Wednesday, May 25, 2005
PS. Someone has just posted a comment to ask what is happening to Politico's. Just to make clear, Politicos.co.uk continues as normal. My partner, John Simmons, will be taking over the day to day running of the business.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Also, with the publicity surrounding the merits of hooded fleeces and the activity of 'Hoodies' I was amused to learn that the Director of the the Community Service Volunteers is Dame Elizabeth Hoodless. You couldn't make it up.
The BBC's report of its survey among Tory Party chairmen is a classic of BBC Bias.Its news bulletins and website lead on the proclamation: 'Most Tory Party constituency chairmen want Conservative MPs to choose the party's new leader, a BBC survey says.' Really? But surely-and correct me if I'm wrong- that would make it much harder for members' choice DD to become leader, wouldn't it? The BBC report goes on:'Ex-deputy PM Michael Heseltine said he was encouraged by the support to give more power back to MPs. He said...the survey showed a "deeper movement than perhaps one might have suspected". Which was good news because '....the voluntary party activists are relatively elderly and seemed obsessed with Britain's relations with Europe, which is why the pro-integration Mr Clarke had been defeated in a previous leadership challenge in 2001.' I see. Except...wait a second, what's this small print about the survey?' Sixty-six chairmen in the 197 Tory-held seats responded, with 36 saying party members should not be able to choose.' So in fact, the response rate was only 33 per cent, and of those, only just over 50 per cent said party members should not be able to choose. So when we say 'most Tory Party chairmen', what we actually mean is 36 out of 197. Now I know the BBC is staffed by a load of hopeless innumerates, but come on guys...But it gets worse: 'In the survey for BBC Radio 4's Today programme, David Davis was the most popular choice for leader. 'OK. Well, at least they got that right. Except...'However the small number of responses - only 26 chairmen chose to answer this question - made Mr Davis' popularity very unreliable, the survey suggested. 'What does that mean? 26 chairmen backed DD, and the rest didn't say?And why is it OK to base the screaming headline about 'most chairmen' on 50 per cent of a non-random 33 per cent sample, whereas the same rules aren't applied to the support for DD. Roll on privatisation.
But it is even worse than that. There are 650 odd constituency chairman, so a pathetic 6% took part in the survey. And to think that this has led their radio news bulletins all day.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
The DD bandwagon gathers pace as Julie Kirkbride and Ian Taylor both declared themselves today. Julie had supported Portillo and Clarke in the last two contests and Ian Taylor is a solid Clarkeite but believes DD can unite the Party from a One Nation perspective. The broad coalition is beginning to build quite nicely and I expect to see some similar declarations soon.
The Telegraph reports today that the Candidate's List is to be reduced from 1,000 to 150. I don't understand the rush. Surely this sort of thing should wait until a new leader is elected? I have some fairly strong views about how the Candidate's List should be run in future - which I'll keep to myself for now - but antagonising most of the people who did the spadework during the last election is not a good idea. These are the very people whose talents and commitment need to be utilised over the next couple of years, yet this move risks not only alienating them but made to feel they've been wasting their time.
Tomorrow I'll be going to see some old faces and then on Sunday lunchtime I have a thank you get together for about 70 people involved in my campaign.
Anyone seen my article in the New Statesman?
And next week I'll be tieing things up before starting my new job. I could tell you what it is, but if I did, I might have to shoot you...
Friday, May 20, 2005
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
A minor statistic on tax revenue might pass unnoticed, but not by Neil Collins (Telegraph). There has been an unexpected jump in US tax revenues following President Bush’s action to cut the top rate from 39% to 35%. Laffer is having the last Laff. The Federal Government recorded a $57billion surplus in April and income tax revenues leapt 16pc compared with last year, as Americans worked harder and made less use of tax loopholes. The annual deficit remains but the boffins at Morgan Stanley are so impressed they have just cut their forecast for this year from 3.6pc of GDP to 2.8pc. The rise in tax revenues was not unexpected to all of us, in that it happens fairly regularly. Lower taxes give earners less reason to avoid and evade tax, and more reason to put in extra effort. The result is quite regularly more growth, more wealth, more jobs, higher tax yields, and a higher percentage of the tax bill paid by the top earners. No surprise there.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Monday, May 16, 2005
Sunday, May 15, 2005
I defy even the most ardent Europhile to defend this.
