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« A series of appointments strengthens the Davis campaign | Main | Voting prediction winners »



This school leaver thing is interesting but does sound very vague. What is it actually going to be or do?

I love the support for the Dewsbury and other Urban Phoenix projects though especially teaching english, far more constructive than planting the Union Jack above every school.

Selsdon Man

What has happened to James Hellyer tonight? I would have expected an anti-Cameron piece by now!

Samuel Coates

Cameron keeps touching on little things which are pet subjects for me, this national leavers programme is one.
If there is any organised way in which government can facilitate and promote young people getting experience in the armed forces, business and charities, particularly in gap years, then it should. It will build character, give them a taste of the real world, aid recruitment for needed professions, and bolster the voluntary sector.

I'm in the OTC (Officers Training Corps - cadets scheme for uni students) at the moment and if I could I would try and get most students involved with it. The discipline, team work, fitness and leadership it foments is fantastic.

James Maskell

What exactly is he offering? He'd give more resources to the Home Office to fight terrorism? How much in resources and and where would it be used in particular? How would he use vigilance with liberties and terrorism? What would he do? Sometimes protecting Britain means losing some liberties...what is his judgement on that?

The use of communities is a good idea, albeit not completely original. He does need to flesh out what the national school leaver programme would be and how it would work.

Daniel Vince-Archer

"This Government has been casual about our security. There are serious questions to be answered about the resources available to our security services, the effectiveness of our border controls, and the operation of our asylum system."

So when will you actually offer answers to these questions Mr Cameron? It's all very well asking these questions but if you don't have any answers to offer in response to these questions, then you might as well not bother asking them. Instead of constantly harping on about what needs to be done, why don't you identify how these things will be done?

Richard Carey

"I love the support for the Dewsbury and other Urban Phoenix projects though especially teaching english..."

I couldn't agree more, especially given the practical support that I believe was given to this project by Sayeeda Warsi, the excellent former Conservative candidate in Dewsbury.

Urban Pheonix takes us beyond the boundaries of traditional political campaigning. We know that people are cynical about politicians and their pronouncements. So instead of preaching to them, this shows people the fruits of the kind of community activism that Conservatives across the country engage in week-in and week-out.


One subject that has received very little attention by either candidate so far is immigration. Unless the Conservcative Party is brave enough to talk about this massive problem, nothing will be done. 100,000 illegal immigrants a year - we must keep pressing for proper control.

Cutting taxes win elections

What's this rubbish about continuing with the socialist immigration policy of the general election - though good spot to note that neither DC or DD have so far talked about it.

Surely the Conservative Party should seek to remove controls on people and give immigrants the chance to come to the UK and better themselves in the opportunity society. We might even get a female under 40 to vote for us if we became pro-immigration!

James Hellyer

Does David Cameron only have a limited pool of soundbites? A lot of this stuff is repeated verbatim from earlier speeches and articles (e.g. "We must make it clear that there is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state" - which is something nobody has asserted the opposite of anyway, so it's typical wibble).

It's all very superficial. There are questions asked but no answers offered. Well, no answers unless you count totally undeveloped ideas. Take the national school leaver programme, for example, Cameron doesn't even know the answer to the most basic question - whether it will be compulsory. No wonder the liberal press cheer him on, with thought this sketchy he'll be ripped to shreds by Tony and Gordon.

Next please.


Tony is almost the same, rarely will you see him come out with anything substantial until a policy is actually unveiled, Cameron shouldn't be rushed into these these policy details, which he is avoiding in case it provides the DD campaign to cause chaos about.

Policy does not matter at this stage, we know Cameron is neither a europhile or sceptic, we know he's a liberal for freedom of speech, freeing up the tax system and cares deeply for public services... In my eyes he has the right principals.....the policies can come later.

I don not think Brown can do anything to Cameron, the only people who actually connect and understand Brown are the people who know their politics..He simply can't connect with the people and I doubt he'll connect with the papers either.

Richard Carey

"One subject that has received very little attention by either candidate so far is immigration. Unless the Conservative Party is brave enough to talk about this massive problem, nothing will be done."


Strangely, we have talked about this issue a great deal, at the last General Election. And while some people broadly agreed with the stance that we took in general terms, I shall put it bluntly - we lost.

