Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Challenge Facing David Cameron

I just had the rather bizarre experience of standing a few feet away from Michael Gove to hear him say to someone: "My name's Iain Dale, I write Britain's top political blog." He proceeded to have a five minute conversation with the man, explaining that he came from Tunbridge Wells but his family originally come from East Anglia. I was sat listening to this open mouthed as he put on a very convincing performance of being me.

Obviously his fame didn't precede him! Or mine me!

UPDATE: For those who don't seem to get this, Michael meant it as a joke.

Anyway, onto matters of more importance. What do we need to hear from David Cameron in his speech today? We should remember that he will be speaking to two audiences - the party and the country. Let's take them in turn and identify what he needs to do to satisfy both audiences...

COUNTRY

  • Look and sound like a PM in waiting
  • Rise above petty and spiteful personal attacks on Gordon Brown
  • Give the country a clear sense of the direction of a Conservative Government along with some policy specifics
  • Explain the depth of the clear blue water between Labour & Tories

PARTY

  • Reassurance that the strategy being followed is the right one
  • Firm and strong denunciation of Labour's economic record
  • Attack the opinion poll issue head on
  • Attack Gordon Brown - not personally (avoid talking about bullying except for a joke or two)
  • Deliver 5 easy to remember policy pledges for party workers to sell on the doorstep

One thing people need to remember about David Cameron. He's a weeble. He may wobble but won't fall down*. He's one of the most resilient politicians I have met. He's experienced several political and personal crises over the kast few years but has met each one head on, and bounced back stronger. My hope and expectation is that he will do the same this time.

I have no idea whether the Sunday Times poll showing a mere two point lead is accurate, but there is no point anyone pretending that the polls haven't narrowed. They clearly have. I am still rather at a loss to explain it to be honest, but I do believe it has something to do with a lack of clarity in the Tory message, which Labour has successfully attacked.

It is important to give a clear sense of direction. In 1979, people knew Margaret Thatcher would tame the unions, control inflation, stand up to the Russians and deal with Europe. The problem for Conservative activists here in Brighton is that they struggle to come up with four or five similar themes for the present day. If you say " Get the economy moving", "Stand up for the NHS", "Clean up Westminster," or "Get public borrowing under control", they are all worthy aspirations, but they are aspirations that both the other parties could equally claim as their own. So now may be the time to move from the general to the more specific, without actually announcing the whole election manifesto in advance.

It is untrue to say that the Conservatives are 'policy light'. There are plenty of individual, eye catching policies which resonate with the electorate. It's just that we seem to have lost sight of what they are. Here's a quick reminder of some of them...

  • Introduction of border police and a cap on immigration
  • A two year freeze on council tax
  • Abolish ID cards and roll back the big brother state
  • Reduce the number of MPs by 10% and cut the cost of politics
  • Allow parents to create their own schools
  • Restore the link between pensions and earnings
  • Repatriate powers from Europe
  • Stop Labour's NI rise which is a tax on jobs
  • Cut business taxes to encourage new small business start-ups
  • Gove householders more rights to defend themselves against burglars
  • Abolition of Inheritance tax for everyone except millionaires
I don't expect David Cameron to do this in his speech, but I do think it is now time to announce a single campaign manager for the election. I'm less concerned about who it is, but I think the party needs to know who's in charge and deciding strategy. It could be Osborne, Pickles, Hilton, Coulson or Bridges. Ideally, I'd like to bring back Lynton Crosby, who has been much in evidence at Brighton this weekend, but I think that ship sailed some time ago.

It would be ridiculous to pretend that a 2% poll lead is a good thing for the Conservatives, but it may well concentrate the minds of those who thought a Conservative victory was a dead cert. It will make it easier for the Tories to warn of what may happen if people don't use their vote to vote for change. One message which we may well hear more of over the next few weeks is that a stay at home vote is a vote for Gordon Brown. If you want change you have to vote for it.

ConservativeHome's Ten Point Plan is well worth reading.

* For those who are scratching their heads, this was a TV advert for a toy in the 1980s with the catchphrase "Weebles wobble but they won't fall down".

79 comments:

Magical_Mist said...

I think announcing an "In-Out" referendum would be a definite vote winner...

Autonomous Mind said...

I wonder when it will dawn on Tories that lurching to the centre ground and offering the same consensus vision as the other parties was the wrong move.

Thatcher offered an alternative. Cameron is offering a nothing that greatly differs from Labour or the Lib Dems. The party of the centre right should have stayed there. It isn't conservative any more, which is a tragedy.

The changes Cameron is pledging are largely cosmetic and where there are more substantive offerings, many of them conflict with EU rules, such as:

* The cap on immigration cannot include EU migrants
* Repatriation of powers from the EU is an illusion all the while we remain signatory to Lisbon

The referendum lock is a joke. Lisbon affords the EU a mechanism to force changes on member states without reference back. Shutting the stable door after the EU nag bolted has damaged Cameron more than he realised.

On Lisbon ratification Cameron promised matters would not rest there. But all the evidence proves that is exactly where matters have been allowed to rest. By doing so he confirmed himself as just another hypocritical politician.

So people now rightly ask: 'what change?'.

GM said...

Sorry Iain, but Lynton Crosby was ok for a party that wanted to hunker down into its bunker accompanied by the true believers, but he did nothing to persuade the majority of centrist voters that the Tories were for them. His campaigns don't work that way. He's the last person a revitalising Tory Party wants right now!

Right Hon. said...

Must be extremely worrying for Cameron et al. that the concerted Brown's-a-bully campaign has backfired so spectacularly. People actually don't mind someone who has flaws as opposed to an anodyne, air-brushed, smooth-talking PR man.

Also just seen George Osborne being thoroughly rogered on the Andrew Marr show. Why can politicians never give a straight answer to a question?

Nigel Farage must be rubbing his hands with glee.

Acacia Avenue said...

Sorry, Mr Dale but speaking as a floating voter who wants Brown out I have to tell you that, sadly, Osborne comes over as a heartless and untrustworthy cutter who doesn't give a damn about the consequences. He boasts about his cutting prowess! How stupid is that? Given that we now have so many people living off the state this is a pretty stupid message to keep pushing. We need a positive GROWTH through enterprise, optimistic future not the gloom Osborne keeps spouting about. Who the hell votes for tax rises? Where is the message about Brown taxing our houses? Taxing our house improvements? ABout his endless stealth cuts?

Dan Brusca said...

It seems to me that the poll lead the Tories have enjoyed for the past couple of years is now being revealed to be more a measure of discontent with Labour, rather than active support for the Tories.

As the election draws closer I think people are taking a closer look at the Tories and are seeing a party with very little real policy led by two lightweight politicians. I'm not saying that that's what the Tories are, just that that's how they are perceived by many people.

I say this as someone who actively supported the Tories until recently but stopped doing so for this very reason.

In many ways I'm really quite angry with the Tories. I really, really wanted to vote for them but I honestly had no idea what I would be voting for. Off the top of my head I can't think of a single concrete policy. It's all very well talking about handing power back to the people, cutting the deficit and fixing broken Britain, but it's all just waffle without real policy.

Maybe that real policy is there and I'm just not seeing it. If so, then they're really doing a pisspoor job of getting it across because I'm no political naif. I read newspapers, watch the news, read political blogs and consider myself politically engaged. If I don't know what Tory policy is, what help is there for the vast majority of people out there who aren't as geeky as, say, us readers of this blog?

Robert said...

Reneging on the Lisbon Treaty showed Dave as being untrustworthy.

Saying he will repatriate powers from the EU shows he is either naive, stupid, ignorant or just untrustworthy. The EU does not give back anything. It is like trying to get the old USSR to repatriate powers to the countries of Eastern Europe.

He may win the elction but he has lost a lot of votes from people like me who have supported the Conservative Party for years. Not any more. I do not trust Cameron.

Martin said...

The polls have narrowed for several reason Iain

1. The BBC have had a massive anti Tory campaign for months now hamering Cameron and any Tory policy whilst giving Liebour a free pass. For example Stephanie Flanders was spouting on last week about the "recovery", what bloody recovery? The private sector is still in decline, the pound is dropping faster than an 18 year old girls knickers at a nightclub full of footballers, our borrowing is growing all the time and the Government has pumped billions into the economy using paper money that will give us huge inflation down the line. Yet this goes totally unnoticed by the BBC.

2. George Osborne is CRAP, totally and utterly CRAP. I'm fed up seeing him sit there and get laid into by useless Labour supporting BBC journalists that tear into him and he sits there like a stuffed gonk taking it.

3. Immigration. Why haven't the Tories highlighted the disgusting truth that the Labour party have used immigration to change the voting demographic of the nation, then that vile fat mad eyed cretin Ed Balls has the cheek to try to reach out to the white working class who have been shafted in the jobs market by this policy to stop them voting BNP?

4. The war in Afghanistan, the Tories policy should be to withdraw our troops within 100 days of taking over. The way Obama has treated the sacrifice (a pointless sacrifice by the way) of this nation by ignoring it is a disgrace. Let HIM find out just how many real friends the USA has around the world. Stuff the yanks. If Cameron wants to have a policy that is popular the 100 days and out is a good one.

Iain Dale said...

Dan, did you write that comment bedfore you read my post?

So you are withdrawing your support because of what you perceive rather than a reality. Bizarre. You say they are policy light yet you seem not to have read the dozen or so specific policies I pointed to. You say "Off the top of my head I can't think of a single concrete policy." Again, did you not read what I wrote. Indeed, there are many more policies if only you'd bother to take a look. Or do you ecpect to be spoonfed all the time.

Joe Public said...

After all that sycophantic grovelling Iain, how come they still don't offer you a candidacy?

Martin said...

Reading the posts you've just allowed through Iain I have to agree. Where is the Tory vision? Let me give you one. The world have changed, we can't have an economy built on financial services or mass manufacturing. What we need is a Country build on science and innovation. Britain should be the world centre for science and engineering excellence. Be it new sources of energy, space, computing, materials, medicine, the Government should invest in excellence in these areas. We already see it in certain areas like Formula 1 and satellite design.

Have to agree with the comments about Osborne, the Tories should just keep his mouth shut, he's doing harm every time he does on TV. He's weak and useless.

I'm seriously thinking of voting UKIP now (I've mostly voted Tory in the past)

Iain Dale said...

Martin, I;m sorry, but it is people like you who will allow another 5 years of Gordon Brown. Do you really want that on your conscience?

Iain Dale said...

Joe Public, you are a complete arse and obviously didnt read the blogpost, which contained some constructive criticism of the Tory approach.

You don't get offered a candidacy. You apply for one.

Dino Fancellu said...

The thing that will do us down is not the Left, but the far Right.

By that I mean the uber-Tories for whom no other Tory is ever pure enough, so they'd rather let Gordon Brown have another 5 years of destroying this country.

They say there is no difference. They are either dumb or disingenuous to be unable to see there is a difference.

They are like children throwing their toys out of the pram, because they aren't getting every last sweetie.

Their only chance of making the world better is by getting Dave in power, and then seeing where we go from there.

However they imagine that if they hold their breath and throw a strop then some Messiah will come down from above and make it all better. Grow up.

Richard Manns said...

@ Autonomous Mind

Whilst I share with you a profound dislike of the EU, I really don't think that the EU is an open and shut case like you describe.

You must ask yourself, "what can they do?" A threat is worthless if they cannot harm you.

They cannot invade, they cannot hurt us financially since we're net contributors.

And we must remember: key to the EU is the pretense that no-one could possibly want to get out once you're in, and they can help you out without recourse to, say, the IMF. To have a major country like the UK threaten to leave and have a protracted war of words would encourage others to leave and discourage others from joining.

