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« Michael Heseltine encourages a vote for 'the bloke' | Main | Gay Duncan versus illegitimate Davis »


Nick Rogers

At last! This is the guy we need.

Passing through

Arnold Schwartzenegger seems to be making much headway in California with a heady mixture of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, pretty much the exact opposite of the concoction being dolled out by the Whitehouse.

EU Serf

As I asked on the Davis for Leadership blog, if Alan Duncan as leader, if it really means that there is no reason left to vote liberal democrat, where does that leave us real Conservatives?

The Lib Dems of the teenagers of politics, no real policies, all tantrums and image. If he is going to attract the people that really like what the Lib Dems offer, I'm off to another party.

Mark Higgins

And Alan duncan has now followed that article in the Daily telegraph with an excellent speech available on the conservative party website. Again, he's another signing up to the social justice vision, but out of all the social justice candidates he is the most acceptable. More charisma than David Willetts, and without the baggage or the age of Sir Malcolm Rifkind. I shall nail my colours to the mast: Alan Duncan's our man!

Mark Higgins

And before we all start panicking about the Liberal Democrat references in the daily telegraph article, read the speech which puts them in context. he is not saying we should become the Lib dems, far from it. In fact, there is a healthy dose of Euroscepticism in there. He is saying that we should triumph so soundly in the battle of ideas that nobody has a reason to vote Lib Dem anymore, and those sentiments are right on the money as far as I'm concerned.


Did you see him in that tv programme where he was supposed to be helping disaffacted youths? The team leader was really trying, but he was so busy prancing about he wasn't able to connect with any of the kids at all. It's really sad that he even dares to stand. But I suppose these words will be seen as petty point-scoring.

For goodness sake, do you have any idea how ridiculous he seems to normal human beings?

Mark Higgins

I consider myself a normal human being at present but will keep you posted, Buxtehude. I saw Alan Duncan on "election Fighting talk" on radio 5 Live, and I thought he was very good although dare I say not as funny as Stephen Pound?

A lot of the normal human beings who are not members of the Tory party whom I meet every day have also until now been expressing amazement that Mr Duncan was not talked of more as a worthy successor to Michael Howard.

Finally, the substance of his vision seems, as I've said before, right on the money.


Duncan has made some good speeches and some good points when they were needed but I find this "nasty" and "socially distateful" mania a pretty disgusting slur on the party's ethos.

Far and away the main reason why I think people like Duncan and May have fallen prey to this perception is that it is a perception created by the Left and terminally misrepresenting (and intolerantly nasty I'd say) mouthpieces such as the egregious Ms.Toynbee.
Despite Michael Howard's heroic stance on immigration he was extremely cautious on social issues and didn't seem to make any headway for his successor. As a result the broadcast media is willfully trumpeting the moral abandonment and implosion mentality that Duncan et al. seem to be offering for a society in which family breakdown, fatherlessness, STDs, teenage pregnancies and underage sex remain unaddressed by the 1960s reactionary mindset of the incumbent establishment.


I am Gay and a UKIP supporter. Would I support Alan Duncan? Not on your nelly. The Tories have already had one Gay Leader (who shall be nameless!) and look where he took us! Why the Tories crucify themselves believing the Soft Left Media 'Nasty' tag is beyond me. Don't Gay people want less tax, less nanny state, small government, more freedom, secure pensions and a healthy economy? If the Tories want to get elected again it is very simple. Have David Davis as the Leader and have a policy of withdrawal from the EU. The Tories need to get a grip and stop acting like bitchy drag Queens!


I think it's perfectly ok - in fact, laudable - for Alan Duncan or anyone else to press for the 'inclusive' agenda. I completely agree with it myself. But to think that this should be the substance of a leadership campaign is just crazy. It doesn't show the electorate that we understand and care about them - it demonstrates precisely the opposite: that we don't understand what they think and talk and care about, and that we're obsessed only with ourselves. This self-flaggellation is just another form of vanity.

The paucity of Duncan's thought is perfectly illustrated by his returning yet again to the M&S analogy. But at least Duncan now kills it off with an absurdist twist - the idea that we need good frilly knickers.

Yes, I know this was a bit of humour (and quite cute for about three seconds) but, as Freud said, all humour is self-revealing. And what this reveals is Duncan's contempt for people, and the shallowness of his vision. Strip away the smirk, and you have exactly the same attitude as that of Mary Antoinette - 'let them eat cake'. Duncan thinks that what people really need is 'a good CEO and better frilly knickers' - ie a commanding leader and well-presented tat. Will somebody please lead this inane peacock to the guillotine? It would be a mercy.


Does anybody realise what this so-called "inclusive" buzzword involves? It's not about tolerating gays and no-white ethnics so much as buying into the ludicrous soft-left ground of not appearing offensive to /anybody/. Thus any lifestyle however destructive to the individual or those around must not be judged, deprecated but appeased and as a result effectively encouraged.

This is not liberal it's live and let fester. I suppose when the likes of Mr.Duncan have finished removing any "nasty" image the party may have in the every corner of the British isles they will then miraculously embark on some grand strategy to address problems like rampant underage sex and children growing up with absent fathers?
Sorry but this is exactly what we've been having for years and the family and civil society is facing oblivion.

