Nominations for Patriot

PatriotPatriotism, literally, means ‘love of ‘father’-land’.  This eleventh award of the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards seeks to award a conservative who has acted upon their love of country in a significant way.  Your nominations and citations are sought for someone who understands the first duty of government to defend the realm, to stand up for the unity of the kingdom or believes that too many powers have been surrendered to supranational bureaucracies.  This award might be, for example, suitable for a regular author, a blogger, a campaigner or a parliamentarian.

Tomorrow we'll be opening nominations for the compassionate conservative award.

Nominations for Environmental Champion

EnvironmentalchampionToday is day ten of the nominations process and this tenth award - for an environmental champion within the conservative movement - illustrates the evolving priorities of the party and movement.  Yesterday we sought nominations for a taxcutter.  Tomorrow it will be for a patriot and on Friday it'll be our compassionate conservatism award.

This award could recognise a politician who has championed the environment...or a local council... or a green-minded think tank.

When you make your nomination please remember to add a citation of not more than thirty words explaining your suggestion.

Nominations for Taxcutter

TaxcutterToday we begin seeking nominations for the final third of the twelve Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards and if Hollywood has its 'message movies' these are our 'message awards'.

Tomorrow we'll be seeking nominations for outstanding contribution to the environment, then patriot of the year and then social justice.  Taken with today's Taxcutter award the four categories neatly underline the 'politics of and'.

Targeted tax relief
is a key belief of ConservativeHome.  Low tax economies tend to be high growth economies.  It is morally right that people are rewarded for hard work and initiative by keeping a lion's share of their earnings.  And, as this incompetent Labour administration has shown, governments do not take good care of taxpayers' money.

In this awards category we are looking for political or thought leaders who make the moral, intellectual and practical case for lower taxation.  We are also open to awarding Conservative or other councils who have limited the tax burden on local people.  Your nominations and citations should be posted on the thread below please.

Nominations for Contribution to Culture

ContributiontocultureIn the 1960s American conservatives decided to become dominant in politics.  At the same time the American left decided to become dominant in culture.  Both achieved their aims.  American conservatives currently have a majority in both Houses of Congress and they have the Presidency.  They almost have a majority on the Supreme Court following the recent appointments of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito.  But the left are dominant in culture.  Hollywood, for example, provides the political left with an MGM lion's share of its funds.  Tinseltown is no longer home to the likes of Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne and Ronald Reagan.

As Britain's conservative movement develops we cannot afford to win the battle for Westminster but lose the battle of the playhouses, cinemas and television screens.  This award is one of the most important.  It is a reminder that conservatism must not become too political.  Who deserves to be recognised for a conservative contribution to culture?

  • A blogging critic of the BBC?
  • Michael Gove for his contributions to Newsnight's Late Review?
  • Tim Sainsbury for his sponsorship of Christian art?

What do you think?

Nominations for New Technology

NewtechnologyCategory seven in the Conservative Movement Awards concerns use of technology...

...a good blog or podcast...
...a successful viral email campaign...
...a standout website...
...advanced search engine management...

Tomorrow nominations will open for the 'Contribution to Culture' award.

Nominations for Unlikely Ally

UnlikelyallyThis sixth category in ConservativeHome's inaugural awards programme is for an 'Unlikely Ally'.

Through this award we are looking to recognise someone or some organisation who is not associated with the conservative movement (and may not want to be!) but has made a positive contribution to the idea of the family, smaller government, the nation state or some other principle dear to conservatives.

Charles Clarke, Patricia Hewitt and John Prescott have, of course, given generously to the cause of Conservatism in recent days but we are not thinking of awarding them.  We are looking to make a positive award...

Nominations for One-To-Watch

Onetowatch Today is the fifth day of the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards and nominations are sought for an awards category suggested by Matthew Sinclair - One-To-Watch.

We're not looking in this category for the best writer or best parliamentarian or best blogger but an individual or group or idea that could be influential in the coming months or year.

Yesterday we sought nominations for 'Local Hero' and weren't exactly overwhelmed with suggestions... That category and all categories are open until 10th May if inspiration strikes you!

Tomorrow - Saturday - nominations will open for Peter Franklin's 'Unlikely Ally' category...

