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« Finkelstein Versus Montgomerie | Main | Does Mr Cameron support David Davis' tax approach... or not? »



Why not have the Gold List swear an Oath of Undying Personal Loyalty to The Leader ?

There is a great dearth of Ethnic-Chinese MPs and I think the Tories should have lots of Chinese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Kurd, Albanian, and Nigerian candidates in safe seats in Southern England to bring home the rich cultural diversity to those benighted souls stranded in their Midsomer villages in Oxfordshire etc. In fact what the Tory Party needs is fewer candidates like David Cameron and more like Bernie Grant

This should be a real winning combination

Dominic Llewellyn

Editor, I agree with your unbiased stance. But I thought I'd like to address the issues you raised.

1. Taxes - Whilst I agree, lower taxes are needed to stimulate economic growth and in order to compete with the growing economies of the world, how can a potential leader of a political party promise such remarks? Do we know what the economy is going to be like in 4 years? Do we know the level of taxation? Do we know the extent of public service reforms which will have been done under Labour? Do we know what will be really needed - surely not! Also picking up your criticism of Mr Dorrell, would people not agree reform is needed as a precursor to tax cuts so that we do not create holes in the welfare state. We need to create a reformed welfare state before taking resources away from the current one, thereby afflicting harm to those who would suffer most, the poorest in society.

2. Drugs: What problems do you have with DC's policies? Are education and rehabilitation the cornerstones of drug policies. For anyone who wants to know more see, where DC sets out his views in the Daily Mail.


Why should we get excited?

a) Cameron is going to win
b) He's going to win without offering clear policy positions on anything important
c) He and his people are going to run the party like Blair-Mandleson-Campbell, or at least their fantasy version
d) They actually haven't got anyone as good as Blair or Mandelson or Campbell (although I admit they are more talented than most of the party)
e) The country will soon be sick to death of Blair-Mandelson-Campbell-type politics (just as the Tories get round to trying it out)
f) The Tories will look worse than ever
g) There will be new splits, in-fighting, decline
h) OR
i) I might be wrong. Gove and Osborne are pretty smart after all
j) We all live happily ever after.

The one thing that is NOT going to happen is DD winning. So let's just resign ourselves and learn to love the boy.

Let's get excited!

a) Cameron is going to win
j) We all live happily ever after.

Jack Stone

Lets please get real! Firstly who does or does not win the next election is not going to be decided on the party`s drugs policy or on who does or does not elect the party leader.
Secondly Mr Davis tax policy of offering big tax cuts at the same time as promising no cuts in public spending as failed in the last two elections.As something changed since May? Why does anyone think that come 2009 they will suddenly turn out to be a vote winner.
At the end of the day the thing that should decide this election is who of the two candiadates stands the best chance of winning the next election.
Personally I can only see one answer to that question.David Cameron!

Justin Hinchcliffe

We need more candidates like Labour's Bernie Grant? Over my dead body!


I've got no problems with reducing the size of the list and encouraging more women and ethnic minority candidates onto it.


David Davis just the other day pointed out that the most important part of winning seats is having a LOCAL candidate. This is really important we won't win target seats with people that are parachuted in from London.

Richard Allen

What has changed is that Davis is setting out a credible tax and spend program and intends to spend over 3 years trying to sell it. We will look consistant and credible instead of oppurtunistic. Our great failings in the last two parliaments has been the lack of a consistant approach.


David Cameron has said we must be consistent Conservatives. One of the main reasons I will vote for him.

Hugh Jarce

This narrow-minded discussion misses the point.

David Cameron has always been very clear where he stands on taxation. He is pro-tax AND anti-tax - thus demonstrating his ability to reach out and gain the support of all sections of the community.


"David Davis just the other day pointed out that the most important part of winning seats is having a LOCAL candidate"

So very true !

The Londonistas have become so self-absorbed they have forgotten it is not a List system but a Constituency system and not a popularity contest for some TV character who thinks he is party leader.

Now that the Council is emasculated it is the MP who has to do the work of the Councillor since Planning, Council Tax, Education are all controlled from London


The Cameron campaign's response to the Davis tax proposals yet again fails to supply any clue about how the Tories will position themselves if Cameron wins. It also steps on their earlier message.

An election-winning conservative, Ronald Reagan, once said "specificity is the soul of credibility." David Cameron's failure so far in this campaign to be clear about the broad policy priorities that will inform the choices that will inevitably confront the next Tory leader are causing me to doubt his otherwise impressive candidacy.

