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« Expanded coverage over the next few weeks | Main | Tory membership down to "over 250,000" »


James Maskell

Watlingtons point should be brought in. If DD finds anyone smearing Cameron or anyone else, kick them out of the team. Prove DD isnt a smearer by having him fight back against those smearers.

One of the big things to have emerged is of a lack os skill in the speaking department. Get a speechwriter in and get them writing ASAP.

He needs to prove he's more than just a right winger and that his experience is an advantage not a disadvantage. He needs to use that experience and show hes a "real worlder". Go for the human issues not just the bread and butter economy, crime and immigration and foreign policy issues. What is he Party going to do for example to attract young people to the Party? I want to get big emails from the local association telling me of how large numbers of school kids want to join the Party and that they need my help to bring them in and show them what the Party wants to do for my area and the country at large.

Its not really difficult. Stick to the basics of campaigning. No issue is out of bounds, show you arent representing a minority in the Party and be true to the ideals of the Party. I saw it said that DD should take his version of the soapbox northbounds...YES! Thats a fantastic idea. Hope that helps.

Guido Fawkes

Gay Pink News has the story:

"David Davis has in the past demonstrated his gay rights agenda. He famously stood up for gay rights when he intervened in the torturing of a gay pupil by a gang of bullies at his tough inner London school."

You read it in the Mail on Sunday first - so it must be true.

David G

I think the main difficulty for DD will be obtaining publicity and so he will have to take some risks.

I think he should consider the "masochism" strategy (trademark Alistair Campbell) that Tony Blair used in the run up to the Iraq war.

DD should go to Labour marginals (where the Tories came 2nd) and meet small groups of committed Labour voters. These would not be "switchers". They would be voters who have always voted Labour and "would never consider" voting Tory.

Although - like Blair meeting opponents of the Iraq war - he would be unlikely to persuade them to change their views, he might be able to change their impression of what a "Tory" is like and of the sincerity of his views.

Samuel Coates

The next six weeks are a great excuse for us to showcase the party - if Davis appeals to northern towns more than he should go there and get some more supporters for us, if Cameron is good for Lib Dem marginals in the south he should impress some folk down there.
We are all working in generally the same direction, to get the Conservative Party elected in the next election across the country.


David needs to improve his website by making it look much "busier" with lots more sections, just like this site in fact! He should broaden out his appeal and list support from members of the party other than MPs, just like the Cameron site. He should do web-casts like the one DC did today. The DC site claims over a million hits, so it is crucial to win, or at least match your opponent in this arena, and do so from start to finish. People will re-visit a site that is frequently up-dated, as you know on this site. DDs site just does not cut the mustard at the moment. It lacks sufficient new material and is not changing enough.

Next he needs to be seen in as many different situations as possible, with different clothes and people. He is known as a man of action, so that is what he needs to portray. He needs to inject exitement and passion into his campaign. I agree with David G, he should go out and meet the people we need to win over and put the Conservative case, and in so doing he might convince the party members that he is the best man to win over those who would not normally support us. Of course this will only work if he can get enough media coverage.

As the under-dog he needs to work his socks off, and act like a leader in an election campaign. His time will be better spent in the media spot-light rather than simply touring the constituencies, though he needs to do that as well.


I'd imagine that many Conservative members will now be of the opinion that Cameron can reach out to new voters - both from what they have seen themselves, and the reaction from their friends & families. Certainly that's been my experience.

For Davis to have any chance, I think he needs to demonstrate that he can connect with new voters too.

With this being a ballot of members, it would be tempting to have a campaign aimed at the members. But actually I think a campaign aimed at a wider public would be more impressive, because the members want to see a winner more than anything, I'd suggest.

So I say pick a major, eye catching issue that has a resonance outside the Conservative Party and run with it. Start (or join) a media friendly campaign on that issue, become the voice and the face of it, speak to non party members etc. I'd suggest something like ID cards or an environmental issue.


Or, as it's Friday, a more light hearted suggestion:

"I'm An Ex Tory, Get Me Out Of Here"

David Davis takes 12 ex-Tory voters from various social and regional backgrounds to a retreat in the New Forest. The group is led by the ex SAS man on a variety of gruelling challenges - with food for their dinner being the prize. As they settle down for dinner round a camp fire each night, they share personal stories and David explains how a Conservative Britain would address the problems they face in life.