And most importantly of all, two appearances for this Blog in Atticus in the Sunday Times today. What a reputable column it is...
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Turnout is Really About Class - Compulsory Voting would Give the Less Well Off a Stronger Political Voice
I loathe the idea of compulsory voting. We are compelled to do enough things by the State. If people can't be arsed to vote they have no right to complain about what is done in their name afterwards. At least in North Norfolk we had the second highest turnout in the country.
It seems one of my election anecdotes graced the airwaves of Radio 4's Newsquiz yesterday. They rehashed the Atticus story which read...
"A surprise on the campaign trail for gay Tory candidate Iain Dale. Knocking on doors in the North Norfolk seat, he met an elderly lady who wondered if he might help her. Dale, fighting a Lib Dem majority, was naturally happy to oblige. “Thank you,” said the lady voter. “You’ll find the Durex on the sideboard.” Well now, it might be a small majority but there are limits. Luckily, the sideboard contained only Duracell. She wanted her clock battery changed."
Friday, May 13, 2005
Delightful pic sent to me by Pepi Simpson, wife of Mid Norfolk MP Keith and obsessed Will Young groupie. I went over to see the Simpsons in Reepham last Sunday to be cheered up. As you can see, it worked! Keith and Pepi have been very good friends to me and John over the last few years - the mark of a true friend is that you can fall asleep in their company and not worry about it afterwards!
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
“They are the sort of Tory you would be happy for your daughter to invite for the weekend: young, moderate, rather metropolitan, nicely presented and eminently sane. “They are smooth rather than inflammatory: the Classic FM of politics. They adore the word ‘mainstream’. They love metaphors about ‘common ground’. They are hugely caring and compassionate. They do not cut themselves when shaving, as other men do. They are, in short, delightful and clever young men. And they talk a load of balls.”
He might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment! I should at this point make clear that George Osborne lives in Bayswater, not Notting Hill!
"If the Tories choose anyone other than David Davis, then they are madder than even I imagine. He is seriously right-wing, eurosceptic, cuddly and human, yet has the ability to kill people with one little finger. There aren't many of us around. Moreover, he's got the likes of Iain Dale, Ian Taylor, and Ken Clarke in the bag too. That's no mean feat. Also, he oozes ambition. No point in picking a wallflower."
Not sure where his info is coming from, as I am not aware that Ken or Ian Taylor have declared themselves.
Back to The West Wing...
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Now, I got that on a text message earlier and then forwarded it to about 30 contacts of mine in Conservative politics. Half of them texted me back wondering what on earth I was on about. I wonder if this illustrates the problem the Conservative Party has at at the moment, as it shows that half of my friends have no idea which song has been at the top of the charts for the last two months.
And some of you will be reading this and scratching your heads. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
Now to the reshuffle. Bits of it are quite clever. Several of the leadership contenders will either shine or fail. George Osborne must have gulped a bit when he was offered the Shadow Chancellor's job. Talk about being put in the firing line. The appointment I find most intriguing (at least I think that's the word I am looking for) is Francis Maude as Party Chairman. Francis is the moderniser's moderniser and to put him in charge of CCO at this time is either a red rag to a bull or a calculated gamble. It could put CCO on a direct collision course with the constituency parties, which is frankly the last thing we need.
I think the appointment of Malcolm Rifkind to shadow Blunkett is inspired. This could be one of the most interesting battles to observe in the next few months.
I'm glad Alan Duncan has been promoted to the Shadow Cabinet - long overdue, and I am pleased to see my friend Andrew Mitchell joining the top table. I do feel it could all have been a little more radical to breathe some new life into it. I would have liked to have seen Julie Kirkbride and Damien Green brought back - and, dare I say it, Boris Johnson. I see little point in retaining anyone who won't be around in three years time.
In a way I am more interested to see what happens to the junior spokespeople who will no doubt be shuffled tomorrow.
Monday, May 09, 2005
David Davis - Liam Fox - Malcolm Rifkind - Tim Yeo - Alan Duncan - Michael Ancram - John Redwood - Ken Clarke - William Hague - David Cameron - Theresa May - David Willetts - John Bercow - Andrew Lansley - George Osborne
I gather the so-called Modernisers are meeting tonight to decide on their preferred candidate. I suspect that in the absence of strong candidate they will throw their weight behind Malcolm Rifkind. That should do for him, then.
