(Updated down the page - latest: November 15th 2011)
OCTOBER 26th 2003
The Tory party cannot find a leader because it is no longer a coherent party. This is because the party was based formerly on arguments, positions and interests which, although they may still exist to some extent, are no longer the main source of policy contention. The new criteria which have entered the arena concern the environment, the Euro and the application of new technology to the perceived needs of society. On these issues, the traditional supporters of the Conservative Party are either divided or confused. The party therefore has no purpose except to oppose the current government on principle on the grounds that it is unpopular or unsuccessful.

The 'new Tory policies' that are being suggested as exciting, realistic alternatives are, in fact, complete rubbish. Any elements of them that make sense (which are few) will probably be adopted anyway by which ever government is in power. The policy for funding universities is particularly dishonest. The scheme suggested by the present government is perfectly sensible and will not cause hardship or unfairness of any sort. The opposing arguments that university graduates will pay anyway for their education through general taxation is also rubbish in the context of the modern gobal economy.

Having another leadership election will only swap the present problem for another.

The Liberal party makes sense to the extent that it stands for a positive European policy, and at least Charles Kennedy understands that the left/right categorisation of parties is utterly meaningless. Unfortunately, apart from that he seems pretty clueless.

All in all, democracy only works well if there is a reasonable standard of interdisciplinary education in both the electorate and those who offer themselves for election. The policies that are required are not likely to be found by chasing popularity or opinion polls or using referenda, and as far as I can see they are not seriously on offer by any of the parties at the moment. The best we can hope for therefore is that the natural progression of reality will just force us, through failure, to survive through individual and collective reaction. Could be painful but no surprises there, then.

OCTOBER 30th 2003
So now it is Michael Howard, whose openng gambit is to tell us that he is going to lead from the centre, use all the talents available, cease opposing the Labour party on principle and start opposition on practical grounds only, in the interests of the country. How interesting - that is what most people have been requesting for the last 50 years, why on earth should it become an attractive proposition now? Answer: because they are desperate to survive as a party.
The only memorable phrase in the career of Mr Howard so far has been "PRISON WORKS". He made this remark at a time in our history when it was perfectly obvious that our prison system was being abused and misused. It was not working. It was failing to deter adequately, failing to rehabilitate adequately, being used for the wrong reasons and breeding whole sectors of society that specialised in illegal and harmful activities. In a large number of cases it was converting individuals who had made mistakes under pressure into dedicated criminals. In an even larger number of cases, including the first number, it was creating a society with contempt for the law.
I made it clear to Mr Howard on BBC Radio Manchester at the time that in my opinion he should be given the chance to find out if prison works by being sent there, convicted of criminal neglect; but it was not just criminals that Mr Howard and his bunch had neglected, it was the whole country and its infrastructure, of which he and his colleagues knew less than nothing. That is why it is in the state it is in today.
So the first thing I need to hear from Mr Howard is the admission that prison, as used here, doesn't work - except in certain cases and in certain better run prisons. After that he needs to come up with some sensible policies on transport, energy, water and education. No sign of any any such thing from his party so far.

At last a positive purpose has been found for the Conservatives.Their candidates will stand at the next election for the repeal of the recent Ban on Foxhunting. In that case they should be voted for, even if the result is a hung parliament or a Tory victory. Don't worry bout the result, the country will be run by the civil service anyway like it was before Blair and Brown. Nothing different will happen of any interest, for good or ill. Apart from adjustments to the economy by Chancellors and decisions on national defence and foreign policy,  most activities of any government are limited in effect. European society moves according the the logic of collective cause and effect.

However, occasionally MPs are rashly given the chance to replace Nature as the guiding hand of progress. MPs as a whole have voted against the death penalty in spite of their constituents wishes because they knew that the justice system was imperfect, miscarriages of justice all too possible, and imprisonment the better option for the moment. There were some who were against it on principle due to being confused over the grammar of the Ten Commandments, and others who have a problem with the whole concept of death as an inevitable condition to life and human existence. But they came to the right conclusion for the time. Of course life imprisonment in a British gaol is a far worse punishment than death and extremely cruel, but let us pass on that for the moment, as some people get reprieved or pardoned.

But when hundreds of Urban MPs are hostage to urban constituents who do not even know that sausages are made from animals, let alone that hounds exist to hunt foxes and cruelty is not involved outside of the minds of certain cruel humans, to give them a free vote on such matters was folly of the sort this nation has rarely before indulged in. Those responsible must be removed from any future influence until they have learned why they are mistaken

Apart from the above, the Tory party is, as chronicled below, politically incoherent and suitable only for opposition, as required by our democratic system. But in this hour, they are needed if we are to be saved from dictatorship by those who through inexperience cannot even imagine the extent of their ignorance.

UPDATE JULY 25th 2005

How nearly right but, missing the mark, how disastrously wrong (see BBC News extract below).
Faith, Flag and Family is a grand slogan. But the moment anyone adds George Bush as the example of how to interpret this they shoot themselves, not in the foot, but in the head five times. It is not what Bush does but how he does it that is the disaster. It is (possibly) not even what he thinks that is crazy, but what comes out of his mouth that gives the immediate impression that his actions are not based on the full picture but the view from a bunker full of hicks.
No wonder Chris Patten hesitated before giving a ringing endorsement.

What they need is a new party formed by Patten, Clarke, Major, New Portillo and others who have found out a thing or two about life, the universe and stuff. They would win an election hands down. They would need a new name for this party. "UK Survival" perhaps? "Moral Survival"? or just Survival. Maybe "Moral Consensus". But it has to be a new party. It would draw its supporters in the country from all the existing parties, and would defeat all comers at any election. I would like to see some of the current government join the new party, in fact a lot of them, but they would be badly needed to form a loyal opposition to keep the government on its toes and, lets face it, they could do with a breather. But all this is on hold just for the moment as things have to be sorted.

Source of info: BBC News
Monday, 25 July, 2005, 11:14 GMT 12:14 UK

Moral values call to Tory leader
Conservative traditionalists have entered the fledgling Tory leadership contest by urging whoever becomes next leader to tackle liberal attitudes.

A group of "socially conservative" Tory MPs say the party should echo George W Bush's "faith, flag and family" slogan.

Tory MP Edward Leigh has criticised his party's election campaign for being too "managerial" and says vision is needed.

His call comes after frontbencher Alan Duncan said the "Tory Taleban" risked consigning the party to oblivion.

Mr Duncan criticised the party's "moralising wing" over social attitudes.

'Boring contest'

Mr Leigh's comments mark a counter-offensive against Tory "modernisers" in the pamphlet from the new Cornerstone Group of about 25 MPs.

He told BBC News: "If we were the Tory Taleban, why are we articulating the views of so many people?"

He wants the Tories to stress their core values with a "radical tax cutting agenda", including flat tax rates and tax relief for private health insurance, as well as traditional moral values.

The Conservative Party has deserted conservative Britain, and so Britons have deserted us
Edward Leigh
Conservative MP

"We need to pull no punches," said Mr Leigh.

"At the moment this leadership election is frankly rather boring. It's full of platitudes about having to reach out - of course we must do that but it's not enough."

He argues the Tories must put "clear blue water" between themselves and their opponents and not just become a "pale imitation of New Labour".

In the pamphlet, the Gainsborough MP says tradition, the nation, family and free enterprise represent the preoccupations of most Britons.

"In the USA too, these core conservative issues excite voters. George Bush understands this and wins," he says.

"Strangely, the Conservative Party has deserted conservative Britain, and so Britons have deserted us."

Patten endorsement?

Mr Leigh argues that Conservatives must openly say they believe "traditional families" where men and women commit to each other is an ideal.

He argues politicians should not be scared of being accused of "moralising".