Nominations for Local Hero

LocalheroYour nominations and citations are sought for the 'Local Hero' award of the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards.  This award seeks to award someone who has championed the 'small is beautiful' tradition within conservatism.  It might be an outstanding local councillor or council.  It might be a local campaigner who has taken on overmighty bureaucracy.  It might be someone or some group that has championed localisation.  Please submit your ideas on the comments thread below.

Yesterday we sought nominations for 'National Campaign'.  Tomorrow we'll be focusing on 'One To Watch'.

Nominations for National Campaign

Nationalcampaign_1 Today is the third day of nominations for the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards.  On Monday we sought nominations for 'Best Writing' and yesterday for an 'Outstanding Parliamentarian'.  All nomination categories will remain open until 10th May.

Please use the space below to make your nomination and write a brief citation of no more than thirty words on who you think should win the Best National Campaign Award.  The campaign could be ongoing effort or could already have achieved success.  This award aims to recognise those in the conservative movement who realise that publishing a worthy pamphlet does not amount to a serious engagement with public opinion.  This award aims to encourage those individuals, organisations or media outlets that have attempted to achieve a sustainable change in public opinion or public policy.

Tomorrow we'll seek nominations for the 'Local Hero Award'.

Nominations for Outstanding Parliamentarian

Outstandingparliamentarian Today is the second day of nominations for the Inaugural Conservative Movement AwardsThe conservative movement is defined in a new briefing on the ten points blog.  Yesterday we sought nominations for 'Best Writing' and all nomination categories will remain open until 10th May.  We'll be seeking nominations for Best National Campaign tomorrow.

Please use the space below to make your nomination and write a brief citation of no more than thirty words on who you think should win the Outstanding Parliamentarian Award.  The parliamentarian could be a member of the Commons, Lords, European Parliament or any of the devolved assemblies.  Ideally they will have made an exceptional contribution in the last twelve months.

A judging panel (to be announced) will then choose three nominations from each of the twelve categories and participants in May's ConservativeHome Members' Panel will vote on each category.  The awards will be presented at a forthcoming awards ceremony in London.

Nominations for Best Writing

Over the next twelve days ConservativeHome will be seeking your nominations and citations for twelve award categories.  These categories (listed yesterday) are part of the Inaugural Conservative Movement AwardsThe conservative movement is defined in a new briefing on the ten points blog.

Bestwriting The award nominations open today with a search for the Best Writer.  We'll be seeking nominations for Outstanding Parliamentarian tomorrow.

Please use the space below to make your nomination and write a brief citation of no more than thirty words on who you think should win the best writing award.  It might be a columnist, an author, a speechwriter or even a blog which hosts a group of writers.

ConservativeHome is barred from being nominated for any of its own awards so the example below illustrates what we are seeking in the thread below...


Citation: For providing an insightful daily commentary on the Conservative Party's personalities, tactics and strategy and for reminding conservatives that conservatism is bigger than the Tory party.

A judging panel (to be announced) will then choose three nominations from each of the twelve categories and participants in May's ConservativeHome Members' Panel will vote on each category.  The awards will be presented at an awards ceremony in London, in June.

Awards categories for the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards

Awards_9 Starting tomorrow - with the Best Writer of the Year award category - ConservativeHome will be seeking your nominations for the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards.  After much discussion on this blog (here and here) there will be twelve award categories for readers to decide...

  1. Best Writer
  2. Outstanding Parliamentarian
  3. National Campaign
  4. Local Heroism
  5. One-To-Watch
  6. Unlikely Ally
  7. New Technology
  8. Contribution to Culture
  9. Taxcutter
  10. Environmental
  11. Patriot
  12. Compassionate Conservative

In addition the Editor of ConservativeHome will award an international conservative and a lifetime achiever.

Continue reading "Awards categories for the Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards" »

Categories for the Conservative Movement Awards (Draft 2)

Awards_5Thanks for all of yesterday's comments about ConservativeHome's Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards.  Listed below are my revised suggestions for the Award categories:

'Local Hero Award' - I think we should stick with this category.  Although it might be used to recognise a good Tory councillor - as first suggested by Richard Bailey - there should be room to nominate an excellent, non-partisan local campaigner or a more independent organisation.

