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« Davis challenges Cameron over tuition fees policy | Main | Dolly's advice for Mr Cameron »


Sean Fear

As usual, Portillo offers rotten advice. Presumably he thinks the Howard Flight fiasco went down so well with the public that he now wants it with knobs on.

Henry Fitzpatrick

UM, what evidence do you have that Cameron is anything other than a Mod? He supported Portillo in 2001; defended modernisation in his column in The Guardian; is supported today by Hilton, Vaizey, Gove, etc, etc; he attacks the best selling Conservative paper constantly (hint: the Mail *is* a Tory paper, the Times, however, is not; attacks 'the band' wherever possible, without in any way accepting his part in the brand being a problem (hint: who wrote the last, awful manifesto?)

What more would Cameron have to do to convince you that he is a Portilloite to the nth degree? truly sometimes there are none more blind than those who will not see. Delude yourself if you want, but if Cameron wins, Christianity won't have much to do with the Tory party - far too divisive, far too sectarian, far too old-fashioned, etc, etc.

Sean Fear

I have my concerns. However, the Editor's points about DC's support for tax advantages for marriage, and opposition to all-women shortlists are correct. Also, he told John Bercow that he supported the Party's immigration policies.

Portillo's advice is so idiotic that it's hard to believe that he's genuinely trying to be helpful. Whatever we may think of DC, he's obviously not an idiot.

Selsdon Man

Michael Portillo's advice is a recipe for civil war within the Party. We need to question not only his arguments but his motives.

Wat Tyler

Portillo's article reads like an emotional spasm. He'd presumably love to see those "repellant figures" (Mr Pot meet Mr Kettle) shafted after what he thinks they did to him.

Let's just thank our lucky lucky stars he never got his hands on the controls, and that we've now got shot of him.

Having said does sound uncomfortably like that 25% strategy story.

Selsdon Man

"The Tory benches are full of repellent figures whose faces, demeanour and speech turn voters from the party. They have to be dealt with. "

Portillo should name those MPs rather than use nasty generalisations. Did he have the guts to tell them what he thought of them face to face before he left the House? Those in the firing line can then defend themselves - in the courts if necessary.


Wow quoted in the headline & I'd been trying to keep out of trouble on here recently :-)

"Christianity won't have much to do with the Tory party - far too divisive, far too sectarian, far too old-fashioned, etc, etc."

Henry, I think you need to keep Cameron in perspective. What is modern about him is his approach, but he is not throwing Conservative politics away. As for your comments on christianity may I direct you to the faq on David's website from which I quote:
"I’m a member of the Church of England. I believe that faith-based communities and faith-based schools"

As for the Daily Mail rhetoric, there is no point in picking a fight when one doesn't need to take place.


Portilla's Prescription: "Let's have a civil war"
I'm sure that is exactly what Labour wants: split the Tories into two parties and we'll never have a centre-right government again.


Sorry, just noticed the snippit of quote I included doesn't make sense in isolation, the full quote is:

"What is your view of the role of faith in modern society?
I’m a member of the Church of England. I believe that faith-based communities and faith-based schools have an incalculable amount to contribute to the well-being of our society and to enhancing the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society."

Selsdon Man

Shaun - that is why I questioned Portillo's motives. Note that he also believes that we have no chance of winning the next election - 4 to 5 years away! He thinks that Cameron may become Prime Minister in 2013.

Is he looking for a peerage from Blair or Brown? I hope that new Conservative leader will not recommend him for a Peerage.

Selsdon Man

I should add that Portillo made the same comments on tax, Europe and the family at my local association during the 2001 campaign. He lost my vote there and then. Portillo is left of Ken Clarke and the Orange Book Lib Dems - New Labour I would say.

Sean Fear

Portillo: "The Tory benches are full of repellent figures whose faces, demeanour and speech turn voters from the party."

Now that he's retired, there's one less at least.

Andrew M

As for Portillo's quote. It takes one to know one.

BTW Major this morning said he should have buried the right while he was in power which would presumably have included one Michael Portillo. The irony of it all.

henry curteis

"If tax cuts, stable families and Euroscepticism do not fit the new Conservative project, whatever sentimental attachment Cameron may have to them, they also must be torn up..."

Does it appear that Cameron has foxed Portillo? JohnC in separate string said that the media elite backed Cameron after realising they could not save Ken Clarke - to block the Right - especially Fox, who barely received a mention in the media throughout the Parliamentary vote. Are they now getting jumpy, frightened that Cameron is a closet Right-winger?

Cameron seems to have persuaded folk from all wings that he's actually on their side - Blair-style. See Bernard Jenkin MP and Douglas Carswell MP - key eurosceptics signing up to Cameron. Has he fooled them as well? Only time will tell.

Henry Cook

I have warmed to Portillo recently - "This Week" is one of my favourite programmes, and I often find myself agreeing with what he is saying.

However, he is one of the most inconsistent politicians of modern times. He was supporting Ken Clarke ("he would be the worst choice, apart from all the rest") after having written an article saying Davis was "definitely maybe" the right choice. Now he is gunning for Cameron as an uber-moderniser (which he isn't) and asking him to do things which Ken Clarke would never have done.

I think his Damascene conversion after '97 has left him curiously devoid of principle and definite opinion. Cameron is not a Portillista - he wouldn't give up the principles of tax cuts, stable families and euroscepticism, and indeed it would render his brilliant Conference speech which focussed on these things obselete. As a 'moderniser' he is a more genuine article than Portillo. Portillo came to his current position in a spasmodic and traumatic way - his defeat in '97 obviously had a great mental effect on him. Cameron's modernisation is in many ways closer to Davis's than Portillo's. It is optimistic and looks for the best in people - a stand which naturally leads to Conservative belief in setting people free, rather than the Labour dogma of telling people what to do. I do not deny this basic idea to Davis, but I do deny it to Portillo.

He writes: "I define a Tory moderniser as one who believes that in order to get elected the Conservatives have to undergo change as deep as that undergone by Labour before it could be elected in 1997."

This is a false parallel, and one already rejected by Cameron - we don't have to ditch all we believe in to get elected, unlike Blair. It is a good thing for our party that neither of the current leadership contenders are in any sense Portillistas.

James Hellyer

"I think his Damascene conversion after '97 has left him curiously devoid of principle and definite opinion."

I actually think Michael Portillo has always been without principle and definite opinion. All his defeat in '97 did was remove his Thatcherite mask. I'm of the opinion that his "Who Dares Wins" persona was an act designed to deliver him power by following pthe trends that were then prevalent. Defeat removed that as a path to power, and left him rudderless and acting more in tune with his "real" self. That this was also not his route to power was just a further irony.

He should stick to "This Week" and stop trying to poison the Conservative Party. David Cameron should distance himself from this man's comments.


One can only wonder who these "repellant figures" among our MPs can be, and how precisely Portillo would deal with them in a democratic party. It sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Even Blair has had to put up with dissenters among his MPs, and he has not tried to get rid of them. As for Major saying that he wished he had dealt with his "bastard MPs" more effectively at the time of Maastricht, he couldn't as he had much too small a majority, so it's all hot air.


I think the Editor might also have referred to the article by Simon Jenkins opposite Portillo's. Maybe he didn't because it argues that today's drugs laws are bad laws because they can't be enforced. But on this hook Simon Jenkins hangs an important accusation on Blair and Cameron of being 'cowards', because they won't openly oppose a bad law because they are frightened of the reaction of some faction or other. SJ widens this accusation against Blair, arguing that Blair is frightened of every real decision that affects any group or faction (at least on the domestic front) - the only people Blair will stand up against is powerless Labour backbench MPs.

Much of this criticism is fair: capitulation on civil servant pensions is just the latest appalling example. Is it also fair to include Cameron?

I fear it might be. At least, I need to see that Cameron is not in fact infected with that strain of Blairism which seeks always to have it both ways, and ends up having neither. This could be the worst possible time for the Conservatives to embrace Blairism: just when the country realises how it is suffering from it.

The Editor's beloved "'And' Theory" needs to be tested in practice: can Cameron really hold two apparently opposite positions and still function as a true leader? (The 'And' Theory of course is based on many apparent oppositions not being true oppositions at all: that one CAN be committed to cutting taxes AND to improving public services, for example. I agree with him: but it needs testing, to make sure that in each and every case it's not just a verbal trick. we have to know, in each case, 'how exactly?' If it is just a presentational gimmick, it will be seriously damaging in the long run.)

I think I know what DD would do on a variety of issues - not just his 'aspirations' but his tricky choices. I don't know that of Cameron. I appreciate that he cannot set out an entire policy platform now. But I do think I deserve to know him a little better before giving him my vote. I'm afraid I'm just not sold on the leadership theory of modern politics - that all we need is a lovely chap who the electorate likes and all will be fine. This could be a pretty trap that covers a very deep hole for the Conservative Party.

Ordinary people are going to be seriously stuffed if we relegate the country's need for good governance to an overwhelming desire of modern politicians to be loved. I'm really scared of 2 Blairite parties. I'd go so far to say that I'd prefer a Blairite government (or a Brownite one) with a true and tough Conservative opposition (assuming it was more effective than the last eight years) than a Blairite Conservative government. I care less - a lot less - for the fortunes of the Conservative Party than I do for the good governance of this country. Two Blairs would be hell for all of us.

James Hellyer

"I'm afraid I'm just not sold on the leadership theory of modern politics - that all we need is a lovely chap who the electorate like and all will be fine."

The media have created David Cameron as a phenomenon and they can destroy him as a phenomenon. The media-hype campaign has resulted in the good poll results. They aren't something spontaneous.

Jack Stone

For Gods Sake!Does anyone really still take seriously anything Mr Portillo says anymore.
Like the government of Mr Blair Portillo`s career promised much but delivered little.
People should look to David Cameroon for what is best for the party not some failed has been politican like Mr Portillo.

henry curteis

As regards Simon Jenkins attaching Cameron to his criticisms of Blair, I think it is fair to hang Blair as guilty as charged, but suspend judgement on Cameron. Until he has secured the leadership, he is still vulnerable - not so much to Davis but as to a media turnaround. He still has to watch his flank from that quarter. Who knows? They might yet have some more unpleasant revelations up their sleeves.

Both Jenkins and Portillo seem to sniffing around looking to see if they can strike a blow on Cameron - as it were, call him to heel. The media probably feel they created him, so he's theirs to destroy if they feel like it. Murdoch's always mindful of his payoff for any favours given after all.

Personally I'm still furious that the media gave such a biassed coverage of the leadership contest - especially their treatment of Fox, who was completely blanked. But now given where we are, I have no doubt that Cameron must be given every chance, and the media must be tamed - and ultimately put in their place.

Once Cameron is secure then he can be judged.


"Until he has secured the leadership, he is still vulnerable" - yes, but until he has shown us something more, we are vulnerable to making the wrong choice. Surely we can't begin and end with the notion that Cameron is so wonderful that we can place everything in his sweet hands and trust to fortune?


Portillo seems to think Cameron is from his version of the modernisers - as much out of date as the Kenneth Clarke wing.
Article in the Independent the Editor didn't link to - Welcome to Cameron Country -"It's 2012, and the policies of the new cycle-everywhere Prime Minister are beginning to make an impact... " A surprisingly attractive view of life in the 2009-2014 Conservative administration.
Francis Elliot consults some fururologists and mesage seems to be "Cameron's Britain would look a lot like the 1950s," building on his support for school selection, voluntary service, quality of life etc.
I think the Soho modernisers will be disappointed but maybe they'll not realise until too late.

James Burdett

Portillo makes a good point badly, the broad thrust of the point is that there are people on the Tory benches who put the voters off. Fact. We can all think of one or two examples of that. His problem is the sensationalist way he goes about it. There is no need for any more blood on the carpet, if anything we need to give the carpet a rest.

Cameron is right that there is no clause four for the Tory party. Portillo is wrong and is barking madly up the wrong tree. I think Cameron understands that the Tories need to change presentationally in major ways but not politically to any significant degree. I think that this will be a route to success. In point of fact how many other Tory politicians could have de facto called for a new MCA and got away with it in the manner of Cameron. I think Portillo will be severlely disappointed if he thinks that Cameron is a scorched earth moderniser.


I'm very encouraged by the so far unanimous recognition that this advice is appalling. Note too the absence of the slightest evidence that any of this spilt blood would improve the Tories' fate. I've never understood this idea that the conservative coalition, defined in the broadest terms, is both so small and unpopular as to require a distancing from traditional conservatism as great as the distance between Bennism and Blairism, and at the same time so large that we could get rid of eurosceptics, social conservatives and tax cutters and still win an election on the back of new converts. Where are these converts? No matter how much canvassing I do and no matter how many opinion polls I read, I just don't come across all these pro-European, pro-gay rights, pro-immigration social liberals we would need to replace them. No doubt these people do exist in reasonable numbers in fashionable areas of London, but it couldn't be that Portillo is basing his entire electoral diagnosis on the views expressed at Islington cocktail parties ... could it?

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