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


Oberon Houston

Interesting Blog – There is undoubtedly this tension between what some would like to do with regard to reform, and this reluctance from many electorate to accept rapid or large changes. I, for one, think that neither position is mutually exclusive. What the reformers need to think about is how they would implement such a plan that is on a road they see as delivering the vision, yet in a way, and at a pace, that the public feel comfortable with.

For example – “we won’t be changing very much in the first term, but it will involve the scrapping of central targets, greater autonomy for hospitals in how they wish to run themselves and spend funds”.

Once this is implemented we will look at what went well, what could be improved and take things from there. This strategy would then mirror the creation of the executives in public services under Major, some were extremely successful – others were not (CSA). The point is that by phasing in change in a measured way, unexpected gremlins can be managed better, the public will feel more confidence in our plans and ultimately, we can beat Labour at the next Election. The opposite would be policy derived without regard to the publics’ hopes and fears and therefore they reject us because we are wanting in connection with people, something Labour have unashamedly pursued, to terrific success, since 1994.

Simon C

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


Selsdon Man

Simon C - because it suggests that we think British society as a whole is broken - rather than certain sections.

Simon C


I have picked this up on the thread for Liam's speech last night

James Hellyer

Well, I didn't find anything objectionable in Davis's speech (besides his playing up to the "nasty" meme with his "shocking" comment). I suppose the only real criticisms were that he didn't really say anything we hadn't heard from him before, and that he remained very much in the political comfort zone, with a focus on economic measures and motivators.

Simon C

" Hmm...well, for obvious reasons, Reform make much of their independence, so you won't find DD listed among their council members etc."


I gather from a friend that you are right & Davis was indeed very instrumental in setting up Reform. I can't understand the secrecy though - Francis Maude set up Policy Exchange in a very public way, and Politeia has Conservative politicians on its advisory board. Neither has suffered unduly as a result.

Andrew Haldenby

Nick Herbert and I both supported David Davis' leadership bid in 2001. However, Reform - which we set up subsequently - was entirely our own initiative and neither David Davis nor any other politician had anything to do with it. People might like to be reminded of a letter which Nick Herbert wrote to the Spectator in October 2003:

"I fear the fetid air in Blackpool may have affected Peter Oborne's usually sound judgment. His implication that Reform's criticism of the Conservative party's policy on tuition fees was somehow motivated by an association with David Davis ('The road to revival', 11 October) was wrong on three counts. First, Reform strongly disagrees with Mr Davis on this issue. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the party's policy to scrap tuition fees. We have consistently supported them. Second, while I yield to no one in my friendship with and admiration for Mr Davis, Reform is - and will remain - firmly independent of any political party or politician: indeed, our constitution requires us to be so. Our council members and supporters include many people who do not even support the Conservative party, let alone one of its MPs. Third, Mr Oborne knows this perfectly well, because he wrote last year that Reform is 'not linked to any political party . . . . It has the courage to look at great issues . . . in the open-minded and bold way that politicians shy away from.' I have demanded from Mr Oborne, and expect to receive, a fulsome apology and compensation for his calumny by way of a ruinously expensive lunch at the restaurant of my choice."

Reform regularly meets and briefs on our work politicians and advisers of all parties and, not surprisingly, this has included a number of the Tory leadership candidates. Naturally we are delighted when our ideas are taken up. But that's as far as it goes. Anyone who doubts our independence simply needs to read our material at


Andrew Haldenby (Director, Reform)

Selsdon Man

I hear a huge cheer coming from 2 Lord North Street!


I was asked today by a colleague what DD's platform was and I replied that he hadn't set it out fully yet but from the speech I'd read last week (i.e. this one) I remembered pride of ownership and opportunity for all and I agree with him when he said that snobbery held so many talented people back. I also agree that as a Country we undervalue vocational education and too many feel that an academic education is superior in every way. I also agree with DD that there is a new glass ceiling on jobs for those that don't want five years of extended schooling, many jobs that Businesses used to train 'on the job' are degree entry level only now.

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