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« And the result is... | Main | Ken Clarke launches his 'Time To Win' campaign »

Comments

malcolm

Do they?You don't know that.You only assert that what you think is true.I'm glad we live on opposite sides of the country I'd hate to canvas with you if that's how you treat people who disagree with you.

James Hellyer

Either they do, Malcolm, or they are misrepresenting him. That's the only way the "too right wing" and "neo-con" smears can be used. They are wild generalisations that are misrepresentations.

As you are in the habit as dismissing other people as moronic, and so forth, you really shouldn't keep trying to lecture other people about their behaviour.

John G

Calm down guys, it's all getting a bit personal here. Let's stick to the issues shall we.

I can't accept the point that flagging up his position on abortion is going to harm LF. At the very least, those that care about the issue enough for it to affect their vote would be expected to look up his past voting record. I do however accept malcolm's assertion that, given abortion is a free vote subject in parliament, it should make little difference to us conservatives what LF's opinion is on the subject, as it doesn't tell us much about where or how he's going to lead the party.

That's not to deny that he hasn't received good press from it. Just to say that it shouldn't really be relevant.

"given abortion is a free vote subject in parliament, it should make little difference to us conservatives what LF's opinion is on the subject, as it doesn't tell us much about where or how he's going to lead the party"

I've heard this notion that he Fox is just expressing his personal opinion on abortion. But when you express a personal opinion on an issue in the context of a leadership campaign, then it's surely fair to say you are campaigning on that issue.

Fair enough, if he wants to campaign on abortion, but I find it an odd choice.

Not sure why I should be enthused by his focus on mental health issues either. Sounds quite worthy - I'd expect no less from a Doctor - but would it sway me into supporting him? Don't think so.

James Hellyer

I agree with most of that John. Dr Fox's views on abortion have long been on the public record and anyone who is really concerned either way would have found out. It's also ample proof that he's not chasing after the Cornerstone vote as is often alleged - they'd know this stuff too.

it should make little difference to us conservatives what LF's opinion is on the subject, as it doesn't tell us much about where or how he's going to lead the party

It's not as if it's a major point of his campaign. It's an issue mentioned in one interview. What it does tell us is about Dr Fox's character; like his dooged support for mental health charities (acknowledged by the Chief Executive of SANE) it tells us that he's not afraid to make a stand on unfashionable issues, and has the courage of his convictions. That's something to respect.

Oberon Houston

I thought the general public wanted the parties to focus on Health, Education, Local Government and Economy? Fringe issues are kind of interesting, but shouldn't leadership contenders be focusing on these things just now?

James Hellyer

I've heard this notion that he Fox is just expressing his personal opinion on abortion. But when you express a personal opinion on an issue in the context of a leadership campaign, then it's surely fair to say you are campaigning on that issue.

Campaigning on the issue would eb making it a core part of his pitch. This is no more a campaigning issue than Michael Howard's similar statement to Cosmopolitan magazine earlier this year. What it does do is show you that he's not afraid to stand by his principles. It's a matter of character.

Not sure why I should be enthused by his focus on mental health issues either. Sounds quite worthy - I'd expect no less from a Doctor - but would it sway me into supporting him? Don't think so.

It's an important issue, not just for those involved, but for what it tells people about the Conservative Party.

I trust you'll forgive me for citing one of Tim's recent editorials on this subject:

[Dr Fox's speeches]mark what might be called an 'extra mile compassion'. On many occasions when Tories turn to issues of social justice they focus on helping people to stand on their own two feet and to begin leading independent and dignified lives. That compassion is an essential ingredient of one nation conservatism and is vital in a Labour Britain where social mobility has stopped and welfare challenges have been ducked. But it is not enough.

There are some people who will always need special care and Conservatives should be proud to provide it. People with serious mentally health problems and the very old are two such deserving causes. 'Extra mile compassion' is not a compassion that will save money in the way that many necessary welfare reforms eventually will. It is a form of compassion that voters don't readily associate with Tories. Suspicious voters often think we dress old money-saving welfare reform policies in new clothes and they don't trust us to deliver them.

Dr Fox is demonstrating to younger and values voters that the economic bottom line is not the defining characteristic of his 'extra mile compassion'. He is presenting an unconditionally compassionate Conservatism that will genuinely help repressed people living under totalitarian regimes and, at home, he wants to fashion policies that will bring hope to women who have been victims of terrible domestic violence.


James Hellyer

I thought the general public wanted the parties to focus on Health, Education, Local Government and Economy?

And Dr Fox did in his recent CPS lecture.

Oberon Houston

True, and very good it was too, so maybe we are agitating a storm in a wee china teacup?

James Hellyer

so maybe we are agitating a storm in a wee china teacup?

I think that's what people are doing when they dwell on abortion, say. But the mental health and human rights issues are important for what they show. Cameron says we need to change, while Dr Fox has actually done so!

Ronald Collinson

'I thought the general public wanted the parties to focus on Health, Education, Local Government and Economy? Fringe issues are kind of interesting, but shouldn't leadership contenders be focusing on these things just now?'

