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« Michael Howard’s double whammy hit on Tory finances | Main | Alastair Campbell rejects all of the leadership candidates »


Wat Tyler

Clearly much of this picks up the policy agenda developed by DD/Nick Herbert's Reform thinktank, along with the localism proposals put forward in this summer's Direct Democracy manifesto. It is the right agenda for us- classic Conservative principles applied to the issues confronting Britain today.

But the exciting thing about this speech is DD's insistence that our opportunity agenda is not something we should be ashamed of. Far from it. This is about attacking privilege and transforming the lives of our poorest and most disadvantaged citizens


I don't think any Conservative can disagree with anything DD says,but is it enough? I will be more interested when DD (and the others) outline specific solutions to the major problems facing our country today.

James Hellyer

"I don't think any Conservative can disagree with anything DD says..."

Paging Oberon! ;=)

Simon C

"In particular, and perhaps shockingly for a Conservative, I want to make sure that those near the bottom of the pile can realise their dreams, not because some focus group tells me that they are a target group for my party, but because it is the right thing to do for them, and for the rest of us who live around them."

I don't see why DD should think this shocking. Lincolnshire Conservatives got together on Monday night, and in a debate on the leadership rules (BTW electoral college seemed to be the preference, with primaries close behind) a self-described working-class Tory from Lincoln spoke very powerfully about the way the right to buy his family's Council House and extension of share-ownership had told him that the Party cared deeply about his ability to provide for and better the lives of himself and his family, and was determined to enable him to do that.

DD is right to emphasise the need to improve the lives of all Britons, but that's not shocking, and he is not challenging any taboos. Margaret Thatcher did it, as our Lincoln friend so eloquently said; Michael Howard & IDS both made impressive speeches on this theme during their leaderships; Liam Fox has picked it up with the Broken Society.

If anything, by suggesting that it is shocking for a Tory to say that, DD was pandering to, and even reinforcing, the prejudices & misconceptions of the left-wing audience he was adddressing. That is a pity.

Haven't read the speech in full yet. Am looking forward to doing so.

Selsdon Man

It is wrong to think that DD is solely a "Reform" man. He is a close friend of John Blundell at the IEA and is a supporter of the Adam Smith Institute.

If DD is elected, he will be more open to the ideas of these think tanks than Hague, Howard or Clarke. It is possible that the current dominance of the CPS and Policy Exchange would decline.

Simon C

I have now read his speech & there's a passage which suggests you are right, Selsdon:

"I have admired the way some of our leading think tanks moved seamlessly from providing policy ideas for the Conservative Government of the 1990s to offering help to New Labour after 1997, without deviating at all from their central purpose.

I look forward to the day when the IPPR, still regarding itself as progressive, still promoting fairness, inclusion and sustainability, produces research which can be taken up and turned into policy by a modern Conservative Government."

Simon C

"DD/Nick Herbert's Reform thinktank"

Did you ever manage to substantiate this idea that Reform is DD's think tank Wat? He isn't on Reform's Advisory Board or Council & Reform is supposed to be impartial, independent etc etc.


Not on the subject but I wanted to ask the wis(er) heads that inhabit this blog a favour.I rather stupidly volunteered to help the local association raise some raffle prizes for our annual fundraising dinner.Has anyone else ever done this?And if so have they got any good ideas as to where to get them other than local businesses?Any help would be gratefully recieved!!!

Jonathan Sheppard

Davis is clearly starting to set out his stall. This speech clearly makes a lot of sense and I would expect more details to emerge in the coming weeks. Public services, the family welfare, law and order and tax are clearly huge issues that will be deteremining how people vote long after the Iraq issue has "gone away" so to speak.


Without disagreeing with the importance of "Public services, the family welfare, law and order and tax", Jonathan, I'm not so sure about the Iraq issue going away if by that you mean the whole homeland security question. The alliance of evil men and increasingly portable weaponry is a pre-eminent issue of our time (IMO).

Simon C

The speech is a good read, no doubt about it. I wouldn't disagree with much of it at all (except as pointed out above, & also the slightly technocratic way that DD approved of think tanks seamlessly sub-contracting themselves to whomsoever happens to be in power).

And yet, and yet.... I was left with a nagging unease, the cause of which I haven't quite pinned down yet. I think it is probably because, after 2 months of no speeches from DD, there was nothing really new here that captured the imagination or refreshed what is looking like a becalmed campaign. There were quotes from Churchill, which have already been trotted out in interviews, references to the personal narrative (inevitably), echoes of his lengthy speech to the CPS in the summer, some ideas from the Direct Democracy paper...

All good Conservative stuff, but somehow it felt as if I had heard most of it before. I didn't see any new or original insight, nor anything to suggest that his thinking has developed over the last couple of months.

Which is a shame. Leaving my LF preference to one side, it would have been good to see a genuine contribution to the debate that would challenge the other candidates and help shape the Party's direction whoever wins.

Jonathan Sheppard

No - Homeland security is different to the Iraq issue (well part of it). By that I meant who supported the war in Iraq and who didnt which is being brought up in the leadership election. The question of who voted for war in Iraq will be gone by the time of the next election when Blair is no longer around.

