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« Cameron and Davis abstain in ballot on leadership rules | Main | Pitch-perfect Cameron impresses »


James Hellyer

Bravo, Theresa, bravo!

She is right to continue speaking out. Her suggestions are a far more progressive and brave response to today's depressing C-Change report than the other MPs introspective action.

The party should be outward looking and trying to attract new members. It won't do that by only listening to the views of people in the places where we already have MPs.


The days of mass membership of political parties may be over, but what is the point of joining if your vote is being diluted by others who haven't joined. We should be saying to the wider public - if you want a say, then join us and pay your membership fee. Primaries would give the public the chance to have their say and not pay.

Many politicians and activists seem obsessed by focus groups and public opinion. Surely it is us, the members, who should decide the political direction of the party.


Theresa May deserves a gold medal for standing up for what is right.A mass party will only be acheived if all the members have a stake in what is going on.It is astonishing that Conservative MPs think that the man from Westminster knows best.

Wat Tyler

Theresa is a star. Could she now get her electoral college proposal worked up and presented to the National Convention in September?

Because although we can all extract assurances from our constituency chairmen etc to defend member voting, once they get into that smoke-filled room, I'm afraid they're going to get awfully bullied by 'the management'.

But if there was a 'third way' on the table we might get a resolution that retained at least some democratic credentials.


"Standing up for what is right" a principle few in the House of Commons stick by (or even understand). All their talk is ever about strategy and tactics. That might be acceptable in the service of genuine vision, but of course its always about moment-by-moment survival. That's why they are rubbish.

I feel so anti-MP lately. I wonder if this will affect others in the party in the same way - eroding to nothing the respect with which our representatives in the House are held. Twenty years ago, we thought they were something special. Now we regard them as monkeys.

At least, 75% of them. Just imagine the kind of brain it takes to vote for Michael Howard's plans. Unpleasant mush.

Sorry to sound so bitter but I'm only returning to them the contempt they have shown for us.

Theresa May is now well on her way to expunging the hurt of calling us all 'nasty'!


When Theresa said "nasty" she was really talking about the antics of the largely MPs who were guilty of financial etc sleaze. I don't think she ever referred to us activists as the nasty party.

James Hellyer

I thought she meant that we had been seen as competent but nasty, but then lost the competent bit. And nasty alone wasn't going to get us elected...


IDS and Danny Kruger made this argument, James, in their recent joint paper for the Centre for Social Justice:

"Many Conservatives cannot understand why support for Labour outlasts its broken promises. They fail to comprehend Labour’s greatest strength – its perceived sense of moral purpose. The Labour Party, like the NHS and the United Nations, has a set of values that commands more loyalty than its actual performance merits. Its ideals inspire and reassure.

Traditionally, voters saw the Conservatives as the competent, practical party who were ‘good for me’. Labour were the compassionate, idealistic party who were ‘good for my neighbour’. Today, by adopting Conservative rhetoric – especially on the economy and crime – New Labour have successfully presented themselves as competent without losing the perception of being compassionate. Conservatives, meanwhile, have lost their reputation for competence and have still not acquired a reputation for compassion.

The task for the Conservative Party is not merely to demonstrate competence once again – it is to present a set of values which represent compassion. This will not be achieved by aping the Labour Party. It will be achieved by a sincere and sustained commitment to authentically Conservative principles which are ‘good for me, and good for my neighbour’."

James Hellyer

That's a pretty fair assessment. Labour benefits from a lot of leeway because people think they're well-intentioned. The Conservatives have no such benefit.

Michael McGowan

The Conservative cause isn't helped by the fact for decades, many Tories, especially on the Tory left, have given every impression that they regard the values of the left as morally superior to those of the right. They have largely given up any attempt to challenge the left's spurious monopoly of compassion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the comments of "modernisers" such as Nick Gibb MP, who seem to accept a left-wing definition of "social justice".

James Hellyer

"The Conservative cause isn't helped by the fact for decades, many Tories, especially on the Tory left, have given every impression that they regard the values of the left as morally superior to those of the right."

Arguably the right has failed to sell the positives of its values.

Taking school choice as an example, we can see that Conservatives are quite happy talking about mechanisms but not so good at selling the ends. We'll explain how vouchers work (unless it's the 2005 election when we won't bother), but neglect to talk about how the policy would have improved schools, especially for the poor who can't buy their way out of the current system.

Lord Saatchi's recent CPS pamphlet may have been scorned, but contained a lot of truth.

Sally Rideout Baker

It seems to be forgotten that we now have three Parliaments (four if you include the Muslim Parliament).

The only David to become Prime Minister was Lloyd George.

Davids are Welsh and Andrews are Scottish.

The only English candidate with hope of being elected Prime Minister is Theresa May.

She has the right name, looks the part and speaks clearly. These are the things that really matter.

She also collects the woman’s' vote, so she is already half way there.

It is so obvious that this debate is a distraction to the real issues.

The real issue is the mess that Mr Blair has made of Government.

There are so many questions and problems that Howard should resign immediately and let the members decide.

You can make David Davis leader but he will never win a General Election.


Sally, since when has being Scotish been a handicap to doing well in politics, take a look at the cabinet over recent years!

Sally Rideout Baker

It would be better if the Scottish MP’s in the cabinet were active in their own country where there is only one Tory MP.

Scotland is a lost cause since they now have their own parliament. We should be looking towards Englishmen to represent the English.

Only a fool would expect an Englishman to win a Scottish seat and the effect also applies in England, we are only looking at margins of 3% or so.

