Conservative Home's debate blogs


  • DVD rental
  • Conservative Books
My Photo

Conservative blogs

Blog powered by Typepad

  • Tracker 2
  • Extreme Tracker

« Was Tory leadership row the last straw for Telegraph Editor? | Main | Elsewhere on »



I'll talk to CCHQ on Monday and find out about the rules governing Associations and corporate declarations...


"He is a self made man, made a success of himself against the odds and this is very inspiring to us who haven't had all the advantages."

Barbara, this is so important to many people in this country, and something most Cameronians will never comprehend, let alone appreciate.

Sometimes your posts are just brilliant, like the one above. (At other times, you and other DD-supporters - like me - have a tendency to get a bit too frustrated and angry! We must keep our cool, even as we go down.)

Barbara Villiers

Thank you Pete.

But, we are not going down yet and if that is what happens, we fight every step of the way. He is and so should we!

Jack Stone

And for all of that brilliance he is still not capable of inspiring his own side let alone anyone else and I`m afriad his sort of language will just not attract anyone outside of the core vote.
As for fighting on after December 6th as you seem to imply, the only fight you and all Conservatives should be having after December 6th is too get David Cameron into Number ten.
Anyone who wants to continue the factional fighting after then should ever do the decent thing and leave or they should be kicked out!

Barbara Villiers


You need to get a grip on your paranoia. I never said any such thing.

I am not even going to argue the toss with you about David Davis and I don't know what language you are talking about. Solid Conservative Principles perhaps?

If Cameron gets in I will have to have a very long think about whether I want to stay with the Party. That is my business and not yours. I have stuck with this Party through thick and thin but if it is going in the direction that Cameron seems to be taking it in then I will have to reconsider. You may be right and he may be marvellous. As it stands now however I am not anywhere near convinced and the onus is on him (if he gets in) to prove it. I will not stick with a Party whose principles I can't abide and if you consider that disloyalty, tough, it's my business. I never stood down from a difficult decision in my life and I don't intend to start now.


(sorry, pressed post button by accident...)

This country needs someone to battle for normal people, not someone for whom politics is a jolly good occupation.


(Oh dear, keep getting this simple thing wrong. Thought I'd posted the first bit but hadn't:)

"And for all of that brilliance he is still not capable of inspiring his own side let alone anyone else"

Jack, I think you're right. That is his downside. He just doesn't have 'star quality'.

I don't minimise the importance of that. It matters these days. But you shouldn't minimise the potential problem of Cameron either. I think his charm is too thin, his 'star quality' closer to the one-hit-wonder rather than the genuine article. I may well be wrong - I certainly hope I'm wrong.

I don't know BV but I suspect she's personally bothered by the Etonian thing, as I am. It's not, I hope, 'chippiness'. It's a sense that politics has moved on; we don't look to 'decent, well-bred chaps' to sort out our world anymore. We suspect they never could, because they could never understand normal life. We listen to him perform and we think, 'this will do for a Conservative leadership campaign, but it will never do for Prime Minister.' This country needs someone to battle for normal people, not someone for whom politics is a jolly good occupation.

I will unite around Cameron. But BV is quite right, no-one has the duty to do that. We are not in politics to serve the Conservative Party, we are in it because of things we believe need to be done. If we think that someone is taking us in the wrong direction, then we have every right - indeed a duty to ourselves - to move on elsewhere.

I suspect it all depends on what Cameron's does next. Perhaps he'll surprise us all.

Adrian Owens

From a completely statistically insignificant straw poll at our Assocation Annual Dinner last night, perhaps the contest isn't over.

Tim Collins, former MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and an obvious DD supporter, though he hasn't yet voted was our speaker.

Around half the audience had already voted and of these half, Cameron had a small but clear lead. However, what was most significant was that of the half who had still to vote only 3 were leaning towards Cameron while more than 20 were leaning towards Davis.