I think Michael Howard has made a major mistake by announcing he will step down in this way. We're now going to have several months of leadership stories when what we should be doing is concentrating our fire on a very unstable Labour government. It is clear that the rule changes will take several months to agree, so this could go on way past the Party conference in October. Madness.
It won't surprise you to know that I shall be backing David Davis. His vision of modern Conservativism is one I believe will not only be attractive within the Party but outside too. He's the only one of the candidates who I believe can reach out beyond the Party and attract Labour & LibDem voters.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
I've been on Radio 5 Live this morning talking about what it's like to lose. I was on with the LibDem David Walter who lost in Devon. Strangely enough I published his book on the Strange Rebirth of Liberal England. Ironic that he lost and so did I. He's a nice guy and I hope he'd say the same about me. Also with us was the ex Labour MP for Croydon. He was asked why Tony Blair did not appear on any of his election literature and he came up with a classic - "I wasn't trying to hide him under a bush"! I said that was an unfortunate turn of phrase to say the least.
That was my second appearance on 5 Live in 12 hours. I'm hoping to rebuild my career as a political commentator which I had to give up once I became a Candidate.
It's actually rather nice being able to speak my mind again. I just had an email from someone saying "FWIW Lib Dems can get away with being pro-life becuase they believe inredistribution whereas Tories would like the poor to starve, ultimately. Pro-life tories simply want to make life tougher for people so they can develop virtue or some malicious nonsense like that." This idiot had asked me for my views on abortion and then, when I expressed a view which he didn't agree with, told me I should "mind my own bloody business"! I must admit I emailed him back and told him to 'go hang'. Couldn't have done that a week ago! Why is it that you simply cannot have a rational debate about abortion?
Saturday, May 07, 2005
Here are a few of the emails I have received...
I was devastated to hear this news. Of all our candidates throughout thecountry, you especially deserved to win. It must seem indescribably hardafter your amazing efforts and first-class media campaign, which Iconstantly pointed out to other friends as an example of what a candidate should do. CKE
I am stunned. We have just arrived back from Stansted after a business visit to Spain. This was fixed long before the date of the election so we voted by post. All your friends and colleagues are will be devastated. The feeling I got from everyone I spoke to was that your campaign was hitting all the right notes. You certainly showed a powerful level of commitment with thoughtful and valid perspectives on both local and national issues of importance.Please do not lose heart; I know you will not RH
After so much hard work, effort and dedication the outcome of the election will have been devastating for you and a huge disappointment for all your active supporters. Public rejection must be a bitter pill to swallow and you would not be human if now you did not feel very low indeed. You have my sympathy and I must say I wonder sometimes why anyone would wish to take up politics as a vocation. I wish you good luck in the future and do remember dear old Winston Churchill. Maybe a little while in the wilderness for you now but then, as they always do, an opportunity will come along and you will then be ready again for the fray. Good luck and I'm sorry that my vote for you was not enough. PB
You know we all feel for you. Nobody could haveworked harder than you've done over the last two years and it's adreadful shame the ways things have worked out. BC
I have been inspired andmotivated by the huge amount of work you personally have put in and yourenthusiasm and the fact that you're a nice guy, approachable, human and avery real and accessible face of the Conservatives in this area. I am verydisappointed for you personally as well as your team and all theConservatives I know. You certainly didn't deserve the result you got. SA
My wife and I are so very sorry about this disastrous election result. After all your magnificent efforts for North Norfolk, putting your opponent in the shade, I might add, you did deserve to win. RD
I want you to know that there are morethan a few people who noted your support for the hospital; not just yoursupport but your intelligent, incisive, challenging words and ensuingaction. ie.getting national commitment to reopen the hospital.Secondly I want you to know that several of these people commented on yourevident talents:'he is a man for the future; he is 'ministerial' material;could he be a PM in this century?'It must be very discouraging to work so hard: -foot slogging door to door,day after day, rain after rain-- and then face overwhelming defeat. I sohope you will not allow yourself to be crushed and that we will hear that:your most evident talents and clarity of intellectual energy have found away into an MP position, somewhere, before long.I wish you well, so well. ST
