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« New supporters for Cameron and Fox | Main | Caption competition (5) »


James Hellyer

On David Cameron:

Before I am prepared to vote for him I want to know much more about his beliefs. I can’t say that I’m very reassured by his last four years in parliament

Ditto. His campaign has soared on the back of being young, presentable, and delivering a rhetorically interesting speech. There remains a question of substance about his campaign. Severral people have now noted the clash between his modernisation pitch and some of his more old-fashioned pitches. There is a real issue over the clarity and consistency of his message. I also don't find his track record inspires me with confidence.

Now Cameron is the media favourite, he'll face intense scrutiny. That will either make him or break him. It all depends on the substance of the man.

On David Davis:

Time and again I’ve complained about his campaign’s failure to inspire.

He played safe too much. Even his speech's policies did that. As Ferdinand Mount notes in today's Telegraph, we should contrast Davis's call for more prisons with Dr Fox's call to stop the prison system failing the mentally ill. Which is the more long term - and compassionate - solution?

On Liam Fox:

Voters want authenticity as well as calculated moderation.

Agreed. That's something I really like about the good doctor. One of the things the above mentioned Newsnight focus group admired was his honesty and that he didn't sound like a politician.

On Ken Clarke:

didn’t put a foot wrong this week

I really enjoyed his speech. Much as I disagree with him on the issues, Ken is always good value. He talked good sense on the economy too.

On Sir Malcolm Rifkind:

gave a very good speech on Monday

It was a good speech made to seem better, by being the first of the day not to tell the members that they were "crap" (as Simon Hoggart puts it). It could also have been given at any time in the last twenty years. That was it's major failing.


Are you really saying Editor that Ken Clarke and Malcolm Rifkind don't have 'principled' views on Iraq? Both made them absolutely clear when it was very unfashionable in the Conservative party to do so.
Liams views on Iraq are by far the biggest obstacle for me to ever vote for him.

James Hellyer

Both made them absolutely clear when it was very unfashionable in the Conservative party to do so.

But were silent about those views this week.


What are you trying to say James?

EU Serf

Why is Ken Clarke so interested in the Sovereignty of Iraq, when he cares nothing for that of his own country?

James Hellyer

That both men made the tactical decision to backpedal on their more controversial views. Obviously.


I saw Fox's appearance at the make poverty history meeting where he was also pretty good. Especially when talking about promoting project based aid and highlighting the shockingly bad EU's attempts at development.


His speech did not strike me as going down that well. His own band of leaflets were struggling to give out the pledge cards and I think his address was flattered by a conference that needed cheering up after a poor David Davis.

Fox wants to be a compassionate conservative but while his compassionate policies (on mental illness, domestic violence and human rights) are excellent his conservatism is not. Wrapping yourself in the union jack and threatening to leave the EU is not conservatism but right wing posturing.

His conference performance was quite good, but not nearly good enough to be a real leader. He could yet be a brilliant international development or foreign secretary though.


How can Liam Fox be "authentic" if he's offering "calculated moderation"?

James Hellyer

It didn't say he was offering that.


Oh dear oh dear.James words absolutely fail me, you spend so much time thinking the absolute worst of people.
I think your hatred of Clarke so blinds you to rational debate Serf.Clarkes reasons for being against the Iraq war are twofold.1 Because of the lies were told to persuade the country to go in.And 2 because that strategically our intervention would make the situation worse.I believe that he is right on both counts.


Malcolm: Yes, KC and MR have principled views on Iraq certainly. But KC has been willing to put aside his once principled views on Europe. I stand by my suggestion that LF has set out the bravest and clearest positions.

Michael: I was suggesting that LF was authentic - others might be calculated moderates.

James Hellyer

Oh dear oh dear.James words absolutely fail me, you spend so much time thinking the absolute worst of people.

