Conservative Home's debate blogs


  • DVD rental
  • Conservative Books
My Photo

Conservative blogs

Blog powered by Typepad

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker

« If you were an MP, who would you support in the first round of voting? | Main | Ken Clarke boosted by Andrew Lansley's endorsement »


Henry Mackintosh

Oh for goodness sake - a fortnight of rolling drugs muttering has plainly not done Cameron any good whatsoever. It is of course a pity that the leadership has declined to this, but then that suggests only one thing: we are confronted with what is, in truth, a rather poor selection of candidates. Davis is uninspiring, Fox and Cameron are differently insubstantial yet flawed, and Clarke is plainly past it and divisive. But here's the thing: whatever is asserted here, in the national media or by MPs, the 'drugs issue' will not go away for Cameron, if he makes it through to the final pair. Now that this has become a matter of public controversary, it's the ordinary of party members who want answers from their would-be leader.

I'd also point out that you're being a bit over-excitable about the press. One swallow does not make a summer, and one weekend without 'a hit' hardly means that every weekend will be like that. Cameron needs to clear up whether he is sitting on a timebomb - and formulations like 'I don't want to talk about drugs at university' are hardly very inspiring.

As has been mentioned elsewhere, the one interesting poll this weekend in the IoS one which shows that *none* of the contenders currently poses a serious challenge to Gordon Brown. I have always had serious doubtes about whether Cameron can 'grow into' the leadership, and the way he has mishandled this drugs business does nothing to encourage good cheer.

And since I've already risked looking stupid on another thread with predictions, here goes another one: if there's something like 30 votes between the front runner and the next candidate come Tuesday evening, the money is going to flood back to Davis very quickly. People who have posted here about 'Fox supporters' going to Cameron really do misundertsand what potential Fox supporters are like. Hint: they're not the sort of people who like ars*-licking Treasury memos making the case for the single currency.


DD still has a chance. Cameron, in his conference speech, made this contest all about values. It was a stroke of tactical genius for his campaign, but potentially a big strategic mistake for the Conservative Party.

Cameron argues that the British people do not reject Conservative policies, only the Conservative label, ie the ‘brand’. He is right about that. He goes on to argue that the remedy is to change the party's values, to make them more like those of modern society.

This prescription makes a fundamental error. The same as can be said about the electorate’s reaction to Conservative policies can be said about Conservative values: it is not the values that are rejected, but the identification with the label. And so adopting the values of The Guardian newspaper and the Notting Hill social circle will not make the British people re-identify with the Conservative Party. In fact, it might be throwing out a massive asset. And anyway, how can you change your values? It’s a contradiction.

No, what has to change is not the ‘values’ nor the ‘policies’ but the human identity that is an obstacle to acceptance of both: the way the typical Tory MP appears arrogant, aloof, privileged, uncaring, motivated only by self-gratification. Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs are identified in all sorts of negative ways too, but the one thing at bottom they are grudgingly allowed is that they care about the ordinary man and woman more than the Tories.

DD can’t just focus on his reform policies, because every time Tories talk about reforming public services they are suspected of wanting the dismantle them because they don’t care. Only when people believe you care will they let you reform. The policies matter of course, but must be founded on a belief that you’re doing it for them, for the ordinary people who try hard but get crappy lives.

Cameron thinks his metropolitan values will achieve that crucial shift in public perception. That won't work - as D'Ancona puts in in today's Sunday Telegraph, his aura right now is a 'South Sea Bubble'. Cameron's persona could turn out to be just another new obstacle, because it doesn't and refuses to connect with the ordinary. DD needs to make people see that. He needs to demonstrate his affinity with, and championship of, ordinary people. And he has to do it in a striking, unmissable, explicit way.

For his stuck-in-the-mud campaign team, I'll repeat that last bit: he has to do it in a striking, unmissable, explicit way. He has to show himself a fighter and a winner, and not just for himself.

Wat Tyler

Yes, in those dark stilly watches, I've also been wondering if Cameron is actually stoppable. As a gushing ST profile says today, he's "hope made flesh". To reject DC is...well, to abandon hope, I guess.

But the fact remains, he's incredibly inexperienced, and we don't know what he stands for on key issues like public service reform. Plus, his excellent media machine has looked like blowing the odd gasket once or twice this week.

It's a great shame we don't have a proper poll this weekend, but as Bux says, the Indy poll certainly does not suggest DC is an electoral magic bullet. Anymore than Ken was.

Keep those feet on the ground.

James Maskell

Reading the Mail was an interesting job. On the one hand the Mail has given Cameron a tough time but still provides a 2 page report on Cameron and his home life and other questions, which does portray Cameron as a caring guy who is as normal as anyone else and copes with a disabled child.

He can be stopped but the other campaigns need to buck up their ideas and do some serious knuckling down. DD shouldnt need to be cavorting round charming MPs. If he has 66 he's through and needs to start working on letting the membership know more about him.

Jonathan Sheppard

Lansley for Clarke eh - another one for Ken

Jonathan Sheppard

What do you guys make of the Jonathan Dimbleby interview with Davis?

I have to say sitting with someone who isn’t interested in politics at all - it is sometimes the people in the media who all think they should behave in a "Paxman" like way constantly interrupting that puts people off politics.

Why there is a need to be so aggressive is beyond me!

Jono Bennett

you sure about lansley? its not on the news yet?

Jonathan Sheppard

Lansley announced on TV to Dimbleby yes.

Jono Bennett

thanks. good news for clarke. think he has many undeclared supporters in the commons. lets hope the big beast can get through to the last two.

Re interviewers being 'aggressive', there is a widespread (and generally accurate imho) perception that politicians in general have convinced themselves that 'if you got a team of lawyers to pore over my statements for a month you'll find that I wasn't actually lying, sort of, if you look at it slantwise, maybe, a bit' is the same as telling the truth. There are and always have been exceptions to this, but those are generally on the fringes not at the top of the major parties.

A recent example of this would be Cameron's comments on drug use - not the honest refusal to comment, but the evasive references to university giving the impression that if he did take drugs then it was only at university, but without saying so. I'm not implying that he necessarily is being dishonest there, just that years of politician watching makes anyone wonder. I'm also not implying that the other contenders are any better, just using a current example.

That's why (imho) interviewers feel they need to be 'aggressive'. Just to get something that might be a meaningful answer.

Maybe it's a misperception. Maybe the interviewees really do comprehend that you can't be both deceptive and honest at the same time, or at least that it's the absence of deceit that matters and not some technical honesty. It just often seems that they don't.

susie boni

MP George Osborne denies it but still refuses to say whether he's EVER taken Class A drugs
By Susie Boniface
A WOMAN last night sensationally stepped into the Tory drugs row to claim: "I took cocaine with George Osborne."

Former vice-madam Jennifer Shackleton is the first person to break cover in the furore which has engulfed the Tory leadership campaign.

Shadow Chancellor Mr Osborne and his pal, leadership candidate David Cameron, have repeatedly refused to answer the question: "Have you taken Class A drugs?"

Now Shackleton - a one-time dominatrix known to Mr Osborne as Nathalie - has added her voice to the debate.

She claims to have snorted cocaine with Mr Osborne - just 22 at the time - and an Old Etonian pal of his called William during a series of parties 12 years ago.

A photograph taken at the time shows Shackleton, who had convictions for supplying drugs and brothel-keeping, hugging Mr Osborne at her then flat in Kensington, West London.

James Maskell

I saw that photo and the articles in the papers. It does look rather damning. That roll up isnt just a cigarette. You can see a pack of Silk Cut nearby, along with what loks like a line of cocaine on the table. Of course there might be no truth in this story but on the other hand... This is very bad.

It must be said that this isnt unexpected. The media has tried going through Cameron himself, then a relative and is now going for his best friend...who next? Maybe someone will track down the said relative.

Jonathan Sheppard

Thanks anonymous - I dont see how constantly interrupting someone ever helps to get an answer. Some Chairs at the various party conferences attempt this style and it is great to see politicians from both sides basically put them in their place so they actually get the chance to speak.

A less agressive style can often lead to much more being revealed with the interviewee feeling more comfortable and less guarded.

James Hellyer

Thanks anonymous - I dont see how constantly interrupting someone ever helps to get an answer

It can highlight when people aren't answering the question (see "Did you threaten to overrule him?").


What would the girls from St. Trinians's make of all of this debate so far?

Jonathan Sheppard

Walden got answers without resorting to aggressive interviewing techniques. The more someone inervenes the easier it is to get away without even saying anything.

And did MH ever threaten to overrule??

James Hellyer

It was a yes or no question that he refused to answer with a "no". Most people take that as a "yes".


Remember the 15th album of Asterix, which in french was called "La Zizanie", I don't what the title of the translated version was called, but it was all about a little chap who had this incredible gift of being able to make even the closest of friends argue about the most insignificant of details, whereas the greater threat was gathering outside.
Is this what I am seeing now?

Daniel Vince-Archer

Was that Asterix and the Soothsayer?

Jonathan Sheppard

James - may be wrong - but I think they went back to the Paxman Howard encounter when Howard became Tory leader and it was shown Howard didnt threaten to overrule.

Oh well - that event did make interesting television - I remember watching it when it went out!


No, I think that that was probably "Le Devin" (in French). That was I think no 19 or 20.
La Zizanie was about how the little twerp who made everyone argue with each other, he walks into the village and offers a jug to Asterix instead of Abracourcix.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Ah yes Asterix and the Roman Agent. I believe the equivalent here would be 'The Conservatives and the Blairite Agent' ;-)


No, I think that it's just a natural consequence of the fact that for so long you have been so inward looking that now that it comes to the fact that you all have to come out your closet that you have to decide which skeletons to leave in the closet and which to leave behind.


The Howard Paxman moment is interesting because of what we learned afterwards -
a) that Paxman kept asking mainly because the editor in his ear told him the next item wasn't ready, and he had nothing else
b) Howard kept evading because (he said later) he wasn't 100% sure and wanted to check the facts
So by accident, as it were, we got the definitive example of politicians not answering.


c) the research team got the question wrong but Paxman was to arrogant to believe that the research team would ever give him a question that made him look like a fool.

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Conservative Home


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