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« Elsewhere on | Main | The hustings »


Jack Stone

David Davis plays on his background because frankly there is very little else he can attract people with.
Where you come from is about as relevant to wether you have the abilitys to be come leader as the colour of your face, sex or religion.If
Labour elected a so called toff as there leader and it did them no harm at all then I don`t see why it should do any harm to the Tory Party.


and a descendant of the Talbots, one of the most powerful families in England under the Plantagenet kings.

Nice to see pre War of the Roses politics still has a place in modern Britain....just hope DD isn't descended fom Eric Bloodaxe or perhaps could claim a distant link with the Royal Family of Isreal via Priory of Sion (with both names indicating King David). Its sad that in the 21st Century there's still a class war going on.

James Hellyer

"Labour elected a so called toff as there leader and it did them no harm at all then I don`t see why it should do any harm to the Tory Party."

Because you've missed the point. Tony Blair played against the stereotype of Labour MPs (contrast his image with the "beer 'n butties" image of Callaghan). By contrast, David Cameron reinforces inaccurate preconceptions about Conservatives standing for the rich.

As for Tony Parson, I'm sorry but Frederick Forsyth has a point. Having a disabled child does not mean that understand what it's like to be unable to pay your bills, or to be unable buy things for your children, or to be forced to rely on failing public services. It would certainly tell you that money doesn't guarantee happiness and good fortune, but that doesn't necessarily mean empathy in other areas.

Mark Fulford

You don’t have to experience something directly in order to understand it.

Blair may have been bucking the Labour stereotype but, nonetheless, it shows that Labour supporters are willing to vote for a “toff”. Conservative voters are also willing to vote for a “toff”. So where’s the problem?


Well said Ted. If Davis had a vision which was going to help the Conservatives break out of current misconceptions then I would be supporting him.

But it is all the more ironic that the man born on the Council Estate struggles to engage people and is offering a message which plays into the hands of our enemies.

He's like a Doctor who looks at the patient, recognises for the past 8 years the medicine hasn't been working, so decides to double the dose.

I'm not going to knock on doors and tell people vote Conservative, we'll give you a voucher and cut your tax on the basis that David Davis was born on a Council Estate.

Have we become so lacking in confidence as a Party that an individual's background is actually going to dictate who leads us?

James Hellyer

"You don’t have to experience something directly in order to understand it."

But it helps.

"Blair may have been bucking the Labour stereotype but, nonetheless, it shows that Labour supporters are willing to vote for a “toff”. Conservative voters are also willing to vote for a “toff”. So where’s the problem?"

What is this? The Round Britain Point Missing Contest? Tony Blair appealed outside of the Labour vote by not appearing to be like the Labour men people knew. That's one of the reasons they were able to attract Mondeo Man et al. By contrast, Cameron plays into the stereotype of the rich and distant Tory who's precisely the sort of Tory Labour voters don't like.


Davis is making too much of the "humble beginnings" backstory. Of course a backstory can be important, but it's not the be-all-and-end-all. Michael Howard was the son of immigrants, but it didn't stop people perceiving that the Tory party was anti-immigrant and even 'racist' at the last election.

I didn't know Cameron was a descendant of the Talbots. You learn something new every day, don't you?

Adrian Owens

This is the same Tony Parsons who, in the same article, described the Duke of York as "another civil list parasite".

"If Cameron can lead his party, and later the country, it will show that the great British obsession of class is finally losing its grip on our collective goolies" quotes Mr Parsons.

With his comments about the Duke of York I think someone has a very firm grip on Mr Parson's delicate parts. David Cameron, beware of such friends.


I agree Elana. If backgrounds opposite to those normally associated with your party were enough to win an election, William Hague would be sat in Downing Street today as the self styled common sense rotheram lad.

'Vote for me, I'm very ordinary'...isn't compelling.

Mark Fulford

James, I'm not missing your point - Labour won when they shed the "working-class" image. However, I don't agree that we have an image problem with being posh. We don't need to demonstrate our humble background - it's a card we've played with every leader since Thatcher and it's stopped working.

Our problem isn't our roots. It's that Conservatives are seen as uncaring. Cameron rejects that image better than Davis.

James Hellyer

I disagree. Cameron seems distant and plastic.

Mark, you've hit the nail on the head!!!

It's about losing images which hold you back.

John Hustings

Also, Cameron is much more *obviously* a toff than Tony Blair. Tony Blair's accent is fairly bland and generic (though well-spoken), Cameron's accent, though, immediately makes one think of "Eton, hunting, shooting and lunch at Whites".

And another point: Shouldn't we be suspicious that all Cameron's biggest cheerleaders are from the far-left? I have read several articles by the likes of David Aaronovitch and Will Buckley all praising and hyping David Cameron, and trying to play down his negatives.

These are the same people who at every other time of the year spend their time trying to knock us down. They despise Tories with venom.

Please, please, let us not do anything so stupid and superificial as elect someone currently popular with the media because we think it will make *us* popular.

If Cameron *does* win the next election and we get another 5 years of Blairism, what good will that do us?


Don't be daft John, we're voting for David Cameron because he can excite and engage more floating voters than David Davis.

Should we not vote for Cameron because of his accent or because of superficial reasons...