Greece and the rest of the PIGS are showing the world that a joint currency isn't the party they all thought it could be and the rest of the world is hardly overawed by our geriatric Belgian bank clerk of a "President".

Dan Brusca said...

Iain,

"So you are withdrawing your support because of what you perceive rather than a reality. Bizarre."

If I knew the reality then what I perceive would be different, wouldn't it?

It's little use telling me that I would see more policies if only I bothered to look. Most people aren't going to look, most people *do* have to be 'spoonfed' policy information. It would be wonderful if people took the time to seek out the policies of all the parties but the reality is that that doesn't happen, so you have to take the message to them.

Whether or not I posted my initial reply before reading all of your post is somewhat irrelevant. If, at this stage of the game, I need to discover Tory policy from your blog then surely something's wrong?

norman said...

Two moves would bring floating voters in: 1. Replace Osborne with Ken Clarke ( I am not a fan of Ken but he has gravitas)-they should swap portfolios. 2. Remove Grayling, a useless mutturer, answers my e-mails with a single line and is clueless, and replace him David Davis ( I am not a fan of David Davis, but David talks sense). Go for Immigration and Economy as no 1 and 2 priorities. If Tories cannot win with the immigration policies of Labour not working, immigration out out of control, any one can walk into this country and people are given British Passports in tens of thousands, they will never win at any time. There should be 0 immigration for many years and skills needs to be filled in by training our educated youths (white, black, brown and yellow) who are unemployed and underemployed in hundreds of thousands. No cap on immigration non sense. DC cannot win on Brown's unpopularity. There are too many people,including Blair and Brown imports from outside the EU who like Labour and they do not care for level of nation's debts. DC left it for too late. No need to go UKIP way. Europe does not find resonance. Keep it simple: immigration and economy, Ken Clarke and David Davis.

Stepney said...

Blimey Iain, there's some real weekend warriors hanging round these parts today.

Probably be better served doing the ironing rather than commenting on here and waving their ignorance like a big, flappy flag.

And we wonder why the polls move like they do?

John R said...

You said "I am still rather at a loss to explain it (the 2% lead) to be honest, but I do believe it has something to do with a lack of clarity in the Tory message, which Labour has successfully attacked."

I think people understand very well what "Dave" is proposing. A major part of the answer to the tiny poll lead is actually located in your article:

* Introduction of border police and a cap on immigration (but no outright block until we get the current problems sorted out)
* A two year freeze on council tax (but no cuts)
* Abolish ID cards and roll back the big brother state (but no committment to close down the databases, get rid of the cameras, remove DNA of innocent people, depoliticise the police etc)
* Reduce the number of MPs by 10% and cut the cost of politics (but no straightforward receit based "private sector-like" MPs and Lords expenses)
* Allow parents to create their own schools (but keep contral control of policy, quangos, interfering busybodies)
* Restore the link between pensions and earnings
* Repatriate powers from Europe (but no referendum on any aspect of Europe so the EU will just humour him for a while and basically ignore him)
* Stop Labour's NI rise which is a tax on jobs (but no committment to cut any of the 100+ stealth taxes, the red tape, the quangos etc)
* Cut business taxes to encourage new small business start-ups (no decentralisation to provide tax competition)
* Give householders more rights to defend themselves against burglars (but no clear committment that they wont be arrested)
* Abolition of Inheritance tax for everyone except millionaires

It's mostly pretty lightweight stuff when you look at the scale of the problems....and a lot of it isnt much different from what Brown is saying....even if he never intends to keep his promises.

And where are the policies to reduce the English democratic deficit? Or the Barnett formula? What about the shabby treatment of the armed forces? Is he supporting "savage cuts" or not? This year or not? Or the benefits lifestyle? Or making 5 years mean 5 years? or, or, or...

Cameron may be Conservative but he's not conservative.The voters have figured out that what he's saying really isnt much different to what Brown's saying...and dont really trust either of them. So if you're going to have Brown's policies, you may as well have Brown as well. The more they hear of these pointless policies, the lower the lead - it's not a mystery. Want to guess which way the polls will go next week after this conference?

