Conservative Home's debate blogs


  • DVD rental
  • Conservative Books
My Photo

Conservative blogs

Blog powered by Typepad

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker

« More momentum for Ken | Main | Liam Fox takes the gloves off with attack on Clarke »


Selsdon Man

The Yougov poll confirms my view that Davis has a better chance if Michael Howard gets his way. Both the Davis and Clarke camps got it wrong!

The poll is a bad news for Liam Fox - only 8% grassroots support. It may be that Conservative Party members are fed up being governed by Labour's Scots! There has been much talk by Clarke and Fox (ironically) on the West Lothian question. The poll could certainly damage his chances in a MPs ballot.

James Maskell

I will avoid commenting too much on the reforms but I will not rejoin the Party until after a vote against the reforms has been given. I dont agree with the other reforms either.

I dont think you can compare crowds at Old Trafford with the membership of the Conservative Party. Your example is about putting bums on seats. the Conservative Party is about getting activists out and spreading the Conservative message. They are different.

I dont trust polls like this due to their tiny samples. How can 3% speak for the entire membership? 3% is not the right sample. We can not know unless the situation arises that Clarke and Davis are in a face off in front of a OMOV contest. But of course there are too many ifs and buts to consider before this situation appears.

Selsdon Man

James, having studied and practised market research, 3% is more than enough. Yougov and NOP predicted the result of the general election with samples of around 2000, typical of an opinion poll.

The real issue is how the sample results were weighted - if at all. They are in line with the views of the party members that I have spoken to.

The Davis and Fox supporters cannot ignore them. They have much work to do if there is a members ballot to make the final choice.

Selsdon Man

I should comment on the Editor's headline. Many of the responses will be idle threats made in the heat of the moment. They will soon change their mind if Ken delivered a 5% jump in the opinion polls.

It is likely (statistically) that most of the members who threatened to resign are over 65. They are not the youth and young professionals that we need to rebuild the party. If they are even considering of resigning they should go now and good riddance! We need people who are 100% committed to the Party.

The issue is whether Ken, or any other candidate, is capable of recruiting that new blood.

James Maskell

Thanks for filling me in Selsdon Man on samples.

Whats everybodys opinion on Theresas idea of the A-List of 100 candidates 50-50 gender split, designed to get more women elected in the most marginal constituencies? I personally dislike it since it flies in the face of meritocracy and earning it through being that good. You shouldnt get a front row seat due to your sex. Im no sexist pig but we need an level playing field.


Selsdon Man: fair poiunt about the headline to the post. You are completely right. "14% of Tory members SAY THEY would resign if Ken Clarke became leader" would have been better.


If 14% of those on the right cant't take a centre ground leader then that reflects very badly on them. Centre ground members have stayed through eras of right wingers.

I agree with the findings on Ken, he can win out in the country, although the results seems harsh on Liam.

Peter C Glover

I am not surprised at this figure. But bearly anyone whas commented on The Daily Telegraph formal re-incarnation as The Daily Ken. Something I raised last week.

The current pro-Ken pamphleteering by the ol' DT is almost unbelievable when you grasp that the man they are plainly backing (four stories - including one 'Ken is the man' Commentary piece - today alone)is the same man who want sot make Briaitn a "region of Europe".

What is the use of power when you nothing to say, no vision to offer and your chief aim is to sink Britain into the morass of social dysfunctionalism that France and Germany currently enjoy?

Good call Charles. Good judgement. But tell me, Charles (Moore and Ken) exactly "what does it profit a man of he gain the whole world but lose his Conservative soul"?


I've just been reading the online DT and I agree it is remarkable how pro-Clarke they have become. The leader, whilst not actually endorsing him, was bereft of the usual bile.


Does anyone know the actuarial odds of a man of Ken Clarke's age and fitness making it through the next four years without developing a severe health problem? Only asking.

Selsdon Man

James, it would be impractical to a 50:50 gender split on the top target seats. It would require all women shortlists and the associations selected could resist it. Like you,I am also against it in primciple. There is, by definition, no such thing as positive discrimination.

In most target seats, it was the quality of the candidate and the campaign that made the difference between winning and losing.

However, the number of women in target seats was lower than it should have been. It also appears that the treatment of women PPCs by activists (women as well as men)in some seats was appalling. There is a sexist culture in sections of the the Party that puts off women becoming activists or candidates.

Positive discrimination will only give more ammunition to the sexists. It is the chauvinist culture that needs to be tackled. Deal with that and more women PPCs will be selected on merit.