All the potential leadership candidates will have the chance to speak on the platform at the Conservative conference in October - a week before nominations close for the leadership election.

Former Conservative chairman Chris Patten stopped short of endorsing any candidate in an interview for the Guardian newspaper.

But he praised both David Willetts and David Cameron for being "thoughtful and sensible".

He said it might be time for the party to "jump a generation" and go for somebody younger like Mr Cameron.

Lord Patten said he did not really know David Davis, the bookmakers' favourite to be the next leader.

Asked if Mr Davis' more populist approach could revive Tory fortunes, he replied: "The Conservative Party keeps on electing leaders of the opposition, and it's about time we elected somebody who would be a prime minister.

"I don't think the Conservative Party does itself any favours by talking to itself."

End of BBC report

Today is the Funeral service for Edward Heath. He deserves a great send-off, with the music he loved, even if he was (according to Ditch Ingrams) a lousy conductor. But why does everybody have to put on black and look miserable? He did not die before his time, he did a good job before he got completely led astray by a civil service he trusted, then we sacked him just as he had learned all the lessons (as you do) and could have done a better job than Thatcher. (No, we needed Thatcher just like Europe needed Hitler - if you can't share your toys nicely Nanny will come and take them away and smash half of them putting them in the cupboard). Funerals should be confident affairs though, not miserabilist.


Kenneth Clarke has decided it is his moment to lead the Tory party as that gives it a chance of returning o government and he has the experience to do the job of PM. Both of these things are true and of course his age is not a problem at all - he's even younger than I am, and I haven't even got started on my career.

However the point, as Max Hastings has said, is this:  is he a man of the 20th or 21st Century?

This is nothing to do with his age, but the age at which he matured and developed his mind-set.

The juries are out on that at the moment.

There are three juries.

The Conservative Party in the country.
(They might prefer a 20th century man anyway)

The Conservative Party in parliament
(They are split, but anything is better than Malcom Rifkind)

Potential Conservative Voters throughout the country
(They will not be given a chance to decide until the next General Election, by which time Clarke, if he is Tory leader, will have had time to show if he is 21st Century and good for another 10 years or not.)

My own view: he's a safe pair of hands - that's all we need. The world is not run by politicians.

Clarke has got off to a bad start. Hoping to cash in on his opposition to the Iraq war, he has made much of analysing it now as a disastrous mistake
while at the same time claiming he is not concerned with the past and is against pulling out prematurely. Time has shown that though the handling of the war has not gone well, the evidence that the removal of Saddam Hussein was necessary and the timing was right has never been more obvious. Clarke has shown himself up as a man who does not understand the 21st century. He has learned a lot about the world since he set out to run it as a politician, knowing little but finding it out on the way at our expense. He would still be a safe pair of hands. But he still doesn't get it. He's a complacent, fat, self-confident nice-guy but he's not up to speed, he won't cut the mustard. Pity. That was my reaction.  But then, when he talks about what he would do differenty now, it is clear that he is not complacent. The charges of 'appeasement' don't quite fit. The image of complacency with his own performance (after all it was only as chancellor that he managed to do any good, before that he follwed the usual practice of damage limitation while he learned the problems) does not carry over into complacency with current poiicies of Labour, the Liberals or his own party. He is still the least bad option, as a character he is fit for the job. Above all he is FRANK.

SEPTEMBER 27th 2005
The Conservative Party today voted to abandon the new method, proposed by the leadership, to have the next leader elected by MPs rather than the party in the country. Let us be clear; this means MPs have asked Conservatives in the country to elect a leader that they are opposed to (if there was no opposition, the rule would be that MPs would have the final say, approving the the country. The conclusion is obvious. As explained in the opening sentence of this web page, the Conservative Party no longer exists. A political party has to have candidates who stand as members of that party, entrusted with all decisions, of which electing their leader is just one. If the members of Conservative associations in the country elect a leader, he will have to form a new party. For economic reasons, I assume most sitting MPs who are against the new leader will join it rather than resign. What they should do is form another party, and build another grass roots organisation in the country.

OCTOBER 2nd 2005
We are now getting a clearer idea of the state of the contenders.

I originally considered Kenneth Clarke the only one fit for the job. Now, I am not convinced that he is. I have been a Clarke supporter for decades, but I now believe he is past his sell-by date.  There was a moment when he could have been a leader. He is still the safest pair of hands, but he cannot now convey the image of a confident leader. It may be just his age, but he has become a waffler.  I would be happy for him to be in charge, but he will not convince the electorate beyond those who would vote for him on principle that he is the man of the moment.

Malcom Rifkind has always been anathema to me but has been talking more sense, more articulately, than any of them. I have to admit that as a fact. But he will not win. He bores people.

David Cameron is doing photo opportunities with children etc. He's a nice kid himself but frankly we need a PM now who speaks to adults, and lets parents explain the political facts to their own children. It is time to completely ignore the media, the photo opportunities, the advertising gurus, the focus groups, politically correct and also both the vested interests and the out to lunch liberals. We need some plain speaking. The fact that he is an Old Etonian does not of itself disqualify him unless it has, in reality, disadvantaged him (which it might - I don't know much about his experience to date - or might not have). We shall see. He has youth on his side. As to what he actually knows about anything, I couldn't say. Like all politicians he avoids giving out the smallest clue about that.

David Davis has been, as far as I am concerned, a man who achieved nothing at all in opposition. He is a Eurosceptic of the kind whose policy is to back off from Europe, whereas I am a Eurosceptic of the kind who believes that we should get right in, including the Euro, and make sure the EU develops properly. That was what the best of Europeans in all the member countries wanted us to do, and we have let them down apart from providing a few excellent commissioners over the years. But David Davis is the man who is shaping up to lead the party, and it has to be said that he offers leadership and logic and he is not waffling. He would not waste time with the UN or the EU, but he would run the UK properly - and one has to admit that that is a tempting offer which would attract considerable support amongst many recent immigrants as much as long established indigenous Brits. If he can avoid kissing babies and keeps straight talking, he could take the Tory leadership. From there it all depends when Gordon Brown's chicken's come home to roost. By staying out of the Euro, Britain was able to use certain other factors and considerable expertise to make the UK economy look a lot better than some others. But there was always going to come a time when the forces that were tapped to do this would swing against us. When that happens, and the proverbial hits the fan, Davis may find his hour has come. Though, final irony, as we are outside the Euro the Pound can fall against the Euro and we can survive by the usual financial wriggle our European friends have rightly denied themselves. Of course imports will be more expensive, and energy costs will be crippling, and certain living standards will fall, but other things that have been suffering will revive. That is how it works. Another point to watch is Davis' position on ID cards. He is against them on the same grounds he is against all expensive bureaucratic systems and 'empires', fearing their abuse and cost. But the truth is that cards or not, the UK requires a proper Identity System. All properly run countries have one, and because we do not we have a very good chance of going from the ridiculous to the sublime, rather like the French telephone system in the 1970s. The cards can be taken up gradually. The technology, because digitally based, can be upgraded continually with minimal cost. So let us be clear: opposition to an ID Card is pure demagogic election fodder. The system will have to come if any government is to have a prayer and honest citizens more privilege that outright criminals.

I have bee listening to Francis Maude speaking. He is an excellent speaker and everything he says makes sense, is perfectly expressed and is to the point. It is evident that Maude needs the occasion and the opportunity to rise to. I have listened to him quite a lot, but to be fair he is often answering silly questions from TV interviewers less enlightening than Andrew Marr. Today he has time to speak. I am impressed by him. I am not convinced that he has the solutions. What he has done, which is what he said he would do, is to analyse the problem correctly and set out the correct approach. Well done. He got a very average reception. He deserved a standing one. Norman Lamont's assessment of the speech on BBC2 has missed the point, completely.  Maude's was a very thoughtful and intelligent speech. Lamont, criticising, then said what was needed, proceeding to repeat with far less clarity what Maude had just said. The trouble with these guys is their head is full of their own thoughts, they cannot hear those of others even when they overlap.
Alan Duncan agrees with me on Francis Maude's speech. Curiously, I rarely agree with Alan Duncan on issues. It is rumoured that Aland Duncan might back Davd Davis. This has become less crazy than I once though.  I think the party needs to be less self-conscious. So one of the solutions to the problem of image that Maude has analysed is to ignore it.

