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« William Hague interviews the two Davids | Main | Editorial: The Cameron Coalitions »


James Maskell

The new look Sunday Telegraph took me by suprize...and I work in a newsagents! I thought the old look was fine...

Barbara Villiers

Sally I think you really do live in a parallel universe - Iain Duncan Smith was a loser from day one and he was only elected to stop Portillo and then Clarke.

To put David Davis into his category is utter defamation!

Barbara Villiers


David Davis' agenda is based on traditional Tory principles and perhaps you can tell me what's wrong with opportunity for all, raising the game for all and good for me, good for my neighbour. What is wrong with policies which benefit all but particularly the bottom 25% of society? Is decency outmoded and outdated? So, do we pander the selfish 'me' society by creating froth and bubbles and mouthing pleasing soundbites so that they feel better about themselves and vote for us. You imitate a product perhaps when it's doing well, not when it's past its sell-by date which is why I think David Cameron is barking up the wrong tree.

Selsdon Man

Barbara, Sally's comments about IDS's and Howard's poll results are correct. Just take a look at Yougov's political tracker polls. IDS was undermined by his enemies in the Commons and CCO. Howard's ratings bombed after a honeymoon period and never recovered.

Cllr Iain Lindley

I've never really thought much of the Sunday Telegraph - I'm a Telegraph reader during the week but I've always preferred the Sunday Times.

Barbara Villiers

Selsdon Man,

You are correct in part. What happened was tactical voting gone mad - otherwise Iain Duncan Smith would never have made it to the last two.

I was there (Westminster) at the time and the 'keep out Portillo' campaign was rather vehement. They would have rather had Hitler than Portillo. I don't know if you remeber Ann Widdecombe's disgraceful conduct when Portillo went out - she was cock-a-hoop, jumping up and down on the Green and hooting with joy.

Henry Cook

"You are correct in part. What happened was tactical voting gone mad - otherwise Iain Duncan Smith would never have made it to the last two."

Not quite sure about that. IDS would probably have won the ballot among MPs, had there been a vote between him and Clarke. Was the tactical voting not IDS supporters voting Clarke, because they thought they had a better chance of beating him than Portillo? Portillo simply never had enough parliamentary support to get into the last two - his support in the first round was below fifty I believe, and the frontrunner (as DD demonstrated) rarely gains votes during the MP ballots. He was never going to snap up many Davis/Ancram votes.

Barbara Villiers

No, Henry, I was there at the time and it was all pretty vicious. Quite sickening.

It happened again this time with Clarke (and I am not a Clarke supporter). I have seen enough machinations these past few years to last me a lifetime.

James Hellyer

IDS supporters voted tactically for Ken Clarke. Roger Gale led five other MPs in this because they opposed Portillo's agenda so much that they wanted to keep him off the final ballot at any cost.

Barbara Villiers

James is absolutely spot on.

Mike Smithson

There is a wonderful story about a proprietor of the Telegraph on his death-bed before the war. I do not know where it is true or not but it is said that he gestured to his son to come close and whispered: "Son if you want to die as rich as me do not be tempted to brighten up the Daily Telegraph".

Henry Cook

James is confirming what I previously said - IDS had more than enough support to make the last two, and so tactical voting happened. I agree it was vicious etc, but I don't agree that IDS wouldn't have got to the last two without tactical voting - it was going to be him versus one of the others (Clarke or Portillo).

James Maskell

Yes, and Im still undecided as to what I think of my MP for that act. Ive never thought tactical voting to be fair ball.

Sean Fear

IDS had not established a 5% lead over Labour; had he done so, he would not have been ousted.

*One* Yougov poll (not their main monthly poll either) gave us a 5% lead at the time. Every other poll at the time (including by Yougov) put us behind Labour.


Please forgive this Joycian stream of consciousness that I'm about to embark upon. I'm becoming rather fed up of this Davis Campaign smear, oft-repeated, that "what we don't need is a Tory leader that attempts to imitate Blair at a time when the public are fed up with it"

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or the truth) but there is zero evidence that suggests people ARE actually fed-up with Blair PR-conscious politics. The last General Election result was the 3rd disaster in as many GE's and it was only a few months ago! - he can't be that unpopular, and if he is, where on earth did that leave Hague, IDS and Howard in comparison? In fact, I invite you to recognize that for most casual Labour voters, Blair, his charisma, his pathetic attempts to come across as normal, in touch, nice, friendly, hip etc. (Apologies due- such ignorant assertions have forced me in to this unpleasant and sickening process of trying to understand what attracts the public to him - I now loathe myself) is the single biggest reason they have continued voting Labour. Not his policies, his colleagues, nor penchant for cheap political head-line grabbing, which ironically is more akin to Mr Davis's 4-year premature, 3 decimal placed tax plans.

