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« Question 8: in today's Britain do you think drug-taking is part of an ordinary university experience? | Main | Editorial: A solid win for David Davis »


Cameron surface versus Davis depth

Mr Cameron, an idealist in an already crowded field of idealists in politics against the realism of Mr Davis; realism about where the country is and where it should be, where the Conservative Party is and where the Party should be which is so desperately needed in British politics.

And what a surprise, idealist Cameron short on strategy and short on specifics. And frankly short on experience; corporate affairs for Carlton plc (he even claimed Carlton owned manufacturing companies; film production companies yes, but big in manufacturing, such that it would matter or if at all, I would doubt). His ideas of school discipline were shaped by his elite education. Any well-trained teacher knows that phonics are but one of the components of a balanced approach to teaching reading. Nice buzz word though. Despite what Mr Cameron says, the evidence that cannabis causes mental health problems has been around for over twenty years. I know for a fact that Mrs Bottomley, as Secretary of State for Health was fully aware of this causality in 1994. And as for ex-addicts teaching children about the harmful effects of drugs! This glamorises drugs and makes it look easier than it is to survive drugs. Unthought out policies. He even said that he would spend from growth but omitted to say where the growth was coming from. Certainly not from Europe, crippled as it is by the declining German economy.

So finally, as I am writing this from the very heart of Brussels where I live, surrounded by Commission buildings, 300 yards from the European Parliament, the lack of Cameron experience was summed up by the statement "Negotiations [with Europe] which I believe we can win". Oh yeah. He should visit Brussels more often. Just how many times can you win a battle when you are outnumbered each time 15 to 1, or often even more now. Not unsurprisingly, he shares this view with Mr Blair. He could not deliver any more than Mr Blair has done.

Before tonight's performance, I thought Cameron would build-up enormous amounts of respect that would still not be translated into votes; now I am not even sure that he would earn the respect of the British public.

Daniel Vince-Archer

Radio 5 Live just declared the result of their post-QT poll about who gave the best performance. 60%-40% in favour of David Davis.

Ed R

DD had a fair performance on the back of evident, extensive schooling -- his vaunted 'beef' was a mix of bluster and nonsense (his plan for an all-round assault on the EU, his citation of Ireland's tax-cutting which doesn't take into account radically different circumstances there). Most of his content is preaching to the Tory choir and didn't seem to have cross-party appeal even in the hall. A good night, but with low expectations, a lot of preparation and soft questions.

DC started well, but came a-cropper mid-way through and reverted to the same-old. Although he has a lot more substance than he's given credit for, he needs to make the specific policy areas stand out from his replies first time rather than being picked out in cross-examination as though they weren't there to start with, he needs to work on his body language, and make sure the big ideas stand out of his speeches rather than getting buried in buzz words. A poor performance from an overcautious campaign (perhaps necessarily so -- he's likely to have to follow through on these promises as leader), but one he'll be able to chalk up as important experience.

In a peculiar role-reversal, DD won the style -- mostly because DC lost his cool; while DC won the substance -- mostly because DD's beef has mad cow disease. Not a tremendous night for either of them electorally, but there's still plenty of worthwhile lessons to take from it.


The Times says Mr Davis won

john Skinner

I watched this as a Cameron supporter, with my wife, a Davis supporter. We thought it was a splendid show, with the contestants evenly matched. A draw, we thought. And a BBC correspondent shortly after felt the same; "no knockout blows," he opined.
So turn to Tim's blog for a straw poll and whaddya get? Organised assault by the usual suspects to get a Davis crushes Cameron story. Absolute bollocks. If you want a poll, try YouGov rather than Tim's biased blog.


I suspect, John, you may be the sort of person who storms out of a room when they're losing an argument.

Henry Cook

When Cameron had nothing to win, and Davis nothing to lose, there was only going to be one result. Well done DD, I am reassured that if you win this contest, the Conservative Party will be in safe hands.

But I don't want safe hands. I want inexperience, I want youth, I want a risk. Its double or quits with DC, and that's what I'm plumping for.

For someone who has only been in parliament four years and at the dispatch box (against Ruth Kelly of all people) a couple of months I thought DC's debating held up well. By the time of the next election, he'll have faced PMQs hundreds of times, and will be well up to the mark. The last hurdle is Paxman - if he can come out of that unscathed, then there'll be no doubt in my mind.

I also happen to think that a fundamental policy review is what is needed when we have a new leader, and so I think DD's £38 billion promise is a big error. We need something akin to what Labour did after 1987 - groups of 5 or 6 shadow cabinet members and shadow ministers examining different topics, such as the economy or public service reform, all overseen by the new leader. Detailed research and unrepressed brain-storming. At this stage I don't see a problem with a blank page, so long as everyone works together to fill it with quality writing.

Right, back to my essay on American Progressivism. Its riveting stuff, I tell you. Especially in the early hours.


I'm still up, too, Henry. But I'm a one-track person - still writing on this leadership race. Good luck with the essay!

Barbara Villiers

Funny how the Cameroonies are saying that you don't win the leadership by one good TV debate when they were quite happy to win the leadership by one good conference speech.