Next comes Malcom Rifkind, the first of the 5 candidates for leadership of the party. he does not speak, he orates. I can't enjoy it much. He blames Brown for the pensions crisis which is partly true - he did precipitate and make it worse, but it would have happened anyway. So Brown carries the can. But that is not enough as a base for Tory party policy. Rifkind's jokes started feebly but got better as he warmed up. Like most 'orators' apart from Winston Churchill he exaggerates and plays fast and loose with the facts to make a point. Calling Jack Straw a political pygmy is quite extraordinarily arrogant. He has been the best foreign secretary of my lifetime. Rifkind offers Reggie Maudling as a hero from the Conservative past. Maudling was part of a government that had the chance to do great things and did nothing much. It had the chance to do more than react to crisis and move forward. I wish I understood why Rifkind can pronounce the letter L in many words but not in the word 'values'. As oratory, it improved as it went on. He gets the standard standing ovation.

Meanwhile Andrew Neil expresses surprise that thousands of people tried to ring the FREE phone line he showed on the screen for a very long time, with a lengthy explanation of how to use it and the guarantee that the results would be listened to. What sort of people run the BBC these days? Why do they not understand the effect of their own actions using powerful media broadcast to every home, in a programme watched exclusively by people interested in te subject, with opinions. We are infested with mental pygmies, but not necessarily in politics. I did not pick up the phone as the chances of getting through were clearly nil after the first few seconds, because the process involved listening to a recording of Neil, giving personal details and answering questions using the phone keys. This would block many lines for long periods.

OCTOBER  4th 2005
David Cameron came next but I did not catch his speech - maybe later. It seems to me that Cameron is well qualified in every respect but one - we learn from commentators that his progress from Eton on has been at a similar level of privilege. He has not lived and worked with a wide selection of people in different trades, places, income levels and circumstances. He has not been at any coal-faces of hard fact or technological challenge. He will therefore be very dependent on advice and on his own imagination. That does not rule him out, but it does not help him. If he is a good listener he could do a good job. I think people would trust him.

Geoge Osborne (not a leadership contender) made a rousing speech about Conservative economic policy. It sounded wonderful. Every proposal made sense, every criticism of Labour was valid. What he ignored was the reasons why such policies, which seem so obvious, were not follwed by Tony Blair. He attributed it all to Gordon Brown. In fact there are many oher reasons, many of them wrapped up in factors affecting Bristish society as a whole and in part. But it was a good speech. Putting any of that into practice, however, is another matter. When Sir Humphry enters your office and explains the point you start from, and you have to decide your first economic move, it's not so obvious.

Kenneth Clarke kicked off at 3:45. He got off to a middling.start because he emphasised on his fed-upness and even anger. Clarke is at hs best when upbeat and confident, or funny, or rude with a killer put-down. But he got into his stride. Of course there is no doubt that all of Brown's mistakes (and there have been a few) will come home to roost on the back of problems not of his making (hitting alll western economies hard). So Gordon will carry the can in the public mind and Kenneth is able to pile up all the errors of Brown and Blair into a pile that looks bad! I have to say, half-way through this speach, Ken's chances are picking up. He is looking younger and more alert. All will now depend on which parts of Clarke's speech the media repeatedly show. If they show the satrt, not so good. If they show the best bits later, winning stuff. At 4:04 PM, just after I wrote the last sentence, he has the audience eating out of his hand. He made some economic proposals [40% GDP max tax take). The worst thing the media can do for the Conservatives is to allow their cameras to pan around the audience seeking out the most terrifying old faces that look like residents or Mordor. At the end, Clarke gets a very big ovation and a rousing cheer. He certainly got the 'age' thing beaten - he looked a lot younger at the end of his speech that at the beginning. His strongest point - frankness and fluent speaking. What you see is what you get..

Summary of the day: Cameron is well up to the job. He spoke without notes. He was light on detailed policy content, but this is not the moment for that. In my view, the anti-europeans are now quite possibly going to choose Cameron rather than Davis as their man if they think the Tory grass roots in the country will swing behind him - all they really want is to keep Clarke out because they are so rabidly anti-europe they don't want us to join the Euro ever, whatever happens, even if all economic tests are passed and the public majority wants it.

OCTOBER 5th 2005
David Davis made a competent and professional speech but it did not have enough passion or intensity for most people. I found it harmless and not without meaning, but the front runners are now Clarke and Cameron. This is how it will remain, I hope (though I personally like the non-rhetorical Davis address).

Liam Fox's speech was more adventurous than Davis. It was if anything more anti-EU. It pulled patriotic strings harder. It got more applause. But what is at issue here is who can present himself as first the future leader of the opposition and then as Prime Minister. Liam Fox's performance in opposition has not been very telling - and he has had the chance to be. He has supporters, but what has come out of this conference so far is the feeling that Clarke has a reputation of effectiveness in opposition and the confiidence to take firm positions when in power - shown when as chancellor he had real power and used it wisely. Cameron has an untarnished past and comes over as trustworthy to a wide range of of the population. These two are the safest to submit to the grass-roots in the country as either could give the best chance of victory. However, Clarke as leader with Cameron in his team is the stongest suit.

OCTOBER 6th 2005
Michael Howard addresses the conference. If he had spoken like that during the run-up to the last general election, he might have done a lot better. However there is still a measure of hypocrisy in his criticism of some of Labour's policies, where in the past he has opposed measures designed to achieve ends he now espouses. That is why Cameron's approach - to agree on those aims and objectives but criticise the performance - is much more credible. He gets a rousing standing ovation. The conference has gone well. He takes much credit.

On October 2nd, I said that I feared the incisive Kenneth Clarke had become a waffler. He had - but I have admit he appears to have recovered spectacularly. I don't imagine Ken would serve in a Cameron shadow cabinet, but Cameron would be a huge asset to a Clarke leadership. Both are possible leaders. But as I have said from time to time in the above paragraphs David Davis, who was not in my view very effective in opposition, had more to say at this conference with less rhetoric than the others. He has not inspired, but he has shown considerable competence.

There is one thing that needs clarifying - this business of the Tory Party 'apologising'. The apology required is for what they did not do, not for what they have done. Over the years in government they failed utterly to do what was required, being tied up endlessly in reactive politicies,  to both home and foreign affairs. In opposition, they were ineffective, opportunistic, hypocritical and trivial. Of course Margaret Thatcher's clean out of the union cupboards full of nonsense was good, but the health and infrastructure of the country was not well served and if there are problems with.the EU it is because we did not get right in and sort it out.

OCTOBER 18th 2005
It was always a strong possibilty that the anti-Clarke movement would use this stage to dump him without risk to their preferred candidate, whoever that might be. The anti-EU brigade have therefore either ensured another Tory defeat or left the rescue to young Cameron, whose position in the final is now assured. A bit much to ask in my view but not impossible. This was a negative vote, by a political party I could never support in its present state, no matter what the faults of the others. Let's face it, Ken Clarke failed to get the support of some of his party because he refused to schmooze them. Quite right too. Now it is safe to say he treated them with the er.. avoidance they deserve. Ah, now we have the awful Heathcote Amory admitting why he voted Fox. It was indeed a negative performance. I imagine now, however, since  the Tories will lose the next election, the next leader (however young) will have time to learn the ropes. But unless they are very careful  now the Tories could end up with Fox beating Davis and there would then be the disastrous possibility of Fox being chosen by the grass roots.