David G


Love your post.

I'd watch it!

James M

The worrying thing is Rob, not only mught that be quite good tv, but the TV companies would probably love it if they could get that!

James Maskell

Good idea...sadly theres a very large pool of people to choose from if looking for ex-Tory voters.

Tim Roll-Pickering

Sack the people running his campaign blog and get a decent one in. I very nearly emailed the campaign to tell them it had been hijacked!

Frankly Davis could do worse than replace his entire campaign team with people who know who the editor of The Times is, people who put up press releases that do not conjure up memories of Thatcher's final day, obviously terminate the smearers and try a fresh approach.


Never mind advice to Mr Davis. Some advice to those clowns at CCO. Didn't you have any idea how restricting voting rights was going to play in the press and on the BBC? It is unbelievable that you haven't spent these years in opposition sorting out a central computerised list of members, and that, for the sake of 15 quid, you aren't giving every member a vote. If you are making a horse's a**e of running the Party, how on earth do you persuade the electorate that the Conservatives can run the country?


Fergus, every organisation has to have rules and, excluding foundation members, and students, everyone has to pay £15 per year to be a member. At least the party is holding a democratic election for members to take part in.

Cllr Iain Lindley

Of course a centralised membership system was one of the points in the 21st Century Party document.

Daniel Vince-Archer

"Mr Oborne also recommends that Mr Davis emphasises his experience: "His time as a troubleshooting director of one of Britain's most famous industrial companies, Tate & Lyle, makes Cameron's time in the communications department of the media group Carlton seem lightweight by comparison.""

The trouble is, this could be interpreted as an attack on Cameron by the Cameronites and his sycophantic cheerleaders in the media and would therefore be accompanied by hysterical shrieks about dirty tricks, as anything that portrays Cameron in a negative light is. Unfortunately Cameron and his supporters have managed to narrow the debate down so much through their tactic of reverse smearing (i.e. claiming anything that can be seen to possibly portray Cameron in a negative light as a smear or dirty tricks, almost certainly emanating [note the difference between emanating and emulating, as somebody else seemed to have these two words confused] from the Davis camp) that Davis is unable to say almost anything other than fulsome praise for David Cameron without being pilloried by the Cameronites and the media (are they the same thing?) as being a smear merchant. It's even got to the point that Davis has declared that he won't be commenting on an issue that falls within his shadow cabinet portfolio because he fears that it could be deliberately misinterpreted as an attack on Cameron. This is ridiculous, and this NewLabouresque tactic of stifling free debate and criticism is one of the biggest reasons that I'm opposed to David Cameron becoming leader.

My advice to Davis? Stand up to this attempt to close down free debate and criticism. Why should he be afraid to discuss the drugs issue? He's done nothing wrong, so why shouldn't he talk about it, just because it's a sensitive issue for Cameron? Other advice? Impeccable preparation for the head-to-head with Cameron on Question Time is absolutely necessary - a bad performance then and the contest might as well be declared there and then. Play up to Davis's strong points - Davis's convictions (as opposed to vagueness {sic?}), Davis's straightness (as opposed to evasiveness), Davis's experience in business and politics (as opposed to inexperience and an easy ride in both), Davis's background and ability to relate to a wider cross-section of British society (as opposed to... well you get the point!). Trying to outBlair Cameron won't work, Davis needs to stick to (and exploit) his strong points.

Richard Carey

"Of course a centralised membership system was one of the points in the 21st Century Party document."

In fact the document proposed to abolish the differences in status of "central membership", and ensure that everyone was a member of their local party. Of course, the proposed replacement IT systems for the Party discussed therein would mean that such membership lists were accessible through a single database at CCHQ, which is what I think you are referring to.

Quite separately from the leadership election procedures, I was personally disappointed at the time that the other proposals in the document you refer to were dismissed out of hand by some members in my area. That said, I look forward to hearing *their* alternative proposals for change in the Party on the ground. Locally derived strategies often work very effectively, and indeed are consistent with the policy agenda of the Party.

James Maskell

The problem with the 21st Century Party document was that it was far too centralising. Anyone who does not follow the Party line could be removed from the Approved list a la Howard Flight.