If Davis can galvanise this support and get the crosses on the ballot paper of these half who have yet to vote then perhaps the result will be closer than some think come December 6th.

Barbara Villiers

Well said, Pete.

You're right and it's not chippiness, just the feeling that it's different for people like Cameron-£3,000 a year in top up fees is nothing for him but for the huge majority of us it is. If he spoke for the common people he would never have changed his mind in favour of top up fees. He thinks David Davis is wrong about grammar schools - another thing he doesn't have to worry about because his children will have the best education that money can buy. (I realise that doesn't apply to his son and as a mother I have a huge amount of sympathy for him and his wife). Things like that rankle. And he doesn't inspire me - someone who has pulled himself up by his bootstraps does. We as a people no longer look up to our 'betters'- who would better inspire a young person in a bog standard comprehensive - someone who is privileged or someone who has fought his way up?

I've had it with glamour and smoke and mirrors and I think many others in this country have too.

Oh, and Adrian, that is good news and I am hearing a lot of stories like that which is why I am not convinced it's a done deal.

Interested Observer

Dear Barbara Villiers,
I have enjoyed reading your recent posts. I rarely agree with you, and find your manner tends to be unnecessarily overbearing, but you have a certain spirit if nothing else. Amongst posters on Conservative Home, you are sadly not alone in this, and the vitriol spews forth from both camps in a manner which does the hard-working Editor a disservice. That is a shame. What will you all talk about on December 7th when we have to unite behind whoever wins?
In the meantime, I would like to offer Barbara some considered views on her reasons for voting for Mr Davis, and try to engage with those arguments.
1)He has a wealth of experience especially in his role as the Chairman of Public Account Committee. It is here where he amassed much a huge amount of knowledge on public spending.
Mr Davis served on the PAC during much of the Hague leadership. It was a shame, perhaps, that he did not accept Shadow Ministerial office in this period. Like any PAC chairman (which is usually a member of the opposition), he exposed much folly in government spending. I am not sure that amounts to ‘a huge amount of knowledge on public spending’ when compared with, say, a spell on the Treasury benches (government or opposition).
2)He has had the scalps of Blunkett & Hughes
This is one of Mr Davis’ claims that most disappoints me. Undoubtedly his despatch box performances helped undermine the PLP’s confidence in the Ministers, but the main reason for their departure was research initiated by the press or by whistleblowers. Mr Davis capitalised on it, certainly, but I don’t think he can claim a ‘scalp’. He did not make the killer blow. Consider how Mr Grayling engineered the second Blunkett departure – Mr Grayling utilised the Freedom of Information Act to its fullest, and initiated much of the newsworthy findings. That was not the case in the first Blunkett and Hughes departures.
3)He is earnest about helping those at the bottom 25% of society and has firm ideas about how to do so. I especially like his idea of turning the useless city academies into grammars and having more vocational schools
I don’t doubt his commitment to helping the vulnerable in society. I hope every Conservative shares that commitment. I may be wrong, but I understood he was promising new grammar schools rather than the conversion of city academies? I have nothing against grammar schools – I am a product of one – but I do not believe that they are the sole answer today to all our problems. The weakness of our education system lies in the under-performing pupils who might end up on a ‘conveyor belt to crime’. Dealing with that should be the priority of our education policy – grammar schools where parents want them the icing on the cake, perhaps. I must say I find it hard to see how he can both promise selection (i.e. grammar schools) and greater school choice through a voucher system. To retain the principles of both parental choice and school selection in their purest states is not possible. It is not enough, I am afraid, to refer merely to vocational education. How is this to be achieved? We are still waiting to see the implementation of the 1944 Act in this field! Many politicians trot this phrase out, yet it nevers seem to be given solid effect. Mr Cameron’s shadow brief has allowed him to develop a number of specific policies on education. It is interesting to note that the detail he goes into on education is not yet matched on other policy areas! This is a mild worry for me.
4)He is a self made man, made a success of himself against the odds and this is very inspiring to us who haven't had all the advantages. He wants to help everyone raise their game - that is real compassionate Conservatism
I don’t think this actually means anything other than a vague implication that he wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Many of us weren’t – it doesn’t mean we should all be leaders of the Party! I am sure all of us want to help everyone to raise their game, aspire, fulfil their potential etc.
5)His tax policies make sense - lower taxes mean more people working and more tax revenue (to be it simplistically). He has not specified which taxes but he doesn't necessarily mean income tax.