So why, oh why, are you calling for this to be put top of the agenda again. It just isn't, at least nationally.

The polling on this is quite interesting. If you ask people about the challenges facing the country, immigration sometimes comes out. Asking people what is of most concern to their family, it is never in the top four (health, crime, economy, education).

We majored on immigration because it was where we appeared to have a poll lead, but with the huge benefit of retrospect (and polling data) it's no good being ahead on an issue that isn't going to sway anyone's vote. What is more, it appeared to feed into the problems with brand perception at the last election that hindered our communicating more positive messages. We led on one of the top four issues (crime) by about 2%.

By all means, highlight local issues caused by Labour's lack of planning for immigration in local campaigns where it is a particular issue.

Maybe that's a good theme - relentlessly local campaigns on local issues of importance.

I shall now slink away having posted the blindingly obvious...

James Burdett

Our recent obsession with Immigration and this idea that if we push a little harder with it or dress it up slightly differently it will be a winner reminds me of a little bit of history. Tariff reform in the early 20th century was just as electorally lucrative for the Tories as Immigration now, ie not very. Yet it was perpetually refined to 'make it work', it was also called 'Empire Free Trade' to try to disguise it's protectionist bent. It failed, it was only when this obsession was quietly dropped that the Conservatives began to prosper. We might want to ditch a few of our recent obsessions too. You never know we might start winning elections.


You can't expect the poor chap to start launching concrete policies which can't be introduced till 4 years time at the earliest, IF he is elected Tory leader, IF he wins the next General election. Its quite absurd and would be entirely foolish on his part.

An error we made during the build up to the last General Election, and one we should ought to learn from, was that we allowed Labour to goad us into making all sorts of unnecessarily watertight promises. This allowed them to shift attention from their failed, unpopular Government, to misrepresenting ours. (they'll do it again with greater success, thanks to the mid-Dec headstart DD's prolonged campaign has gifted them).

Of course we need to know DC's general policy ideas and direction for the party, but at this stage its imperative to keep them flexible so that they can evolve in light of changing circumstances, many of which we should expect over the next 4 years (economy especially).

This representation of DC as some sort of neo-Blairite or left-wing loon is totally repulsive. Heaven forbid a presentable Tory, that holds that all too rare, age-old political skill of saying things that people feel, and a charm that allows him to communicate with non-Tories despite his Eton trappings, has leadership ambitions! - release the hounds and bring in Davis...

James Hellyer

"You can't expect the poor chap to start launching concrete policies which can't be introduced till 4 years time at the earliest"

Oh please, put this pathetic line away. There is a world of difference between asking him to provide a manifesto for the next election (which seems to be what his fans claim any attempt to get him to flesh out his ideas is doing) and trying to see whether there is any depth or coherence to his thought. The simple fact is that no even the most basic questions about his ideas have been thought through. The only thing that can tell us about his "direction" is that it will be Blairite rudderless - making policy (badly) on the hoof.

James Maskell

I dont really agree with you Sam, about policy. As James Hellyer (whose abrasive writing style weve all gotten on the wrong side of) says, we need to see depth in his thinking and his ideas. Its all well and good him talking about community cohesion but in practice what does that mean...creating more organisations to give young people something to do? Im pretty sure Labours already pushing that button. I know a whole platter of new gorups are being organised down here to do that. How would DC deal with that?

The people can see a pre thought out soundbite and arent stupid. They want more than a soundbite. They want to know for example how much money they are going to have at the end of the month for themselves and they want to know their kids will have a place in a good school. Its easy to charm people with generalities but when it gets to the more substantial bits he needs to get it over soon.

Blair and Brown will eat him alive if he sticks to vague generalities.


A national school leaver programme, involving business, the armed forces and voluntary organisations to give young people a constructive and inspiring start to adult life...

Are the children going to be paid the NMW? Is it voluntary or compulsory service? for how long a duration? Will they be able to get into University if they don't do it? Will it start to affect their job prospects if they don't toe the line and tick the box? This is my children that would be affected by this statement and I wouldn't vote for something that forces them into projects against their will and whilst they want to be working to put money aside to support their education and save for their families future. I don't suppose wealthy families have to consider these things but all those in the middle do.


