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« Portillo and Yeo get the Clarke bandwagon rolling... | Main | Editorial: Is Sir Malcolm Rifkind's 'real choice' actually a false choice? »



I watched Dr Fox on t.v. this morning, he made a lot of sense, I was a little distracted thinking that he needed a hair cut, he managed the interview very well and got his points across but he needs to relax a little more, he's very intense.


I too thought he was pretty good.Even 'though I believe he's badly wrong on Iraq his advice to fellow Conservatives about attacking the Labour party and the need for political convictions were spot on.

James Hellyer

Perhaps unsurprisngly, I agree with everything Dr Fox said (although the actual phoney was was eight months long).

The leadership election campaign to daye has been characterised by introspection. As Michael Ancram recently observed, the Conservative Party has spoken only to the Westminster Village, and in so doing has ignored any need to engage with the people.

Each time out potential potentates have paraded themselves for the media, they have concentrated on personality and biography. Too little has been said about ideas.

David Davis is the frontrunner. But his emphasis has been his humble origins. Ken Clarke has recently resurfaced. His campaign concentrates on his being a bloke. And David Cameron appears to lurch from point to point in search of a core vote.

None of them have really focussed on their jobs. Davis has won more coverage for his open necked shirts than his opposition to Charles Clarke's ill considered legisltation. Ken Clarke has opted out of Opposition entirely since 1997. And nobody knows how David Cameron really differs from Labour on his portfolio.

Only Doctor Fox has got on with his job, laid out a clear vision within his policy remit for a Conservative way forwards, and with his emphasis on Human, Rights challenged the preconception that Conservatives only care for Number One.

Perhaps it's time we went after the Fox.

Wat Tyler

I don't know...maybe it's because I've been too focused on DD to notice, but the Doc doesn't really seem to have made any more of a policy splash than anyone else.

And- as I've said before- I may well be a heartless brute, but I don't think majoring on ethical foreign policy/human rights overseas is going to resonate with our electorate. I realise Bush sometimes talks about it, but only as an adjunct to self-serving (no problem with that) American foreign policy.


James Hellyer

"I don't know...maybe it's because I've been too focused on DD to notice, but the Doc doesn't really seem to have made any more of a policy splash than anyone else."

You missed the coherent vision of the EU offered to the Heritage Institute? The speech on the freedom agenda? The broken society? And an optimistic foreign policy?

Dr Fox has had an awful of value to say that's been drowned out by the events of 7/7.

"I may well be a heartless brute, but I don't think majoring on ethical foreign policy/human rights overseas is going to resonate with our electorate."

Which I think misses two points.

Firstly, in doing his job Dr Fox will have talked a lot about foreign policy. That's his brief. That doesn't mean that's all there is to him.

Secondly, while you may not value issues like human rights abuses overseas, they are just the sort of issue where people assume we're heartless brutes and don't give a damn. What better way to confound those expectations and appeal to the younger voters who are profoundly concerned about these issues, then to speak out on their behalf? And let's not forget that it's the right thing to do as well.



Wat - you're so wrong about Fox's emphasis on ethical foreign policy etc.

"Our electorate" - as you call it - is too small at the moment. Fox isn't saying that we abandon our core policies on tax, Europe, secure borders etc - but if we're going to get from 33% to 44% we need some new strings to our bow.

Even your man - DD - seems to disagree with you. He's not just talking about public service reform and Euroscepticism and tough on licensing hours - he's also talking about a Conservatism that helps Britain's hardest-pressed communities.

Wait a minute - what's that 'Bleep! Bleep!' noise?

It's your pager from DDHQ, Wat - You're off message!

Wat Tyler

Ah, Mr Ed...I think concern for BRITAIN's hardest pressed communities is completely different. That resonates with me very strongly. And I'm sure I'm not alone in that.

It might sound insular- Little Englander even- but our first duty is to those who live next door.

Ethical foreign policy is very different- much more remote, and much less likely to be an area where we can actually deliver results.

