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« Party democrats urge more than two names to be presented to country | Main | Andrew Lansley confirms he won't be standing »


James Hellyer

This idea of flying the flag, for example, is just silly.

Why? It's not that long since the flag was flown on all our public buildings.

they should not, and cannot, force citizens to be patriotic.

It isn't forcing people to be patriotic. It's supplying a symbol of national unity that people may or may not invest in.

Adrian Sherman

Shock horror, a patriotic Tory. Now there's a rare thing, these days.

Though I'm still favouring Ken, Fox has the substance to change the Britain of the 21st century, a squalid and lawless little place, around. Cameron by contrast, is totally vacuous and will only hasten the rather rapid decline of 'Britistan', whilst he, his family and his fellow Old Etonians bugger off to their 17th century water mills in Suffolk.

I hope that Fox sticks to his guns and trashes the utterly plastic Cameron.

Cllr Iain Lindley

RE: unsolicited mail

Some groups in the Party are particularly annoying when it comes to trawling *everywhere* for e-mail addresses. The worst offender is Robert Oulds and the Bruges Group, and I know he shares his data with Chris Kelly (CWF Executive - though as far as I'm aware the rest of CWF aren't party to it), it may well be that either of these individuals has your e-mail address from somewhere and passed it on. Both are probably Davis supporters although Oulds may be more in tune with Liam Fox.

Barry Graham

Can't argue with Fox's delivery, although it lacked the sheer dynamism of both Cameron and Clarke's contributions.
The problem lay in its content. Whatever its compassionate elements on such as mental health, the headline-grabbing elements were the Union flag opportunism and staunch Euroscepticism, which were a clear attempt to shore up the right-wing vote.
Tactically, it may well be a sound move in delivering him the Cornerstone and reactionary vote within the party, but in terms of winning a General Election, he offers little new from the failed campaigns of the recent past.
I trust the party won't make the same mistake again.

Adrian Sherman

"I trust the Party won't make the same mistake again".

No Barry, I don't think Cameron will be elected.

James Hellyer

he offers little new from the failed campaigns of the recent past

You mean apart from the compassionate elements you mentioned, such as a society that doesn't look the other way, whether it's at home or abroad?

I think it's misleading to aliight on brief secions like the one on the EEP, or the flying the flag, and claim that's what he'd run a general election campaign on.

The move with the EEP would be immediate. The work with the Eastern European nations ongoing. And the agenda for the next election? Well, as he said we lost in '01 and '05 because we didn't talk about the issues that mattered to people. We talked about our issues. The compassionate sections of his speech, the prosperity agenda and the part about education give a good idea about what issues he thinkd matters.

James Burdett

I am disappointed that Fox feels that he has to appear like an extreme right-winger to attract interest. Having met the good Dr, he is a very engaged and engaging politician with a considerable amount to offer. The problem is he is unlikely to get to stage 2, but I think that he would go down well with activists if he did. He is allowing himself to be unfairly caricatured which is a huge disservice to his considerable talents.

James Hellyer

Well, the right wing elements of the campaign are necessary to give him a good chance of getting to the final two Sadly without them the MPs would have split between Davis and A.N. Other Moderate.

But having said that, I think Dr Fox has consistently challenged the narrow right wing straight jacket that people try to put on him. His consistent emphasis on a human rights based foreign policy and on creating a society that doesn't look the other way, offers the sort of unconditional support to the most vulnerable that you just don't hear from even the most moderate Conservatives.

Ronald Collinson

It isn't forcing people to be patriotic. It's supplying a symbol of national unity that people may or may not invest in.

That may be the way Dr Fox sees it, but the youth of today will interpret it as invasive – if they even notice. At best, it will be needless expenditure; at worst, it will actively turn youth away from patriotism.

Flags and symbols are all well and good, but they're useless if the spark of patriotism is repressed. There is a far more fundamental problem that needs to be addressed.

I, personally, am in favour of a more uniform teaching of British history (and not just the World Wars, interesting though they are), especially in primary schools. Let's hear about Agincourt, Drake and Empire, eh?

I think, however, that Dr News would take that too far, introducing the inadvertent (or intentional?) bias and insularity evident in the American educational system. British History certainly should not be taught to the exclusion of a broader world view.

And there should be more Shakespeare, of course.

I also have a feeling, admittedly an unsubstantiated one, that Dr Fox would cut taxes a bit too much. George Dubya has reduced his country to a terrible financial situation, and we need somebody more distant from that economic incompetence.

While we're on the subject, I can't resist posting this:
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

James Hellyer

I think those fears are misplaced, Ronald. I agree that teaching British history - especially narrative history - is important. However I can't see that intentional bias could be introduced - the teachers would be up in arms. I'd just expect rather more of "Our Island Story".

Barry Graham

"I trust the Party won't make the same mistake again".
No Barry, I don't think Cameron will be elected.