I certainly agree with the principles of lower taxation – though I am a little wary of setting out my plans in such detail so far ahead of a General Election. We do not need to be spelling out fine detail now – we need to be arguing for what Dr Fox called a ‘prosperity agenda’. I am concerned that many politicians on the ‘traditional right’ (where I also place myself usually) fixate on taxation. The concern of many voters now is not just levels of tax, but also their assets – mortgages, pensions, long-term care costs etc. etc. It is not enough to merely discuss the burden of taxation any more – which is why I think the rhetoric of tax cuts has lost its electoral edge in an age of general consumer wellbeing (albeit constructed on a volcano of debt!)
6)His statesmanlike attitude at the Despatch Box after 7/7 and his generally very good, solid performances there.
He did perform well after 7/7, showing dignity and sympathy. I find him, in most instances, disappointing at the despatch box. Delivering speeches is not his forte. It was not just his Conference speech that was disappointing, but the various lectures he delivered on the fringe also showed his weaknesses. It is not his natural element. It is open to question how essential a skill this is in modern politics – I still think it matters though, since it is also an indicator of mental discipline, of confidence, and of an ability to project oneself to an audience.
7)No tuition fees. The fees that are being charged won't make a difference as regards to improving the quality of education so we might as well not have them. Far better to get rid of the useless courses.
This has always struck me as a counter-intuitive position for Mr Davis given his enthusiasm for introducing market elements into schools and the health service – just as Mr Cameron’s support is counter-intuitive also for the opposite reason! Fees coupled with reform of the university system (e.g. abolishing the 50% target, publishing graduate employment rates to allow students to assess their worth, forcing under-performing universities to close unneeded courses etc) would allow our higher education system to regain its lost pre-eminence. It is an area that requires much detailed policy work however – like so much else. Policies should not be written on the bag of a fag packet on the way to a hustings!
8)He is for liberaling licensing laws only AFTER the binge drinking culture has been tackled.
Listening to the Newsnight interview, I believe that is also Mr Cameron’s policy – so this does not really separate Mr Davis out. Licensing liberalisation must be accompanied by stern policing in our town centres at throwing-out time. Sir Ian Blair asked us what sort of policing we want. This would be my preference.
9)As a father of 3, he is well aware of the dangers of drugs and would not reclassify ecstasy but would upgrade cannabis.
I think we can see the sub-text here. I am not quite sure what you mean by ‘upgrading’ cannabis. Attitudes to cannabis seem stuck in the 1960s when a bit of grass was seen as harmless. Modern strains of cannabis are much more carcinogenic than tobacco even, and there is increasing medical evidence of a link between cannabis use and schizophrenia. Drugs policy should be evidence based, rather than triangulating against opponents. I think this agrees with your point. I hope it does.
10)He wouldn't know a soundbite if it bit him in the bum. He is plain spoken, no nonsense and no frills. How refreshing.
Mr Davis is a politician, and like all politicians has to express himself in a concise manner that nonetheless gets his point across. This is, essentially, what the much-derided ‘soundbite’ is. He is no better, no worse, than any other politician. In an age of communication, the soundbite is a necessary evil that must be mastered. Mr Davis can do soundbites as well as the next man. What lies behind them is, of course, the imporant thing, and I am not sure he has as much substance as some other leading Conservative politicians do.
11)It was HIS idea originally to have elected police commissioners, not Cameron's. He is also an advocate of local policing and localism in general.
I actually think it was Policy Exchange wonks who came up with the idea, as it has been knocking round for two to three years now. I don’t think Mr Davis came up with it in his bath. I am still unsure quite how it would work though. It sounds like one of those nice ideas that would be a nightmare to implement. I would rather start by making local police commanders responsible for crime levels in their ‘patch’ and judged by their rise and fall – Bratton’s technique which worked so well in the NYPD. It is not a matter of claiming credit for any idea, but rather putting together a cohesive set of ideas. One thing I found particularly disappointing in the run-up to the last election was Mr Davis’ failure to build on Mr Letwin’s through-through and intriguing ‘conveyor belt to crime’ theory. A lost opportunity in my view.
12)His policy on the EU and the Human Rights fiasco is very sound - take back our powers but have a loose confederation of trading partners. He has already established a commission to look at the Human Rights Act.
This viewpoint is fairly standard in Conservative circles. Indeed, I see he is now saying that he, too, would withdraw from the EPP within two years – after criticising Mr Cameron’s pledge. I am pleased to see him establishing a Commission on the Human Rights Act rather than coming out with a fully formed policy – makes a change.

