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« YouGov survey boosts Davis, deflates Clarke | Main | Liam Fox gets on with his job »



Willets seems to be the only person to really be putting decent ideas out there.


Agreed. I was horrified by David Davis suggestion that basically the Tories should not reach than further than their core vote.


Old Two Berains is off again. The people he is trying to reach will be either bored or not up to finding the time to relly understand what he is saying. Keep it simple, keep it Tory. Clear vision needed by Firm Tories now .No such thing as common mid ground.


"Keep it simple, keep it Tory. Clear vision needed by Firm Tories now .No such thing as common mid ground."

Absolutely, we only need 33% of voters to win the next election...


Stephen I'm assuming you weren't paying attention at the last 3 general elections. The bits where we lost I mean

Mark O'Brien

David Willetts is absolutely right about Britain being Europe's sick society. I'm from a poor council estate in the north and I know the characteristics of our sick society all too well.

But when Willetts talks he begins to sound like all those socialists who want the government to solve all of society's problems by directly managing the worst areas of the country, rather than simply setting the processes in motion that will help our society develop better.

I hope I'm wrong with my analysis because David Willetts is the only Conservative I know who is consistent in championing the cause of making our whole society a better place, not just the leafy suburbs in the south who vote for us.



I don't think you need to worry that DW wants to manage things from the centre.

His emphasis on school choice, New York-style crime fighting and welfare reform is distinctly conservative. But he's not a small state fundamentalist. He believes, absolutely correctly, that you have to rebuild civil society - and cut the demand for government - before you can precipitately cut the supply of government services. The small state fundamentalists believe that government has no role in helping to rebuild civil society. I think they're wrong. Support for marriage, channelling no-strings-funding to community-rooted charities and welfare measures that encourage independent living, are all positive things that government can do.

James Hellyer

I personally think Willets is on the right track. Like Oliver Letwin, with his brand of "foundationalist" conservatism, he seems to want to strengthen civil society institutions.

I think this is a bold way forward for Conservatism that is entirely in keeping with key principles. For example, reducing crime "zero tolerance" style, can make areas safe for the people who live in them and allow communities to reform (as was the experience in New York).

Scott Campbell at Blithering Bunny

>I was horrified by David Davis suggestion that basically the Tories should not reach than further than their core vote.

What's he saying is that the Tories need to improve their selling of their core views to more people, esp. the working class. This has been successful in America and Australia. Turning towards the centre is no guarantee of success.

(Having said that, Editor's suggestions immediately above sound all right to me and, I suspect, most right-wing Tories).


Tim, do you not think that the developments you mention give the impression of buck-passing?

Mark O'Brien

Edward, it's not passing the buck. It's accepting that the State can not do everything and that the way it has been doing things for the past sixty years has been destroying our society.

In business, the most effective managers share responsibilities between their subordinates rather than try to take everything on themselves and micro-manage the whole operation. I hate using business-speak to drive home the point, but that should be the ambition of conservatives everywhere.

Andrew Ian Dodge

Well the Tory Party has been doing a lousy job of reaching out to their core voters. During the GE I encountered quite a few Tory voters who were unhappy with the lack of courage on the issue of taxation. This came up over and over again. This was from both party members and Tory voters.

Mark O'Brien

What is surprising to me is that few bright Conservative thinkers are able to grasp the point that it is so easy to be more courageous on core issues like taxation whilst embracing the kind of social reform agenda that David Willetts is calling for. School vouchers would reduce the size and scope of the State bureaucracy whilst empowering some of the poorest parents in Britain. That appeases small government conservatives and social reformists at the same time. What's more, there is a real wealth of policy ideas just like this that can bring together all conservatives.


I agree that what Willets is saying should be a main plank of the campaign for government, i just worry about presentation because i don't want it to go the same way as back to basics

Mark O'Brien

Edward, it shouldn't, because Willetts's designs are about changing society, whereas back to basics was about changing the habits of individuals. And it's much easier for the press to find a Tory backbencher who does something distinctly opposite to the intentions of back to basics (I'm trying not to be too rude here!) than it is to find one who makes some decision in his personal life that contradicts Willetts's ideas. Are you suggesting that we shall end up in a position where backbenchers in a Willetts government will be outed by The Mirror for having failed to give enough money to a certain local charity in the last few months.

You're absolutely right though that presentation is an important matter. We could call for the introduction of a flat-rate of income tax, school vouchers or any such plan and if we didn't get in there first, then Labour would say that it's all just to line the pockets of the richer parts of our society. If presentation was good (and let's be fair, it's been lacking at central office for quite a while) then our campaign would prove much brighter and much more hopeful.


I agree I'm just trying to test some of the ideas to destruction, the reason why New Labour is so awful is its obsession with presentation


How ?

Did the Child Support Agency reduce bureaucracy Peter Lilley ?

I fail to see how School Vouchers reduce bureaucracy ? who is going to issue them ? Tesco ?

You think any Government will dish out £5000 Vouchers without any scrutiny - that is an amount equal to 3 months gross income for the average family so for an average income household with 4 children it would be a year's gross income !

It would be superb if politicians could work bottom-up rather than think-tank-down; maybe stop listening to PR consultancies where the uninformed advise the ignorant..........too few people know the nuts and bolts of how the system works


Be nice to find one that conforms to this theoretical approach. Most business is personality-driven to optimise a personal agenda; and don't ever try work under matrix management unless you are completely pliable

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