Peter, I've said this to you before,read the DT properly before making posts like this.
Unlike you they have merely given Ken Clarke a fair hearing,they have certainly NOT endorsed him.
Charles Moore is no longer the editor of the DT.


Theresa May has got it wrong for once. Firstly I do not subscribe to the premise that we need women candidates to appeal to women.

Secondly a 50/50 gender split could equally be applied to class, or race - do we need that too?

Shortlists determined not on aboility - but other criteria would lead us down the farcical route of New Labour. The Tories wouldn't be the nasty party - but the stupid one!

Jonathan Sheppard

Its an interesting one posed by Theresa. Im from the North, young, (well 30) and from a working class background - but I wouldnt really expect any special treatment with regards getting a seat to fight in an election.

If the party decides to have an A - list of candidates with 50% men and 50% women - my question would be won't the public see some candidates being parachuted in to seats where they have no links whatsoever? This was tried by Labour in Wales - and we saw what happened there.

These things are worth debating - but I think its policies that determine whether people vote for you (and remember we are the only party who has returned a woman PM three times) rather than the sex of a candidate.

Personally the party would do well to select more candidates for the seats out of London who didnt come from the South East. People from Richmond upon Thames don't automatically go down well with people in Derbyshire - even if they are the greatest candidate in the world.

Any views?

James Maskell

You are right and I think it goes down to the idea of grabbing local talent as soon as an interest appears. There are universities and schools all over the country. Im sure it cant be that difficult to find local candidates which will know the area well (maybe they are Councillors in the local area) and who are prepared for a contest in their area. Its down to finding people locally for each constituency. Those with a detailed knowledge of the area have a massive advantage over someone as you say parachuted into the area in an election.


I agree Jonathan and James. In seeking 'face deep diversity' - more women, more people from ethnic minorities - we miss the real 'diversity challenge'. The Conservative Party needs more people with wide experience of life - people who have raised families, worked in the public services, started a business, volunteered abroad, have deep local roots etc. If we end up with more women - all, for example, with backgrounds in the law or the city - we haven't really diversified the party.


In the DT editorial it said that Ken would make a good choice for leader of the opposition, but that he would not be likely to be PM, and that was his main appeal - as a sort of Tory "John the Baptist". Hardly a ringing endorsement! I happen to think they are wrong on both counts - first he will not be leader, and second we have a good chance of winning next time if we start campaigning on our Direct Democracy agenda as soon as we elect a leader.

I do believe that a lot of members would leave if he were elected. These people may not be active, but they raise a lot of money. I suspect that all these extra points in the polls would not appear, but we would soon find the party splits emerging, which would cost us dearly in the polls.

What we are seeing at the moment is the result of media hype, partly produced by the Ken Clarke campaign, but also by the media which would love to see our party split, in fact they like nothing better than to report on infighting in political parties.

I predict it will all end in tears for Ken. Both the MPs and the members will have plenty of time to reflect on all the sound reasons to reject him, although they are torn at the moment between a nostalgic liking for jolly Ken, and the dislike of europhile Ken who once said that he looked forward to the day when Westminster became no more than a council compared with the EU government.

James Hellyer

The headline figures have been accepted as gospel and there's the presumption that Clarke would immediately add support. That appeals to those hungry for power.

What they miss is that this is support now and not in 2009. Compared to other Conservatives, Clarke would poll higher now. Besides his blokey image that makes him more obviously likeable, he is both better known and more likely to be the choice of leftist voters who would never vote Conservative anyway.

Add to this the surge he has received due to publicity in the last week (12 points between Populus polls), the uncritical nature of the press towards his candidacy, and finally his current inability to impose his will on the party, and it's not surprising that he's ahead or that this edifice would collapse if he was elected.

Firstly, the left wing pressmen who laud him now, would no longer see him as the best of a bad bunch (i.e. closest to their worldview), but rather as a Conservative. All the stories about BAT, foul ups from his ministerial days, his unpopularity with MPs, etcetera, would be smeared through the press.

Secondly, as Michael Ancram and Bernard Jenkin have pointed out, the issue of Europe is not dead (just look at the problems over deporting foreign extremists). As Ken would be odds with his fellow MPs and out of step with the party in the country, he would make an easy target for the press and Labour if they wanted to promote factionalism. That could get quite horrific if Ken reverted to his pre-'97 ways of enforcing his views (remember whose idea it was to take the whip away from Major era rebels? Not a good idea if your majority would fit in a portaloo.).