As the legendary Keef Richard said to Sir Mick when he turned down doing Live 8: "We ain’t doing it, pal. You can do it, but I ain’t. Bob’s a nice bloke and all that, but ultimately he’s the one who comes off best, isn’t he?"

Wat Tyler

James- sorry, in my excitement, I missed your comment.

I didn't actually miss the Fox speeches you mention, but I guess they didn't register as anything very new. But I will now re-read them with more care.

And I'm not actually saying I don't care about human rights abuses overseas. What I'm saying is that while there are undoubtedly political grandstanding opportunities, realistically I don't think there's much we can actually do about them (er...overthrow oppressive regimes?).

And I don't think it's an area that resonates nearly as much with the British electorate as say, building opportunity for Britain's inner city kids condemned to those terrible schools rejected by Labour's politicians for their own.

And no, I don't feel any inclination to join the BNP.

James Hellyer

"Ethical foreign policy is very different- much more remote, and much less likely to be an area where we can actually deliver results."

It's hardly remote when starving people are shown on the evening news, or when the aftermath of a massacre graces the pages of our newspapers, or when the BBC includes some atrocity in its latest piece of reportage.

For many people that's as real as someone who's unemployed at the other end of the country. It's also something we can do something about. We can embargo arms sales to repressive regimes, we can apply diplomatic pressures to countries like South Africa to make them fulfil their local commitments, we can cut funding to bad government and foster trade links with good ones.

These are all things a Conservative government can advocat, that are in tune with our principles and connect with the concerns of many sections of the electorate.


Come off it, Wat. I wonder if David Davis also thinks compassion stops at Dover?

I'm glad that "concern for Britain's hardest pressed communities... resonates... very strongly" with you but we've got your vote! Concern for people outside of Britain resonates very strongly with people who may just be persuaded to vote for us!

It's true we have special duties to those nearest to us, Wat, but support for development charities amongst the public and Live8 shows that many Britons - rightly - think we have duties to people who are hungry tonight or are dying of diseases that can be cured with the sort of money that some of us fortunates wouldn't really miss.

Sure, we have to be practical, and we shouldn't try and help the poorest nations with big-state, left-wing policies but there are things we can do - open our markets to developing countries, highligh human rights abuses, share medical knowledge, stop plundering Africa's healthcare professions, stop arming dictatorships, act against genocide in Darfur...

Wat Tyler

James- yes, I see what you're driving at, and of course Tory governments should always behave responsibly and honourably. But everyone's opposed to evil. Does it really look like a key differentiator from Labour? What with Live 8, Gordo's trip to Africa, and all?

This is just not productive ground for us. At best, we can and should neutralise Labour's grandstanding with the equivalent amount of our own. But nobody will believe we can actually sort these problems, least of all ourselves. I think Keef pretty well put his finger on it- great feelgood mood music but very little else.

Do you know, I'm shocked by my own distance from those incessant TV images. But I just feel we can't solve it, and it's nowhere near those crunch domestic issues we've really got to grip, and what's more, we can grip (public services, crime etc).

Wat Tyler

Ed- this isn't a debate we can really have, is it? Because to argue against your position is to to take issue with motherhood.

OK. Let the music play.

But I don't think it will win us any elections.


An observation rather than a conclusion....

Interesting that from the sound of the write up that when Liam answered the terrorism question he stressed the Iraq war was the right thing to do.

If he was directly questioned on Britain going to war then I can see he is likely to stand by his original vote.

If he wasn't pushed on the point it seems a strange statement to make about such an unpopular conflict and one that this weeks nosiest leadership contender Ken Clarke opposed.

On a side note, one can't help but wonder whether we'd be in power now had the Conservatives opposed the war.


Wat says "But I don't think it will win us any elections." Sometimes we should just do the right thing. And, actually, I think it would win votes if we meant it. People want authenticity from politicians. Additionally: sometimes just 'neutralising Labour' (to use your expression) is a good think if, otherwise, they take voters from us, other things being equal.