Please wake up and realise that what some of you refer to as "Spin" (What I define as projecting a positive image, developing favourable media relations, and challenging criticism) is NOT a political choice, but a stark reality that we must learn to harness in our favour. Indeed, image is more important now than it was 15 years ago, but many of these skills have always existed in the sphere politics(See Bernard Ingham) and continue to do so long after we're dead in the ground.

Of course I accept that the Blair-era's control-freakery, Authoritarianism, arrogance, deceit, and plain corruption, are truly repellant and we should make sure no Conservative Opposition ever seeks to emulate these characteristics. Cameron cannot be accused of any of these traits and why not be mature for a change and accept that Blair must be doing some small thing right. Please let's not confuse Blair's political style (definately on the way out, along with his Burberry hat) with his talent for PR (here to stay, for better or worse). As an American rapper would put it: "Get with the Project!" you political dinosaurs.

James Maskell

So to win an election we have to spin as much as Labour is?


Yes, If you use my definition of "spin". Don't look at me like that - its nothing to be ashamed of.

Welcome to Politics


I thought Spin was about glossing a news story to present a radically different message (so spining a positive one to be negative to the detriment of your opponents) - presenting an attractive persona, in touch with people's personal concerns, talking in real language is normal politics surely not "spin"?

Selsdon Man

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or the truth) but there is zero evidence that suggests people ARE actually fed-up with Blair PR-conscious politics."

The Labour vote and majority declined, Sam. But I agree with a lot of what you say about improving the party's image and PR.

James Maskell

Im not entirely sure that would work. The public would see right through it. Your definition of spin is fine. But spin as far as Labour goes sticks to that definition too but just stretches the definition. I think the Conservatives should stay away from the Black Arts.

Henry Cook

The idea that 'spin' had been invented by New Labour is ridiculous. Hitler was a great spinner, as was Henry VIII, and indeed Julius Caesar. Propaganda = spin, and without propaganda, it is very difficult to get elected. Every politician has to put the most positive "spin" on what they are saying - it is the art of persuasion. The fantastic Tory poster "Labour Isn't Working" was a great work of spin. I think Sam has brilliantly differentiated between the spin we should use ourselves, and the so-called "Black Arts" (deceit, corruption etc.) which New Labour uses in addition to acceptable propaganda.


Getting back to the poll - Brown v the two Ds
In todays Observer a very good article on Gordon by former Head of Institute of Fiscal Studies
"Brown faces a bleak prospect. He had a once in a generation chance to introduce radical and effective change. He inherited a strong and growing economy. But he seems not to have faced the conflict between his desire to be a prudent Chancellor and his desire to deliver public services and support for the poor.

His credibility is evaporating and he still lacks clear strategies and long-term clarity about funding our public services. The transport system is close to chaos, and the tax system is more complex than ever."

2008 looks a good year to be opposition leader to Gordon - he'll either need to tax or cut. Then we need to know what our policies are and have a leader very different from the brooding, morose, boring, failed ex-Chancellor. Time for a Change will be a good message to deliver.

James Maskell

Just to confirm, I will be at the DD speech tomorrow night in Canterbury.

Francis Maude will be in Thanet South Friday...pity since Ive got to work the morning and will miss out on that one. Bummer.

Richard Carey

"Yes, If you use my definition of "spin". Don't look at me like that - its nothing to be ashamed of. Welcome to Politics"

I'm pleased to meet another contributor who conducts their politics in an adult world! It is a fact that the vast majority of political messages, outright or subliminal, are communicated through the media in modern campaigning. Pedalling lies is never acceptable, but branding any attempt to connect with public opinion and push our messages relentlessly through every channel available to us as "spin" smacks of ostrich syndrome.

The media is the environment in which we operate. If anyone cannot, or is not prepared to, take this as the battleground, I have to ask why they are in the game at all.

James Maskell

If we are to use the media then do it properly. Using spin just leads to people wondering if you are ever talking straight. It leads to mistrust. Weve since this with Labour. Theyve spun and spun and spun. Now they cant be trusted.

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