Look beyond the headline figures and Ken is a whole heap of trouble in the making. And I say that as someone who isn't a fan of David Davis. The reasons for picking Ken at the moment are entirely superficial. He seems a bloke. He polls well - at the moment. It's time to take a break from soap opera politics, decide what we stand for and vote on that basis. At least then we would have faith in our manifesto.

Jonathan Sheppard

Ed/James in the last election whilst I didn't live in the constituency I fought - the fact that I campaigned for over a year - and actually had been brought up and lived closer to the main town than the current incumbent counted for so much.

Added to that - it was helpful to say that yes I had worked in the public sector for 4 years, and was brought up in a single parent family also counted. It didn't count as much as policies (which is what people really cared about) but it was helpful.

When the votes were added up it probably didnt matter one way or another - but to many people I spoke to I didnt come across as their impression (rightly or wrongly) of a typical Tory. The fact that my accent actually was the same as local people counted more both to male and female voters than what sex I was.

James Hellyer

Jonathan, the major reasons for the Conservatives recapturing my constituency were that the Lib Dem MP, who was a local man with a substantial personal vote, stood down to be replaced with one of the holiday home crowd, while our Conservative candidate, who had been seen as an outsider in 2001, had stayed on and campaigned in the constituency for four years.

We need to out Lib Dem the Lib Dems on the local front. We can't do that with candidates dictated by the centre.

James Maskell

Thats exactly the point Jonathan. You built strong connections through being involved with the area, instead of being shoved there to help because you were available. I dont have a problem with anyone getting involved as long as they are willing to put in the hours but for the candidate themselves they need to be as involved in the area as possible and as much as is possible should be from the local area, if not from the constituency itself. Otherwise the local electorate will never believe that the candidate actually cares about them.

Jonathan Sheppard

James and James - agree with your points. Im on the list - but won't bother applying for places where I know I wouldn't fit in at all.

Also agree about the need to put the work in. So many candidates still don't understand what's invovled. I think as a candidate the more you can put in the better. These days a candidate basically needs to do the job of the MP but while he or she is fighting the sitting MP. That way people will say, I might not like all what the Tories stand for - but that Joe/Josephine Bloggs works hard - She helped Mrs Miggins out when she got no joy from the MP. I'm going to vote for them!

Sean Fear

Theresa May's proposal is a very bad one. An "A List" would be dominated by well-connected party hacks. Merit would be the last basis on which anyone was appointed to such a list. It would also diminish the choice of candidates available to the 100 most winnable constituencies.

In any event, since when has achieving equality of outcome ever been a Conservative principle?

Simon C

Teresa should really stick to pushing primaries. Her idea of 50-50 men-women on an "A" list is flawed in every conceiveable way. I find it quite difficult to see how she can buy into the idea of primaries at the same time as supporting this centralising & tokenistic measure.

I suppose though that at least the 100th target seat to be allowed to select would have an easy choice - the candidate rejected by the other 99!

Oliver McCarthy

Oh Selsdon Man! If this is really the best Ken Clarke can do against a divided opposition then David Davis should be home and dry.

For the record, I'm twenty-six, and if Kenneth Clarke became Tory Leader I'd join the Socialists tomorrow. Clarke for his part is committed to one thing and one thing only, and that one thing is himself. I have never, ever, ever heard a young person (or, for that matter, any person) say that they'd join the Tory Party if Kenneth Clarke became Leader. Got it? The people threatening to leave the Party DO NOT WANT KENNETH CLARKE TO BE PRIME MINISTER. He'd wreck the Party, he'd wreck the country, he'd wreck the Atlantic alliance, he'd do everything in his power to wreck the Free World. The ONLY newspapers calling for Clarke are the ones on the Far Left such as the Grauniad, which will support Labour come what may. There is absolutely NO WAY the Times will support Kenneth Clarke. The only thing Clarke might do is alienate the Telegraph, whether the Barclay brothers are calling the shots or not. Try to live in the real world. WE DON'T WANT HIM. TAKE HIM AWAY!

As for Theresa May: If the Tory Party wants its own brand of brainless Blair Babe lobby-fodder, then her idea is a very good one. If we want to live in anything vaguely approaching a decent, free and fair society, then it's one of her worst to date.

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Conservative Home


  • Conservative Home's
    free eMailing List
    Enter your name and email address below: