of freedom.

Now here is the problem - much of that legislation had/has its origins in Brussels and we have to fight the battles face on.


David C. made it clear to D.D. that he could not hold his job open. If he brought him back so soon he would look weak. D.D. rolled the dice and frankly he lost. He had hoped to transform himself into a national hero, but ended up looking rather silly.His judgement is clearly flawed. D.D. may be allowed back onto the centre stage but not for some time to come.

On welfare reform - how about Child Benefit only being payable for the first two children? Unfotunately we could not make this retrospective.

Robert Eve said "On welfare reform - how about Child Benefit only being payable for the first two children? Unfortunately we could not make this retrospective."

I understand where you are coming from on this but it’s not the fault of children. Perhaps we could go are far as raising the benefit rate for the first two children but it would be unfair to push large families into poverty. Of course we have all heard about young women who seem to have an endless number of children to make the most of the welfare state, but I suspect that they are few and far between in reality. It is true that some women get pregnant so they can get into the very limited social housing. The answer here is to build more homes for low income "families" and enforce a first come first served system. Like most welfare reform the truth is that we will need to spend more money in the first place. After WW2 we had a very clear national plan to build housing for rent. At first the houses built were of a very high standard but the need outstripped our National purse. We have built very little social housing over the last twenty years and the result has been a housing price boom. I am a conservative not a socialist, but I do not believe that the market has served us well, in fact this lack of housing is one of the main the reasons our economy is now in such a mess. Of course there will be many who would bulk at a new national housing policy but I am certain that if we do not deal with the shortage soon the economy will lurch from housing boom to housing bust until we do. Rather than giving massive loans to the banks should we not be building homes for our people?

The Bishop Swine, I echo what you say. Sadly, there is a great deal of unjustified animosity whipped up against single mothers on benefit, much of which is fueled by the tabloid press and people-exploiters like Jeremy Kyle, who, incidently, is being paid taxpayers money to advise the government on its welfare reform policy!

Those of us who support the Conservative party must do more to speak out against this type of prejudice against mothers.

The culture of benefit-baiting must end and a genuine attempt must be made to help people on benefits to improve their living standards.

Previously on these forums I have proposed allowing single mothers with primary school age children, the opportunity to draw on a special loan to top up their benefits, which could be paid back at a sensible rate once the mother enters waged work when the children are older. This would allow mothers more time to actually be mothers and end the alienation that many young children must feel when left with childminders or after school clubs.

We talk so often about young people going off the rails, not having a father and having a mother who is often not there because she is working can only make a child feel isolated, unwanted and lead to emotional turmoil.

The madness of trying to force the mothers of young children into work, just to satisfy the social prejudices of the boorish media must end. Let's help these women to be mothers, let's help their children to grow up with a feeling of security and belonging.

Dorothy Wilson @ 16.34 - 'But she also needs to come up with policies to discourage single mothers from having children when they have no means of supporting them other than state(i.e. taxpayers) handouts.'

She - Teresa May - should first persuade girls that getting paralytic with alcohol, so that they have no idea who is impregnating them, is neither fair on the child, who then has to learn who its father is on the Jeremy Kyle Show!, or on the mother herself. Drinking in that way will, inevitably shorten the mother's life, if it becomes a habit.

This government has been thoughtful enough to stop smoking in pubs, but the taxes from alcohol are obviously far too attractive to reduce, by shortening pub/club opening hours. So their thoughtfulness doesn't extend to the damage inflicted by over-indulgence in alcohol (sometimes even death!), both on the drinker themselves, and the public around them!

Patsy, do you really think the Jeremy Kyle show gives a realistic accurate portrayal of single mothers and other benefit claimants in our country? Jeremy Kyle is a vile exploiter of people, just like Jerry Springer and others who make money out of mocking people and exposing their often immature emotions wide open in public.

This sort of people-bating and exploitation for entertainment is absolutely disgusting, and the fact that the Labour government feels Jeremy Kyle is an authority on welfare shows just how out of touch with reality they are.

I can certainly support your call for more to be done to stamp out binge drinking, but to believe that women consciously choose to binge drink in order to get pregnant in order to live off benefits is ridiculous.

Single motherhood is a complicated issue, many mothers are abandoned, others flee abusive relationships, others are involved in marital breakdown or just don't have the maturity to make a relationship work.

We must not tar all these women with the same brush, and we certainly should not use stereotypes and prejudice to abuse and mock people in the way that is seen so often on the Jeremy Kyle show.

Clarke has had to be brought in as the only safe way of easing Osborne out. Osborne continues to be shadow chancellor but as Mandelson has more airtime than Darling so will Clarke than Osborne. Osborne will now appear only when we discuss lower taxes and we know what the policy is on that don't we.
Everything else banks, the recession, unemployment is all Business if we declare it so.

We pay a very high price for Cameron's friendship with Osborne and this is that price. Nothing will be possible in the next parliament unless we have the guts to take a tougher line on Europe and Clarke makes that impossible. Damocles has just put the sword above his own head.

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