OCTOBER 20th 2005
The two going on for choice by the party in the country are the two Davids. Davies with the experience, Cameron with the wind of change. In view of the poor showing of Davies in opposition, his experience should not weigh much in the country. But there is as usual in Britain the curious 'class' experience which some have suffered and remain brain-damaged by. A viewer on the 10 pm news remarked: "Who do you need for the fight with labour, the sergeant who has had real experience at the battle-front, or the officer who has spent time at Sandhurst?"  The answer is of course the officer who has had the Sandhurst training, with first class sergeants on his staff for the battle ahead, so the questioner may have helped Cameron on his way. Sandhurst has been a notably successful establishment, as has the school Mr Cameron went to. But given the world we live in, the outcome is never certain! As for the battle ahead, it is not so much a battle with Labour as a battle with ignorance. The Tories think they can do better than Labour in this battle. In truth, it's just a relay race.

OCTOBER 30th 2005
So Boris Johnson will give up the day job if David Cameron becomes leader, he admits on Desert Island Discs this morning. That's good news for Cameron. Boris is a bit scatter brained but that's because there is quite a lot of content in the brain. We need him in politics. His music choice was not inspiring but Boris is not too concerned about inspiring in a conventional way other than being a positive thinker. It was the best DID interview Sue Lawley has done and he was the best interviewee. That makes him a class act in any rating. He's a man who will bring out the best in people.

NOVEMBER 4th 2005
Yesterday we had the two Davids contending for the viewers support for the leadership on BBC TV. The programme was very well hosted by a third David (Dimbleby). They both seemed to agree that the EU was the cause of all our troubles, though David Davis more so. Davis then launched into praise of a country that ran its economy and its society in an exemplary way, one we should imitate, one where growth and stability was acknowledged and worthy of a hallmark, a model economy. IRELAND of course. Ireland, a long time supporter and fully paid up member of the EU and of the Euro zone. What a burden this must have been on the Irish economy. Of course they don't have a defence budget worth much worry, but Davis does not claim that is why they run their country well. Could it be that the crippling EU bureaucracy that Davis claims is our ruination could instead be something to do with our own dear Whitehall?

DECEMBER 06 2005
Now that we have David Cameron home and dry, I hope he will decide on some of his policies with complete disregard for many of his party. I look forward to the repeal of the anti-hunting laws (hopefully through a free vote) and policies to simplify the tax system, but on Europe I hope he will back the sensible Europeans.  Apart from his apparently late realisation that drugs are medicinal and any recreational use is asinine, the man seems intelligent. He has been through one of the best schools (the education there is taken much more seriously than it was in my day) and looks to me like a man equipped for the job. It will also give me great pleasure to find out if the likes of Humphrys, Neil and Paxman will continue to use the word 'toff', but exclude Cameron from the classification. Come on, yobs, define the word 'toff' for me.

DECEMBER 07 2005
Cameron has made his first mistake. It was not his democratic option to pull all the Tory MEPs out of the European People' Party without public discussion. He may wish to do this,  but they were elected and took their seats on the understanding that they were EEP supporters. So it should have been left for future action after proper debate. Maybe he thinks he has had this debate in the country and in the party, but in that case he should have said so very publicly.

DEC 09 2005
It seems that Cameron will take his time to pull his MEPs out of the EPP and use the time to justify the move to those who elected them, probably by trying to form another grouping. I am dubious about that, and it shows the party is still crippled by its dependency on the paranoid anti-EU element. It is really time to dissolve the Tory, Labour and Liberal parties and rearrange politics on the reality of pro/anti EU and EMU. The policies on education, health, industry, environment etc  where there is less and less difference between the current parties can then be the result of rational debate and voting. No, it won't happen, but it is nevertheless incredible that all parties are trying to pretend that the EU issue is not important when in reality, in view of the measures we will have to take to get through the coming decades, it is the only important issue.

DEC 12 2005
Anyone who has studied the rump of conservative diehard support in the country as represented by those who turned up and slept through the conference (though they woke up to applaud at the end of the speeches) will realise that these people are somewhat rigid in their views. Many of their views are admirable but others based on a serious misunderstanding of the current global situation. So if Cameron is going to build a new majority he has got to gather supporters from the non-voters, Blair supporters, and classic conservatives. But if he loses the sensible European vote, he cannot possibly get a majority at the next election or any other election. The sensible pro-Europe vote will mobilise against any anti-EU party.

FEBRUARY 16 2007
It has been a year between entries because there has been nothing to report, apart from the third mistake by Cameron in committing the Tories to scrapping the ID card policy. However, today, after the shooting of several young people in Peckham, Cameron has launched forth with a condemnation of family failure and absent fathers as the cause of violent and antisocial behaviour. While some who disagree have said the best thing for for many children is to keep them as far from their fathers as possible, let us first examine Cameron's point of departure.

He states: "Children take there model for behaviour from their parents."

While some parents may be in a position to enforce or inspire good behaviour through the formative and teenage years, many find themselves totally overpowered and outbid in influence by the media and peer pressure. It only needs 10% of children to follow the example set by today's media for the situation Cameron deplores to come about. The present government has not been more or less responsible for this than previous post WWII governments. Those who control the media, or rather who have abandoned control of the media, are responsible.

It may well be they are right to abandon control of the media, but in that case we must accept the current level of drug-taking and violence, which will find its own level in a free society. In such a society, every sort of failure is allowed to be committed. The law is there to punish retrospectively by locking offenders up in ever more crowded prisons before letting most of them out later, no more unequipped for peaceful or legal survival than when they went in.

If such a society permits the random breeding of its population, regardless of the social conditions and regardless of whether the children are born to married parents, the level at which this stabilises is unlikely to be what could be traditionally described as civilization.

AUGUST 3rd 2007
The critics of David Cameron are out to lunch. Now is not the time for him to come forward with a list of detailed policies. It is a time to examine the government's performance, Gordon Brown's new policies, and apply constructive criticism. It is a time for all Conservatives in local government and Conservative MPs in Parliament to work hard for their constituents and study the human and technical facts, local, national and international, on which they will be expected to base their policies in the future. The polls and the bye-election results will be influenced by many passing events. Cameron's job is not to fight the next election now. Quite apart from anything else all the voters, including Tory voters, want to see how Brown gets on as PM. Nobody in their right mind wants him to fall down on the job right now. The problem is not Cameron, it is his party, which needs to change its supporters and membership. Half of the current lot are no good to any party aiming to govern this country and make sense of both our European heritage and our North American special relationship and collective history. They haven't got Ken Clarke, as he rather blew it, so Cameron is the next best choice.

AUGUST 17th 2007
As I pointed out above, now is not the time to come forward with a list of detailed policies. However, led by former Cabinet minister John Redwood, the Competitive Challenge working group says the government has introduced many "stealth taxes" since Labour came to power 10 years ago. Most of the following (maybe some are naive) are reasonable ideas. Some of them even risk beinng pinched by Gordon Brown's government but others could not be sold to the Labour party especially now that Redwood's name is associated with. This is quite a cunning way of locking down policies for Tory use only, but not such good news for the country, which needs good ideas regardless of which party is in power.

Obviously missing from the following, and obviously necessary are: 1) A rise in Green Taxes to incentivise every individual to reduce their carbon footprint toward an acceptable national average and 2) Lifting the threshold at which any income tax at all is payable.

At-a-glance: Tory proposals
A Conservative Party policy group has published proposals which it says will improve the UK's economic competitiveness. They will now be considered by the party leadership for possible inclusion in its next manifesto.