Sorry, Adrian, we'll have to agree to disagree.
Cameron would be the one guy who WOULD ensure we don't fight an election on a narrow right-wing agenda.
He, at least, recognises how bad a mess we're in and how much we need to change our tone and outlook.
I reckon Cameron (along with the sadly sidelined Rifkind) is the closest on the left-right spectrum to your choice (and my joint first-choice, along with Cameron), Ken Clarke.
I think you can rest assured that LF would not be Ken's second choice.

James Hellyer

Cameron would be the one guy who WOULD ensure we don't fight an election on a narrow right-wing agenda.

Except that's just the campaign he organised as our General Election Policy Co-ordinator. Strange that he doesn't mention that much now...

I'd say Cameron is the best bet for a narrow right wing campaign. Look at the leadership election: Cameron was Mister Modern & Moderate until Ken Clarke declared, then as Michael Portillo said, he lurched to the right and tried to talk tough. Why wouldn't he do the same if he finds reheated Blairism isn't delivering poll results?

James Burdett

Cameron is largely a content free zone but where he has lifted the lid a little we find a strange mixture of really interesting modern conservative ideas and then slap bang in the middle a commitment to a rehashed Married Couples allowance. It's bizarre to say the least. If he really is a moderniser then that sits rather ill in his prospectus.

James Hellyer

James, that's one of my greatest problems with Cameron. He doesn't have a clear and consistent message. He talks about change and reaching out. On the other hand he talks about rewarding marriage through the tax system - which is just the sort of policy that made the single mother Francis Maude described in his opening address, think the Conservatives disapproved of her.

I think a mixed message is doomed to failure.

Ronald Collinson

I think those fears are misplaced, Ronald.

Quite possibly. I admit to bias caused by Fox's association with Bush. I would point out, however, that there are many in the electorate who are similarly opposed to the Worst Advert For Conservatism.

That said, Fox would probably be my first choice were it not for that.

Ken Clarke should get his position sorted out; a few weeks ago, he was talking about 'having no ideology'; earlier today, he wanted a return to 'conviction politics'. He has beliefs, so he might as well admit it.

All in all, I'd be happy for anybody except Cameron (or a Cornerstone candidate, but that's hardly likely) to become leader. Speaking of which...

He, at least, recognises how bad a mess we're in and how much we need to change our tone and outlook.

Tone is one thing. He is, in fact, the Prime Minister (sorry, couldn't resist that – I've taken to calling the patriotic idiot 'r m8 tone' recently). Outlook is quite another.

We look on the world in a certain way; to do otherwise would to be other than we are. And if electoral success requires one to be an oleaginous shapeshifter in the Blairite style, Labour can keep it.

Barry Graham

'I'd say Cameron is the best bet for a narrow right wing campaign.'

James, are you really suggesting Cameron is more right-wing than your man, Liam Fox?
If so, I happily await your conversion, while taking issue with your interpretation of events.

By the way, I should correct myself in saying DC would be the ONE guy to ensure we don't fight a narrow right-wing campaign. Obviously, Ken Clarke would do the same.
As for the other James, I think there's a pretty broad consensus in the party (and probably the country) that the tax system is now too biased against marriage. While I accept Cameron's stance here is not a modernising one, his broad vision for the party's future is.
Taken as a package, he is the moderate, yet radical, figure I reckon we need.

Fox Blogger

I didn't think I was a "right-winger". Thought I was a One Nation man, but over the past few weeks I have been thoroughly impressed by Liam Fox. We need a new social reforming conservatism in the pattern of Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. Fox may yet be the person to lead that.

James Hellyer

James, are you really suggesting Cameron is more right-wing than your man, Liam Fox?

Do you have a problem reading what other people have written? I never denied that Dr Fox was right wing. However his track record has shown that he's stick with his unfashionable cuases through thick and thin.

By contrast, when the going got tough, Cameron lurched to the right. Even the arch-moderniser Michael Portillo says so.

And as for this:

the tax system is now too biased against marriage.

Please explain exactly how the tax system is biased against marriage.

Fox Blogger

Have to agree James. The tax system isn't biased against marriage. I think that it's a problem that it's not biased towards marriage, but that's another question...

Barry Graham

On the tax issue, James and Fox blogger, you're right, I should have said the incentives to get married have been removed.

'I never denied that Dr Fox was right wing.'

Exactly, James. That's why I find it hard to understand your earlier claim that Cameron 'is the best bet for a narrow right wing campaign'.

James Hellyer

Because Cameron's already proved that when he's up against the wall that he'll lurch to the right. He did so when Clarke declared. it's petty instinctive for him (he was our general election policy co-ordinator). It's what he'll do if his mixed messages don't deliver quick results.

By contrast, the superficially more right wing Dr Fox has stuck by his untrendy causes through thick and thin.

Simon C

Just back from sunny Blackpool, where Chairman Maude's modern Tory Party had such poor ICT facilities that I couldn't do any blogging.

Anyway, my impressions. Didn't see Rifkind, but found no one to support him either. His PR presence suggests he won't go quietly. But I would expect him to be voted out first.