AnotherNick says "one can't help but wonder whether we'd be in power now had the Conservatives opposed the war". I doubt it but Saddam would still be in power if too many more others had opposed the war.


Humbly suggest political epiphany of our generation comes when we realise we DO have the means to alleviate oppression abroad and therefore we MUST.

Nothing else will satisfy.

This is an inevitable political consequence of globalisation. Former generations saw it differently. We need to live to our times.

When it only takes four weeks wages of the average factory worker to fly to a place of tyranny and tell that dictator to "Let my people go!" then it is sad madness that we do not.

I will return to this soapbox...


I support what has already been said in favour of the party adopting a global compassionate position. Must say Liam Fox has impressed me on a couple of occassions recently. While not my first choice for leader, he is going up in my estimation.

On Iraq:
I'll keep this brief so as not to reopen the now rather tired whould we shouldn't we have gone to war debate.

UK soldiers lives have been lost. Security is a disaster in Iraq. There was no clear plan of what to do when Saddam was gone.

Yes of course it is good that Saddam has gone, but if that was our purpose what about the represive regimes in Zimbabwe and Turkmenistan? Lets face it we got sold a story about a big gun and helped the US get more oil.

And while I don't want to bring party politics into such a serious issue we also helped the Lib Dems get more votes!

Selsdon Man

I agree with James on all his points.

Young voters are concerned with human rights. By rightly opposing the European Convention (which includes a mixed bag of politically correct and leftist entitlements) it may appear that the Party opposes human rights. Liam's speech to Heritage was the first step to offering an alternative vision.

I would also draw your attention to Dr Fox's excellent speech to Politeia. He has intellectual and philosophical foundations on which to build his policies. Much sounder than David Willet's watering down his support for individual freedom and the free market.


Outside the 'Westminster Village people' that you all talk about?

Many 'ordinary' people get their information about the atrocities in Africa from films like Hotel Rwanda, one woman at work actually thought it was a made up story! I know plenty of people who don't watch current affairs and news programmes (other than GMTV).

It isn't that people don't care about poverty abroad but many people in this country are realists and when your overtime's gone and the wife's lost her job because her factories closed down looking after your own children becomes your priority. It's alright going on about human rights but rights come with responsibilities you cannot have one without the other.

I read Liam Fox's speech 'The Broken Society' and the bits I remember are his concerns about domestic violence and the lack of volunteers in each community - I just think what does everyone expect when the Labour Party put a monetary value on everyone's 'hour', including 16 year olds, and takes more and more tax, even parking in large towns costs at least £1 per hour. Teenagers need to work to prepare for college and university and mum's are going back to full time jobs to pay the bills!

Wat Tyler

Having now re-read Fox's various speeches and articles over the last three months, I must agree that they are an impressive body.

Obviously most are pitched at a fairly high general level (eg we must ensure the success of the anglo-saxon model in Europe), but impressive nonetheless.

But I stick to the view that in electoral terms, ethical foreign policy is Labour neutralising mood music, rather than a real vote winner.

Selsdon Man

A-tracy, you make good points but a leader needs to have policies that are, to use marketing terms, targeted at key audiences.

Young people do care about international issues - Live 8 despite its faults is a good example. We also need to show that we care about our people who are suffering from unemplyment, poor health etc. In short, we Conservatives need to show that we care at home and abroad.

My main concern, as an admirer, is that Liam's speeches have not had the media coverage that they deserved. That is an issue that his campaign needs to address quickly.

As a Party we need to ensure that we get to GMTV audiences rather than just who watch Newsnight or listen to Today.


I understand the desire for policies targeted at key audiences, however, you also need policies that everyone appreciates as good for the Country to stop those who come out to vote Lib Dem just to make sure you don't get in!

Which of the leadership candidates can you see sat on the GMTV sofa or talking comfortably with Richard & Judy so that more people actually listen to the policies?

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