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« Ten MPs call on their colleagues to retain some form of party democracy | Main | Editorial: The rollback of party democracy »


Tory Reaction

Tim - I know you mean well, but what planet are you living on? '[Fox's] human rights agenda may be the one with real electoral cut-through' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . seriously now, not ONE vote in a thousand is a amenable to any "human rights agenda" let alone the one the Tory party can offer. This is fantasy politics.

But anyway, I look forward to Duncan Smith's grimlu inevitable backing of Cameron. All "Mods" together, eh?

James Hellyer

Fox's human rights agenda is a good one. Now on its own, it wouldn't win votes, but what it would do is confound the usual expectations of Conservative policies. It's not about standing up for oil interests, it's about defendind the defenceless.

Incidentally, it's just the sort of issue that excites the interests of younger voters. I think their pre-occupation with Iraq and the G8 is a testament to that.

Graeme Archer

I agree with the Telegraph - taking time is no bad thing. We've had enough bounces to last a lifetime. Finally the serious candidates are discussing political strategy.

Maybe discussing the human rights abuses in some places won't win a vote come election time. But - apart from being important in and of themselves (and this mirrors the discussion on the other thread about partnership legislation) - these atoms (which, in a way, are the antithesis of the "grudge" politics that has been our tactical entirety for years, that is the hard-sounding attacks on gypsies, immigration etc) can coalesce into a more rounded, decent, outward-looking Conservatism that won't, frankly, embarrass people to publicly support.

We all know how good individual Tories are, how much they care about their communities; but we've let the Left write us out (near pun) of moral debate, allowing us to be caricatured (I wish totally caricatured, but there you go) as hangers and floggers. Are we to posit absolutely no connection between this reality, and the reality of our loathing among the younger demographic? I don't think older people are more right wing, I just think they can remember Tory governments and what good we did, so it acts as a sort of counter-balast to the constant slurrying of our name. But anyone under 30 can't REALLY remember a Tory past, and all they have to go on is this (false) caricature.

Therefore, I think it is important to change that (uncontentious I think), and more, I think it's worth expending some political time on these totemic atoms (like human rights abuses, same sex partnerships) because this music will open the ears of the sceptical outsider.

(I also think those two issues are important of themselves, let me emphasise, but I agree with "Tory Reaction" that they count for little themselves in terms of swinging floaters. It's their totemic potential that interests me.)

Tory Reaction

If you're interested in 'totems' even though you admit they won't swing votes, then your only interest in them can be because they'll make you feel better about yourself. That because your party starts doing one of a dozen things you feel it ought to be doing to be more civilised, you'll be that bit happier belonging to it. It strikes me that this is therapy talk rather than advocacy of methods by which the Tory party can win elections again. I therefore excommunicate such talk. Here endeth the Word of Salisbury.

James Hellyer

"If you're interested in 'totems' even though you admit they won't swing votes, then your only interest in them can be because they'll make you feel better about yourself."

They will help swing votes. I think ther point is that on their own they won't make much a difference, but as part of the package they will broaden the appeal of Conservatism.

Whatever anyone says to the contrary, the party is hated enough to be many people's third choice, and they will vote Lib or Lab to keep us out of a seat. Unless we face that by showing that their preconceptions are wrong, then I don't see how that will change.


I'm not interested in totems. We should do something to protect the refugees of Darfur and the religiously oppressed of Saudi Arabia etc because all of humanity is diminished when one person's humanity is diminished. And as George W Bush has said:

“Democratic reformers facing repression, prison, or exile can know: America sees you for who you are: the future leaders of your free country."

Is Britain going to be on the side of the repressed, the wrongly imprisoned, the exiled? Is the Conservative Party? Liam Fox has said that we must be a party of human rights. Thank God.

I completely disagree with you, 'Tory Reaction'... there are votes in a sincere and heartfelt commitment to justice issues (at home and abroad).

James Hellyer

I tend to agree with Tim on this.

Putting forward the human rights agenda as Dr Fox has begun to, is not only the right thing to do, but also the politically sensible thing to do.

It is not right to turn a blind eye on the "outposts of tyranny." It is right to speak up for the forgotten and oppressed.

It's politcally sensible because it not only runs counter to the popular perceptions of Conservatism, but it also taps into an issue that concerns a lot of the people we need to reach out to. The Make Povery Histoy Campaign and Live8 show that such issues have a real resonance with a lot of people, particularly the young.

Tory Reaction

'There are votes in a sincere and heartfelt commitment to justice issues (at home and abroad)' - where?! This is pure make-believe, unsupported by anything in the way of evidence. And as for all the invocations of that made-up, non-existent, unvoting bunch called 'the young' - oh dear, oh, oh dear. It really does sound embarrassingly like the Labour party circa 1994, or an especially risible Anglican biship circa 1984.