While we are on the topic, as I understand it, the leadership rules change was separate from the rest of the proposed reforms. Whats the status of the rest of that document?


I'd say David remember that everyone thought Gareth Gates (who?) would win Pop Idol against Will Young but everyone eventually recognised that Will had the substance, the grit and determination to succeed, he won and indeed still is successful.

Remember it's not just the members you need to get your message out to (or allow to ask questions of you) as they are influenced by other none members and floating voters, focus groups etc.

Improve your website and update daily with fresh info for your younger target audience to read and join in with. Concentrate on the positive messages of what you want to improve for people.

Do as much media as possible including daytime lunch programmes like Working Lunch and Loose Women (I was told Brandreth was brilliant on that the other day very charming along with a recommendation to buy his new book).

Concentrate on your message and forget trying to score points you will do that automatically if your message is sound.

Richard Allen

Davis now has to carry out a very difficult balancing act. He has to simultaneously appeal to the membership and the wider electorate (in order to impress the membership). This won't be easy but it is far from impossible if as others have suggested he sticks to his strengths and then allows others to contrast them with Cameron's flaws.

It is vital that he makes a strong start and gives the impression that this is a serious race. There are many MP's and journalists who while not being genuine Davis supporters would prefer him over Cameron. For the most part they will back Davis if they think he can win but they won't back someone who is heading for certain defeat.

Davis needs to look like he is regaining momentum and central to this is sorting out his media operation. This is more a behind the scenes issue as he has already assigned his more media savvy and moderate supportes to TV and radio duty.

On the issue of smears I really don't think that the Davis camp has been behind much of what has gone on (Davis has not gained from it) but if any of his supporters are involved and are caught out they need to be dealt with firmly.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Another quick bit of advice: make more use of Julie Kirkbride! A much more media-friendly supporter than the likes of Derek Conway, Eric Forth and Andrew Mitchell. I saw Julie Kirkbride when I was in the audience for Question Time in March and why Team Davis hasn't made her the main public face (other than Davis himself obviously) of his campaign is beyond me. She's bright, bubbly, young(ish), attractive and female - all in all, the sort of person that the party needs to be attracting votes from and Davis would do well to exploit the fact that such a person is on board even further.

If DD is such a marvellous ex-SAS soldier why doesn't he kill DC. If he did that then he would win by default, surely?

malcolm thomas

Cameron might be vulnerable especially if further revelations come out about his private life - possibly on the subject of drugs. If Cameron is forced to stand down or is wounded by further allegations, Davis might collect - assuming this occurs before Cameron is declared leader.

If afterwards then presumably the whole leadership contest will have to restart from the beginning. Stranger things have happened.


Malcolm Thomas' advice to DD would surely boil down to keeping the drugs issue going as Cameron might be 'vulnerable' on drugs. This would be wonderful for us Cameron fans but possibly very bad for the party.

It would generate more sympathy for Cameron (as a party we hate the scandal mongering hacks and back stabbing born from our torments in the 90's) and bad for DD as it would show that he was not a party person and careless of, or unaware of, the wider damage such feckless speculation would do. Smears tend to infect everyone in the area and will cover the party on a much broader base than one man if they are reinforced by senior members of the party. It would reinforce the nasty perception of the party that is one of our main obstacles to power. Mr B’stard would be seen to be alive and well.

Such a tactic would show very poor political judgement.

And that is why DD 'closed' the subject today. Two weeks too late but he at last followed his (reported) own advice to the Shadow Cabinet. Say nothing at all.


Blue2win, do you understand the difference between discussing drugs policy, and discussing your own personal experience of drug taking? You cannot just ignore the former, and the fact that Davis has been forced to take this drastic measure bodes ill for the future. Once Cameron becomes leader are we going to have a situation where the Conservative party collectively refuses to talk about drugs policy?


DD has to do something which I don't think he's capable of: show the fighter beneath. I thought that's what this whole campaign was going to be about, but it seems he can't do it, because he's so insecure. So we see him on Newsnight yesterday smiling inanely and hoping that people will pick up on his great hidden qualities. Well, they won't. You have to show them.

David, just cast all your cronies aside, and cast aside your inhibitions, and do the tough-guy street-fighter bit. Challenge Cameron, challenge the media, challenge the 'narrative'.

But David, I know you won't, so I shall keep my hopes suppressed.

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