Surely not! I return once again to my recurring point – ideology is of greater importance than 'electability'. Tory principles are timeless – it may take years, decades even (though I doubt that), for the electorate to return to the fold, but, when they do, we will have the satisfaction of knowing that we did not abandon our beliefs. The goal of a party in an election is to convince the electorate that its policies, stemming from its beliefs, are the right ones for that time. If we change to suit the people, then Britain will become a one-party state (as it threatened to do under New Labour – if we can thank George W. for anything, it is creating a situation from which Labour did not emerge triumphant), with nebulous, unsatisfactory policies – a dictatorship of mediocrity.

The ideal candidate, therefore, will be able to persuade the electorate that our principles will help Great Britain and her people, but bearing those principles is clearly a prerequisite for that.

Barry Graham

James, I have to admire your belligerence. More than 24 hours after our little exchange, you're still banging away the drum for LF, laying into Malcolm for having the temerity to quibble with you.
I was browsing through some of the other threads when I came across the following from your good self.
'If Dr Fox doesn't meet Cornerstone's requirements, considering his euroscepticism and social conservatism, I doubt they'd turn to the divorcee Redwood just because of his euroscepticism.'
Earlier in this thread, you vehemently denied LF was right wing, yet here you make the case that he has greater 'social conservatism' credentials than Redwood.
How - though I sense some semantic wriggling coming up - can social conservatism not be deemed right wing.
Further, you agreed with me that LF was the man for Cornerstone MPs if they wanted a 'principled eurosceptic'.
Though I'm no fan of Redwood, please tell me why folk who have an issue with someone being a divorcee can possibly be pursuing an agenda that will appeal to the average Briton.
I repeat, how can you deny - if he's appealing to that faction of the party - LF is doing anything other than shoring up the core vote, which is the same mistake Hague and IDS made?
How many electoral defeats does it take to show that the public don't want this brand of dogmatic conservatism?
Or is perpetual opposition a price worth paying for intellectual purity, as it was for Labour in the 1980s?

James Hellyer

James, I have to admire your belligerence. More than 24 hours after our little exchange, you're still banging away the drum for LF, laying into Malcolm for having the temerity to quibble with you.

Take things out of context why don't you. Ignore that person's use of the ad hominem...

Earlier in this thread, you vehemently denied LF was right wing

No I didn't. Provide a direct quote please.

What I did say is that you cannoot dismiss Dr Fox's campaign as right wing, given that he has covered so much ground outside the right wing "confort zone".

"yet here you make the case that he has greater 'social conservatism' credentials than Redwood."

No I didn't. I made the point that if Cornerstone were to try and forward a candidate who more closely met their Christian and social conservative ethos, it's hard to believe they'd pick John Redwood.

How - though I sense some semantic wriggling coming up - can social conservatism not be deemed right wing.

Because social conservatism is not right wing. There are people in the Labour party - Old Labour people - who are socially conservative.

Though I'm no fan of Redwood, please tell me why folk who have an issue with someone being a divorcee can possibly be pursuing an agenda that will appeal to the average Briton.

Do you actually have a problem with someone speculating about why they think someone else may not support a hypothetical additional candidate? Because that's what it seems like. I think it's a fair point that if Dr Fox doesn't meet their so called reqirements, it would be iodd for them to pick a man who meets them... less.

I repeat, how can you deny - if he's appealing to that faction of the party - LF is doing anything other than shoring up the core vote, which is the same mistake Hague and IDS made?

Dr Fox isn't chasing after the Cornerstone vote. If he were, then they probably would have endorsed him already. He's been setting out what he believes, which is far outside the crude right wing caricature you and others have been peddling.

The unconditional compassion he's demonstrated for people with mental health problems is proof of that.

You say you like Cameron's TALK aboyut changing, then why do you deliberatly ignore Dr Fox having ACTUALLY CHANGED?

Your assertion about shoring up the core vote, shows a certain lack of grasp about IDS (who was thrown out for not shoring up the core vote) and Dr Fox (who isn't following the same strategy as Hague or IDS).

Instead of taking things I say out of context and misrepresenting them, you might like to deal with what I actually said above?

Daniel Vince-Archer

"Laying into Malcolm for having the temerity to quibble with you... I sense some semantic wriggling coming up..."

Surely James H would never do either of these things Bruce? Gosh you'll label him as prone to pedantic nitpicking next! When will these wild unfounded allegations stop?

Ronald Collinson

Or is perpetual opposition a price worth paying for intellectual purity, as it was for Labour in the 1980s?

In a word: yes.

The Blairite line is that the Labour Party is superior to the Conservative Party simply because it is the Labour Party, regardless of the principles or policies it espouses. New Labour is just a vehicle for election, and, therefore, fairly useless in government. It was ludicrous for us to share the same fate. Electoral success is of no use if it isn't on our terms.

