Conservative Home's debate blogs


  • DVD rental
  • Conservative Books
My Photo

Conservative blogs

Blog powered by Typepad

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker

« David Davis: Six priorities for strengthening society | Main | Dr Fox's big picture speech »



I really don't think that we should be paying any attention to what Alastair Campbell has to say about our leadership contest. Half of the time I was thinking, 'well he would say that, wouldn't he?' Pleasing to see that he is laying it on with a trowel when it comes to criticism of Ken. I was particularly amused by Alistair Campbell, of all people suggesting that some of Ken's speeches are "designed for headlines, not argument."

James Maskell

AC is just a Simon Cowell wannabe. Thats all hes trying to do...Hell, he even has the look! Look at the photo.

James Hellyer

So how come Ken Clarke's fans take it seriously when Labour sources say "we think Ken's scary," but rush to dismiss other Labour sources who say "we think Ken's easy to beat"? Is that the sound of standards doubling up?


Not really James H. Campbell is the master of spin and double spin. You and I both know this? If you respect AC's criticism of Clarke, how do you respond to him dismissing Liam Fox out of hand?


On the contrary I think you should listen to what he has to say because the readers do. I always like to know what our competition say about us - it gives us an edge and the arguments prepared. Why would anybody be bothered about criticism? If it is unjust it gives an opportunity to demonstrate otherwise.

I dislike the language he uses though, can you imagine if the Tory toffs said of Labour , typical labour bully boy, all brawn and no brains because that's what he's been bred to be! How rude, small minded and unnecessary.

Perhaps you should amaze him and invite AC to the party conference with Simon Cowell, Ruth Lea, Polly Toynbee and Jeremy Paxman and as each candidate does their '15 minutes' speech, they can comment (X factor style) because that's what the leadership candidates are going to face in the real world.

James Hellyer

"Not really James H. Campbell is the master of spin and double spin. You and I both know this? If you respect AC's criticism of Clarke, how do you respond to him dismissing Liam Fox out of hand?"

I dismiss his comments out of hand. But then I've not placed any standing on opinions Labour placemen have put in the press. The same cannot be said for Clarke supporters ("the man Labour fears"... according to Labour).

Oberon Houston

The only point of interest was the last sentence. The rest was drivel.

Found it hillarious, when he was on the Lions tour as spin doctor there he won no friends, the players called him 'Sebastian' (character in the series 'Little Britain' that is the PMs assistant), and one of the NZ press turned to him after their 2nd victory over the Lions and said "Spin that you c***" [Sorry ED].

Selsdon Man

There is very little criticism of Davis - a long-time friend of Campbell. This is, in effect, a pro-Davis hatchet job of the other candidates.


Whilst I loathe Campbell with a passion and believe that he is being his usual largely dishonest self in this article there is a grain of truth in what he writes. Philosophical speeches full of generalities which all the candidates have poured forth are not a substitute for real leadership of our party.

Michael McGowan

I doubt we should be paying much attention to the views of political vermin such as Alastair reincarnated as a journalist at the Times (well, there's a surprise). That Tony Blair employed Campbell at all tells you an awful lot about how "nice" Mr Blair really is, especially when you consider other unlovely members of his nutting squad such as Dr John Reid, Peter Vain (sorry, I meant Hain) and Charles Clarke.

Campbell really doesn't have an ounce of self-awareness. He must be one of about four people who still take seriously the outcome of the Hutton Enquiry while his performance on the Lions Tour was abysmal. The Kiwis, with ten times more resilience and intelligence than Tory Central Office, got the measure of him very quickly and left him looking an utter prat.

EU Serf

......Unlike Gordon Brown, Mr Clarke is lazy and prone to leave the detail to others.......

Only a Socialist could approve of Golden Brown's obsessive attention to detail. The man thinks he is clever enough to meddle with every single economic decision we ever make.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Well said Michael. This arrogant, bilious, repugnant toad's thinly-veiled hatchet job on everyone except Davis should be dismissed as the irrelevant tripe that it is.


I agree with Oberon and Malcolm. I think AC's criticism of KC as lazy rings true but more importantly is his reference to the need for Tories to build "a coherent long-term strategy". The Tory candidates are good at ideas and sometimes policies but no candidate has yet projected a sense of an authentic, defining mission. Their speeches can resemble shopping lists of disconnected (good) ideas. Noone has yet found the equivalent of New Labour's 'economic prosperity with social justice' message.

