Sunday, May 18, 2008

Michael Portillo is Right

Just so you don't think I am always unfair to Michael Portillo, may I recommend his Sunday Times column today, which is headlined KEEP QUIET, DAVE, AND LET GORDON BROWN WIN THE ELECTION FOR YOU. The column concludes with advice on how to react to Gordon Brown's difficulties...

How should the Tories react? Until recently it was obvious that to avoid too much probing, they should align their economic policy with Labour’s, just as Brown in opposition pledged to stick to Conservative plans. Even now to deviate too far from Brown’s figures might simply invite again the question that has dogged the party at three elections: “What are you going to cut?” But can the Tories go on linking themselves to Brown now that his reputation for economic competence has been entirely lost?

It is not an easy call, but I think the Conservatives should continue to sit on their hands. Labour is destroying itself and the opposition should supply no distraction.

The draft Queen’s speech last week proved that Brown will appropriate any safe ideas that the Tories devise, but anything more radical could provide the prime minister with fuel for political recovery.

Cameron should relax and savour the prime minister’s discomfiture. That will put the Tory leader closely in touch with the mood of the nation.

He's right. Let Labour hang gradually themselves and use the time to work out a new approach to economic policy, which does not involve allying the Conservatives with a failed economic policy.

Incidentally, I am having dinner with Mr P tomorrow night. We're filming an episode of DINNER WITH PORTILLO. I promise to behave myself.

37 comments:

Paul Pinfield said...

Iain, how come your copy of the Sunday Times always arrives before Tesco can deliver mine?

Zeddy said...

***Incidentally, I am having dinner with Mr P tomorrow night. We're filming an episode of DINNER WITH PORTILLO. I promise to behave myself.***

Just sit at the table, Iain, talking to nobody and reading a book.

tapestry said...

Have you been listening to Senator Obama's advice -'Talk to your enemies'?

wonkotsane said...

Sound advice. Every time Camoron opens his trap the Conswervatives drop points against Liebour.

Anonymous said...

You might like to ask him why he doesn't vote Conservative any more. Or is that misbehaving?

Dave B said...

Did you see Fraser Nelson's defence of Mr Portillo?

"Next, Michael Portillo. Iain Dale has pointed out how the former defence secretary kept himself to himself at the BBC election night coverage and came across as very antisocial. It must have looked very dodgy: Portillo was sitting on the sofa reading a book when everyone else was chatting (aside from Dale, blogging so furiously). When my Spectator colleague Clemency Burton Hill sat beside him on the sofa, he reached into his bag and handed her one of his books to read. This must have looked even less comprehensible.

The explanation is that Portillo is a Booker Prize judge this year and has to get through something like 100 titles in a short deadline. Like everyone, he'd been asked to arrive very early by the BBC and ended up hanging on far longer than he had expected to. None of the BBC screens had sound (a Jamie Cullum album was playing instead), so no guests were able to gather what was going on with the elections. So we couldn't even gossip about the results!"

javelin said...

Gordon has set the auto-pilot for the heart of the Sun and locked the door to the bridge.

Anonymous said...

Since when has Michael Portillo ever been right - and what the hell does he know about economics? The whole UK economy is on the brink of the abyss and you agree with Portillo that the Tories keep saying teh same things?

At least in the Tory years there was an inkling that something was wrong with the economy - the Supreme Leader still thinks the UK economy 'is in good shape to weather the 'global' downturn'.

Brown's delusional and you say go along with him. Join the queue for the nut-house!

Anonymous said...

Has the new GREATSULK woken up and decided that he might stand a chance if he re entered politics?

Will the greatest leader we have never had (in his own mind) decide to fully back Cameron?

Perhaps at this dinner, iain, you could ask him just WHO he voted for in the London Mayoral election?

Why he did not support Boris?

Does he support Osborne?

Be careful! Does your partner approve of your going?

strapworld said...

Iain,

That is good advice...take a book!

But I do support what anonymous (WHY?) at 1253. Cameron cannot and should not reveal too many policies but ones he could start shouting from the rooftops are those articulated so well and which resonated with so many people. The Ian Duncan Smith report and its recommendations.

We have a broken society. Ian's report I am sure will help mend it.

We must improve education. Bring back grammar schools/ separate schools for girls and boys! strong teachers, preferably with military training...I was lucky all my old masters were in the army during the war!.. Bring back proper music and choral singing to all schools...

People are now well aware that this lot have failed on economics...failed on education..spent billions with no result on the NHS and utterly failed on crime.

The Highways Agency should be scrapped and all their magnificent new vehicles given to the military. That our armed services have been left with shoddy equipment for so long (Look at how many of our brave men and women have been killed by roadside bombs--in vehicles which offer them absolutely no protection!) The public are aware that this lot have forgotten about the military covenant.

Cameron should not be silent he should be LEADING and showing people just what he intends to do.

Emphasise the failings of Labour at all times.

What battle has Portillo ever won!

We cannot take advice from a tory traitor...I am rather surprised that you are even considering dining with him!

dearieme said...

Napoleon is alleged to have said "never interrupt the enemy while he is making a mistake".

ukipwebmaster said...

Ian, so true!
People aren't voting for the Tories, they're voting against Labour......

Anonymous said...

Even ComRes now putting the Tories 17% ahead of Labour:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/poll-blow-to-pm-830343.html

Peter Harrison said...

Anonymous @ 12:53 - Portillo isn't saying we should go along with Brown. He is saying that there is a time to oppose and a time to simply sit back and let the government destroy itself.

I agree with Portillo that now is definitely the latter. As Portillo and others have pointed out, if we start explaining how to fix things, Brown would simply nick all the policies himself and then take the credit when they worked. And if they didn't work because he had failed to implement them properly, he would have undermined the policies making it much harder for us to implement them.

I don't share the visceral hatred of Portillo that so many Conservatives seem to have, often to the point of deliberately misinterpreting everything he says. He does come across at times as having too high an opinion of himself and I think his public image would have prevented him from succeeding as leader. But he has been right more often than some in the party are willing to give him credit for, although, for a politician, he is sometimes surprisingly inept at persuading people.

Chris Paul said...

I think you've ended the Portillo quote too late, giving him credit for some of your own wise words Iain.

Anonymous said...

McLabour and Groundskeeper Gordon are Doomed i tell yer DOOMED!

http://tinyurl.com/6k8fda

Anonymous said...

Before, 1997 except the slogan'education, education and education, Blair did not say anything substantive. People voted against Major. Brown was muttering about giving BOE independence to fix interest rates. It was not because Brown wanted BOE to act like Fed, but because he could blame BOE if things go wrong!! Blair was quietly waiting for Tory self-destruction. It was for Major to lose the election and he did. In 1997, Major's problem meant
that he could not clearly articulate the Labour's love of unions and the 'Winter of Discontent'. In deomacracy it is for the incumbent party or person to lose. Very rarely people vote for the opposition.

Portillo, Major's one of 'bastards'has never been at ease with himself since he was rejected by the party when he stood as the leader. The fact that he sits comfortably with that
hypocrite Diane, who sends her child to independent school and at the same time preaching other mortals about Labour's education attributes etc.. is an indication of the man's worth as a commentator. I always ignore him.

Chris Paul said...

By the way, I agree with Portillo but transferring that advice to Brown.

He should just get on with things, sending out some suitable front and back benchers and indeed civilians to assist the public and the media in recognising the mess the Tories are in - despite all superficial appearances to the contrary.

Suitable front benchers like Denham and the Mili Bros, back benchers like Pound and Lloyd, civilians like Campbell.

norman said...

Bring on Denham whose university policies are bringing in more overseas so called students to new universities who disappear within a few weeks after attending a few lectures (I should know as I was looking for them as course director in one university!)? Milibands which one? Both have not done any proper work before they became ministers ( ask Peter Kilfoyle who commented on Ed Miliband and his association as an adviser which became the election- that -never- was- gate), and finally 'sexing up' Campbell, the bloke who was closely identified with Blair, spin and Iraq? Tories should welcome this quietly ofcourse!

Jonathan M. Scott said...

Cut taxes!

Rumour has it that Brown will be in Crewe tomorrow; is Labour trying to use 'reverse (psychology' as well as class war) with its supporters?

Ordovicius said...

OT but here's the transcript of Harriet harman doing a 'Bendy Wendy' on the Politics Show today

Roger Thornhill said...

Iain, you don't understand the people. They want to see the Torys kick away the stool.

Vox Populli said...

For once Portillo gives "good" advice.

The Labour Party knew exactly what Gordon was like before they let him become leader without any real contest. They gambled that he had up to 8 months to establish himself; go to the country in May 2009 for a new 5 year mandate before the economy started to nose dive and whilst he still had the momentum of "not being Blair" and the Tories were still thrashing around in an apparent policy vacuum.This would allow him and the Labour Party to ride out the next 3 years of economic turmoil/ recession and be in charge at the time of the recovery and benefit from that and the "feel good" factor generated by the hosting the 2012 Olympics before announcing his retirement in 2013 handing over to a new generation of Labour politicians who by that time had established themselves as members of the Cabinet

Unfortunately Gordon let his "acolytes" run loose too early and talk up an election in September 2007 - February 2008 always being the preferred date - that "scared" the Conservatives into unity and into announcing some broad brush policies(prior to that if you recall there were voices of dissent against the direction Cameron was taking the party);Osborne announced his Inheritance Tax scheme- there was a modest recovery for the Tories in the polls and Gordon, who if you ask anyone in the Labour Party knows is notoriously cagey in making any decision baulked at the slim possibility that he might actually lose the election and put an end to the speculation(his heart was never really in it anyway).His reputation took a "big hit" from that point on

And as they say "events,dear boy events" then took a hand in the acceleration of the downturn in the economy as a result of the US Credit Crunch biting sooner than had been projected resulting ultimately in the Northern Rock debacle and Gordon was finished electorally from that moment in time.

In politics timing and luck is everything. Gordon "bottled" the timing and his luck simply ran out as the economy was hit by rising oil and food prices causing inflation to rise and further restricting the BofE room for manoevre and the credit crunch which restricted the banks willingness to continue to fund the mortgage market and retail spending. At the same time Gordon's "love" of over-complication in the taxation system and him not fully realising the impact in the 2007 Budget of abolishing the 10p band(his focus being to headline the reduction in basic rate to 20p, wrong foot the Tories and launch his leadership campaign on a high with Labour and the country in general) and then belatedly appreciating the problem and panicking into an unfunded electoral bribe to buy off his rebellious backbenchers put the final nail in any hopes he ever had of a electoral recovery and preserving his authority for competence

Alex said...

Portillo is right up to a point. At the moment Labour are making all the msitakes, but eventually they may stop making mistakes by simply doing nothing.

At the same time they will point out that the Conservatives have not announced any policies - probably untrue but they would say it just the same.

But Cameron should announce his policies before the next election, probably with enough time to let the message sink in, but with too little time for Labour to steal the ideas and implement them.

Curmy said...

Should be an interesting meal after what you said about him in your blog ,Iain !

Bob Piper said...

"Portillo is right - oh, by the way, I'm having dinner with him tomorrow".

What a creep you are at times Iain.

Richard Nabavi said...

Portillo is indeed giving reasonable advice. The only problem is that he is giving it to a party leader who seems to know exactly what he is doing and doesn't need the advice!

And for the record, can we stomp on this 'Conservatives have no policies' nonsense. Sure, specific policy announcements have quite rightly been limited and general - the election's almost certainly two years away, and the Conservative manifesto, like the Labour manifesto, will be published in due course.

In fact, one of the things which has most impressed me about Cameron is the serious way in which he initiated policy reviews and allowed enough time for them to come up with some interesting and well researched suggestions, which can be considered in depth. Much better, methinks, than rapidly coming out with half a dozen back-of-the-envelope policies.

Desperate Dan said...

Portillo isn't exactly in touch with the zeitgeist so I would hesitate to place any great weight on anything he says. I'm glad to hear that he is not acting as the voice of doom today but its far too soon to rehabilitate him after his petulant performance on election night.

mitch said...

The Great SnotGobbler addressed the Church of Scotland General Assembly and yesterday and guess what rambled on about the parable of the talents and GOT IT WRONG. Son of the manse and all.

McTwat confused 'talent' (the coin) with talent (as in human ability) and none of the assemblage of Gordo groupies either twigged or let on about the Gobbler's monumental faux pas.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit never having really understood what the problem with Mr Portillo was or is... He certainly looked like a potential leader in a way, sadly, Hague the Vague didn't.

I personally am not ashamed to admit that I thought the Tories made a big mistake when they wouldn't consider him as a leader - I thought he was going to bring about the re-invention it sorely needed, and which didn't really happen under IDS or even under Michael Howard.

Mind you, many women I spoke to said they would never vote for him, but could never really explain why.

So maybe he might have been able to re-invent the party, but note had the common touch to gain power.

I think he comes across well on the telly-box, and can make a cogent speech or TV programme. His 'SAS' thing was a bit of a disaster, but most Tories have a 'conference room clunker' as a badge of honour.

You could always ask him whether he thinks the SAS killing unarmed IRA sympathisers without any warning was what he meant by 'striking fear in to the hearts of foreigners'...

Or if you are reading this, Mike, perhaps you could bring it up with Mr Dale without being asked..

Anonymous said...

I too think Mr P makes a good point; however, is it possible that we could over-do it in Crewe and Nantwich?

By that i mean, it is clear from the CH blog that some voters have been canvassed so many times they are getting sick of it. Could this backfire?

verity said...

Have you been listening to Senator Obama's advice -'Talk to your enemies'?

I believe this comes from Poliical Science 101, but it's nice to know that Obama's got that far.

Anonymous said...

mitch - surely the whole point of a 'parable' is that it is an analogy of using one's 'talents' in a similar way to investing the talents, or the coins ?

smerus said...

Ah, Iain, another example of how pundits are always willing to change their opinions for a free meal.....

Anonymous said...

norman said...

"Bring on Denham whose university policies are bringing in more overseas so called students"

Excellent advice. The more Denham gets on TV the more the working class will not be voting Libour ever again.

Gary Elsby stoke said...

Is this an admission that the Tory Party thinking machine is empty?

So when Gordon comes up with and out with another set of policies that will re-build Britain, post 2010, the Tories will claim it as their own?

Hang on a minute Mr. Portillo (and Iain)you may think that Labour is washed up and bankrupt, but this is no sleaze ridden Government that the Country is wanting rid of.

If there is a failing within Labour, it has been acknowledged and is being redressed.

Politics is simple so stop trying to make it look hard.

The message is that Tories should do 'nothing' inn order to win a General Election?

Kidding, right?

canvas said...

Iain, There is something quite sexy about Portillo? Yes? No?

Verity, It's encouraging to see that you are paying attention to Obama's progress.

Not long now until he becomes President. Go Obama!