'Blogger Award' - we'll keep this award, too, as the whole idea of insurgent blogging is close to ConservativeHome's heart!

'Use Of New Technology Award' - this could cover a clever viral email campaign or an innovative website.  Thank you, Jules, for underlining the importance of this type of award.

'Best Writing Award' - this, as widely suggested by Andrew Woodman and others, merges my initial suggestion of separate awards for a columnist and author.

'Unlikely Ally Award' - I don't think the name of this is quite right but I like Peter Franklin's idea that we should reward people who are clearly outside of the big 'C' Conservative fold.

'Cultural Award' - the title of this one isn't quite right either but Stephen B's suggestion of a cultural focus is important.  ConservativeHomers' interest in movies etc was illustrated in a recent thread on right-wing plays.  This Award replaces the more bland idea of a 'broadcast category'.

'Lifetime Achievement Award' - Thank you, Geoff, for that one.  This category, Carolyn, might provide the opportunity to reward those "unsung heroes" who have given much of their lives to causes like the Conservative Party.  This will neatly balance the 'One To Watch Award'.  This partly reflects Matthew Sinclair's observation that newstart blogs should, perhaps, be awarded separately from established blogs that might attract more votes.  A 'One To Watch' category would cover more possibilities than blogs, however.

The 'Wooden Spoon' award has been dropped by popular demand!  The international award will also go as we're in danger of too many awards and it would be perfectly possible for an international group or person to win under one of the general categories.  I liked the idea of rewarding "Conversions", "Boomerangs", "Blue Sky Thinking", "Tax-Cutting" or "Courage Under Fire" but the awards ceremony can't go on all night!  We'll keep my initial ideas of awards for 'Campaigner of the Year' and 'Parliamentarian of the Year' - which take the total number of awards to ten - unless you use this thread to persuade me otherwise...

The Inaugural Conservative Movement Awards

Beyond the Conservative Party are...

  • think tanks who generate the policy ideas of tomorrow...
  • campaigning organisations that take up causes that are too difficult for the Tory Party...
  • thought-leaders who inspire young minds to become conservatives...
  • bloggers who tease authority and fact-check the media...
  • columnists who, without the need to be elected, uncompromisingly defend conservative ideas...
  • local heroes who fight heavy-handed public sector bureaucracies...

Parts of the conservative movement may sometimes find themselves at odds with the Conservative Party but, for most of the time, the movement's long-term health is vital for the success of the Conservative Party.  The movement works in the world of ideas, activism and media - preparing the ground for the success of conservative causes like individual freedom, small government, religious liberty and the independence of the family.

Awards_1's Inaugural Awards will seek to recognise the heroes of the conservative movement and, by placing a particular emphasis on internet technologies, encourage a stronger and more dynamic movement.

The four stages of the Awards programme are described in the graphic on the right.  The programme will conclude in June at a ceremony in London where one of the awards will be presented by Iain Duncan Smith.

Stage one begins today with an invitation to readers of ConservativeHome to decide upon the awards categories.  Eight to ten categories appear a sensible number and some suggestions for categories are listed below:

  • A campaigning organisation…
  • A blogger…
  • A parliamentarian…
  • A columnist…
  • An author….
  • A think tank…
  • A broadcast programme…
  • A local hero...
  • An international achiever...
  • Wooden spoon of the year...

What do you think?

CCHQ becomes blog-friendly

ToryradioIt's been a good week for Tory bloggers and the willingness of the Conservative Party to engage with us.   ToryRadio has formally launched with an interview with Party Vice-Chairman Grant Shapps.  Grant is responsible for e-campaigning so it was a good first interview for the man behind ToryRadio - the recently-married Jonathan Sheppard

Yesterday CCHQ gave ConservativeHome a scoop on Chishti - The Movie and this morning David Cameron has written exclusively for ConservativeHome about his first 100 days.  Earlier this week a senior official at CCHQ gave me a briefing on the forthcoming local elections (about which I intend to post very shortly).  It was the first of a number of outreach initiatives to bloggers and the wider 'Tory web community' organised by Francis Maude.  Some of the Tory Chairman's critics might like to remember that when they next vote in the ConservativeHome Members' Panel!  The US Republican and Democrat parties already organise regular briefings for online members of the conservative movement.