That there have been far more English Prime Ministers than Scots or Welsh and that 99.9% of our Tory MPs represent the English constituencies must underline the message that the Tory Party is largely an English Party.

Malcolm Rifkind had to give up Edinburgh Pentlands. Was turned down by Windsor and finally got the safe seat of Kensington & Chelsea just to get back as an MP!

And some people want him for leader!

In the General Election 2005, the swing to the candidates was as follows: - Theresa May 5.8%. (Iain Duncan Smith 5%) David Davis and David Cameron 4.3% Rifkind only managed 3.5%. Ken Clarke 2% David Willets 0.5%. Liam Fox minus 1.9%.

I therefore declare Theresa May as the best possible candidate.


Firstly, let me say I agree with the merits of Theresa May. I think it is a shame she doesn't seem to have enough support among MPs. I can not agree at all with your English party reference. You may like to add David Davies (Monmouth) to your list with a 5% swing. When the Conservatives have been in power Welsh seats have contributed considerably. If the Conservatives portray themselves as an English party they condemn themselves to opposition. Ignoring Wales & Scotland would require a phenominal result in England to win a General Election.

More leaders have been English because there are a great deal more English people!

There are English born Welsh MPs, I can even think of an English born Plaid Cymru Assembly member!

Further more, the Conservatives can argue to already be the biggest party in England, in pure vote numbers they out polled Labour. Didn't help much in the election though.

There are many flaws with the devolution system but you cannot ignore nearly 100 constituencies.

On a similar basis I would be very surprised if there are not more people called David & Andrew in England than the nations you suggest.

Unless there was a full federal structure to the party, with Welsh & Scottish parties, the Conservatives must never allow themselves to simply be a party for England.

Sally Rideout Baker

English born Plaid Cymru MP in Wales!

Brian Hancock was born in Cardiff!

Do you mean Cynog Dafis? Or Taffy Jones? Taffy Thomas or Taffy Williams?

Looking briefly at the 2005 results there may be a total of ten or so winnable seats outside of England but I stand to be corrected.

We need in excess of sixty!

Sally Rideout Baker

To help prove my point, starting at Cornwall I was unable to find the biographies for the Tory Candidates in the General Election!

The Lib Dems have a far more detailed and user friendly site.

St Ives -Andrew George Lib Dem - I was born …………… of Mullion on the Lizard peninsular.

Christian Mitchell – Tory Candidate – unable to locate

Falmouth and Camborne Lib Dem - Julia Goldsworthy lives in Camborne, where she was born...

Ashley Crossley– Tory Candidate – unable to locate

Truro & St Austell Lib Dem - Matthew Taylor was born in London, and moved to Cornwall in 1967.

Fiona Kemp - Tory Candidate – unable to locate

On the Conservative site a search for Christian Mitchell brings up; the book of condolence for Dennis Thatcher.

A search for St Ives brings up; Hague: The tragedy of foot and mouth!

This is the 21st Century Party?


I will ignore your 'Taffy' comments and simply answer the points.

The English born Plaid Cymru AM in Wales is Janet Ryder.

In 1983 a peak of Conservatism 14 Welsh seats were won, just 22 years on that does seem hard to believe but are we simply going to accept that 3 is the best we can do. If you need more seats writing off Cardiff North, Brecon & Radnor, Conwy, Vale of Glamorgan etc. is hardly a productive starting point.

Also pretty soon after you rule out Wales & Scotland, inaccurately, as not winnable, you may use the same approach on Birmingham, Leeds, large parts of London, Newcastle.... soon enough the Conservative Party would not be the party of the UK, or of England, but of the English Countryside. Chance of winning a general election: zero.


While we might have our differences when it comes to Wales & Scotland, Sally makes a very good point about finding information on candidates online.

When I have seen local websites they often look unprofessional, of course there are exceptions, websites of Theresa May, David Cameron and Caroline Spelman, for example, are very good and professional looking.

But the main site offers the best bet for many, rather than running their own webpages, and from the biographies at the last election it can be seen that some really took time and effort to put together a strong case for election, but others did not.

Sally Rideout Baker

I see no reason to change my basic premise which is that we have far fewer winnable seats in Scotland and Wales.

In Scotland there were 17 seats where we came second. So barring a landslide victory in which event it will not matter, it would be far better to concentrate slightly more on England.

As our new leader will be having Charles Kennedy and Gordon Brown as competitors it would be refreshing to have an Englishman in charge.


If you haven't seen the BBC's article on female Tory voters, or at least possible Tory voters it is worth a glance. It mentions TM a bit so thought this a good place to flag it up.

Wat Tyler

Theresa should not even think about it- for her own sake as well as ours. She's has terrific ability and should certainly play a continuing senior role.

But uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, and being leader is bloody and bruising- particularly in current circumstances. To win through, we need a tough guy, and there's really only one candidate.

James Hellyer

I actually think that "one guy" would have a rougher ride than anyone else. Unless he delivered results very quickly, rumours of his own disloyalty could all too easily be repaid.


Perhaps a more progressive approach (Cameron, May, and maybe Fox) would result in a less bloody and brusing position.... what they may even be popular with the general public!

Wat Tyler

Nick- not sure that any leaderships in the last half century have ever been less than bloody and bruising. I think it goes with the territory.

James- "rumours of his own disloyalty" sort of sums up the issue. For better or worse, we have a Westminster party where rumours and whispers of plots are the norm. I can see no reason why that would spontaneously stop under a "nice" leader. Party disciplinewise, we need a bit of the old iron fist, albeit sheathed in a nice velvet glove.

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