Cameron - undeniably an impressive platform speech - but I couldn't remember anything he said. According to the Times he is actively pushing himself as the natural successor to Blair. But, after Blair, the country won't want more of the same; it will crave something more substantial. Will what one senior Tory described as his "tactical vacuousness" survive the scrutiny of the rest of the campaign, or will he be able to come up with something more meaningful? The speech may come to be seen as a triumph of style over substance - but nobody doubts Notting Hill's ability to deliver that. He will need to answer: where's the beef?

Clarke. I cannot quite understand the rave reviews he received. He was...himself. The old complacency & arrogance, and no vision for the country whatsoever. Ken will always be Ken.

Both Clarke & Cameron had a lot of support from the delegates - it will be interesting to see how the MP votes split between them.

Today...Davis: before Blackpool I had blogged about the limitations of his risk-averse strategy. He is starting to pay the price. In the dozens of conversations I struck up with delegates about who they would vote for, not one came straight out with "Davis". The speech this morning was flatter than a very flat pancake on a hot summer's day. I would say IDS with a wig on - but actually IDS gave a hugely impressive speech about social justice on Monday, which left many people wishing "if only he had done that as leader"...

Fox: it will be no surprise to any regular blogger here to discover that I think Liam's speech was brilliant. In fact, today, he gave the two best speeches I have heard him give. The first was to the CPS at lunch time. He spoke a to a very crowded room for about 30-40 minutes, with half a page of notes, covering a wide range of issues in substance, & held the room's attention completely. Ruth Lea, who chaired it, was enraptured.

His conference speech was superb. The main criticism laid against him has been that he lacks gravitas. That must surely have been laid to rest. He was assured, confident, engaged the audience, set out a clear agenda for change for Britain (and therefore also the Party), and spoke with conviction, clarity and easy authority. In both speeches, his intellectual self-confidence came through: this is a man who knows what he believes, has thought his principles through, and sees no need for shame or defensiveness. Hezza, bless, has tried to write it off as a right-wing speech. I spoke to Oliver Letwin, who also tried to say it was a "traditional Conservative speech".

It's a peculiar worldview that regards a speech which covered mental illness, human rights, the plight of oppressed peoples, and domestic violence as "traditional" or "right wing". Hezza will never understand that. But, after reflection, I think Oliver will conclude that his instant judgment was significantly off the mark. This was a serious speech, covering a much wider range of issues in more depth than any other candidate has managed. I would think it surprised and challenged many who were there, and will force them to reconsider not only Liam, but their own perception of what it is to be a conservative.

Above all, this was a substantial speech which will repay re-reading. We just made it back to Lincolnshire in time to catch the TV news. It was telegenic too.

And then Hague. He gave a great knockabout speech, with some excellent swipes at Gordon Brown. Hope he's back as shadow chancellor. Interestingly, his speech had uncanny echoes of much of what Fox had to say...

BTW, Editor, I gather from listening to PM that Stephen Crabb, Brook Newmark & Philip Hammond have all declared for Fox. Many in Cornerstone (which seems not to be a block vote from the conversations I have had) are likely to follow.

Henry Cook

Hear, hear (or here, here?) for Liam Fox. I thoroughly enjoyed his speech, and found a tiny tingle of pride, as a Conservative and as a Briton, running down my spine when the climax arrived. If anyone from the right is to win, please God (Cornerstone note the religious supplication) let it be Fox. Inspiring, charming, passionate.... but but but. I fear Fox does not offer a strategy distinctive from the previous two (Major not included) election manifestos. If there is a post in the shadow cabinet (excluding the leadership) to be given to one person to talk about domestic violence, mental health, flying the flag and reducing the number of abortions, let it be given to Fox, he would be perfect. However we are not the Republican party, but the Conservative party. We are not American, but British and proud to be so. The right agenda for Britain is the one expounded by Mr. Cameron, who is (to steal and distort a phrase of the great John Kerry) the right man in the right place at the right time. (Please excuse the overuse of brackets, it is a terrible fault of mine)


Interesting to hear from someone who's been to conference Simon.Please post more on the atmosphere there,from what I've seen it appears far better than we could have expected.
Having seen Liam Foxs speech on TV last night rather than just reading it as I had yesterday I can see what an excellent speech it was for a conference audience.Seems to have got reasonable coverage in the press today so I think Liam will be pleased.
Only bit that worried me was the stress on 'not looking the other way' in our foreign policy.That could mean many things,but as the disaster that is our policy in Iraq starts to unravel I certainly hope it doesn't mean more military foreign interventions.
I was interested to see that my MP Brooks Newmark has declared for Liam today.Brooks is very close to William Hague.... draw your own conclusions.
BTW Ronald Collinson,I don't always agree with everything you say but to quote my favourite passage from Shakespeare and to describe Blair as an 'oleaginous shapeshifter'...absolutely priceless!

Adrian Sherman

Yeh Malcolm, I was rather surprised about Newmark backing Fox. Can't sat he'll exactly fit in with the Cornerstone grouping. He's always struck me as a social liberal (like all 'Tory' MPs these days) and would've been more of a Cameron man.

David Willetts - Act in haste, repent at leisure. He now knows he should've backed Ken, but he can't pull out now, as he'd just look silly.

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