  • Bring in "targeted tax reductions" to encourage "a more enterprising UK"

  • Abolish inheritance tax, which currently stands at 40% on the value of estates above £300,000

  • Reduce corporation tax from 30p to 25p in the pound for large businesses

  • Cut corporation tax to 20p for small businesses - the same as the standard income tax rate

  • Raise the threshold for the 40% higher rate of income tax, which currently stands at £34,600

  • Abolish stamp duty on shares


  • Cut the cost of regulation and bureaucracy by £14bn a year, leaving "business with more money to invest in new jobs and new products and encourage small businesses to take on more staff"

  • Create a "more positive way of motivating and rewarding public officials", to raise government efficiency and to reduce cost


  • Rail capacity must expand by 50% through new technology and adopting the types of modern lighter train used in other countries

  • Money should be raised from foreign lorries using UK roads, providing cash to remove bottlenecks and improve traffic flows

  • More private money to build relief trunk routes - as with the M6 tollway near Birmingham - or to widen existing main routes


  • Organise a competition to see which technologies offer the cheapest and best way of generating carbon-free or low-carbon electricity


  • Abolish the "bureaucratic" Learning and Skills Council and develop a system of training "based on student choice and employer need"

  • A "better tax deal" for people and companies to give to universities to strengthen their endowments

  • Strengthen the UK's science base by encouraging more positive links between business and universities


  • Identify places suitable for new settlements, beginning with an enlarged Thames Gateway development using reclaimed estuary land and brownfield sites

  • SEPTEMBER 4th 2007
    Good grief. Michael Ancram, who for once in his life recently made sense about the Palestinian and Middle East problems with the suggestion it was necessary to talk to Hamas amongst other things, has launched into David Cameron, asking him to do certain things which the boy has already done, making a few obvious points on some of his errors, and generally causing the party unnecessary trouble at a time it really does not need it. Of course the Tory party cannot be reassembled. It has no body of adherents who agree on anything much and on Europe they are riven. Half of them do not understand the dynamics of EU politics or what needs to be done (Ancram himself probably one of these), so either  want out or alternatively to have their EU cake without paying for it. Those who understand it, and the need to manage it properly, have little or no say on the Tory front bench. Thank goodness we have a PM who is not driven by out of date party dogma from any direction. Ancram still believes in what he thinks are 'principles' but which are in fact are very limited aphoristic reductions of simplistic rules of thumb applicable to situations some way back on the roads and byways of history. Of course there are principles of integrity, clarity, consistency, transparency, liberty, equality and fraternity etc. but unless there is a reasonable understanding of what is going on, where, how and why, there is no way these can be appropriately applied to matters in hand.

    OCTOBER 1st 2007
    The Tory Party Conference is underway. Any reasonable ideas will be pinched by Gordon of course, who will not call an election if he has any sense. It is good that the Tories are coming up with some sensible policies (some pinched off the Liberals!) but they are not a sufficiently large, coherent grass roots force in the country so for the moment can serve the country best as part of the opposition. Here's a summary of offerings as noted in the Guardian.

    Tories seek to regain initiative with tax cut plans

    Deborah Summers, politics editor
    Monday October 1, 2007
    Guardian Unlimited

    George Osborne will today unveil a range of eye-catching tax cuts in an attempt to head off the threat of a snap election.

    The shadow chancellor is expected to use a keynote speech at the Conservative party conference in Blackpool to announce plans to cut inheritance tax, abolish stamp duty for most first-time buyers and introduce tax breaks for marriage.

    Mr Osborne said: "We will be able to take nine out of 10 first time buyers out of stamp duty."  

    He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that any tax cuts would be matched by measures to raise revenue elsewhere.

    Under the proposals some 150,000 non-domiciled businessmen and women who live in the UK but are not registered to pay tax, would be asked to pay a flat rate of £25,000 a year.

    I don't want to go chasing their income in offshore bank accounts," Mr Osborne said. "I'm simply saying that in return for the certainty [of only having to pay the £25,000 flat rate] I'm asking them to make a contribution."

    In other measures, Mr Osborne is expected to announce tax breaks of married couples worth £2,000 and to increase the threshold on inheritance tax.

    In his speech today Mr Osborne is expected to say: "The question people are asking of us this week is simple: are we ready to lead? Are we ready to lead our country out of a decade of disappointment and disillusion and betrayal of trust?

    "The British people want change - and they want to know if we are the change. This week let us send the resounding answer. Yes, we are ready.

    "For we will put ourselves forward for office as the ally of those who aspire; the friend of those who are left behind; the champion of those who strive for a better life for themselves and their children."

    It follows David Cameron's pledge yesterday that the party would this week launch "the great Conservative fightback" after a series of dire poll ratings.

    The stakes for the Tory leader could not be higher as the prime minister, Gordon Brown, is widely expected to decide this week whether to hold a general election this autumn.

    But the balancing act between offering tax breaks, while not being accused of lurching to the right, is a difficult one for Mr Cameron.

    John Bercow, a senior Tory MP touted as a possible defector to Labour, warned last night that returning to the "comfort zone" of traditionalists would only end in electoral disaster.

    Writing in the Independent, Mr Bercow - who embarrassed the leadership earlier this month by agreeing to advise Gordon Brown on children's learning difficulties - praised the modernising approach Mr Cameron adopted after taking over nearly two years ago.

    The Buckingham MP urged him to go further to win the political centre ground and insisted that the Conservatives should not make big tax cuts, cracking down on immigration or hostility to the EU central planks of their electoral platform.

    "Two years ago, David Cameron set the Tory conference alight with a clarion call for a wholesale modernisation of the party," Mr Bercow wrote.

    "Yet now some rightwing commentators are demanding that the party should retreat to its old comfort zone and pledge big tax cuts, action against immigration and hostility to the EU as the centrepieces of an election campaign.

    "This approach has failed before and it would fail again."

    Mr Bercow said the party should use its conference in Blackpool to "trumpet its belief in modern Conservatism".

    Tories would cut inheritance tax

    Osborne on tax
    The threshold for inheritance tax would rise from £300,000 to £1m under a Conservative government, George Osborne has told the party's conference.

    Stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes worth up to £250,000 would be scrapped, the shadow chancellor added.

    The cuts would be paid for with a fee charged to business people who register abroad for tax purposes.

    The Lib Dems accused him of making "unfunded commitments", while Labour said his calculations were wrong.

    Mr Osborne told the Conservative party conference in Blackpool that the £3.1bn cost of increasing the inheritance tax threshold and the £400m bill for scrapping stamp duty would be funded by imposing a £25,000-per-year charge for "non-domicile" taxpayers.

    Death duties

    There are between 150,000 and 200,000 people who live in this country but who do not pay tax on the money they make abroad, he said.

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been under pressure from his own party on tax breaks for wealthy "non-domicile" residents.

    Mr Osborne said the inheritance tax change would benefit nine million families and ensure "only millionaires pay death duties".

    He said his party wanted to help "people whose only crime in the eyes of the taxman is that instead of spending their savings on themselves they want to pass something on to their families".

    Live in the UK and may even have UK citizenship
    Have strong allegiance to their country of origin
    Pay tax only on UK earnings, not on profits from businesses abroad
    Not the same as non-residents, who have tax-free status if they do not exceed 89 days a year in UK

    "The next Conservative government will raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1m. That means we will take the family home out of inheritance tax.

    "In a Conservative Britain you will not be punished for working hard and saving hard."

    Mr Osborne said he did not want to chase after income in the off-shore bank accounts of non-domiciles - but in return for that promise there would be a flat annual levy of "about £25,000" on those who register for non-domicile status.

    'Family fund'

    He said extra money he raised from green taxes - in particular, aviation taxes - would go into what he calls a "family fund" to pay for tax cuts for families.