I am sorry this is such a long post for my first one. I wanted to give Barbara the due consideration her comments deserved.

Ed R

The bile that's being hurled from desperate Davis supporters is worrying and entirely counter-productive for the party and the cause of opposing Gordon Brown's tax-made control-freakery in 2009.

That's why it's pleasing to see some good, positive arguments for the guy from Barbara. A couple of your statements I agree with, a couple I disagree with just on matters of personal opinion, but I'd query a few of them.

1) How does this qualify him as a leader specifically (as opposed to a policy wonk?)

5) Paxman tore into the tax policies before Labour even got to the table. I can't see how this is a vote winner -- the drip-drip message will be "slasher Davis wants to stick the axe into public services". And his Ireland comparison makes me roll my eyes. You only have to spend a few hours going round Ireland to realise that a lot of their bouyancy comes off bunce from the EU. I bet we could cut our taxes year on year too if the EU picked up the tab.

6) All the more reason to keep him at the Home Office, methinks. You want him on your side... but I'm not convinced you want him leading your side.

7) Nobody I met at the last election believed the Conservatives over tuition fees. I'm not sure I entirely believe it's plausible to scrap them except in the quite long term.

10) I'm sorry, but you can't seriously say that Davis works without soundbites. At best you could say he works with second-hand soundbites -- "beef" (John Howard), "good for me, good for my neighbour" (Bush), "I wasn't born a Conservative..." (Blair). Any politician telling you they're unspun is spinning right there.

11) Again, makes me think he's the guy I want on the team... but leading the team?

12) I'm far from convinced on how he'll go about this business of reclaiming rights, though I agree it's a nice idea in principle.

I will give 12 reasons I like Cameron.

1) He talks about optimism and quality of life. The Conservative Party has been slow to show an understanding of these. He didn't cast himself in the shadow of Thatcher when he had a chance. He presents himself as a fresh break from the past -- something that we desperately need because the Conservative brand is quite battered at present.

2) He has a fantastic team assembled -- the Notting Hill set all strike me as sound, sensible Conservatives. The people he's attracted to the campaign, such as Hague, Fox and Redwood all strike me as strong big beasts.

3) He's for lower taxes, but isn't going to get pinned down in a pointless numbers game for 5-10 years down the line.

4) He has a disabled son. Yes, it's slightly tacky that he uses it. But I grew up with a brother who has a similar condition, and I know what a drastic and devastating effect it has on the lives of the family involved. Davis might have grown up on a council estate, but the battles Cameron will have to fight for his son for the rest of his life give me full faith that he will have his fingers on the pulse of what is becoming to one of our most poorly treated minorities. Davis having lived on a council estate decades ago does nothing to add to his understanding of that situation today.