Many of us in this election are looking for a strong communicator, which Cameron undoubtedly is. But we also want to know he has a strong message that supplies coherent and compelling answers to the problems Britain faces. His coyness shrouds that in secrecy.

"Trust me I'm a Conservative" is not currently a good slogan with which to impress the British electorate. It would be better if the party were able to judge his approach now than potentially be sorry later.


I praise the editor highly for publishing the Finkelstein versus Montgomerie article. I think it shows quite clearly the differences between the Davis and Cameron approach to tax. Cameron has stated, and most economic thinkers would seem to agree, that putting specific tax policies in terms of figures at this stage is irresponsible and careless, and shows a lack of regard to the constantly changing economic climate. Camerons decision to outline policy directions rather than specifics at this stage shows a real grasp of the issue. Davis is just grabbing headlines. Failure to see this headline grabbing for what it is, is surely bias, all be it on a subconscious level. Being cautious on Economics surely makes more sense. Also the 'gold list' sounds an excellent idea to me, as long as the constituent assemblies can still choose 'local' candidates.

Cutting taxes win elections

Just come back from DD's lunchtime presentation.

Again he's made some clear points on long-term strategy both for the country and for the party, continuing to lead on policy and direction, key areas for leadership. His emphasis was on tax cuts to help the poorest in society and to maintain the stability of society and families.

DD went hard on the point that the Conservatives have allowed Labour to shape the debate and arguments over recent years, and to some extent wrongly accepting those arguments. The Conservatives need to win the argument on tax, by challenging Labour's view that tax-rate cuts must mean a drop in public services, and argue that low tax countries are high-growth, that low tax rates tend to raise more, not less, tax.

DD sensibly took the view that tax-cuts might not be
immediately electorally popular but because we know that our arguments are right, and because he will stick to them that over 4 years we should win the debate - and that we have to do it over 4 years, not as in 2005 a few months before the election.

DD mentioned that the primary focus fo the tax cuts would be on looking at transferable allowances, income tax and restoring the pension tax credits Labour removed in 1997, so necessary to restore faith in pensions. He referred to stamp duty as an example of a tax that was often unnecessary but not in the 'first division' of things to reform. He promised more details on tax in the next few weeks.

DD was best on answering questions, the challenge of going off-script seems to energise him.

His team need to think ahead more and do some planning. What do some of them actually do? The chairs were laid out lecture-style, where a doughtnut effect would have worked really well. There was no-one going around trying to sign-up DD supporters for action, the lighting made the place look gloomy, so was wrong for an upbeat message, and Andrew Mitchell as warm-up man, c'mon.

Henry Cook

"What has changed is that Davis is setting out a credible tax and spend program and intends to spend over 3 years trying to sell it. We will look consistant and credible instead of oppurtunistic. Our great failings in the last two parliaments has been the lack of a consistant approach."

And what happens when 3 years down the line when the economy starts shrinking? Perhaps tax cuts would still be the answer, but he couldn't possibly implement his scheme as he has set it out now. DD must be a clairvoyant or something to be able to know what the economy will be like in 2014. His policy direction is in fact the same as Cameron's - the proceeds of growth are shared between more spending (just at a slower rate than the growth rate) and tax cuts which will be worth £1200 in 2014. These figures are based on the growth forecasts of 2.5% - forecasts will change dramatically over the next few years, they are not in any way concrete. I think we can see the contrast between a sensible approach to outline the direction of economic policy, and an approach promising something which will almost certainly be defunct by the time of the next election. I think anyone who actually believes these proposals could be fulfilled is being naive. It isn't even a radical proposal - 40% is still a great increase of GDP spent by government since 1997.

"Postscript: Before the most enthusiastic Cameroons fill the thread below with accusations of bias..."

Who on earth could you be referring to, Editor?! I for one would not deny you freedom of thought. And I entirely agree about the 'A-list' - candidates should be local, not imposed by the London HQ.

Oberon Houston

Given the difficulties Davis faces in his campaign, I think he does need to take greater risks, such as his stance on taxation, which I personally don’t think was wise, but many on this blog do, so there you are.

So far he has shown considerable restrained, however is he primed to launch a right-wing offensive though? It will become more tempting if things don’t start to swing his way in the next week or so.