    Mr Osborne conceded that the Tories had had their own period of appearing to be out of touch with the modern world, of not understanding the concept of civil partnerships or that many women want both careers and families.

    IHT is a form of death duty on estates valued at more than £300,000
    Above that threshold they are taxed at 40%
    About 40,000 estates a year are subject to IHT
    It includes the value of a house - unless it is left to a UK-domiciled spouse
    Assets given away in the seven years before death subject to IHT

    "But thanks to David Cameron, we've worked hard to change our party. Now we are the champions of modern Britain," he said.

    Later, Chancellor Alistair Darling told the BBC that 96% of estates paid no inheritance tax.

    He said the £25,000 levy would raise only a fraction of the £3.5bn needed and said Mr Osborne had "inflated" the number of non-domicile people.

    "Yet again, this is an example of where the Tories are making promises on tax which they can't afford to pay for," he said.

    "He is making a promise he hasn't got the money to pay for.

    "If you do that, you create the very instability which is the last thing the economy needs and people in this country would pay for that."

    And Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable added: "Any expectation that the Conservatives had a radical and meaningful plan for fairer taxes has been blown out of the water with this utterly feeble set of half promises and unfunded commitments."

    Hooray! Tax breaks for hard-working married couples! As a bone-idle single person I will gladly pay more tax to help double-income households
    David, Ely

    But Mr Osborne told the BBC the government had been "panicked" by the announcement, adding: "They know people are angry at being sucked into Gordon Brown's inheritance tax net. They know that they have not done anything on non-domiciles."

    The Tories are using their week in Blackpool to unveil the key policies on which they will fight Labour.

    A flurry of announcements over the past few days has included giving tax breaks to some couples with children and the introduction of a new airline pollution tax.

    The party has also said it would axe Home Information Packs and end "garden grabbing" by developers by changing planning rules.

    And there are also proposals for a crackdown on the compensation culture which Conservatives say threatens school trips and adventure holidays.

    OCTOBER 2nd 2007
    The Tory reaction to Brown's visit to Iraq is utterly pathetic. Elsewhere on this website in the past I have given some good marks to Cameron, Haig and dear ol' John Major. I withdraw my approval. These guys really are the bitter end - the bitter end of a party that has been clueless and utterly incompetent for most of my life.  I thought they might now make a decent job of opposition but they are not even up to that. Words fail me. It was absolutely right of Brown to go to Iraq at this time. There was no announcement he should have made in Parliament before going other than what he had already announced. It was important to go and to talk with the Iraqi leadership and UK military on the spot. Every single comment by Tory spokesmen on this today has been utter bollocks. That is not to say all is well in Basra, or that policy is not contingent every day on events. But the strategy is right, and can now be discussed in Parliament, though discussing all the details in Parliament is not appropriate for obvious reasons. One thing is certain - to have an election that offers the UK public even the chance of voting for these Tory clowns would be a total waste of time and money. If Brown gets talked into it by his own front or back bench they will unpopuar with the public.

    Tory anger at Brown's Iraq visit

    Brown in Iraq
    Gordon Brown has been accused of "cynical pre-election politics" over his visit to British forces in Iraq.

    Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said Mr Brown preferred a photo opportunity in Basra to keeping his promise to tell MPs first about planned troop cuts.

    He said the PM used the armed forces as a "political football". Sir John Major also questioned the timing of the announcement and Mr Brown's visit.

    But No 10 said it was "preposterous" to suggest the PM was playing politics.

    The prime minister's official spokesman said he had always planned to go to Iraq as part "of the normal process of government".

    Home for Christmas

    During his visit, Mr Brown said that UK forces in Iraq were to be cut by 1,000 by 2008.

    The Ministry of Defence has since confirmed that figure includes the 500 troops whose withdrawal was announced in July - 270 of whom are already home.

    The remaining 230 and a further 500 should be home for Christmas, Mr Brown said. After that, 4,500 UK troops will remain, at the Basra Airport base.

    If it is now possible to hand over progressively to the Iraqi army and to bring more of our troops back home, then he will certainly have my support
    David Cameron,
    Conservative leader

    The prime minister said Basra province could be handed over to full Iraqi control in the next two months.

    In his first visit to Iraq since becoming prime minister, Mr Brown praised the "great courage, professionalism and bravery" of Britain's armed forces.

    He met Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki for talks and was updated on the security situation by US General David Petraeus - and on Iraq's economy by deputy prime minister Barham Saleh.

    But the timing of his visit, amid mounting speculation that Mr Brown is preparing to call a general election, came under fire at the Conservative Party conference.

    'Photo opportunity'

    Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox said MPs had been led to expect a statement on the withdrawal of troops from Basra in the House of Commons on Monday.

    "It now seems that the photo opportunity has just been too great for Gordon Brown.

    "And many people will see this as cynical politics, playing political football with our armed forces.

    Let's be clear this is not the story Gordon Brown wanted to tell
    BBC political editor Nick Robinson

    "And a lot of people, given Gordon Brown's lack of interest previously, will find this pretty cynical and unacceptable."

    Former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major said he was "disappointed" Mr Brown had not made the statement to MPs first, rather than during a flying visit to Iraq at a time of heightened speculation over a general election.

    "It wasn't announced last week at his party conference, it was announced on the hoof in Iraq. It hasn't been announced, as it should have been, in Parliament," he said.

    'Foolish speculation'

    Asked if he agreed with Dr Fox that it was a cynical decision, Sir John said: "I think the prime minister has to show that it isn't. I am not surprised that many people think that."

    He cautioned Mr Brown to "stop this feverish and foolish speculation" over whether there will be an election.

    Earlier, in a speech to the Conservative conference in Blackpool, Mr Fox said everyone wanted to see British troops home from Iraq, but only when the job was done - not because of "overstretch".

    He promised "a bigger Army for a safer Britain" under a Conservative government.

    And he attacked Labour's treatment of the armed forces, saying its policies were "an insult to our fighting men and women".

    He criticised the condition of family quarters, the backlog in the government's compensation scheme and delays in inquests.

    However armed forces minister Bob Ainsworth said the government "greatly valued" the armed forces.

    "That is why we have introduced a tax free operational bonus worth £2,320 and more recently a 25% rebate on the average council tax bill for those serving on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.

    He added that the government was spending £5bn on improving service accommodation.

    Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, Nick Harvey, added: "Liam Fox offers tough rhetoric on the state of our armed forces but little substance."

    OCTOBER 3rd 2007
    David Cameron on the platform. He speaks well, and his content is accurate. I have to admit that he and George Osborne are pleasant listening. The Labour conference was painful, particularly Balls, and Gordon is never enjoyable. I have absolutely no confidence in the Tory party as a whole, and Duncan Smith drives me bananas, but Cameron, Osborne, Letwin and - well that's about it, I would like to see making waves. The party as a whole has no ability, unfortunately, to get to grips with the EU on the right terms, and has no track record to recommend them on anything else. And let us face it, while Cameron is good at pointing out where Labour has gone wrong, some of his solutions are a tad more difficult to implement than he implies.
    What Cameron did do was to establish his position as leader of the party, and capable of being PM, without any further doubt. That's good to know. Now, if he can get rid of most of his party hacks, bring back Ken Clarke (who is looking much fitter and as usual making sense)....

    SEPTEMBER 28th 2008
    It is nearly a year since the last entry, during which the Tory party has not got a single judgement right, the few Labour gaffs being spotted only in hindsight. Now they have their conference in Birmingham and will avoid any discussion on the EU I imagine as they remain totally divided on that. On the economy they cannot claim to have made any useful suggestions at all, as even those individuals who warned against what was going wrong failed to get any ideas into policy that would have prevented it. They knew damned well they could not.