James Hellyer

"And as for all the invocations of that made-up, non-existent, unvoting bunch called 'the young'"

This would be the bunch who value such issues as human rights and environmental awareness, and as such would never have voted for the Conservative party. The survey of young voters in the Telegraph before the elction confirmed as much. But one telling thing was a lot of them spoke about how no party talked about the isues that mattered to them.

It can only be sensible to try and broaden our voter base, rather than continue to alienate large portions of the electorate while doing the wrong thing.

"It really does sound embarrassingly like the Labour party circa 1994, or an especially risible Anglican biship circa 1984."

I think that's code for "One More Heave".

David Jefferis

Yet another leadership election and you don't even have the rules agreed?!

What sort of message do you think this sends out?!


Tory Reaction

Every poll I saw before the last election said that if one transformative issue above all others motivated 'the young' ie students, it was the war in Iraq. And they wanted to vote against it. But then that wasn't much use for us - was it? - given that our last 2 leaders were even keener on it than Blair.

It is a waste of time trying to win elections by appeasing a group who don't exist (being 'young' affords no unities as far as voting intentions are concerned, unlike age, sex, education, class, race etc etc) & wouldn't vote Tory even if they did. Thank God so few of them bother to vote. All this talk of appealing to voters through human rights is an agenda so remote and so far fetched that Francis Maude ought to be spouting it!

Lower middle class parents with 2 kids in Essex and Kent whom we didn't win back last time are not going to be won over next time because some silly people in London drink fair tarde coffee (or back 'human rights', or however else it is you go about parading your superior moral self-regard).

Seriously, if you care about the third world, pack in your comfortable first world existence and join VSP, a Christian Aid scheme or something similar.

And I'm sorry if anything I have said was expressed so poorly that it came over as "code": one more heave it is for me! And why on earth shouldn't we think that? There is exactly 3% between us and the Government. 3%. I think we're going to get that 1 and a half per cent swing, don't you? But perhaps people on thos thread will blub that the 'electoral system' is rigged against us? In which case, I will know that I have taken a time machine to roughly 1987: hullo Harold Pinter, come in Melvyn, Antonia's over there taking to Tariq - you'll fit right in.

Tory Reaction

VSO, VSP is doubtless very worthwile too.

James Hellyer

The war in Iraq was a one off, It won't be an issue next time around - especially if Blair isn't leading his party.

I think you are ignoring that polling data does say that young and firat time voters rate issues like the environment and the developing world highly. You might think we should ignore that, when there are policies in line with Conservative principles that address those concerns. I'd say you're wrong.

What you are ignoring is that such policies are part of a package. You still pursue Conservative economic polices and so forth, but you offer these as well. At best, they are a spoon of honey to help the medicine go down. They show that the Conservatives do care about the disadvantaged and aren't, you know, "nasty".

Or we could go for one more heave. One the provisional boundaries, even a 3% swing won't give us a majority (especially when people dislike the party enough to still tactically vote against it).

"But perhaps people on thos thread will blub that the 'electoral system' is rigged against us? In which case, I will know that I have taken a time machine to roughly 1987"

And ten more years of opposition. I think we'll give that a miss.

Simon Whitehead

I am 34, self employed, and with a young family

I would vote for Ann Widdecombe.

I would never let my vote put MH in charge of the country.

James Hellyer

Well, you don't have to worry about putting Michael Howard in charge now.

Gordon Brown, however, we do have to worry about.

Peter Berrow

I think human rights has to become an issue as it is one of few issues people under 40 think about, and except if we go down the road of compulsory voting these are the people that should be the next local party leaders, councillors, MPs etc in the next ten years and at the moment they don't even vote. I would say taking Tim point through hopefully we talk about all the problems, which should mean getting Russia out of Chechnya and China out of Tibet and of course Saudi Arabia/Palestine.

Matthew Edwards

One Nation Tory authority is still alive and well, and it is currently resident in Sir Malcolm Rifkind's voicebox.

paul d s

Ahh, that explains his strange accent.

Huw Morgan

The reason young people dislike the Tories is that young people dislike most political parties of the mainstream, and most political parties full stop.

People these days have a pick'n'mix of beliefs on issues rather than signing-up to a single ideology or single "menu" of positions which the current set-up caters for. That is another reason why people, especially the young, are less likely to vote and if they do are less loyal to political parties.

The issue of Tories being seen as "hangers and floggers" probably is partly true. Far more damaging is to be seen as irrelevent, which is probably the biggest problem. All this talk of finding issues that will bring victory is also distasteful, it smacks of changing positions to get votes rather than from a principled stance. People forget too easily that it is young people who will be picking up the mess of the post 1960s liberal society, and many of them who are in work already are paying the price quite literally in their taxes. Where is the principled stance on cutting tax? Where is the principled stance on cutting immigration because it threatens our very existance as a nation - not just because it wins votes? These are things that I was crying out to hear during the campaign but did not hear, or heard very faintly.