Jonathan Sheppard

On the issue of Homeland security - we are ahead of the game by actually having ex serviceman Patrick Mercer in the position of Shadow Minister for this area. One wonders if Labour will be wise enough to do the same.


Thank you Jonathan. On the specifics of Iraq I still think it will point to something. Ken Clarke's faith in the EU is not unrelated to his opposition to the Iraq war. He instinctively trusts multilateral organisations like the EU/UN. Part of the mindset that is necessary for victory in the war on terror is that western democracies must be willing to act outside of multilateral fora if civilisation is to be protected. Ten democracies saying yes to action should count for more than one China or one Russia (a very immature democracy) vetoing action.


Jonathan,what has Patrick Mercer (admirable chap though he seems to be)achieved-anything?

Selsdon Man

Even our Charles Krauthammer, one of the Ed's favourite US commentators, recognises that the Department of Homeland Security is just an extra layer of bureaucracy. It is the Home Office (or State Department in the US) that should have sole responsibility for national security. Otherwise you have buck passing.

Why did Bush appoint Coldoleeza Rice, as former National Security Adviser, to the State Department rather than the Department of Homeland Security? Surely because, deep down, he knew that is where national security should be managed.

Selsdon Man

Going back to the Davis speech, it was intellectually and ideologically sound but short on policy.

Oberon Houston

Well, it’s difficult to disagree with positive aspirations, however as it stands it’s not enough. Many of the floating voters we are trying to attract will be concerned about a number of things. The main one is public services; there is no pledge to restrict reform or provide minimum levels of funding, which will worry many people. Labour knows this and will play on the electorate’s fears. There are other things that people will need reassurance on, how much change will be implemented, how large will tax cuts be and who will lose out and who will win?

The difficulty is this, Thatcher dragged the Country out of Keynesian economics and the destructive power of the unions, but many people who do not understand the details of these events attribute the pain required to do this to the Conservative Party, similarly, New Labour is benefiting from our management of the Country under Major and the public attribute this success to them. We have done a huge amount of good for Britain, but are still paying a high price for it.

As it is, Davis and his speech won’t lead us to victory. Many people will need a lot more reassurance on the scope of policy and minimum levels of spending for key services. In the last election many people simply did not believe us when we said we would support the NHS, and many others were frightened by us and what we might do in power. David Davis, out of all the candidates, will find it hardest to gain the trust of the electorate because his aspirations for change are, arguably, the highest. I believe a softly softly, little bit by little bit approach will get us into power, whereas the radical one is too much for many voters to contemplate.


Labour know they can't afford the bill for their unreformed, ever growing public sector either. So they need to be careful what they promise their Unions. Short term job creation boosts enthusiasm for the party but what about long term funding commitments they are creating they need holding to account for this too.

Even the people that work in the public sector will eventually realise that tax payers will not be able to afford their unreformed pensions. Public sector workers will have children, grandchildren and other family members who will not be able to pay sufficient tax to support their final salary demands. Someone needs to send the annual payments that a private sector individual would have to make to achieve anything like their pension to each public sector worker union leader that is threatening strike action, as they don't even realise how much is hypothetically being put aside for this purpose.

Many of the final salary retirees will retire to other Countries (as the tax bill on them as pensioners will rise too high) and they would then be spending their civil service pensions (that were expected to be spent in the UK) to the benefit of other Countries.

This is one of my biggest worries for my children.

Selsdon Man

We have to win back the people's trust on public services of the people before they will listen to us. Davis's talk of breaking health and education monopolies could scare swing voters.

Dr Fox's talk of a broken society only reinforces the impression that Conservatives do not like our people.

We need to talk about how we will tackle problems and how we will make Britain a better place to live. On this, David Cameron has got it right. He has the right language and is dealing with practical issues that will resonate with voters.

Philosophically, I am probably closest to Davis and Fox but they could learn much from Cameron on strategy and language.

Selsdon Man

A-Tracy - agreed! I have several friends who are planning to escape from Brown's Britain to other countries. There are lower taxes in Eastern Europe. Canada, I believe, has an attractive low tax burden for retirees.

Jonathan Sheppard

Mercer is a sound MP for Newark. Provided me with some extremely useful insights that were helpful to me prior to the election as I fought a neighbouring constituency. Not up to speed enough on his achievements in his positionas Shadow - sorry Malcolm.

David Sergeant

" Change the Welfare State to a Welfare Society". What a line to get your point over!

Wat Tyler

Simon C- Did I ever prove the link between DD and Reform?

Hmm...well, for obvious reasons, Reform make much of their independence, so you won't find DD listed among their council members etc. And I must confess my valiant attempts at finding a smoking gun were "patchy" (see my blog for 5 August- ). The only WRITTEN report I could find was bizarrely from something called EDP24- "The site where Norfolk really matters"- dateline October 31, 2001.

But look...Nick Herbert was the Director...Nick becomes MP (at rather short notice)...Nick slips into DD's leadership team like the proverbial hand in a glove.

Ummm...go figure.

Wat Tyler

Sorry- that should have read DDFL for 27 August

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