    But at this conference they will no doubt come up with some good, safe hindsight ideas. Well done. Not good enough to gain any points towards fitness for government. But let's not blame the politicians too much when it is the public as a whole that are responsible for demanding that things are fixed one way or another keep employment high, inflation low and debt manageable. Why the hell should they think that is possible without juggling when we are competing with billions in the world economy, now empowered with global technology and education transfer? Like all juggling it was only possible if momentum was maintained and a certain integrity maintained as well. The US mortgage business blew it, and the music stopped. Just as well. The UK government has handled a tricky situation well with no help at all from the opposition until the last 2 weeks.

    SEPTEMBER 30th 2008
    I am happier now. Cameron has as good as admitted publicly that their opposition to government policy over the last year has added to the financial problems. He has told his party to scrap their planned opposition and back the government policy. A little late in the day, but honest. Johnson and Osborne were frankly embarrassing, much as I like Boris.

    OCTOBER 1st 2008
    Cameron's big speech today was a sober affair, well presented, but basically he is keeping his powder dry as nothing is on the political cards for the moment other than the implementation of the necessary steps in this crisis. He could not say anything sensible about Europe as his party is incoherent over Europe. Nevertheless, any serious policy to lead us forward demands, once and for all, a proper EU policy - as it is through that that we can overcome economic and environmental problems of biblical proportions. Cameron had nothing to say of the real challenges or opportunities ahead as, along much of his party, he does not understand what is happening. It is true that much of the Labour Party and Labour voters do not either, and to that extent Cameron was right when he said the problem with Labour was not the leadership!

    OCTOBER 22nd 2008
    The business about Osborne and the Russian billionaire is a storm in a teacup. There is no offence, this was always obvious. No agreement or contract was entered into for the very good reason that it could not be permitted under the rules governing the financing of UK political parties. That was presumably the decision reached and the reasons for the discussion in the first place. The trouble Osborne is in is because he never learned how to behave and (it seems) annoyed his rather sensitive host, Nat Rothschild.

    MARCH 14th 2009
    After weeks of calling for Gordon Brown to 'apologise' and 'say sorry' for the current global financial crash, his part in it and the subsequent economic problems gaced by the UK, Cameron has finally grasped the fact that Brown is rather less responsible than his own party and he himself for not implementing revolutionary banking controls and new government powers to implement them. Not that this could have been done unilaterally by the UK without causing such damage to the UK banking system that Brown would have been accused of destroying it, and he would have been met by opposition all the way from the Tories.

    Cameron himself has now apologised for 'not seeing the credit crunch coming' and not calling fior the required measures. He still can't bring himslef to admot that Gordon Brown had been saying clearly that these measures were needed for over a year before the US Sub-prime Mortgages triggered the collapse of confidence.

    So perhaps this can now be the end of these childish attempts to gain political advantage by making the public feel Brown is in denial and incapable of admitting mistakes.

    JULY 20th 2009
    George Osborne announce the Tory ideas for financial regulation to prevent a repetition of the credit crunch. They are half sense and half error. The Bank of England does indeed need more powers to intervene and prevent inflationary bubbles beyond just fiddling with the interest rate which hits a multitude of targets, some unwanted. It should have had such powers years ago. But scrapping the FSA is a really bad idea, particularly after giving the Bank more powers and more work to do. The FSA is needed and the division of powers is good.

    OCTOBER 6th 2009
    The Tory Conference is now underweigh in Manchester. George Osborne has set out some of the measures his party would take to reduce the national debt and budget deficit. His ideas on a serious salary freeze for Whitehall staff earning more than £18,000 are pefectly logical. The main method of achieving salvation, however, is through assuring Green Growth and successful trade, useful exports, efficient domestic food production and marketing, in short: all the productive functions that contribut to the national wealth and health. A pay freeze will certainly help though and is a way of ensuring more jobs are not lost than need to be in administrative areas that are actually needed. It has to be said that piles of bureaucracy supposedly in place to ensure health, safety and fairness is in truth crippling the supply of may of the services it is supposed to regulate and protect.

    The Tory position on Europe can be ignored as a complete irrelevance - those who want a referendum have the smallest idea what the EU is, why it is or how to manage it. It does mean, however, that should we end up electing these jokers it will be Europe's loss and ours as we waste more time, more opportunities and a chance to bring some steady progress in international affairs.

    In general, the Conservative Party as a whole, with some noble individual exceptions, has absolutely no idea of how the future of humanity on this planet should be encouraged to progress. Otherwise, they are harmless.

    OCTOBER 8th 2009
    David Cameron, in his closing speech, made some trenchant criticisms of Labour. Many of them were to a lesser or greater extent justified. What seems completely unconvincing however is that Cameron and his friends would have done any better. Different yes. Different mistakes? Yes. But years of Conservative benign neglect had left Britain a basket case. That Blair and Brown failed to achieve more and fell over at the end by having bet the farm on letting market and banking forces bring home the bacon to pay for their mix of rebuilding and support for the social fallout, is not all that surprising. It is easy to see that Osborne's attack on the overpaid careerists is justfied, and Cameron's criticism sometimes on target; but as an opposition the only time they have had good ideas Labour used them anyway, and most of the time they were an opportunistic nuisance. I see no evidence they have a grasp on the future.

    NOVEMBER 5th 2009
    The opinion of most European statesmen that Camerons pronouncements on the latest Tory policy on the EU are "pathetic", a word applied to them by a French politician with which practically all agree, is apt. Cameron has already put the UK at a considerable disadvantage in Europe. See  and

    David Cameron's appalling behaviour as he tries to retain leadership of a party of half-baked dinosaurs is causing damage to the UK's national interest that can only be undone by the consistent goodwill of our European friends. Fortunately we still have many, but we really do not make things easy for them. If the Tories ever come to power again it would be a disaster. We can now see them revealed as a psychological and political mess worse than old Labour by some degrees.

    See for the news that Cameron wants to renegotiate treaties. His remarks about having future referenda are harmless because meaningless. He has no idea what the pooling of sovereignty to get strength, as opposed to the giving up of sovereignty (not required), means.

    Claude Lelouche, the French minister who use the word 'pathetic' was kind enough to explain that in France the word simply means 'sad'. Exactly. In this case it is sad enough to be pathetic in the most derogatory sense when it is applied to the judgement of a man who aspires to the job of Prime Minister of Great Britain.

    MARCH 4th 2010
    We now have clarity on Lord Ashcroft's tax position. He pays UK tax on his UK earnings and (presumably) foreign tax on his foreign earnings. This is standard procedure when there are agreements to avoid double taxation (which there have been for ages) and the main interests of the individual are outside the UK. So the only issues are:
    1. Is he entitled to be a member of the House of Lords?
        The answer at the moment is yes, as he has what is defined as Long Term Domicile in the UK, a status agreed under Home Office and Internal Revenue regulations. However the basis on which he was made a member of the upper chamber was on an effective tax status not fully appreciated until now, with the benefit of hindsight, by all those concerned or the public. This appears to be the basis on which personal donations by Ashcroft and his wife are legal.
    2. Can he be chairman of the Tory Party?
        That's for the party to decide.
    3. Could the party accept donations from a UK company, trading in the UK, of which Ashcroft is a director?
        Clearly it could. This has added up to £5.1 million between 2003 and 2009
    4. Is this an appropriate way for the Tory Party to be financed and supported in view of the concentration of support and electoral expenses funding from an individual?
        Far from ideal, but it seems they had little choice, as the financing of political parties is an unorganised and uncertain affair in the UK in the 21st century, as it is in most countries. When it come to election expenses, there is a special problem. Leaving it to the media to inform the public of the policies and merits of the parties, with no party political paid advertising, is hardly credible given the power and editorial bias of some media moguls.

