Conservative Home's debate blogs


  • DVD rental
  • Conservative Books
My Photo

Conservative blogs

Blog powered by Typepad

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker

« Has David Davis driven the final nail into the coffin of Michael Howard's reforms? | Main | Lord Hodgson's case for democracy »


Sean Fear

Elections are indeed won in the centre ground, but successful parties move the centre ground in their direction.

For example, the Labour Party successfully moved the centre ground in favour of ever-greater state intervention in the life of the individual, and in favour of the redistribution of wealth throughout most of the twentieth century.

They did not accept that they should simply aim for the mid-point of politics c.1906.


What you seem to be suggesting is abandoning the centre ground to Labour. Given that New Labour succeeded by deliberately presenting itself as a 'One Nation' alternative and stealing some of our ideas and slogans, should we consign ourselves to the margins of politics, rather than taking the fight to Labour on the centre ground?

Oberon Houston

I’m sorry James, that’s simply not true. British politics has consistently moved to the Right since 1979, however we are beginning to reach a point of equilibrium. If we had won in 1997, we would have had:

1. No wasted economic legacy
2. A better NHS
3. No Scottish Parliament passing thousands of restrictive laws and insanely politically correct law (gay rights to adopt babies).
4. No Welsh Assembly
5. No Hunting Ban
6. No Constitutional Reform of the Upper Chamber
7. More Manufacturing Jobs
8. A proper railways infrastructure company
9. A thriving MG Rover brand
10. Proper pensions policy
11. I could go on and on and on.

A Centre led Conservative government is a very different animal to the Labour version. The longer we fail the country the more damage is done. Every day is a day of missed opportunity and increased Labour interference. If we procrastinate through to a 4th GE defeat, the consequences could be horrendous (People giving up on us and going to the Lib-Dems as the alternative). We have failed Britons too long on this.

James Hellyer

"What you seem to be suggesting is abandoning the centre ground to Labour."

No, what I am suggesting is that "the centre ground" is a movable point. Rather than moving it towards Labour, we should move it towards the Conservatives and fight them on our terms rather than theirs.


Labour beat us (electorally) on crime & the economy. We need to get some big wins on their territory of education, employment and environment. A right-wing government will not be in power in this country for a long time. A centre-right / or even centre-centre option is best.

James Hellyer

Yes, a Conservative government wouldn't have tinkered with the constitution to introduce Lords reform or devolution, equally it would not have interfered in business transactions like the Phoenix bid for Rover. However, your points about the NHS, pensions, etc are just assertions.

Education got worse under our governments. NHS reforms were never fundamental enough and, for a centralised system, it was under resourced. Our supply side reforms were timid and linked to inefficient state structures actually caused problems like the MRSA epidemic.


I am so pleased that for once the majority of Bloggers seem to favour the centre of the party and if it comes to a members vote David Davis won't have it all his own way.
This is the best debate we have had for ages

Sally Rideout Baker

These posts are hogged by very few people and are not representative of the Party at large.

Ken Clarke is well known. It is the politician’s job to get himself well known.

That was one problem both William and Iain had after Question Time was cut to once a week and relocated to a midnight slot on Television. They only became newsworthy when either in trouble or after saying something outlandish.

Theresa May is having a go, but it is an uphill struggle.

At the last Grass Roots election both Ken and IDS stood head and shoulders above the others. Many feel that IDS was dismissed after a foolish and selfish coup and it has even been questioned if religion played a part! It is DD who could split the party not KC.

Ken Clarke is so outstanding that he far outclasses the rest, a giant among dwarfs in fact.

Howard’s years are the wasted years. He should stand down immediately.

Labour could call an election at any time and we are still not ready to govern.


James Hellyer - Because his track record shows that he believes it?

Where is Mr Clarke's track record on saying that the constitution is dead and off the agenda for ten years? (As he states in his case for leadership). I thought Mr Clarke supported the debates over European integration and the euro right up until Mr Blair started the referendum ball rolling (which I also thought KC opposed Blair doing).

I could be wrong but I thought Europe was the one area that the Tory's were popular with the general public - didn't the party get the majority of votes in the European Election with UKIP in 3rd place beating the Liberals into fourth?

As for this right, left and centre? Is there anywhere that lists what the right, left and centre MP's are in the Tory party so that I know where I sit by which ones I usually agree with.

Is it simply that if you're pro-europe you're left?

If you are not the slightest bit interested in whether people hunt or not, does that make you centre?

and If you support the privatisation of the NHS you're right?

What makes Clarke & Cameron left (or are they centre)
and David Davis & Dr Fox right (or are they centre).

