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An open, democratic and decentralised Conservatism

« David Cameron's old views on drug liberalisation are new blow to his campaign | Main | Dr Fox launches campaign with blend of Euroscepticism and compassionate conservatism »

Comments

James Hellyer

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Michael Ancram gets *it*.

Since the general election he has consistently spoken about how Conservative values are still relevant (see his speech "A new Century - The Conservative alternative") and how we can best communicate them (see his recent article for the Independent).

Conservatives should not turn their backs on their beliefs, especially when those beliefs are right for Britain.

As he has said,

"We must be clear on our position on the EU. We want to be in Europe, but not run by Europe. For that reason we must never accept the Euro. We must never accept a European Constitution whose effect is the creation of a country called Europe. We must resist the concept of a European Army within a European superstate. We must work for a Europe which is a genuine partnership of sovereign democratic nations. I look for a Europe within which we can trade freely, cooperate on matters of mutual or common interest, but within which we retain our sovereign rights of self determination. I look for a reformed less centralised and less bureaucratic Europe. Recent developments within the EU have brought that vision of Europe within reach. We can lead the rest of Europe in attaining it."

People like Ken Clarke will ultimately never look out for our nation's interests, because they do not believe in that nation. They believe that we are part of a European nation.

At the current time, Europe remains important. The failure of the constitution and the troubles facing the eurozone make the case for EU reform more realisabel than ever. Someone like Clarke, who essentially likes what we have already, will never make that case with conviction.

Listen to Michael Ancram...

buxtehude

Yes, he has been impressive. There is something seriously strange about proclamations that Europe is now a non-issue.

houndtang

I'm surprised Ancram hasn't launched his own bid for ignominous defeat.

Cllr Graham Smith

[a bit tongue in cheek, this]

OK, so if we discount Europe as an issue on which Conservatives should have confidence in their leader's views, how about regulation? Or did I miss the announcement that Ken Clarke is now a supporter of small government?

Coffee Monster

You missed the announcement. In the interview mentioned above he says:

"I am not a natural centralist. Look at my time at health and education: it was based on NHS trusts, GP fund-holders, grant-maintained schools, city technology colleges - I was the great localiser."

Simon C

It is clearly absurd to suggest that the European Union is a non-issue, and will remain so for the next 8-10 years.

The failure of the Constitution means that a new vision is required for the EU and its role in the world, and new institutional architecture.

Ken Clarke's attempt to close the issue down makes him look like an ostrich. Sadly, an ostrich would probably come up with a more relevant and compelling vision for the EU than Ken ever could.

Very good to see Liam Fox decrying the "little European" attitudes that are the hallmarks of the ever-increasing-union camp.

James Hellyer

"I am not a natural centralist"

Is this where we're supposed to shout "liar, liar, pants on fire"? As education secretary, he blocked any attempt to devolve real power to parents by some sort of education voucher. Moreover Clarke was consistently contemptuous of the performance and potential of local government.

Remember that this is the man who says that "local bodies [should] remain accountable to the centre and [then] one can give them clear objectives." He might have missed the last twenty years, but the lesson out there is that centrally set targets distort outcomes, by making meeting the target the service provider's priority, rather than provision of a service.

Simon C

"Mr Ancram said that the Conservative Party must not be led by someone who will squander this opportunity. I wonder who he had in mind?"

Must be Liam Fox.

Disraeli

Ancram and Fox... two men absolutely responsible for the Tory debacle of the last 8 years. Go ahead chaps, keep saying the same thing, ignore the public and we will probably be thumped again in 4 years time.

On the subject of education vouchers, the world is always much more complex than in the world of neo-liberal ideologues whose ideas generally have little connection to genuine Toryism. Any vouchers scheme at that time would have had very little support within the Parliamentary party and even less support in the country.

James Hellyer

"Ancram and Fox... two men absolutely responsible for the Tory debacle of the last 8 years. Go ahead chaps, keep saying the same thing, ignore the public and we will probably be thumped again in 4 years time."

Nice straw man. It must have taken ages to build.

If you actually read what they have said, you will see that neither Ancram or Fox advocate "saying the same thing" or "ignoring the public". In fact they have said quite the opposite!

"Any vouchers scheme at that time would have had very little support within the Parliamentary party and even less support in the country."

Like a lack of support stopped Mrs Thatcher implementing policies she beleived were right. Her belief was that it wasn't the policies that were at fault, it was the public. Or in this case, he ministers.


Disraeli

"Like a lack of support stopped Mrs Thatcher implementing policies she beleived were right. Her belief was that it wasn't the policies that were at fault, it was the public. Or in this case, he ministers."

Would that be her reason for signing the Single European Act and guillotining the debate in Parliament? It did represent the biggest handover of sovereignty in recent times.

James Hellyer

"Would that be her reason for signing the Single European Act and guillotining the debate in Parliament? It did represent the biggest handover of sovereignty in recent times."