    It's a bit of a mess. However I do not think the public are very interested in listening to Harriet Harman screaming about it.  Calm down dear, its only a commercial necessity. I doubt if Ashcroft's efforts will have much of an effect as long as what he is financing in marginal seats is quietly explained by those in favour and those opposed. People must then decide how they vote. If they get it wrong, they get it wrong. Neither party has any magic bullets.

    MAY 20th 2010
    The Coalition with the Liberal Democrats has wreaked a change in the Tory party as great as Tony Blair on Old Labour.

    That is a bold statement, and I stand by it. Cameron's actions are just as bold. I am now prepared to stand up if he enters a room.

    However not all the changes are to my liking. In some cases, because of the compromises made, we will be left with some good and effective policies identical to New Labour and Gordon Brown's immediate plans. There will be one or two improvements. But the boldest move was to remove the independence of the 1922 committee, making it impossible to exclude government ministers. This committee could normally have been left alone as a useful check and balance on Tory policies, but not in the present circumstances if we want a stable government for 5 years. The party has backed Cameron's effectve 'coup' here much to the rage of 1922 hard liners.

    Cancelling the third runway at Heathrow is a silly mistake based on misunderstanding amongst other things. The same applies to the ID database cancellation. Part privatising the Post Office is OK if it is possible, which is not yet evident. Cooling the absurd anti-Europeans is great news.

    OCTOBER 6th 2010
    David Cameron's first Conference speech as PM was his best speech so far. It was full of contradictions but if we ignore these it was indeed inspiring and aspirational and set out some valid goals. He railed against many frustrating elements of life in Britain which he attributed to Labour, with only a moderate acknowledgement to the complicity of his party in what they negelected and none to its opposition of what they got right and achieved.

    William Hague  said Labour had no distinctive foreign policy - dear God, how much balls can this man get away with. He intersperses it brilliantly with solid stuff and ploughs on victoriously. I would love to see much of what this party values become true, I am glad they have a chance at government, I can see they have little choice but to wrap it up and sell it the way they do. At least some of what they have to say which is good, sound sense may bear some fruit, but I don't think many of these people understand what is happening in the world and why, even though what they are spouting here seems absolutely admirable. How could anyone not cheer it to the echo!

    MAY 30th 29011
    While I am entirely in favour of the UK contributing through both private and public coordinated aid programmes, David Cameron's presentation of his policy based on emotions rooted in his childhood are the very last way to justify such actions. We need to be straight and think it through. Educating people, even keeping alive on principle those who in natural circumstances statistically speaking would die from hunger or fratricide, is not only revoltingly patronising but wrong if we are not going to be responsible for the consequences. I think we should educate and avoid premature deaths, and should be responsible for the consequences, but at the moment we show few signs of the collective capability or the collective will to follow through.

    People on a guilt trip are poor judges of how to act. To many, Cameron comes over (wrongly I am quite prepared to admit) as a rich man deciding to give away other people's money to those he feels the world that bred him has wronged in some way. I have warmed to him since he became PM, having found him worse than useless in opposition, as he seemed to be learning a lot; but if he wants to present his policies on new, advanced problems he has got to do better than this.

    OCTOBER 5th 2011
    I hate rhetoric, other than the bitter-sweet kind that Winston could deliver. Listening to Michael Heseltine used to really turn me off. But today David Cameron spoke very well and as he finished his address I did feel emotional and I did believe in his message of optimism. It is indeed a time for leadership, and for participation.

    William Hague's speech on foreign policy was excellent. I disagree with him about Europe, in that the failure of the Euro was far from inevitable but the fault of EU nations and the fault of the UK for being half-in and half-out. Naturally we have reaped a huge advantage over the years by this stance but it is nothing to be proud of, rather a cause for shame. It allowed us to play a banking game in which, along with the US, we led the world astray in a way that makes the Greek crimes insignificant. Otherwise I back Hague's foreign policy to the hilt.

    I have no time for Dr Fox, and the defence situation is a mess budget-wise; but given where we are the policy (which is nothing to do with him although he announces it) is a possible and reasonable choice in the circumstances.

    OCTOBER 12th 2011
    I now ride to the defence of the man I have just dismissed in the para above as unimportant. He stands accused of involving an old and trusted friend, who knows a thing or two about defence matters, in meetings and discussions. Providing there is no untoward commercial advantage taken by his friend, or the skewing of policy for reasons other than the national interest, I see nothing wrong at all here. Dr Fox himself is both elected and honed in the forges and fires of politics. He apparently has an old and trusted friend with knowledge and contacts that are enlightening and can put a perspective possibly beyond the inside track at Whitehall - who knows? Why do we assume the worst and not the best? Is it just a question of signing the Official Sectrets Act as those of us who have done national service have done anyway? And now his friendship is subject to sexual innuendo. Good grief, we have more important matters to attend to.

    OCTOBER 14th 2011
    It seems that as the media pick over every detail of Mr Werritty's activities there is no way Dr Fox is going to be allowed to stay on. Too much informal access, too much casual involvement, too much possibility of influence and meetings where Mr W posed as an official adviser. Ho, hum. Anyway, Fox handled the events on his watch rather well, considering.  But he tried to cover up the degree of W's involvement and his own apparent reliance on him. Big mistake.

    OCTOBER 17th 2011
    I was pleased to hear old Civil Service head Butler approving of advisors and contacts from outside the civil servive on Paxman's Newsnight this evening but, as he pointed out, there has to be sufficient clarity and transparency to avoid the sort of accusations now being thrown at Fox and politicians in general on this issue. But although there has been a lack of transparency here and a misuse of parliamentary status by Werrity, the accusers in the media have no idea how things get done in the real world. It is clear to me Werritty was a catalyst, a fixer of meetings between people without which BUGGER ALL HAPPENS. Fox is criticized for ignoring civil/human rights in his enthusiasm to get investment going to rebuild war ravaged economies, because media people deal in abstracts, unaware that without employment and a working economy the human rights they demand are the right to fuck all. As a rule, those who write about the world do so because they can't actually DO anything, those who are doing anything useful don't have time to write or even talk about it in critical terms.

    OCTOBER 19th 2011
    Dr Fox's speech to the House today was exemplary and I find myself seriously regretting the resignation of a man I criticized in opposition and on occasions did not take seriously enough when he was in government. As for lobbyists, which are necessary for obvious reasons, the hypocrisy of the opposition who in the past voted against all measures to define and make transparent their activites is beyond words.

    OCTOBER 23rd 2011
    Cameron is shaping up well on the Euro problems. He has no time for the time-wasters calling for a referendum and is concentrating on stabilising the currency. Good man - and Osborne is doing his stuff as well.

    Though throwing their weight around at the EU summit on the Euro has not gone down well.

    OCTOBER 24th 2011
    Bernard Jenkin: "The vast majority of the, er, public think it is time they had a say..."
    A say in what, you poor blathering fool? The vast majority of the public haven't the slightest idea of what the EU entails and what should be done to it or with it. I have no doubt there could be some powers that could be repatriated though, when looked at carefully, in many cases the 'vast majority' might decide they didn't want to do that. I see the Conservative Party, for all its many worthy and intelligent members, is still a forum that attracts the dunderheads just as Labour, for all its worthy origins and excellent motives, attracts its share of guilt-ridden hypocrites, damaged egos and mouthy would-be demagogues.

    NOVEMBER 15th 2011
    I fear it has been obvious for days that Theresa May knew very little about the border control system and how it works and what the limitations are. A typical Tory minister is the likely public reaction - they just don't know how things work - the difference between the theory and the practical possibilities. Hard to disagree. And she handled it very stupidly. What did she expect Brodie Clarke to do? He just managed his job with the means at his disposal and anyone who has ever travelled (and I hardly travel at all these days but that includes me) was well aware of what went on.