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« Are the hustings taking place too late? | Main | Is Andrew Mackay about to defect from DD? »



Brave of DD.I like the sound of this, but can he deliver? I hope so but as I don't the rules properly I'm not sure what would happen if other countries object as they surely will.
Note to both candidates:Don't make promises you can't keep chaps.

Selsdon Man

What happens if Davis is unsuccessful during the negotiations. The EU has the power to say No and enforce existing treaties and directives. Would he hold a second referendum in those circumstances?

Let us suppose he wins some concessions. What is the wording of the second referendum? Support or a mandate to go back?

Let us suppose it is the mandate to re-negotiate a second time. What happens then?

Is there a point at which, having not won any significant powers back, that Davis would advocate withdrawal from the EU?

These are the questions that must be answered.

Selsdon Man

More prisons, EU re-negotation, tax cuts and school choice. Same as the last few years. We need some new ideas from DD on health, transport and the environment.


I think that's very fair criticism Selsdon Man. DD is adopting a core vote strategy. There's has been nothing recently that takes the party into new territory. Although I like the clarity of DD's core vote positions the failure to offer breadth is disappointing.

James Hellyer

I don't see that David Cameron has offered anything new either (unless you count offering to set up a commission on something, or some gimmickry with tree planting).

On this issue what Davis and Cameron are saying sounds similar (both are pledging to take powers back), but at least Davis is trying to give an indication that he understands how it might be done and how difficult it could be. For offering more than a sound bite he deserves some kudos.


It certainly would set the cat amongst the EU pigeons.

However I would prefer it if Europe was not a major plank of our policy, its not a vote winner.

This is also a negative policy and I would prefer the party to be more positive in outlook.

Wat Tyler

Ed- good bit of balance there, critiquing DD's "failure to offer breadth"..maybe those disgruntled DC supporters who accused you of DD bias might give you some credit.

Of course, Davis is methodically working his way through the policy agenda, and I'm sure we can expect to hear more on health and other issues over coming days.

As for Europe, as we know, this is an area of expertise for DD. His Open Europe package is much more than a core vote headline grabber.

On Today this morning he was on fire- Europhile Mr Naughty was reduced to gasping "bu..but...this is the most radical foreign policy in a generation!!"

Jim, it's foreign policy, but not that pusillanimous superstate sell-out stuff we've all had to put up with for far too long.

James Hellyer

"However I would prefer it if Europe was not a major plank of our policy, its not a vote winner."

I find it disturbing that so many people commenting on this blog coach all their politics in terms of what they believe is popular, rather than as an expression of what they believe is right and the best approach for the country. All that approach says is that we care far more about getting elected than saving our country.

henry curteis

Now you're talking Dave


I’ve been criticised by a friend for being ‘naughty’ by mentioning Michael Gove’s publicly-announced feelings for Blair –

“I can't hold it back any more; I love Tony!"
Michael Gove, article in The Times, Oct04

I'm sorry if this is a little off-topic... but my own position is straight-forward. I preferred DD and didn’t mind most of his weaknesses, which I attribute to insecurity from being a working-class lad in a party that has only recently shaken off its class prejudices. Then he revealed a near-fatal weakness: choosing a campaign team that comforted him, rather than one that could meet the challenge. It was terrible, and has landed him here.

Cameron, in contrast, has realised he is performing within a team, and has chosen a team which, in spite of some reservations, I consider talented, committed, open, and bold. People like Gove, Osborne, Vaizey and Hilton I would certainly want on my team if I was in the same position, rather than Conway, Mitchell et al.

But I cannot bear the idea of the Blair 2 Project. I would happily have Blair as foreign secretary, but on the domestic front he has failed Britain, and failed it badly. If Cameron sees himself as the heir to Blair – and in spite of recent protestations, that is precisely what he has said – then I want him to lose.

Gove is a brilliant man, but his idolisation of Blair is a serious problem. He needs to deal with it.