If you are a blogger or run a non-party website that engages with political issues and would like to be included in Francis Maude's blogger briefings please email me at [email protected].

What is a right-wing play?

There was a really interesting discussion on Radio 4's Today programme this morning.  Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, wants to see more "right-wing" plays.

On Monday this site hosted a discussion on whether the left or right were dominant in politics.  What is incontestable is that the liberal left are dominant in the arts.

American conservatives are much more aware of the seriousness of the politicisation of the conservative movement.  In the 1960s the American left decided to take over the commanding heights of the culture - including Hollywood - and the right plotted to dominate politics.  Both won... but it is probably the left which won the greater prize.  Politics is downstream from culture and the social conservatives are now investing hundreds of millions of dollars in fighting back.  The Passion of the Christ and Narnia were big budget products of this fightback.  A blockbuster film on William Wilberforce is in the pipeline - part-funded with money from Christian business leaders.

Emergingmovement_4_4 The big question I want to leave you with is this, however: What is a right-wing film/ play/ book?  Many libertarian right-wingers will, of course, disagree with socially conservative right-wingers but we know what left-wing plays look like - they are anti-family, anti-business, anti-American...

In Monday's thread I said that "the Tory Party can't be expected to do all of the work itself" in turning public opinion on issues like tax.  But political campaigns cannot do all the work either.  The arts challenge the status quo but, as Today noted this morning, the status quo is now very left-wing - for many years rejecting plays like Ian Curteis' Falklands drama.  What can be done?

Is the centre left winning?

Therighthascollapsed_1Jackie Ashley - wrtiting in this morning's Guardian - thinks that "the centre-left has finally achieved what New Labour used to talk about, and become dominant - not just in one party but in all three of them":

"Parties may be congregating on the centre ground but the right in Britain has virtually collapsed. That truth has been hidden by the spectacular media love-in for David Cameron, and the (modest) revival in Tory fortunes now that the party is led by an affable young moderate. But I cannot be the only one beginning to wonder whether Cameron knows what he is doing - and what he has already, in part, achieved. He may be slightly more of an electoral threat to Labour. But he is no ideological threat of any kind, not now.

Blair had to face, in the Tory party of Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard, an opponent making much of immigration, Europe, the evil of higher taxes - and Labour flinched time and again in response. Now we have Cameron, promising that the real test is how much Tory policies "help the most disadvantaged in society, not the rich", and asserting "it is our moral obligation to make poverty history". He has shut up about immigration. He has shut up about Europe. He has shut up about cutting taxes."

There is, of course, much truth to Ms Ashley's words.  Even before David Cameron became Tory leader, the Conservative Party had already accepted much of New Labour's reforms: the minimum wage, devolution to Edinburgh, Bank of England independence and much greater public spending.  David Cameron has accepted more changes - most notably a cautious approach to tax.  During the same period the Tories have also had an impact on New Labour, however.  Governing by proxy the Tories have forced the government to become more Eurosceptic, tougher on crime and tougher on immigration - all for fear of allowing the Conservatives to have a monopoly on those core issues.

It is also a bit of a stretch for Ms Ashley to maintain that the very fact that the Tories are talking about social justice and international poverty is a victory for the centre left.  It will only become a victory if Team Cameron end up with policies that mimic the centre left.  That hopefully won't happen.  IDS - chairing David Cameron's social justice policy group - is likely to emphasise support for marriage, welfare reform and a much bigger role for community-based social enterprise.  Peter Lilley - chairing the globalisation policy group -  is an instinctive free marketeer and will probably emphasise trade as the best hope for the world's poorest and hungriest people.

The commitment to police reform is also a sign that David Cameron is willing to tackle vested interests and some see his support for tuition fees as more in tune with an authentic conservative belief that users should co-pay for the services they consume.