At least we had an evening, emergency night and weekend local doctors service and most could get to see an NHS dentist before the latest reforms removed many of these services to numerous areas James.


I do feel it is poor to suggest a Ken win would split the party, the grass roots centrists amongst the Party have stayed loyal during right wing leaders and I would hope an expect that those on the right would stay loyal and indeed see the advantages of a popular Conservative leader/PM. Lets not forget that the likes of Liam Fox, still in his early 40s and already popular could well be Clarke's successer and be able to introduce sensible traditional Conservative policies into an arena more willing to listen to our party after Ken has worked his magic. There will be both right wingers and modernisers in the cabinet.

James Hellyer

"James Hellyer - Because his track record shows that he believes it?

"Where is Mr Clarke's track record on saying that the constitution is dead and off the agenda for ten years?"

You weren;t talking about Europe in the comment I replied to. You were talking about public services. There Ken isn't telling people what they want to hear, he's arguing for his old centralising methods.

On Europe, Ken Clarke opposed having a referendum on a single currency or the constitution. His comments after the French referendum shows the one thing he doesn't believe in is trusting the people!


Ken has not endeared himself to the grassroots by criticising us for being too right wing. Also he has refused to be in any shadow cabinet for the past 8 years - hardly a team player!

He may regret this behaviour if it is the grassroots that retains the final vote, which looks like a distinct possibility.

Quite apart from his different policy on EU matters and Iraq, he would be an easy target for Labour, just like Howard, for his links to the heart of the Major government and the ERM disaster which he was one of the chief enthusiasts for.

We must have a fresh face unconnected with our last administration. Like Margaret, our next leader will have to build up recognition after being elected. Ken's early popularity is meaningless in a four year race.


Derek - Margaret Thatcher served in a previous and troublesome government under Heath before the Tories were booted out in 1974 - that didn't stop them making her leader. As for the ERM disaster that was under Thatcher and Major. It was the wrong policy, the wrong time and the wrong rate. Black Wednesday was under Lamont. Ken Clarke was Chancellor after that and he didn't rejoin the ERM or the Euro and he markedly improved the economy after the disaster of Lamont. Being one of hand full of Tory MPs who were against the Iraq War makes him credible as IDS and Howard completely messed up an open goal on such an unnecessary and illegal war. Still I'm sure this will not stop the Tory party continuing to fight over Europe whilst the rest of us have moved on.

Selsdon Man

The vitriolic above comments suggest that the party is heading towards civil war. Party conference will be a war zone. We need honest debate rather than personal insults. The supporters of each candidate must exercise self-control. The party must be disciplined and unite behind whoever wins. If not we can expect another 8 years of Opposition.

Mark Gladman

It is very sad to see the Conservative Party in such a mess after 8 years in opposition. It is vital for the future of this party, and the good of democracy for the country at large, that there be a credible, tolerant and representative broad church to the centre right of politics. This party will never win an election if it continues to indulge in a right wing political agenda, which ignores the world as it stands today. We must be inclusive and socially progressive, whilst holding firm on centre right economic ideas; moreover, could we PLEASE try to elect a credible leader this time! It should not need to be spelled out by polls or determined by minority interests.


Absolutely agree with you both Selsdon & Mark.Our arguments whether from the right,centre or left of the party should be considered,thoughtful and tolerant.

Selsdon Man

A future Shadow Cabinet will need the talents of all the candidates. We cannot afford to have a split and divided Party with senior figures on the backbenches.

James Hellyer

"A future Shadow Cabinet will need the talents of all the candidates"

Question: if Ken Clarke is not elected as leader, will he serve in the shadow cabinet, if invited, or is he not *that* desperate for the Conservatives to win?

Simon C

He has made it clear that he won't serve on the front benches except as leader.

James Hellyer

Then obviously Ken Clarke does not care about his party or his country. All that matters to him is personal ambition and placement. I don't think that qualifies him as leader.


I s 70 comments on one subject a record Editor?
A mention must go to James Hellyer for fighting for his anti Clarke position (almost )singlehanded.

James Hellyer

I didn't realise we all had to agree, Malcom!


We don't James,we don't.Nor did I mean to suggest that were in any way wrong to fight your corner as hard as you do.I was expressing suprise that on a blog that attracts some very right wing bloggers you had to do this (almost) on your own.

Oberon Houston

I like Ken.
So there.

Daniel Vince-Archer

It is surprising that the anti-Ken brigade has been whittled down to one for most of this post. Where are the likes of Derek, EU Serf and Wat Tyler when you need some proper right-wing mudslinging?

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Conservative Home


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