James Burdett

With regards to local candidates whilst it is preferable to have a candidate with a local connection, if you limit yourself to only picking local candidates then you are going to rub out automatically a sizeable chunk of potential candidates who would by dint of whatever have to go for seats that he/she is not local to. The crucial thing is to get candidates who can have traction in a particular area and that is why it is essential that local associations retain control over selection as they know what type of candidate will fit their area.

James Maskell

I prefer local candidates found to campaign in areas which they have a more intimate knowledge of the area than a "gold list".


DD can talk tax all he wants, the more he does, the further he places himself away from becoming Prime Minister of this country. He simply doesn't have the media support, the chrisma or the communication skills for people to adopt these ideas.

DC will not make any direct promises, in case they are received poorly, he wants to strengthen his position as leader of the party without looking foolishly conservatively right-wing. Cameron could adopt a tax relief policy and might be able to pull it off better than DD.

James Maskell

On DDs tax declaration of sorts, Ive just seen something that would make it easier for me to understand what he is proposing. Ill let everyone know what I think of his declaration come Sunday.

Normally Id know straight away what I think but this is the economy and economics doesnt come naturally to me...


From Jack Stone, and later from Jaz, we have it clearly: our primary purpose as political activists is to elect someone who can get to Number 10, NOT to get a leader into number 10 who is good for the country.

Here's what JS said: "Lets please get real! Firstly who does or does not win the next election is not going to be decided on the party`s drugs policy... At the end of the day the thing that should decide this election is who of the two candiadates stands the best chance of winning the next election."

There are 2 problems with this:

1) I don't want to get someone into Number 10 who has a drug policy, or any other policy, that I believe adds to the sum of human misery, even if it is popular and carries the label 'Conservative'.

2) It's very hard to know who really will be electable after 3 or 4 proper years of testing, campaigning, changing environment, changing public opinion, etc. It's not easy to guess on the basis of a couple of good performances.

It's safer to go with what you believe rather than with what you predict others will believe in the future!

Jack Stone

David Cameron is not proposing anything that anyone but the most dogmatic right-winger would descibe as being anything but Conservative.
What he is trying to do is be pragmatic and try to put together a programme that stands a chance of being accepted by the electorate.
What would you rather have a government lead by David Cameron or a government lead by Gordon Brown, you will only have those two alternatives at the next election.
If you would prefer a Brown government I hope you will refrain from voting in the leadership election and go and join your pals in New Labour!

Deckchair of despair

I thought that a criticism of recent general election campaigns was that the Conservative leadership had lost nerve, and slipped back into a "core vote strategy". Here, it seems, Davis is already adopting a "core vote strategy" and he isn't even leader yet, let alone involved in a general election campaign. There are millions of people out there who don't give a toss about tax reductions, because they themselves pay little or none. In the Greater Glasgow area, for example, over 50% of the population have no earned income at all. And before someone says that these people are all parasitical layabouts who wouldn't vote Tory anyway, let me point out that these figures will include a very large number of pensioners, plus some disabled etc, none of whom are necessarily willing laybouts or anti-Tories. Cameron knows this; that's why he's being more circumspect in his remarks. Davis is making a mistake.


Sorry, Jack Stone, but I don't accept your premise that either I learn to love David Cameron or I'd better be off. Might as well close down this blog in that case.

In fact I'm not unhappy with David Cameron IF he proves to be a genuine fighter for Conservative principles. Great politicians win on a great agenda. Mediocre politicians don't necessarily win on apologist agendas. My paltry effort is to be part of an effort to persuade DC or anyone else to fight for something worth having. As I've said on some other thread, who would be a Mandelson? It looked nice at the start, and end up as a very exemplum of all that is pitiful in politics. A winner? Yes, in that he has a 'top job'. But universally reviled.

And no, Deckchair, I don't like a 'core vote strategy'. I hated Michael Howard's campaign (designed, let us not forget, by Cameron, Vaizey, Gove!) My vision of a low tax economy is about a thriving economy, not a bloated German one; about innovation in public services, not pandering to producer interest. That's not a core vote strategy.

Jack Stone

The best way to descibe your stragedy is probably not core vote stragedy but vote loser stragedy.
We have to fight the next election on Labour`s ground and that will have to mean no tax cuts until you have convinced the public that you are committed to improving public services.
I just can`t see the point in the party keep repeating over and over again the mistakes that have meant it losing the last three elections.

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