5) He's a practical person. He won't stick it to Blair for the sake of it. He realises this will only strengthen the left of his party. He'll try to work with Blair to make this third Labour term less damaging than it might otherwise be rather than opposing for points.

6) He has sensible views on drugs and the lisencing laws. I realise that will be unpopular with some here, but it's still my view.

7) He speaks up for the environment, one of the last areas the Tories have refused to go in recent years despite, frankly, being a lot more 'green' than Labour.

8) He's worked in the media. He knows how to present himself, how to avoid gaffes like the blonde comment, how to come across in a media age. Like it or not, 24-hour television news isn't going anywhere. I want a leader who can use the most powerful medium of our age.

9) He's got a solid attitude to the EU, and is approaching it in a sensible fashion: let's focus on getting one thing back at a time, rather than barging in waging a war on all fronts.

10) He is interested in flatter taxes. Although I've got mixed views on the flat tax debate (I'd be one of those paying much more), I'm glad he's looking at it.

11) He's spoken up for gay adoption, and against the focus on Section 28. I would like to see the party taking a stronger, positive role on gay rights issues personally, but this will do for the time being. I don't hold against him his votes under three-line whips or what have you during previous administrations -- he's a loyal MP, that's fine.

12) Along with Fox, he's broadened the focus on foreign policy away from traditional Tory areas. That's all to the good. There should be no no-go areas of discussion for a national party, and yet for years this has been seen as the left's territory.

I could go on, but 12 will suffice.

Barbara Villiers

Afraid I will have to agree to disagree on all points. It is a matter of opinion and I totally disagree with every last one of them. Does that make me strident or aggresive or should women be seen and not heard?
However the point about his young son makes me really angry. Thank God, Mr. & Mrs. Cameron are rich and articulate. I know too many parents(both from my work and personally) who are not rich or are particularly articulate who were stonewalled, sneered at and generally pooh-poohed by doctors, councils and social services. I know of a couple of attempted suicides by the mothers involved because of their despair at not being listened to and the disaster that awaited their children. I know of children who never received the special education they needed and others that received it too late.

Please do not think this makes me any less sympathetic to the Camerons - no amount of money will ever change their situation but please don't say this makes him a hero or a special case. My heroes are the parents without money, influence or being particularly articulate who won what they were fighting for after being constantly ridiculed and knocked back. I would appreciate if I was not hounded down by the howling mob for 'speaking ill' of Cameron and his son. I am not and I am always moved when I see photos of them together - he clearly adores his baby and that's okay in my book. But I patenty disagree with everything else said.


I'm still not sure who I'm voting for. I have two thoughts in my head.

First, David Davis played this campaign so badly, that I wonder if he can be trusted to play the bigger game. Otherwise I like him well enough. He seems to have thought things through, and he appears just right on TV: quite attractive, but also mature and serious.

Second, Cameron's world and the world of ordinary people don't seem to touch; his really interesting points are always about things that concern metropolitan sophisticated types. I don't the public will warm to him over time. Otherwise, I think he's very good.

Barbara Villiers


How can I woo you you?

I agree that campaign could have been better and as leader, the buck stops with him. Fair dues. I also think he's learned from it. However, everything else you said about him is spot on.

I think he has really shown his strength through the media onslaught - right now he could find a cure for cancer and the press would manage to put a bad spin on it. Throughout he has held his head high, refused to be drawn into it and has seen it as a challenge to be overcome rather than something to bring him down.

Speaking of the press I just read the Times piece about his teaching a lesson at a school. It is just another example of the snide, belittling media we have and it just makes me sick.

Ed R


Respectively: yes, but that's fine; yes, but that's fine; no, but this sort of unprompted comment is wholly unprompted and deeply condescending.