Oh please. It's not "thinking the worst" of someone to suggest that they might have put their more controversial ideas on the backburner for the duration of conference week. Or did you expect Ken Clarke to spend his speech talking about the EU and Iraq?

And 2 because that strategically our intervention would make the situation worse

What nonsense. The US/UK administration after Sadaam was deposed made things worse by disbanding the police and army as part of the programme of de-Ba'athisation. It's the failures post-war that are to blame.

Fox Blogger

I have to say, I used to be a big Ken Clarke fan, but his support of (and benefit from) the tobacco industry has destroyed any sympathy in me for him. In contrast, I've never viewed myself as a right-winger, but Foxy's "sticking to his guns" approach has really appealed to me. Here's a man who actually says what he believes and doesn't change it to suit the crowd. Preaching in season and out, as it were.


I see that Cornerstone have dropped Stuart from their list of supporters anyone knows why?

Fox Blogger

Peter - Where did you see that about Stuart?


On their site linked to this one they have the backers(MPs) on the right hand side, his name has been removed today.


On their site linked to this one they have the backers(MPs) on the right hand side, his name has been removed today.


On the link from this site they have all the MPs backers on the right hand side. His name has been removed.

James Hellyer

Removed three times?


On the link from this site they have dropped him from there list of backers mate. Know only 26 MPs.

Fox Blogger


James Hellyer

Henry Cook

I think making Cameron the favourite is perhaps the best thing for the party and the contest. I actually agree with some of what James says - the media scrutiny will make or break him. Obviously it is my hope and indeed expectation that it will make him, but it can only be a good thing for DC to have to prove himself.

Wat Tyler

Yes, well...fair comment Ed.

There's no denying that Cameron set the place alight, and demonstrated "star quality". Personally- as I've said elsewhere- I thought DD's speech was fine. But it wasn't electrifying, and the bar was clearly already very high.

But we certainly need to know more- much more- about what DC would actually do. I concentrated very hard during the Conference, but the only things I caught were opposition to the Euro (good), and the imposition of synthetic phonics (bad). As William Hague said on Today- we need substance. Style is not enough.

And his inexperience should be a serious concern for all of us. It's not even as if he's got some seasoned old bruiser by his side- someone who could spot the ambushes and keep the barons in check. No, this youthful monarch leads a band of untested boy soldiers. Certainly untested against those grizzled veterans who smashed their way into our homelands under Emperor Blair.

Yes, the press love him, and yes the delegates were uplifted. But we all know how constant the press are- particularly when it comes to the candyfloss world of celebrity. And we members...frankly, we're all so desperate for a hero we're ripe for doing something we may well regret in the morning.

Deep breaths- we need to keep our feet firmly on the ground.

Simon C

It will be interesting to see how DC bears up under the scrutiny that should follow from being the media's new annointed favorite. Noteworthy that Trevor Kavanagh in the Sun has already started calling him "the boy David" - a non-too flattering echo of David Steel, and as predicted by one blogger on this site earlier in the summer.

The Editor is right though - DC needs to demonstrate some substance. What lies behind the fine-sounding and well-spoken words? His speech was undoubtedly impressive to listen to, but I am none the wiser as to what he thinks about a whole range of important issues, and I cannot remember a single phrase that resonated or captured a sense of mission (unlike "broken society" or "human rights based foreign policy").

Fox has used his shadow portfolio to change the Party's foreign policy - whatever the outcome of this contest, I hope that his series of speeches this summer will lay the foundations for Conservative & British foreign policy for the next generation.

How has Cameron used his portfolio to demonstrate what his leadership would be like?

Ferdinand Mount said that LF made "the most honourable and substantial speech of the five contenders". Cameron needs to step up to the plate on substance, as well as style. Apparently he floundered in one fringe meeting when Andrew Rawnsley asked him if had ever had to take a difficult political decision. It is his courage and conviction under fire that he now needs to demonstrate.

A Fox-Cameron final two would be a really interesting contest - and one that would generate real excitement about the Party.

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