Emergingmovement_4_3It is true, however, that David Cameron appears reluctant to invest his political capital in persuading the public of the need to, for example, reduce the burden of tax on British business or reverse the transfer of more and more powers to Brussels.  That work will need to be done by groups outside of the Conservative Party.  It is one of the great weaknesses of the British political scene that the conservative infrastructure is so weak compared to that which nourishes America's Republican Party.  The conservative infrastructure of think tanks, campaigning groups, blogs and other new media can play a vital role in preparing public acceptance of difficult, but necessary, reforms.  In the face of hostility from the current liberal-left establishment the Tory Party can't be expected to do all of the work itself.

Greater progress (or more conservatism) is needed to save Cameron from a right-wing backlash

ObornePeter Oborne, on his weekly Spectator perch, is in no doubt that David Cameron caused the fall of Charles Kennedy:

"Kennedy has been ‘boozing’ (i.e., enjoying the odd glass of beer or whisky, and occasionally letting his hair down in private) for years. He would have been allowed to carry on in the same merry vein into the next general election except for just one thing: the sudden emergence of a popular Conservative leader who threatened to reverse the Lib Dem gains of the last decade. David Cameron was Kennedy’s undoing, not secret bingeing."

Blair_with_lab_background_2Mr Oborne notes that Mr Blair is Mr Cameron's latest target.  Mr Cameron hopes to divorce Mr Blair from the mainstream of the parliamentary Labour Party by supporting the Prime Minister's education reforms. Mr Blair tried to escape being too close to the bipartisan Mr Cameron on the education bill by taunting the Tories over their support for grammar schools.  This, Mr Blair hoped, would be enough to reassure his backbenchers that he was sufficiently different from the new Tory leader.  Faced with these tactics Mr Cameron had a choice, Mr Oborne argues:

(1) Keep traditional Conservative policy on selection and grammar school education or...

(2) Ditch Conservative policy and stick close to the Prime Minister.

We all know that Mr Cameron chose option (2).  Mr Oborne notes that "Cameron has been forced to set aside a valuable article of Conservative belief, laying himself open to attack from the Right".  That attack came immediately from The Telegraph and last night from Norman Tebbit.

On last night's Question Time Lord Tebbit warned that Mr Cameron's rush to the increasingly crowded centre posed real dangers for the Tories:

"The danger for him is that that if he moves the Tory party on to this mythical central ground that he will finish in a dogfight with the Liberals and New Labour, all of whom would be saying things which were very similar to each other.  That would leave a lot of people on the Right of politics - voters - feeling disenfranchised in the same way that Tony Blair has left a lot of people on the Left of politics feeling disenfranchised." 

GarlandcartoonThe Cameroonies may hope that The Right has nowhere to go but that's not true.  Some may go to UKIP.  Some (hopefully very few) may even be tempted by nationalist parties.  Much more likely is that many will sit on their hands and stay away from the polling booths.

Discontented small 'c' conservatives may even join campaigns like those that will be run by emerging groups like the enormously promising Taxpayers' Alliance.  James Frayne used an article on the must-read Spectator blog to describe the Alliance's unfolding agenda.  Britain has long lacked a conservative movement to hold the Conservative Party to its historic tasks.  The combination of a more consensual, centrist Conservative Party and the possibilities of internet-based mobilisation may have created the possibility for such a movement to begin to emerge.  This will be a theme that ConservativeHome will be examining in detail over coming weeks.

The one bone that Mr Cameron seems doggedly determined to throw to The Right is his EPP pledge.  Today's Telegraph reports that MEPs who do not toe the new leadership's line will not be permitted to stand as Conservative candidates at the next European elections.   The Eurosceptic Right must insist that exit from the EPP is the beginning of  Mr Cameron's Euroscepticism - not its end.  In itself it does nothing to give Britain more independence from the Brussels superstate.  One policy that would have been good for British sovereignty and our marine environment - repatriation of fishing policy - has already been sunk.

Defenders of Mr Cameron's centrism nonetheless point to the LibDem leadership crisis and opinion poll advances as justification for the Tory repositioning.  Core Conservatives may accept that the interests of the Conservative Party sometimes require some dilution of conservatism but their loyalty can only be stretched so far.  If it is stretched much further there will be a backlash.  It will be a mighty backlash if the LibDems end up choosing a more dynamic leader than Charles Kennedy and the Tories fails to move appreciably ahead of Labour.

Tony Blair is telling his party not to panic.  Labour insiders note that the Government still enjoys big leads on crime and security issues and although David Cameron has only enjoyed good publicity in his first six weeks he remains level-pegging with Labour in overall voting intentions.  What's more, Labour believe, all of David Cameron's really difficult policy decisions lie ahead of him...

Let's get back to The And Theory, Mr Cameron

Conservativehomeeditorial_2Since becoming leader David Cameron has championed one progressive cause after another...

And today the new Tory leader turns to equal opportunities for women.  Speaking on the thirtieth anniversary of the Equal Pay Act Mr Cameron issued the following statement:

“After thirty years of the Equal Pay Act, women’s pay is still nearly a fifth lower than men’s – and for women working part-time, the pay gap is around 40%.  This persistent injustice makes child poverty worse, prevents women in our society from reaching their full potential, and contributes to poverty in old age for many women who have worked hard all their lives.
“It is totally unacceptable in a modern, civilised society for there to be a pay gap between men and women doing equivalent work.  It is morally wrong, quite apart from the practical problems it creates.  There has been far too much complacency over this issue: the battle for equal pay still has to be won.
“One of the most powerful weapons in the battle for equal pay is transparency.  If all employers were to be more open about what they pay their employees, there would be fewer hiding places for discrimination – whether intended or accidental.
“That’s why we are today releasing a note that reviews the issue and sets out the case for transparency, with employers playing a leading role. I am delighted that Francis Maude is going to consider ways of how best to address this issue in his ongoing review of the Conservative Party’s organisation.
“We’re all in this together: we will never tackle the scandal of unequal pay by leaving it to legislation and regulation.  Employers can show leadership, and we as a society can change our cultural attitudes to pay by being much more open about this crucial issue that affects so many individuals and families.”

This approach is winning rave reviews amongst Britain's new establishment and is undoubtedly contributing to the opinion poll leads that the Tories are starting to enjoy.

Mr Cameron has yet to give much attention to more traditional Tory issues, however - like the tax burden, early prison release programmes (the danger of which was shown up by the Monckton case), localism and family values.  A leader in The Telegraph calls on Mr Cameron to remain faithful to his EPP pledge after a growing number of Old Europeans on the Tory benches have organised to torpedo it.

It is unfortunate that Mr Cameron's very necessary and correct commitment to progressive or justice causes is not being seen to be anchored in the And Theory Of Conservatism.  The And Theory (which he used throughout his leadership bid) can act as an important discipline on the Tory party - anchoring modernisers in traditional Tory beliefs and encouraging core vote Tories into broader, more progressive policy areas.   The danger of not consistently linking Euroscepticism to global poverty relief, for example, or the empowerment of the poor with targeted tax relief is that the media establishment will cry foul when (hopefully) the party does give these issues fair emphasis in the future.

Mr Cameron needs to make it clear that he is a 'total conservative'.  A conservative who believes in lower taxes, Euroscepticism and a tough approach to crime as well as in fighting global poverty and saving the environment.  Much of the media do not understand that these sets of belief are perfectly compatible but Mr Cameron has not yet given a big speech which explains that they are.  That speech - and a supportive strategy - needs to come soon.

Taxpayers_allianceIn the meantime it is left to other groups to champion 'core vote' concerns.  The excellent Taxpayers' Alliance receives coverage in this morning's Mail, Express and Sun for its report on government non-jobs.  The report written by Peter Cuthbertson is welcomed in a Sun leader.  Andrew Green of Migration Watch UK was on Today this morning, pointing out failures in Labour's immigration policies.

Migration_watch_ukThe Taxpayers' Alliance and Migration Watch are rare examples of effective campaigning groups that could loosely be described as small 'c' conservative or right-of-centre.   The American conservative infrastructure is many times better organised and more powerful.  It can defeat the Republican Party when it betrays its values as President Bush appeared to do with his aborted nomination of Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court.  Britain's conservative infrastructure is currently weak and it must become much stronger.  It must become stronger in two complementary ways:

  1. It must help David Cameron to embed progressive causes like poverty relief within the Conservative Party.  Groups like the Centre for Social Justice and New Ground are examples here.
  2. It must also develop more effective groups that campaign for the more traditional conservative beliefs - like small government, decentralisation and family values.