MOST people agreed with the main Tory positions. They just didn't like the Tory IMAGE. The party needs to raise its game and become more confident and aggressive in its approach. It needs to be confident of its ideals and not scared of being seen as too right wing. Whether a party is right wing or liberal or hard right or otherwise doesn't really matter to most voters under 40. Policies and image do.

Another thing people miss is, approx 40% of the electorate didn't vote in the last general election. In other elections often the majority of people don't vote. Finding a way to mobilise those non voters to come out and vote and to vote Tory seems to be never discussed as a strategy, instead all the talk seems to be about trying to get Labour voters to vote Tory.


Anyone who thinks that the Connservative Party needs 'one more heave' to win is posititvely delusional. This Party has been out of power for 8 years and in that time has elected 2 of the most unelectable leaders the Party could have put before the public. The Party neends to change; it needs to break from its past. It needs youth, energy, dynamism and vision and it needs to be seen by the public to be embracing all of these qualities. There is only of the candidates in this leadership contest that it is able to appeal to the public at large. David Davis embodies everything wavering voters do not like about the Conservative Party, Sir Malcolm lacks gravitas, Liam Fox is out of his depth, and Ken Clarke, while still the 'biggest beast', carries too much baggage. That leaves David Cameron. It is time for the Conservative Party to be courageous, to accept that post-1997 the political landscape has changed, and to actively seek renewal. For these reasons and for many more, David Cameron is the only man capable of the task.


Isn't "timetowin" Ken Clarke's slogan?


wow i couldnt agree more with Huw Morgan

mel hodkinson

I find it very interesting that while all parties seek popular issues that will catch the publics attention and subsequently their votes, no one in the Conservative party has sought to address the plight of Britains motorists. I dont refere to our desires to drive around aimlessly looking at all the ugly speed cameras, but to the stark and undeniable fact that the vast majority of us lesser mortals do not have access to free Government vehicles to get us to and from work. A fact that seems to be beyond the understanding of our current Motorist Hating Government. It can not have escaped the attention of Politicians that as a Nation, we do not save enough to cover our retirement. A problem that the nation and its subjects will pay dearly for in years to come. We are constantly told we must save more, which is nice comeing from a Labour Government hell bent on removing every penny from our family income in order that they can spend our money for us on their own looney projects. When will someone realise that most of us are keeping our families on fixed or below national average incomes, and that juggling between ever increasing costs and stealth taxes, we simply can not afford the saving demanded. The money isnt there.To most people, cars are an essential part of life. No public transport runs at midnight to cover my shift, I either have a car or walk the 15 miles to work. There is obviously National anger at the way motorists have been treated this last 8 years. And it doesnt help when little old ladies are prosecuted for doing 32 mph in a 30 mph zone.Of course if you are Jack Straw, you can always plead that a clearly marked Police car somehow looks like a terrorist trying to get you.That gets him off, but what about the rest of us. There are millions of votes out there that people will use IF and only if they believe that someone has woken up to their needs. Broad Politics are fine, but huge numbers of people will vote on a single issue if it affects them directly. And money is constant to us all.Get Government off the back of motorists, and reduce our costs, and you are sitting on a sure winner.Perhaps then, I can use some of the one third of my total wages that I currently spend on travel by buying into a pension scheme that will ultimately benifit the Government in years to come. The mood throughout the country is ripe. Gordon Brown is despised as a man who has jacked up daily motoring costs out of all proportion. This is his Achilles Heel. Who amongst us will recognise this and take up the cause.It could be the vehicle that carries us back to power.


One of the main reasons the Conservative Party didn't do so well is because people don't really understand what it stands for. It was easier when Labour sold itself as a socialist party to explain the difference. Now Labour sells itself as a psuedo-socialist policy and is quite happy to pinch any soundbites which are received well, even if it has no intention of implementing them (e.g. reducing the size of the civil service).
The way to counteract this approach is to take a moral stand, not just a focus group driven approach. To point out core conservative beliefs with passion: lower taxes bring in greater growth that everyone can benefit from, more government is worse for the individual and that the private sector generally manages things better. If it would stop apologising for once and actually do these things, it stands a good chance.
And while it is necessary to recognise previous losses, we need to accept that one of the main reasons for the scale of the last defeat is because the party took its eyes off electoral boundary reform at the last major review. The conservative party lost in the UK by a small margin and actually won in England.


"One candidate is a flat-rate taxing, privatising, pro-war Old Etonian Tory called David, while the other is a flat-rate taxing, privatising, pro-war Old secondary modern Tory called David.
What more choice do you want?"

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