Graham D'Amiral

The problem with focusing on Europe is that most people already know we are more Euro sceptic than Labour and the lib dems so the value in continuing to make euro sceptic noises is limited. It must also be said Europe is a low priority for most voters. We have to come out of our comfort zone and start to talk about those policy areas where people don't already know where we stand.

The last two elections have been fought on trying to turn out the core vote, by now we ought to have got the message there are simply not enough core conservative voters out there to win us a general election.


Government by Referendum - how is this rejection of the "Blair settlement".

I agree with Selsdon and Editor. I am really dissapointed with the so called Davis 'substance'. Grammar schools, tax cuts and Europe - under the title 'modern Conservatives'?

Obviously I'm not dissapointed as a Cameron supporter. But I am dissapointed as a Conservative who saw that the leadership contest had been taking the Party forward on a wave of new thinking and new approach - which was actually making people sit up and take an interest in us.

Floating Voter

First silly question of the day: what's Cameron's policy on this?

(Your question is being held in a queue and will be answered when one of our operators is available. We really value your interest. Beep. Your question is being held in a queue and .....)

James Hellyer

"The last two elections have been fought on trying to turn out the core vote"

Except, of course, they haven't. As Danny Finklestein (a Cameron supporter from the Times no less!) has noted, rather than being core vote campaigns the 2001 and 2005 campaigns were based on a "transfusion" strategy, and were trying to replace the professional voters the party was losing with working class support.

Is Davis attempting to continue this 'transfusion strategy'?

Michael McGowan

Can someone explain to me why school choice is a core vote strategy? I thought that the main purpose of it was to extend to those who cannot afford it the opportunities available to those who can afford to pay twice. In short, the kind of One Nation Conservatism in action that led Damian Green and David Willetts to back Davis. We now have the bizarre spectacle of so-called modernising Conservatives appearing to consider unacceptably right wing a policy which has been embraced by social democrats across Europe and in the US.

James, did you read Finkelstein's piece in today's "Times"? It shows how worryingly lightweight the Cameron campaign has become.


DD has set the pace with his policy announcements. The two referendum idea is like a guarantee to the voters. Clearly tough negotiations will be needed, but the bottom line is that we are a sovereign nation, and we can unilaterally withdraw. Unless a government is prepared to use that threat they are unlikely to get their way. We simply have to trust that DD has the will.

What I cannot understand is why, if he is prepared to offer all that, he is not prepared to move the MEPs out of the federalist EPP-ED grouping?

Because talking about grammar schools makes the party sound like it's stuck in the past.


Derek, we could call it the Referendum Guarantee and get William Hague to launch it.


Michael McGowan - even more bizarre spectacle: Cameron endorsing Kyoto-style approaches just at the moment that even his mentor, Blair, is ditching them.

Michael McGowan

What has school choice got to do with grammar schools? Nothing. And in any case, how is it passe to talk about improving social mobility, using grammar schools or whatever? Or does the "modern" Tory Party not believe in social mobility any more? Probably not.


"What has school choice got to do with grammar schools? Nothing."

I totally agree. Particularly when the pledge is to build just two dozen.

Daniel Lucraft

Davis seems to have grasped that negotiations on EU reform need credibility to be allowed by other governments.

Politically speaking threatening to withdraw is probably a no-go at the moment, but until someone does, all this talk of negotiations and reform is so much hot air.

Both candidates are fluffily Eurosceptic but neither is serious.

Daniel Lucraft

Is this the first time that one of the major parties have offered to put any part of the current EU settlement to the voters?

Could this be a watershed?


Michael, do I detect a note of cynicism? The trouble with politics is we get let down so often that no one is trusted any more. To those who say that the EU is not considered an important issue, I would say that is because no one has really made the case sufficiently strongly. The new pressure group Open Europe - shows just what the true cost is to this country. DD is right to focus on it.

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