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« What is the point of Jeremy Paxman? | Main | Was Tory leadership row the last straw for Telegraph Editor? »


Cllr Iain Lindley

Given Cormack made clear his dislike of inexperience at the start of the campaign, and the fact that he has little or no use for patronage, his endorsement of David Cameron doesn't give us much cause for optimism with regard to the leadership skills of Davis...


Whatever ! The only thing that matters is that you are perfectly happy with the result and that the electorate doesn't give the Conservative Party a fourth bloody nose - that might be a terminal verdict on the 5th Conservative Leader since 1997.

Whatever verdict the Conservative Members arrive at, it is the Electorate that will show just how representative of the nation they really are. Get it wrong and Charles Kennedy's successor may push you into third place for a very long time.

malcolm thomas

Rick, the 'we must not lose any more elections' litany is repeated every day several times. If this is the objective some analysis of the previous election might be instructive.

Point 1. UKIP's share of the vote rose to 2%. Not a lot, but enough to block 26 seats which otherwise might well have been Conservative (if UKIP's vote is added to Tory). If Conservatives don't make headway in representing the growing euroscepticism of the public, and UKIP grows to 4%, Conservatives could be blocked from 100 seats...making election victory unobtainable, whichever leader is in place.

Point 2. There were 6 million postal votes. Labour's share was estimated at 3.5/4 million of these, from their total vote of 9.4 million. At the ballot box Labour were beaten by the Conservatives (8.5 less 1.5/2 million).

If only 1 in 50 of Labour's votes in the marginals were acquired postally in ways which should be illegal (which seems very likely), Labour actually lost the election.

The law has not been changed. If the postal voting system is not controlled, Conservatives are unlikely to win another election due to the ease of fraud.

Point 3. The strategy to attack labour nationally was flawed, as the tone of the attacks assisted Lib Dem who are primary opponents in 100 seats. The election needs two strategies - one to fight labour and another to stop Lib Dems.

The best way to do that is to publicise Lib Dem policies to their voters. Lib Dems have no idea what their party's policies are on e.g. sex education, and they are invariably shocked when they find out and stop voting for their Party.

These points need thinking about let alone selecting the right leader, and getting boundaries changed. How is Cameron going to eliminate the threats from UKIP, postal voting fraud and run a two-way election campaign?

It will take more than a charm fact rather the opposite. UKIP are offering a national referendum on EU membership. If Conservatives don't offer some kind of policy to match this, UKIP will gain too much advantage, as euroscepticism is growing fast.

Mark Fulford

Malcolm, you're falling into the trap of counting the UKIP vote while ignoring the vote we loose by adopting an unnecessarily nationalistic tone.


I don't know how important UKIP will be in 2009 - this year they came to the polls with EU Referendums on horizon, Euro membership an issue, good showing in Euro Elections. Additionally few believed the Conservatives could win so those that wanted to show their single issue support felt safe casting a protest vote...will that still apply in 2009/2010 (if Brown takes over with poor polls will he go to vote sooner or later).
We need broad strategy looking to get votes back from no shows, Lib Dems and Labour more than from UKIP - UKIP isn't about euro sceptism its anti-EU, we can garner sceptic votes with forthright objectives.

henry curteis

Mark - There is no evidence that offering the public a choice about the EU loses any votes at all.

On the contrary look at the history of this. The Referendum Party was gaining ground so quickly by offering a referendum on the Euro that all the other main parties had to match the offer (which is why we don't have the Euro to this day).

UKIP's offer and campaign on a referendum on the Constitution was likewise quickly matched by Michael Howard, and to everyone's surprise, this was rapidly matched by Blair and even more surprisingly by Chirac with well known consequences.

UKIP now has a new referendum campaign on British EU membership - (which UKIP could have offered years ago but they used to maintain that by standing for power on a Get-out-of-the-EU basis, there was no need to offer a referendum in addition as it almost cast doubt on their dedication to the Exit door platform. They also rather touchingly used to believe they would win power!)

But they have now learned at last from seeing the success of their most recent referendum campaign on the Constitution that referenda are the way to go and this is now their primary line of attack.

It is not a strident sounding or nationalistic policy to say to people - 'you should be given a choice as to who rules you and how'. This is going back to the basics of democracy.

UKIP has belatedly found the key to offering a Get-out-of-the-EU preogramme without sounding strident, and the Conservatives will be surprised by how well this sells, and probably be caught napping as all the focus is going onto the leadership contest.

We shouldn't be and we should be matching UKIP's offer, or electorally we will pay a heavy price for allowing UKIP to appear the democratic reasonable choice, and the Conservatives will be presented as sold out to Brussels corruption.

That is why the EPP is such an important decision. DC is on the right track, but don't be surprised when you hear more of this issue before long.

J.G. Lindley Kirkbymoorside

Opening hours should be the concern of the local authority, who need to look after all sections of their community. This spins off into the need to restore to local communities the governance of their area, without guidance from 'expert' unelected and remote opinion from inside the M25. It should be part of small government.

Barbara Villiers


I am becomming your biggest fan.

Again, you are so right about the Lib Dems and their grubby little policies. During the Election I was shocked at how little we probed and exposed them. I tried my best while campaigning but I was a lone voice and I am afraid it was the mad old trout syndrome again!

I also agree about the UKIP vote - when we are in such a place as we are now - every last vote counts.

I never said that it would be an easy job to be a Party that appealed to UKIP'ers and the Notting Hill set but we did it before and somehow we must find out how to do it again. Which is why I deplore the tactics of a certain candidate's followers who are effectively saying that if you are over 40 and living in a shire you should be exterminated.