This is why after 13 years of rule by a snake oil salesman and a bully the lead is only 2%.

Well done Dave.

David Boothroyd said...

How can the Conservatives talk about localism and giving local councils more power and then propose to remove entirely any ability of local councils to set their own budget?

norman said...

@Martin:
I agree with you 100%. I am a Tory voter since 1979. If cameron cannot win on immigration, the Tories do not deserve to win. I will not vote if the polls fall like this through the ground. Osborne is useless and light weight. Graying is no good. Afghanisatn pull out may be opposed by the shadow defence secretary. so be it. I hane e-mailed cameron office giving details of how immigration rules are bent by non-EU people,,how workpermit and points systems misused and how thousands of so called students are let in. Answer
from his office arrives 2 months late. You cannot ape NU labour. Forget EU, but concentrate on immigration and economy, Clarke and
Davis. cameron may be a friend to Osborne and Gove, but these two particularly Osborne has done the damage

Martin said...

Iain, so the only good reason to vote Tory is to get rid of Brown? Is that the best argument you can come up with?

Sorry but that's NOT good enough.

Twig said...

People are crying out for a bit of straight talking and are tired of the politically correct babble that we get from the Tories nowadays.

As we approach the election I suppose we'll hear some popular common sense policies from all the main parties, but afer the election these policies will be quicky dropped by whoever wins just like the EU Treaty referendum - shameful.

its my party and i cry all the time said...

I'll be voting for it. I look forward to the revolution which will come, should those who won't vote for it have their way. It'll be "up against the wall, chaps" and I'm not talking about a quick knee-trembler.

www.itsinthenews.wordpress.com

Dylan Jones-Evans said...

What I find most surprising is the fact that whilst the Conservative Party has clear and well articulated policies in place, they have allowed Labour to dominate the press during the last few weeks with little discussion of any of the government’s own specific policies for the General Election.

Such an approach suits Labour down to the ground because they can confuse the differences between the two parties. In such a situation, many waverers, despite the appalling record of the Labour Government, will stick with the current lot instead of supporting the Conservatives?

Frankly, I don't think many voters are actually aware of the main differences between the two parties, especially as the total debate over the last three to four weeks has been focused on the personality of the Prime Minister rather on what each party will do when elected.

As you say, all the policies you mention are highly populist and would gain significant support if only the Conservative Party begins to take the fight to Labour directly and creates some 'clear blue water' between the two parties.

It could start by showing the key differences in policies between the Conservatives and Labour by asking each and every Labour candidate, time and time again, to answer the following questions:

Will Labour introduce a cap on immigration?
Will Labour impose a two year freeze on council tax?
Will Labour abolish ID cards and roll back the big brother state?
Will Labour reduce the number of MPs by 10% and cut the cost of politics?
Will Labour allow parents to create their own schools?
Will Labour restore the link between pensions and earnings?
Will Labour repatriate powers from Europe?
Will Labour stop the NI rise which is a tax on jobs?
Will Labour cut business taxes to encourage new small business start-ups?
Will Labour give householders more rights to defend themselves against burglars?
Will Labour abolish inheritance tax for everyone except millionaires?

p smith said...

Oh dear Iain. "Repatriate powers from the EU"? And then you wonder why it is that the public does not trust Cameron?

You set out what you hope Cameron will achieve in his speech but you only need to read the teasers that his spin team have leaked to see everything that is repellent about Team Dave.

We are told that Dave will say that it is his patriotic duty to remove Brown. Can you think of a more arrogant, vain, disingenuous and meaningless statement. The implication is clear. If one doesn't for Dave, one cannot be patriotic. It didn't work for Churchill in his 1945 election campaign.

Secondly, we are told that Dave will deliver his speech without notes. This, Team Dave,considers to be important information to be leaked. It again underscores the low esteem in which Dave holds the British public that he thinks we are stupid enough to be impressed by this.