We cannot change just to suit the electorate. If the electorate really has given us up, then so be it. A new party can be formed, although the 'Conservative' part of the name would have to be dropped. It could be the Reform Party, or the Cynical Party, or the Quasi-Blairite Party. But it wouldn't be the Conservative Party.

We are what we are.

James Hellyer

Surely James H would never do either of these things Bruce?

And I didn't, given that Barry had relied on the tried and trusted debating tactic of making stuff up, while Malcolm recovered from another spate of alternately calling people "morons" and lamenting the increased incidences of personal attacks on this boards. The irony!

When will these wild unfounded allegations stop?

When you play the ball and not the man? Or more specifically, not the man one of you made up ;=)

Daniel Vince-Archer

Ronald, ideological purity is all well and good, but it doesn't count for much if you're not in a position to implement what you believe in.

James Hellyer

I don't think Conservatives can lay any claim to ideological purity. It's simply a coalition of groups to the right of Labour. There are common principles, held to a greater or lesser degree, concerning the nation state and nebulous things like freedom and responsibility, but I don't think these really have the coherence to claim ideological status (especially as swathes of COnservatives claim to be purely pragmatic).

Ronald Collinson

Ideological purity is all well and good, but it doesn't count for much if you're not in a position to implement what you believe in

I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, but, all other things being equal, it is certainly better to be in power than not to be. The danger is that we enter government on a manifesto which relies on giving the electorate what they want at the time, rather than that which we would wish to implement.

We would then have two choices: either we dishonestly disregard our promises, or we make changes which will not work, which will not be popular by the end of the term, and which we simply do not believe in. Neither is desirable.

James makes a very good point. Perhaps 'purity' is not the right word, as it is certainly true that there exists a broad range of opinion within the party, and it is indeed also true that many do claim to be purely pragmatic, without ideology.

If we might deal first with that latter point, I would begin by stating that it is certainly true that many of the self-professed pragmatists – Ken Clarke amongst them – have a well-defined set of beliefs, even if they are closer to centre than most. That self-deception aside, it seems to me that the belief of the pragmatists is so fervent that it becomes the basis of an ideology all of its own. It might be held as a high ideal (and a conservative one, at that) that the country be governed in a way that has been proven to work, rather than in a way that might theoretically work better.

That idea, however, must certainly not be confused with using meaningless rhetoric, and betraying any ideals that we have, in order to be elected in the Blairite style. Perhaps, taken to the extreme, pragmatism could be used to justify actively lying to the electorate and ignoring our manifesto, but that would undermine our democratic system and reduce our chances of being elected in the future.

If you then argue that the differences in the party are too great for us to create any manifesto suitable for all, we must then wonder why there exists a Conservative Party. In our desire to be elected, it would be all too easy to lose sight of the reasons why. If we accept James' argument, the party should instantly split so that the dominant faction can be active in government. We cannot exist simply because of our mutual opposition to socialism.

There is hope, however. We must never forget that we predate Labour considerably, and that many of the ideals that inspired in the nineteenth century are still valid now. They have been added to, perhaps, but the differences are not irreconcilable. I, personally, believe that the links binding us are strong enough to overcome our differences. It might be apparent that there are some points on which we are forced to disagree, but the direction of the parliamentary party can then be pointed by the leanings of the grassroots.

James Hellyer

We cannot exist simply because of our mutual opposition to socialism.

Indeed, which is why I highlighted certain key principles that are held to a greater or lesser degree by all Conservatives (the qualification is necessary, because it can't be said, for example, that europhiles believe in the nation state).

My point is that these principles do not constitute an ideology in the way that the writings of Karl Marx do, for example.

For that reason, different strands can be dominant at different times.

People talk about Thatcherism as if it was an ideology. It wasn't. It was a reaction to a national crisis. As such it contained many things that we take as libertarian philosophy with a huge dose of control-freakery.

It's the principles that unite the strands of thought, not an ideology.

Ronald Collinson

Ah, I see what you mean. The qualification confused me, and led me to believe that the tone of your comments was more negative than was actually the case.

There are many different ways of defining ideology, of course. Oxford describes it first as 'the system of ideas at the basis of an economic or political theory'. Taking the idea that it acts as a 'basis [for something more advanced]', one might interpret, as I did, that it involved the association of ideas that underlay the various strands of thought in the party; you, however, focused on the word 'system', implying more organisation. But I'm being ridiculous – I tend to obsess over words and meanings.

Let us say 'principles', then – it does seem more fitting to me, and rather less controversial. My point might be summarised, and amended, as follows:

Whichever candidate is chosen to lead the Party must hold beliefs stemming from the principles at the heart of the Conservative Party, and, though he may wish to modernise the party itself and alter the policies it espouses, he should make no re-evaluation of those principles in their most basic form. It would also be desirable for that candidate to be in accord with the majority of the membership with regards to those issues which divide the party, whilst also enjoying the confidence of the majority of Conservative Members of Parliament. Finally, as a secondary consideration, the candidate will be able to transmit the principles all Conservatives hold, and the policies he has devised, to the electorate in such a manner as to convince the majority of people that the Conservative Party should be in power.

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