Jack Stone

I have read nothing or heard nothing said by anyone connected with the Cameron campaign that says angthing against older people.
With a membership that as an average age of sixty five it is obvious we are not attracting young people to the party and its clear that if we don`t not only will we fail to get back into Downing Street the party will simply die out in the coming few years.
We need to concentrate our message in attracting those in the centre ground who have deserted us in the last few years as it is there that the election will be won or lost not on the extremn wings that UKIP campaign on.
Those who vote for UKIP will not vote for the Conservatives until we promise to pull this country out of the EU and I am afriad such a policy would not only lead to disaster for the country but for our party as well.

malcolm thomas

Unfortunately Jack, political geography is not a stable entity, and what is called right or left, centre, or extreme changes as often as fashion changes hemlines.

As UKIP are realising, it is not possible to call extreme an offer to a voter to be given a chance to choose who governs. That is all a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU is.

If the simplicity of this is not as apparent as it should be - euroscepticism has been successfully portrayed as extreme and right-wing for some time - then fashion will soon discover its simplicity as the seasons change.

My opinion is that fashion has already moved on this and it will soon be a topic which registers with millions of voters, and we are not careful, UKIP will collect.

It will become not an extremist's topic, but that of the centre ground of politics itself, and the UKIP referndum offer will do much to move it there. Conservatives who want to win an election should prepare their defences now. I advise being proactive.

Barbara - what can I say? Shire dwellers over 40 seem to be getting more policially aware than they were.

It is disgraceful that Cameron is backing down from Michael Howard and IDS' policy on repatriating Britain's fishing rights - where an environmental disaster of massive proportions has taken place, where our diet has been badly affected due to the price and shortage of fish - contributing in turn to our obesity and diabetes epidemics, and our fishing industry has been destroyed.

Come on Cameron. This is the new centre ground of British politics - Britain's health, environment and jobs. Not some fashion accessory that Notting Hillers are not comfortable to be seen wearing in public. Damn their drugs.


"Point 1. UKIP's share of the vote rose to 2%. Not a lot, but enough to block 26 seats which otherwise might well have been Conservative (if UKIP's vote is added to Tory)."

Malcolm - I voted Conservative in parliamentary and local elections but UKIP in the Euro-election. Was there method ? No.

The Euro-election is on a List basis and so it seemed an easy way to send a message, the others are candidates and local. Had the Conservative candidate been a London implant he would not have received my vote.

In Euro elections I do not believe any vote counts in any country. The Commission and the Council of Ministers run the show and the Parliament is an alibi which cannot even chose not to traipse from Brussels to Strasbourg on a regular basis. It is about as representative of individual voters as the UN General Assembly.

Cllr Iain Lindley

UKIP's share of the vote rose to 2%. Not a lot, but enough to block 26 seats which otherwise might well have been Conservative (if UKIP's vote is added to Tory)

Yes, but although the UKIP vote probably does disproportionately affect us, it does not overwhelmingly affect us. Large chunks of UKIP support are drawn from core Labour voters and the disaffected who otherwise would not have voted.

I did a few quick calculations with generous scenarios a while ago and came up with the following:

If 75% of the UKIP vote came from former Conservatives, and 0% from our main challenger (an unrealistic situation I'm sure you'll agree), the following seats fall:

Battersea, Burton, Crawley, Dartford, Eastleigh, Gillingham, Harlow, High Peak, Medway, Romsey, Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Solihull, Somerton & Frome, Staffordshire Moorlands, Stroud, Stourbridge, Taunton, Thanet South, Torbay, Warwick & Leamington, Westmoreland & Lonsdale (21)

If 60% of the UKIP vote came from former Conservative, and 20% from our main challenger, which I think is still optimistic but possible, then we would have won the following:

Crawley, Gillingham, Harlow, Medway, Romsey, Sittingbourne & Sheppey, Solihull, Stroud, Stourbridge, Taunton, Thanet South, Warwick & Leamington, Westmoreland & Lonsdale (13), and Eastleigh would have been lost on a knife-edge. I'll be generous and call it 14.

Personally I think even the latter scenario is extremely optimistic - in truth we are probably looking at around seven seats where you could make a genuine case for the result being affected.

Henry Fitzpatrick

Iain, you don't appear to realise the impact of political campaigning (eg a party like UKIP putting out the message it does, and the place we are *thereby* left standing in in relation to them and the other parties) is not simply on those who *vote*. It's every bit as much on those who don't vote. And 'non-voting [could be/once were] Tories' is by far and away our biggest problem. The existence of UKIP outflanking us to the Eurosceptic right is a permanent problem is this regard, and you're engaging in factional short-sightedness to discount in the way you try to above.


"an unrealistic situation I'm sure you'll agree"

Not based on the composition of UKIP's membership base.

Jack Stone

Personally I think those who want us to take notice of the impact of UKIP actually want us to adopt there platform of bringing us out of the EU.
If the party did this it would simply lead to political suicide. We would definatly hand over government of this country to Labour for the forseeable future.

malcolm thomas

See Liam Fox's piece on for timely elucidation.

Henry Fitzpatrick

Personally, "Jack", I think that those who come here and screech their support for Cameron *but won't use their real names* have something to hide. Do, do, *do* tell us yours.

More good news Cameroonies...

Mark Harper MP backs David Cameron

Another MP has declared his backing for David Cameron following his strong appearance on the Dimbleby Show last night. This takes David's backing amongst the 196 Conservative MPs to 116.

Mark Harper said, "The way David Cameron dealt with Jeremy Paxman and the Dimbleby debate shows that he has what it takes to take on Tony Blair and Gordon Brown."

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