The Slugger won resoundingly and demonstrated to the country that you don't ask a boy to do a man's job.

It's one in the eye for the brown-nosed hacks who have been so far up Boy Wonder's posterior that they couldn't see straight.

It is entirely possible that we may have a General Election is 18 months time which is why we desperately need substance, not showmanship.

As a mother I am alarmed and dismayed about Cameron's views on ecstasy which I did not know until last night. Having worked with drug abusers who did among other drugs, ecstasy, I cannot believe that he would even think for one moment about downgrading such a dangerous drug. Isn't this taking 'modernising' a step too far?

Mark Fulford

Two questions for you Barbara:

Under what circumstances could we have an election in 18 months.

While working with drug abusers, what led to your belief that ecstasy is such a dangerous drug?


"I want inexperience, I want youth, I want a risk."

But please do not send to Brussels, where none of these charector traits are required. Against the likes of a Chirac or a Schröder. Please no!!

Jack Stone

Those who play the long game in politics are those that have courage and are true leaders, those who are short term opportunists who are always after tomorrows headlines lack true courage and should never lead.

Mr Eugenides

As a DC supporter I nonetheless called this for Basher by about halfway and the late exchanges only reinforced this view.

It's not going to change the result, but it may keep the contest alive that bit longer.


Jack, people who only say things once every four years aren't true leaders. You would never have seen Churchill or Thatcher not saying nothing about Policies would you?
I think John you must have lost a bet down the bookies from the way you posted.


"It's not going to change the result, but it may keep the contest alive that bit longer."

Always a mistake to presume on people in politics.


A disappointing night for David Cameron. He could have put Davis out of it but Cameron was too nervous and Davis' experience clearly showed in that he was more comfortable.

Cameron should have put the boot into the plainly daft tax and Europe plans but missed an own goal.

Davis landed all his best punches, Cameron did not.


Wasp, the tax plans are not daft but show someone committed to helping people who are not on 50,000 plus a year and also people who want to give their wealth over to their families without having to pay a lot of it back to the taxman.


David Cameron appealed to the electorate at large. David Davis aimed his remarks at traditional conservative voters and where has this narrow focus got us in the past - come election time? - Precisely nowhere. It is easy to appeal to the latter much harder the appeal to the former.
What fool promises tax cuts when they don't know what state the economy will be in in five years time. Agreed, tax cuts should be a Tory objective but let's avoid giving Labour needless ammunition. Especially if they wreak the economy in the meantime and we are left to pick up the pieces.


Robert you falling into the trap of hoping that the Labour government is going to be in the same state as the Conservative one of 1997. What happens if it isn't and the voters say wheres the beef in terms of differences. The answer four more years for Brown.

Jack Stone

No one is saying you don`t say anything about policy at all between elections but it is plainly stupied to expect detailed polices four years from an election.
The Davis policies shouldn`t be taken seriously as they are nothing more than cobbled together polices to grab tommorrows headlines.
Leaders who play the long game and are not after short term publicity fixes have the courage of lions those that don`t look beyond tommorrow have the courage of sheep!


So then Jack you are against scrapping IHT, CGT and SD as well as reducing the basic rate of tax and Corporation tax, but you in favour of the Osborne/Cornerstone view of getting rid of the upper rate of tax but waiting two years to say it in public?

Matthew Page

I don't think Davis won easily last night. Cameron clearly had the more difficult time from three or four 'planted' Davis supporters. He also had the most to lose.

For me, Cameron will get my vote because of policy. He understands that as a Party we have to be a party for all with a message for everyone.

In terms of public services, he talks about public service reform. Davis talks about vouchers and markets, which give the impression of wanting to free the middle classes who can afford to pay for it.

Is this really the future policy diretcion of the Conservative Party? I don't think so. And such market proposals will cost a lot of money initially, making his pledge to reduce taxation by a standing quota look even more ridiculous.

I think taunting Cameron as the next 'Tory Blair' is more of an admision from the Davis side that he has so far dissapointed in exciting people and gaining their support. Ultimately, that's his responsibility.

What i do know is that friends of mine not usually excited or interested in politics are interested in Cameron and respect him. In their eyes, if he is not our leader on the 06 December, we will look utterly foolish and stupid.

Jack Stone

Personally I don`t believe the party should promise any tax cuts at all at the next election. I believe we should say we will simplify taxes but in our first term we will concentrate on improving public services.
The public think all we are interested in are tax cuts and they don`t trust as not to cut spending. Until we face up to that and phrase our policies accordingly we will just not get elected.
I am afraid Davis is just promising more of the same tactics that have drove us to defeat in the last two elections. He as about as much chance of leading the party to victory as Rochdale have of winning the F.A.Cup!

Matthew Page

Latest Sky News Poll on who is winning the Leadership Contest:

Cameron 70.89% (2, 387 votes)
Davis 29.10% (980 votes)

James Maskell

What coverage has been given on both candidates in this election by Sky? Im reckoning that the praise has been almost all pro-Cameron since the Conference.

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