“Blair and Brown will eat him alive if he sticks to vague generalities.”

I think that the opposite is true. Too much detail will enable Labour to take policy proposals out of context and make sound bites out of them. I read in today’s Daily Torygraph that Davis is to announce ‘far reaching tax cuts’. In my opinion this will be an error. Labour will paint Davis as cutting taxes at the expense of public services, will try to claim that under Davis public services are at risk, and electing Davis would take Britain back to the bad old days of the early 1990’s.

Cameron’s ‘sharing the benefits of economic growth between public services and tax cuts’ is very clever. By NOT giving detail it makes it harder for Labour to attack. I would love Cameron to give more detail to the Tory membership so they can make the right decision, but in doing so it gives Labour ammunition. The advantage of being in opposition is that you can criticise the government (where appropriate, rather than on everything), without giving detailed alternatives. Only when it’s close to the General Election should the opposition flesh out the detail.

James Hellyer

"By NOT giving detail it makes it harder for Labour to attack."

On the contrary, it makes him easy to attack as a political lightweight. All an interviewer has to ask him is what exactly he means and then he's stuffed.

Before the Conference, David Cameron had a meeting with the political correspondents of regional newspapers. I've spoken with a couple of them and the consensus was that he was a lightweight, precisely because when he was asked for about the most basic points of the policies he raised, he had no answer and gave no sign of having thought about it at all.


What sort of an objective is "Improving quality of life"? This isn't telling us where DC stands on anything - I mean what politician is AGAINST improving quality of life? He's going to need to be a bit more imaginitive than this. What does he actually want to do? And (perhaps more importantly) how is it any different from Blairism?


Improving quality of life involves things like improving environmental surroundings and transport as well as securing economic growth and prosperity.

Basically this is a commitment to improving public services.

James Hellyer

"What does he actually want to do?"

Introduce more street cleaners.

At least that's what this sounds like:

"People in Britain today don’t just want to be better off financially, with decent, well-paid jobs. They don’t just want public services that work. They want Britain to be a place which lifts the spirits.

“Where streets and public spaces aren’t filthy..."


Why doesn't he just say
"Bad Things Shouldn't Happen to Good People"
and leave it at that

One inane statement makes the five above redundant.


"I recently visited a fantastic initiative in Dewsbury which helps British Asian children learn English, a vital part of community cohesion.

A national school leaver programme, involving business, the armed forces and voluntary organisations to give young people a constructive and inspiring start to adult life...."

Why are we having to reach children born in Britain English ? That "fantastic initiative" is using public money to teach children born in Britain to speak the language of the country.............doesn't that show a real failure over 40 years ?

As for a "national school leaver programme" Germany has one - it is called Wehrpflicht. Those who don't want to be in the Army do civilian work in nursing homes - is that what he is proposing ? Or just a Camp America ?

David Cameron ought to read the Budget of his local Council from cover-to-cover before proposing more spending for ratepayers to finance. That is how Labour played this game - put the duty on the Council, impose the cost on the Council Tax Payer.


Why doesn't Cameron just read this Ofsted Report ?

He can see the absolute abject failure


I do see where everyone is coming from about the whole policy issue. I think I float somewhere in the middle. Yes, I think Cameron's details are sketchy at the moment. Yes, I think more work should be done to expand them. Yes, I think we need to be able to know more concrete details.

But this is a leadership election. It's not the general election. That will be held in four years time, possibly against a very different backdrop to the one we have now. Crime might have fallen. The economy might have gone into a downturn. Immigration levels might be seen as 'acceptable,' etc, etc.

It's all very well campaigning on today's issues at the moment, but policy will have to change over the next few years to adapt to current circumstances. If David Cameron were to make an out-and-out promise to introduce a school leavers programme, and then worked out how it would be financed, when it would be run, at what frequency, whether it would be compulsory, etc, etc, that would be seen as a firm pledge that might not stand up in 2009.

All Cameron can do is give an outline of the sort of policies he would like to introduce. Yes, he can expand on some of them, and yes, he should do that. But for quite a few, it would be dangerous to make such firm commitments when the general election is still four years away. He would be ripped to pieces.

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