The Single European Act was supposed to eliminate all non-tariff barriers to trade and was supposed to entrench the principles of subsidiarity.

This principle was intended to have limited Brussels’ authority to those cases where local, regional, and national governments could not legislate effectively. The subsidiary principle rests on the exercise of citizen and consumer choice. It was therefore in tune with Thatcherite ideal.

Nobody was to know that in the hands of President Delors “subsidiarity” would be implemented in the opposite manner from that originally intended. Delorsa asserted that Brussels had the right to intervene whenever necessary to “equalize” conditions across the union so that “subsidiarity” could be implemented without ill-effect.

Simon C

"Ancram and Fox... two men absolutely responsible for the Tory debacle of the last 8 years. Go ahead chaps, keep saying the same thing, ignore the public and we will probably be thumped again in 4 years time."

Disraeli, somebody with your name should really show a little more respect for the facts of history. The problems that the party has faced over the last 8 years did not begin on 1 May 1997, as you would appear to have us believe. The damage was done by the Poll Tax, the deposing of Margaret Thatcher, ERM, sleaze, and the antics of the parliamentary party (including its leadership) from 1992 to 1997.

The party leadership after 1997 had to recover from that disastrous legacy. Frankly Ken Clarke would be more appealing if, like Michael Howard, Peter Lilley, Norman Fowler and other survivors from John Major's cabinet, he had hung around and supported Hague as he attempted to start clearing the wreckage and rebuilding, instead of sailing off on the good ship BAT leaving the other survivors to fend for themselves.

May I suggest that you also read Liam Fox's speeches this summer, which have not been about the Party, but about the country. That's hardly ignoring the public.

James Hellyer

"May I suggest that you also read Liam Fox's speeches this summer, which have not been about the Party, but about the country."

And Michael Ancram's article for the Independent (linked above), which is largely about our need to reconnect with the public and how we can achieve that.

Disraeli

That really is a very rose tinted view of the Single European Act. No doubt if anybody other than Thatcher had signed it then it would have been classified as an 'act of treason'. I am pleased that you did not try to justify the guillotining of the Act.

Fox certainly has some very interesting things to say and I salute his focus on mental health issues and the environment, both of which have been scandalously oerlooked by both parties for too long. He has a very important role to play in any future Tory cabinet/ Shadow Cabinet. I am just not convinced that he has what it takes to be leader and I am certainly not convinced that we can risk all on another unknown right winger.

James Hellyer

"That really is a very rose tinted view of the Single European Act."

No, it's a view of what the act was *supposed* to achieve, as opposed to what it *did* achieve.

"No doubt if anybody other than Thatcher had signed it then it would have been classified as an 'act of treason'."

It's nice to see that you make up views and attribute them to people. I'm sure it makes discourse less challenging for you.

Daniel Vince-Archer

To be fair Editor, it isn't just Ken who is trying to sweep the European issue under the carpet.

Liam Fox also called for the Conservatives to end their obsession with Europe, and he's right.

How many election defeats is it going to take for people to realise that Europe is not one of the big election-deciding issues? No amount of posturing or squabbling on the issue is going to change that...

Jack Stone

Very interesting Populus poll putting the tories just three points behind Labour. Could Ken Clarke be working his magic already with all the talk about him becoming leader.
People will jump on board the party`s ship as soon as it looks like that the party itself thinks and wants to win and everytime you hear Ken talk you can`t help but think a Conservative government is on the horizon.

Daniel Vince-Archer

It would appear that Ancram is preparing to be the first of the 'big hitters' to perform the Fox Trot. I suspect this is more likely than the Davis Dash due to the fact that Ancram was a loyal lieutenant to the previous three leaders and would supposedly view the allegedly disloyal Davis with disdain.

Simon C

"It would appear that Ancram is preparing to be the first of the 'big hitters' to perform the Fox Trot"

Whilst I would certainly hope so, the post that started this conjecture was entirely speculative on my part.

Ancram's rallying call to Freedom in today's Times does have a certain Foxy resonance though.

Daniel Vince-Archer

I imagine that IDS will 'discreetly' {sic?} let it be known that he backs Fox as well. Duncan Smith and chums could well see this as payback time for Davis and his loathsome henchmen.

BB

Loathsome henchmen? Are you just swallowing some of the nonsense printed in papers - or do you have examples to hand?

Rather Davis than Gordon Brown me thinks!

Daniel Vince-Archer

I don't have a problem with David Davis and would be happy to see him as leader (admittedly he's not my first choice); I just think it's unfortunate that he chooses to surround himself with such undesirable creatures as Patrick Conway, who if I remember correctly, was one of the chief architects of Iain Duncan Smith's downfall.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Sorry, just had a thought, is it Patrick or Derek Conway?

James Hellyer

Derek

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