I keep hearing that Cameron doesn't have policies - its only Blair lite - well according to various articles gathered together by the Sunday Times last Sunday -David Cameron
is against -
EU interference in everyday life. burdens from Brussels will make British business uncompetitive.
ID cards
always seeming to want to help the middle classes — “those who already have advantages” — to buy their way out of public provision
in favour of -
a mostly elected House of Lords, membership of select committees to be decided by a vote of backbenchers, not by the whips, and he supports looking at fixed-term parliaments.
learning English as compulsory for citizenship applicants,
that the tax and benefits system encourages couples to get together and stay together (“But we should support all families — for example, through childcare — because what matters most is that children are brought up in stable, loving homes.”)
that the money we spend on public services is a necessary good, not a regrettable evil -
does seem to flirt with idea of vouchers
co-payment, endorses road pricing as a way to deal with congestion, and in “good ideas like Foundation Hospitals and City Academies”
making police officers more sackable and allowing local authorities/bodies to appoint police commissioner
The war in Iraq " we in Britain, “share a responsibility . . . to promote change, reform and liberalisation”.

Mark Fulford

Cameron seems distant and plastic.

That’s a subjective view and, it seems, not the one of the majority.


yeah but the point is not the back story the point is


Sod the background, sod our attempts to pigeonhole him, how the hell do we know what he can empathise with or not. The back story is always going to tally with our own prejudices anywhich way they are, the important thing is the message and although I agree with Tony Parsons - it is a relief in a funny kind of way that a toff is able to climb to the top in PC political world - it is all image, and spin and back story and it should be all about the message and whether Cameron is any good.

Should we give a toss whether he is related to the Talbots. Of course not. Prince Edward is related to the Queen and look how much good it did him!

I suppose that hacks have nothing else to write about though...


Exactly, Tom.

Remember that the policy we vote on now will alter and change drastically once the leader is elected. The same basic premise will be the same, but the specifics may well shift a little.

I for one like how Cameron wants to tackle constitutional reform, something the party has shied away from for far too long. We can really attack Blair on this issue, as his reforms have been half-hearted and have not made much difference to how the political machine works (apart from making it more spin-orientated, of course).

James Hellyer

"That’s a subjective view and, it seems, not the one of the majority."

And your views are entirely subjective (and shaped by the media coverage), and in no way guaranteed as being representative.


In 1945 both Labour and Conservative leaders had attended Public School - one at Harrow and the other at Haileybury. Only MacDonald, Henderson, Wilson, Konnick did not attend Public School.

The Labour Education Secretary went to Westminster and most Labour Education Secretaries seem to be Public School, but frankly Cameron is not just an Etonian talking of state education; but he is part of a hedonistic group of Bullingdon Club types like Gideon Osborne who frankly do not fit the noblesse oblige tradition so much as the droit de seigneur.

Frankly Cameron has too little experience, he has not been a Councillor, nor a Whip, nor had to capture a marginal,but was parachuted into a safe seat after his predecessor from Conservative Central Office flitted over to Labour seemingly because of Clause 28 and found happy campers in St Helen's where he felt more at home before he got chance to be Gauleiter in Northern Ireland.

Cameron has no experience beyond the Henley Regatta crowd and is a Newbury boy who went to London and Oxford showing a real streak of adventure. At least he can enjoy cucumber sandwiches in Midsomer because he ain't going to win any seats in the North or in Scotland, so he can grow old at Tory leader before they turf him out after the meltdown in 2009.

The London Media Village is unhinged from the rest of the country and is so fascinated with navel gazing and dinner parties it has forgotten One Man One Vote (OMOV) and cannot even introduce it into its own party is the powerful force which will crush the Conservative Party under Cameron as voters just switch off and decide he is the party leader they will NOT vote for. The Conservatives are a Southern Party driven from the North of England, absent in Wales, unrepresented in Northern Ireland, and solitary in Scotland.

It is an electoral mountain the Conservatives must climb, and a major construction job to create constituency parties in areas where they do not exist. Cameron can win the party members you have, but he cannot plant constituency parties where there are none - he can harvest what you have but will not be able to sow fresh pasture because it is grunt work and he is a seagull

"The Conservatives are a Southern Party driven from the North of England, absent in Wales, unrepresented in Northern Ireland, and solitary in Scotland."
True, but didn't this begin in 1997 with the most working class leader we've ever had?

Daniel Vince-Archer

Some excellent points Rick. Although you can now expect to be routinely attacked by the Stone/Lindley/Geast/Fulford/Roll-Pickering/Cook Cameronite axis for daring to criticise (or 'smear') the great man.

(One small point though - the Conservatives aren't entirely absent in Wales, we have 3 Westminster seats, several AMs and we get the second biggest share of the vote in general elections.)


Rick, I disagree with your observations.

Cameron may have a 'posh' speaking voice, manner and upbringing, but that doesn't mean he cannot win over the support of the swing voters. These 'negatives' must be weighed up against other factors such as charisma, charm, telegenity and popular appeal. Cameron seems to possess all or most of these to some degree.

The seats that determine the election come mostly, but not exclusively, from the Midlands. That's where the Tories need to start winning again.

As Parsons notes, Cameron has life experience in other ways - such as having to look after his disabled child. This should not, of course, be used as a party political weapon, but then again, neither should the fact that Cameron has had a priviledged upbringing.

I view Cameron's upbringing as an obstacle that can be overcome, as opposed to an irreversible block on the Tories making gains at the next election. Appointing a man from Yorkshire (Hague) didn't work in 2001. Why should appointing a Northerner, a Scot, a Welshman make any difference? It shouldn't, and Hague has proven that it doesn't.

OK, it's a negative point for Cameron to overcome, but people will have to do a lot more persuading before I'll even think of voting Davis.

Selsdon Man

All this class war and background stuff is boring me rigid. We should be a meritocratic party and background should not be an issue. If our opponents want to make it one, we should ignore them and make the case for our policies.

Mark Fulford

Rick, I think you're massively stereotyping the Northern voter.

Elena, watch out for making well-argued, reasonable points... you'll soon be joining "the axis".

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