When we appointed you, you told us you would not let us down and you didn't.No one could have worked harder or more effectively than you. Take your timeand you will have our support whatever you decide. CT
I am sure that all your friends and supporters feel for you in much the same way as I do. We watched as you put all your being into the contest, you could not have been more dedicated and hard working. You clearly demonstrated an affinity and keen concern for local issues. You have the very good fortune of knowing that you really truly did all that was possible to win and there is no need for any self discrimination caused by lack of effort or application on your part. PJ
I was leaving youto grieve in peace but I won't now as, more than anything else, I wouldlike to comfort you. You worked terrifically hard and you lead from thefront which is why you got all that grand support. I think you shouldcontinue to get a warm glow from that and the inspiration you have been. TA
I know you will be very disappointed. I was one of the 20,000 who voted for you,and am as fed up as I am sure you will be. I regret that Norman had worked hard inthe constituency for many years, and you had a very tough call. Thank you fortrying your hardest and let's hope we get a different result next time. Don't betoo self-blaming, I am sure you will be a successful Conservative MP yet. RH
I just wanted to drop you a note to say how sorry I was to hear that you weren't successful last night, I had to check the copy several times as I couldn't believe it. Every one who knows you - of whatever political persuasion - believes that you would make an excellent MP and be a real asset to constituents and parliamentary life alike and, although it might be too early for you to want to hear this, I'd urge you to consider standing again at the next election - I know how much that takes but you'd be such an asset. LS
Please accept my sympathy for the result. It is a very poor reward for the hard work that you have done over the past years. If it helps, a similar fate happened to Winston Churchill at Dundee in 1921 (so I believe) but he was Chancellor of the Exchequer within 3 years after fighting another Election. AD
I've travelled round the country quite a lot over the last four weeks and North Norfolk had more posters up than anywhere else I've been, so it was hard fought. You ran a good campaign, but you were up against an active sitting tenant who has done a lot for his constituents, which is a tough challenge, especially during a national swing to LibDems. So, despite losing, congratulations are in order; at least you have the consolation of having been mentioned on Have I Got News for You. DL
Friday, May 06, 2005
Obviously the day after such a defeat is not the best time to contemplate the future, but I wish to make one thing clear. I am not about to disappear from the North Norfolk scene. I live here and intend to continue to do so. I'm going to take some time out to think about my future and what I should do next. Answers on a postcard please...
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
Michael Howard came to Norwich this afternoon. He had to divert from Yarmouth because his helicopter could not land in the fog. It all went well. I have to say he looks great. I think I look exhausted at the moment but he looked fresh as a daisy. Got him to do a phone interview with North Norfolk Radio.
Off to my favourite restaurant now (Jacque) for a bite to eat. Feels like the Last Supper! I have to tell you I feel very odd now. Strangely calm.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Iain stands to WIN the day
To bring North Norfolk to a better way
Fighting the Yellow, Red and Green
One obvious choice, it can be seen
Briging our area, back in the Blue
Making it better for Me and You
More Police to knock down crime
Chasing Councils to crack the grime
Hospitals, Doctors and Nurses too
Giving us all a LIFE anew
Cracking the drugs, saving our Kids
So at last they open their eye lids
Down with violence, Booze binges as well
Sending the yobs, back into hell
Life anew for Norfolk's fair land
All because Iain will WIN his stand.
Monday, May 02, 2005
I feel very sorry for Sir Patrick Cormack, who was possibly in line to be Father of the House, but due to the untimely death of his LibDem opponent the election in his seat will be delayed for a month.
Today we did a lot of delivering rather than spend the whole time canvassing. Spent most of the day in the villages. Tomorrow the postal votes will be opened and I will be doing a final debate at Paston College in North Walsham. The end is nigh. I think I will strangle the next person who asks me :"How's it going?!"
Sunday, May 01, 2005
Went over to visit Justo the Clown's circus this lunchtime to do a little bit with the press about encouraging people to vote. Justo has issued a challenge to other constituencies - to beat North Norfolk's voter turnout! I believe turnout here will be 73-75%, which may well be one of the highest in the country. Norman and I turned up but Phil was strangely absent, while Stuart Agnew showed up after we'd all finished. For those who don't know, Justo us standing as an independent candidate to protest against Labour's licensing law. Maybe that's why Phil didn't show.
Can't say I am feeling my best this evening. I have a streaming cold coming on. Just what I need with four days to go... Not.