OCTOBER 26th 2003
(Updated down the page - latest: November
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
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
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
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
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.
How nearly right but,
missing the mark, how disastrously wrong (see BBC News extract below).
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
Moral values call to Tory leader
traditionalists have entered the fledgling Tory
leadership contest by urging whoever becomes next leader to tackle
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.
Mr Leigh's comments mark a counter-offensive
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
"radical tax cutting agenda", including flat tax rates and tax relief
for private health insurance, as well as traditional moral values.
"We need to pull no punches," said Mr Leigh.
"At the moment this leadership election is
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
themselves and their opponents and not just become a "pale imitation of
In the pamphlet, the Gainsborough MP says
nation, family and free enterprise represent the preoccupations of most
"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."
Mr Leigh argues that Conservatives must openly
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
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
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
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
UPDATE AUGUST 31st 2005
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
My own view: he's a safe pair of hands
- that's all we need. The world
is not run by politicians.
SEPTEMBER 02 2005
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
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 choice.in 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
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
OCTOBER 3rd 2005 -
CONSERVATIVE PARTY CONFERENCE 1.00pm
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
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
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.
OVERALL CONCLUSION AT THIS TIME:
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
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
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
before letting most of them out later, no more unequipped for peaceful
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
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.
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
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
Bring in "targeted tax reductions" to encourage "a more
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
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,
"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
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
best way of generating carbon-free or low-carbon electricity
EDUCATION AND SCIENCE
Abolish the "bureaucratic" Learning and Skills Council and develop
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
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
Monday October 1, 2007
George Osborne will today unveil a range
of eye-catching tax cuts in an attempt to head off the threat of a snap
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.
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
flat rate] I'm asking them to make a contribution."
measures, Mr Osborne is expected to announce tax breaks of married
couples worth £2,000 and to increase the threshold on inheritance
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."
David Cameron's pledge yesterday that the party would this week launch
"the great Conservative fightback" after a series of dire poll ratings.
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
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
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.
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
"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".
would cut inheritance tax
The threshold for inheritance tax would rise from £300,000 to
a Conservative government, George Osborne has told the party's
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
£3.1bn cost of increasing the inheritance tax threshold and the
bill for scrapping stamp duty would be funded by imposing a
£25,000-per-year charge for "non-domicile" taxpayers.
There are between 150,000 and 200,000 people who live in this
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
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
Have strong allegiance to their country of
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
"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
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
for non-domicile status.
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
needed and said Mr Osborne had "inflated" the number of non-domicile
"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."
HAVE YOUR SAY
Hooray! Tax breaks for hard-working married couples! As
single person I will gladly pay more tax to help double-income
But Mr Osborne told the BBC the government had been "panicked" by
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
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.
at Brown's Iraq visit
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
The prime minister's official spokesman said he had always planned
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
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
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
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.
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.
Asked if he agreed with Dr Fox that it was a cynical decision, Sir
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
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
for those serving on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
He added that the government was spending £5bn on improving
Liberal Democrat defence spokesman, Nick Harvey, added: "Liam Fox
offers tough rhetoric on the state of our armed forces but little
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
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
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
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
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 http://www.emcmillanscott.com/8.html
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.