Dave J

"...he is politically and emotionally incapable of taking the Tories to the centre ground."

One can be just as politically successful (or more), and in a far more enduring way, not by moving to the center, but by moving the center to you.


I've heard the above point made several times ,still don't understand it.I'd be grateful Dave if you could explain how.If possible without using any cliches.

James Hellyer

I'll give that a go, Malcolm!

The "centre ground" is not a political position in its own right. It exists as the midpoint between two parties.

If one party moves towards "the centre ground" it therefore moves towards its opposite number and, by repositioning itself, creates a new centre ground between its new position and the opposition's position.

People like Thatcher and Reagan tacked to the right. Their opposition parties were suitably discredited and their policies successful enough to give their positions if not popularity, respectability.

As they had moved to the right, the centre ground as a midpoint, moved to the right with them. As their policies were succeeding, the opposition moved towards the new centre and thus became more right wing (New Labour).


Campbell is the biggest dollop of scum to come down the pipe. Harsh, but true, and what he stands for is what the Tory party needs to challenge. In my view he turned politics into Premiership Football. He made it obsessed with image, the players and the final outcome. There is no attention to detail or morality in Campbell politics and the Tories need to rise above this thuggish, Wayne Rooney style and engage their brains and the British people. Show how different the Conservative Party is to New Labour by boldly disengaging from everything Campbell stands for.
(Having re-read this I realise that my opening comments don't actually fit in with my argument but hey, I'm only human!)

Daniel Vince-Archer

Hear, hear Alex. I agree wholeheartedly.


Mmm Campbells such a dollop that he has assisted New Labour to beat the Tories three times. If New Labour is Premiership Football what is the Conservative Party 'Chess Grand Masters' or 'Cricket' that does well once every twenty years then rides the crest of that wave in between. I despise Mr Campbell's views and what he stands for, his clever media spin (perhaps you need some media graduates on board), but he does connect with the mood of the people when it matters and isn't that what he is there for to paper over the cracks (of which there are many - in fact there are chasms opening up).

It is important that you stop talking to yourselves and people that already agree with you and connect with those that don't understand what you're talking about and how it affects them and their daily lives. It is one thing to have great policies (many of which Labour pick off before you can implement them) but if you can't communicate (there's that media studies again) them effectively to all the people that you're trying to help then you won't get anywhere.

Don't diss him take him on and beat him at his own game. I wonder if this Council Tax revaluation hold off is because the next election may be sooner rather than later and Brown (or whoever) doesn't want the bad taste in everyone's mouth.

James Maskell

Englands best Chessplayer (Michael Adams)is about to fight in the World Championships this month. Pity Chess doesnt get as much support in England than every other sport/activity this country has to offer...It had a miniscule increase in its funding from central government. Hopefully he'll do us proud nonetheless.

The election will be later rather than sooner. Why would Blair want to be in a hurry to leave Downing Street?


James,thanks for giving it a go.Not sure if I agree with your analysis 'though.Wasn't the reason that Labour was so badly hammered in '83 and '87 was because it had turned much further left (longest suicide note etc)?

James Hellyer

Yes, but the Thatcher government moved to the right and eventually Labour did likewise, and moved further so than it ever had before.

michael fishwick

Malcolm and James, enjoyed you both marching up and down the political spectrum. Surely the important thing is that the political centre is simply where the majority of voters are to be found? The Party which occupies the 'centre ground' is the Party most in touch with society as it is. The sooner the Conservative Party pitches its tent there (and stays there) the better!

James Hellyer

As Anthony Wells has reported on the UK Polling Report, "the electorate are continuing to drift to the right - on average they put themselves at 5.35 [on a left-right scale] compared to 5.20 last year and 5.17 the year before... the Conservatives continue to move slowly back towards the centre ground on 5.89, compared to 6.01 last year and 6.21 the year before."

It therefore seems strange to move in the opposie direction!

Michael Fishwick

James, surely this is good means (if we are to believe Wells) that as the electorate move to the right and the Party moves to the left, we should actuually bump into each other at some point!

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Conservative Home


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