This is the path to social irrelevance and shows a vacuum of ideas of how to address society's ills without resorting to New Labour's ever encroaching state.

Young Conservative

Well I am an 18 year old Conservative party member who believes that Alan Duncan would be the perfect leader for the Conservatives. Too many of my age group percieve the Conservatives as illiberal, which is a shame, since they are the most Liberal party. What other parties sacrificed their paper ration in the 1945 election to help print copies of Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom." Alan Duncan would be a good leader and I challenge any of you to read his book, "Saturn's Children" and to say that what he says does not make sense.


This shows what a state we've come to. You cannot choose a leader just to 'make a point'! We are supposed to be choosing someone who a) must win over at least 40% of the electorate and b) run the country. How could you possibly think Alan Duncan could do either? It's just not a serious proposition, however sweet Mr Duncan can sometimes appear. Have we become so distant from any serious ambition to be a government that we would play these petty games with image?

Yes, I have read Saturn's Children, and liked it. So what?

Mark Higgins

A lot of the anti-Duncan sentiment seems to amount to one key message: espouse a vision of social justice and you'll fail because you've moved too far to the left. the daily Telegraph article was very short and as such, there is limited room for substance. Contrast that with the very much more detailed exposee he gave to the students at the City of London School, which was far more substantial. he, like David Willetts, saw that the Conservatives have to have an idea of society, of the ideological ends thay are trying to achieve, to give the means any coherence.

I'm bound to say that all this ranting about the breakdown of families etc. falls into the very trap that most of the leadership candidates have rightly said we must avoid: such rants make us sound like the party that wants to govern Britain as it was, not as it is. It amounts to lazy "Bring-Backery" to quote David Willetts. no, that does not mean I don't care about family breakdown or other social problems, nor do I hide behind the veneer of tolerating everything and doing nothing to heal society. But I can't agree that Alan Duncan, stripped of the alleged smirk etc., is guilty as charged by the opponents on this website. Like it or not, image is important and you only need to read bridget Jones' comparison between conservative and Labour, quoted in david Willetts' speech, to understand the importance thereof to our situation. both Duncan and Willetts understand this, without going too far and rendering us a party going out of the way to be the touchy-feely party of the left of the centre ground.

Mark Higgins

I should add by way of footnote that I am 23 and just embarking on a career at the bar, results permitting. I was brought up in a single-parent family and spent my time in specialist education for the visually impaired before doing my degree. My impression is that alan Duncan has wide appeal to my generation.


No, no - I am a full supporter of Conservatives making social justice a central plank of our platform. There's nothing left-right about this. I'm not coming at this with a concern about Alan Duncan's sexuality. Just his twittishness. Do you remember, under William Hague, when he fancied himself as some kind of Mandelson/Campbell figure, and how foolish he looked? He is a complete light-weight, and does serious damage to the idea of social justice (or would do if anyone outside a tiny circle was listening).


Mark -

I think we need a little more rigour when it comes to discussing social justice.

I'm not sure if you think we should address family breakdown or not. You clearly don't like "ranting" about it (and nor do I) but you don't explain what you mean by not hiding "behind the veneer of tolerating everything".

It is impossible to separate the worst fruits of the 1960s - family breakdown, drug abuse and trendy educational theories to name just three - from the emergence of today's poverty-amidst-plenty.

Taking just one example - Alan Duncan was a good shadow development secretary but he was wrong to support the kind of ‘condom compassion’ that has only encouraged the spread of AIDS throughout Africa. There is nothing compassionate about tolerating destructive behaviours.


It's also a trap to fall into when we worry about being seen as 'ranting' about family breakdown for example. The reason people 'rant' or should rant about this is out of a concern for those who do lose out in life as a result of the destructive side-effects that we often see. What's worse - trying desperately not to look nasty and letting down the very people a government should help and future generations or being seen to rant on about these subjects for the right reason - to address them for the better of the individual and society?

michael mcgowan

I quite like Alan Duncan and sympathise with a number of his views on social issues. But I have doubts. Like Bercow, he seems to have little understanding, or willingness to get to the grips with the deep-seated social problems (notably, family breakdown, drugs, binge-drinking, a huge rise in STDs, rampant violent crime, lowest common denominator state education) which have led to the kind of endemic deprivation that Ian Duncan-Smith discovered on the Easterhouse estate. Too often, both Duncan and (especially) Bercow act as if the left has a monopoly of both compassion and the only true vision of social justice. Yet in large part the left is the architect of these disasters. It is an abdication of responsibility to smear the Conservative Party as "socially distasteful" for pointing this out.

I equally find Duncan's international vision flawed. Supporting John Kerry in the US Presidential Election was foolish. The Democrats in the US stand for most of what New Labour stands for in the UK. Similarly, his support for the Palestinian cause and the appalling extremists who have hijacked it is both simplistic and at odds with his professed liberalism. For all its faults, Isreal is the only functioning liberal democracy in the Middle East. The Palestinian Authority is definitely not, whatever one thinks of Ariel Sharon.

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