I empathise entirely with the frustration regarding the problems parents have. But I'm delighted Cameron is using his position and his talents to make a difference on behalf of these children and their parents. And I don't discriminate between those who have money and those who don't in my empathy for these parents' plight. That's the politics of envy -- Labour's territory.

Ed R

Sorry, Barbara, those greater than and less than signs were my attempt to quote the first paragraph from your reply to me. I think the HTML swallowed it.


"metropolitan sophisticated types. "

Sorry, "metropolitan" ie London types are not sophisticated they are remarkably simple: "Me. Me. Me."

Barbara Villiers

Yes, Ed R

Just as David Davis wishes to help people who come from a similar background to his.

Politics of envy?! Don't be absurd. Money and a posh accent(oh and being an MP) makes things a whole lot easier when dealing with the bureaucratic morons who dictate on SEN. Money can never take away the Camerons' pain but it can give them choices others will never have. A good deal of SEN children never get statemented or only when it's too late - I know one young lad whose mother only got the idiots to believe her when he was 14. This is a boy with Tourette's, Asperger's and ADDH. Any foolk could see that there was something wrong. Two suicide attempts later she finally got them to listen.

Opening more special schools has been on the Conservative agenda for quite some time so Cameron did not originate it.

As for all those who think Cameron will appeal to non-Conservative voters - I think he just reinforces the stereotype - posh and privileged.

Jack Stone

A number of points. Firstly if David Cameron is unfit to be this country`s Prime Minister because he went to Eton then surely Prince William is unfit to be its King when he did exactly the same.
Secondly to use David Cameron`s severly disabled son to make a political point against him is nothing less then repulsive and confirmed`s everything I have thought about Davis and his supporters.
The party as to move on from the right-wing policies that as lost it the last two elections and become more moderate and compassionate and talk to people not lecture them.Its only David Cameron who will and can do that.
The choice before members is, as I have said before, win with Cameron, lose yet again with Davis.


DD's completely abysmal leadership campaign says it all. Does anyone seriously think that he could win a general election?

After Hague, IDS and Howard, to pick yet another unelectable leader would be ludicrous - both the MPs and the membership have learned that lesson, and it was never going to happen. At the end of the day, that's why some DC supporters voted for DD in the last round of voting. Events since have merely confirmed their judgement.

Justin Hinchcliffe

To those twats above -- who seek to undermine and smear me -- because of something that was mis-reported in 1995 (when I was 14!) in the media, I say this is typical of the way the DD team has behaved throughout this election. As for my website, it is run and paid for by me as the Assn wouldn’t be able to afford it. I know, however, that around 75% of our 150-strong membership has voted for David Cameron. Editor, I am surprised that you allowed Barbara Villiers to describe me as a "shit" on this site(despite the fact that I have never met her). I thought that you were against all offensive postings?


Calling people "twats" is hardly impressive either, Justin.

If I banned all postings that I thought offensive I would be banning a lot of stuff. Both of you are near the line, however.


Interested Observer I agree with everything in your long post.Are you an MP?


"Firstly if David Cameron is unfit to be this country`s Prime Minister because he went to Eton then surely Prince William is unfit to be its King when he did exactly the same."

I suggest Jack Stone you familiarise youself with The Act of Settlement. Prince William may or may not become King of England, that will depend upon Parliament which regulates the Succession.

That same Parliament where David Cameron might one day win a Vote of Confidence and secure a Majority to form a Government; but unlike Prince William, Cameron has first to convince a wider electorate to put enough Conservative MPs on those green benches to get them to vote for him - that is the big problem he faces - might even be insurmountable

Interested Observer

In response to Malcolm's comment of 12:09 - no I'm not an MP, sadly! Hope springs eternal.

At least someone read what was, once posted, a much too long posting, for which I apologise. I shall make myself bite-sized in future.

I note it quietened Barbara for a while if nothing else!

The comments to this entry are closed.

About Conservative Home


  • Conservative Home's
    free eMailing List
    Enter your name and email address below: