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« Michael Portillo comes out for Alan Duncan | Main | Are party high-ups conspiring to stop a David Davis leadership? »


Jason Hughes


I think that Sir Malcolm's article illustrates, extremely well, his vision for the party; a vision that I strongly endorse.

Conservative Home is a website with a slogan that mentions ‘neglected conservative beliefs’ and indeed never has this been truer than in recent times, in the aftermath of recent elections.

The Conservative Party is described as a ‘broad church’ quite frequently, and never has this been truer than now. What binds this broad church are the central beliefs that the party has, and I think that Sir Malcolm Rifkind has highlighted these impeccably with his ‘Manifesto for a Conservative Britain.’

Sir Malcolm highlights them as a belief in liberty, a belief in smaller government and maximising freedom and autonomy, tax reform, and the elimination of poverty and deprivation in our great nation. Never has this been truer than now.

With a Conservative Party that shown sure signs of recovery in recent months, capturing 33 seats in Parliament, these core beliefs are of fundamental importance. Sir Malcolm’s article goes on to spotlight the ‘artificial’ nature of the New Labour movement, and this is what we must focus on, from now on.

Sir Malcolm says that the party needs to change, to evolve, and never has this been truer than now. Changing does not mean abandoning our identity, and our core beliefs, but it means readying ourselves for government, because there is more at stake than just our party, there is the welfare of the nation to consider also. To be a good candidate for government we do need to change, and the influx of new, fresh members of parliament will help us do so.

Individual freedom, justice, liberty, private property, smaller state interference, enterprise, independence, tradition inheritance and morality are jeopardised if we do not strike at the heart of this ‘artificial’ New Labour movement, and I shudder to ponder the future of our country if we fail in this task.

Here we see a fundamental prospectus for a Conservative Britain, one which all conservatives can be proud of.

Sir Malcolm speaks of the Battle of Ideas in his article. We must prepare ourselves for battle with – in my opinion – Sir Malcolm Rifkind at the helm.

Yours always,

Jason Hughes

Peter Littleton

As the previous commentator states, Sir Malcolm Rifkind's four point manifesto, sets out a conservative vision for Britain, which I can see that the Party would be able to unite around.

However, increasingly the leadership question need not be determined purely on political standpoint. As the inevitable manouvering begins, it is becoming increasingly obvious that there is going to be a very broad range of candidates jostling for position in this leadership battle. From John Redwood on the right wing through to Alan Duncan on the liberal wing, a full spectrum of characters can be found.

This leaves us with the luxury of being able to discuss broader characteristics which the Party leader needs. With campaigns ever more focussed on the Party chiefs, we need someone who plays well on the television, and comes across as Prime Ministerial. Also, having maximised the 'core vote' at this election, our next leader needs to have the ability to appeal to a wider electorate.

And not to be forgotten, perhaps Michael Howard's greatest gift to the Conservative Party, was his ability to unite both the Parliamentary Party and the grass roots, in a way, which hasn't been seen since the height of Mrs Thatcher's leadership. This naturally involves bringing together all these groups in the shadow cabinet. But in addition to this, having found a consensual line, the leader must then have the authority to enforce, as was seen in the Howard Flight affair. This was possibly the greatest difference between Michael Howard and IDS.

In choosing a new leader, we must give consideration to the future direction of Party policy, of course! However, once decided, it is absolutely essential that we choose the right person to implement it.

With the economy heading into downturn, and the Labour left in the ascendant, there will be a real opportunity to subject the Labour party to a crushing defeat in 4 or 5 years. It is crucial that we choose the right leader to capitalise, or the chance could pass us by.

Peter Littleton

Simon C

Picking the right leader is of course essential - but his (a woman seems unlikely this time) task will be a whole lot easier if we can have an open debate before we select the leader and identify a credible strategy to win next time, around which we can build a consensus and unite the party.

We have about 4 or 5 months before the leadership election starts for real (although the contenders will be running a pre-campaign now) - let's make the most of that.

James Hellyer

What makes you think that Sir Malcolm Rifkind will be any better at attracting back former Conservative voters than Michael Howard has been?

Only the other evening, Newsnight was describing him as "a Michael Howard Tribute Band."

Shouldn't we move on from the Major era and look to the future?

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