Dave's sole attribute is that he is running against a semi autistic prime minister. Otherwise this vain, arrogant, vacuous man wouldn't be troubling the scorers.

p smith said...

Oh and a piece of advice Iain. I know you are scared and frustrated by the vanishing poll lead but you shouldn't abuse your readers particularly those natural Tory voters who are genuinely disappointed in Dave's plans.

I am not one of them so please feel free to abuse me but I was quite shocked by your attacks on your readers. Not like you to let your frustration show so manifestly.

Turnbull2000 said...

Iain,

I cannot stand this Labour government. I absolutely despise Gordon Brown. He's wrecked the economy, he's wrecked my pension and he's wrecked my opportunities in life through his favoured high house price agenda. I hate them.

This will be the first general election I'll vote in, yet I see little reason to give Cameron my support other than to remove Brown. My confidence in the Tories has diminished steadily in recent month to the point where I'm asking myself "just what the heck do they stand for?".

All I see is much of the same. It's all "families yada yada", "hardworking yada", buzzwords, very little coherence, very little consistency and absolutely no conviction. For myself, a vote for Cameron would be a vote for the least depressing alternative. I think I'll not bother. Labour can clean up their own mess whilst I'll emigrate to a country that isn't screwing over the prospects of the young.

Twig said...

What is the story behind the Filibustering of Doug Carswell tweeted by Kerry McCarthy?

http://twitter.com/KerryMP/status/9676849834

Is this more evidence of EU-phile tendencies in the Tory Party?

Autonomous Mind said...

@ Richard Manns

It is not me you should be asking that question of, it is David Cameron.

I would offer a referendum tomorrow to ask the British people what kind of relationship they want with the EU. I know I don't want anything other than a free trade arrangement. But the people of this country should make the decision in a democratic fashion, giving the government an instruction and mandate to act.

ukipwebmaster said...

Iain,
Your 11 point plan has cognitive dissonance written all over it.

Johnny Anomaly said...

All that matters now is economic policy.

Brown has spent 13 years perfecting disaster, yet all the Tories seem to offer as an alternative is their own sense of entitlement.

The Tories must spell out exactly what they are going to do about the economy. Wittering on about burglars and border guards is simply missing the point.

Small wonder the polls are narrowing when the choice is between the devil and the shallow blue sea.

The Grim Reaper said...

If "weeble" is the word one thinks of in regard to Cameron, the only word I can associate with Brown would be "wibble".

boggartblog said...

The trend in the polls is strange Iain but the campaign is bizarre. Labour are behaving like the oppositon with personal attacks, sneering and dirty tricks and the Conserevatives are behaving like a government in saying "let's focus on policies not personalities."

Gordon said...

As one of his constituents (and fans), I am most concerned by Mr Gove's behaviour! Has he lost his marbles? Did he have some Macchievellian reason for pretending to be you? Does he simply hate 'being Michael Gove' from time to time?
I know this sounds like a joke but I am genuinely perplexed by this! Iain, can you ask him?

Jane said...

I think there have been a few errors and an experienced labour party election campaign team has made the most of this.

I am not sure about this poll. I did read that YouGov have had to change weighting systems to deal with the new daily poll. I would be astounded if it were accurate.

I also feel that the conservatives should continue with their current message. Any lurch to the right will of course please many of their core voters but will not win an election. Neither will strident anti europe speeches and to suggest a vote on leaving the EU would frighten many business people. Also to those who state that a promise on Lisbon was abandoned - it had to be once the treaty had been agreed. It would then have been illegal. Such suggestions are unhelpful in formulating any winning election strategy.

Unlike many commentators on this thread, I think George Osborne is doing an excellent job and demonstrates a superb intellect. Being an investor and having an interest in the markets, I would welcome him as Chancellor. Andrew Marr was being mischievous (as well as hyper which I hate) this morning as he knows full well that no Shadow Chancellor can provide budget forecasts when he does not have access to the books. The Labour Shadow Chancellor was unable to do so in 1997 too.

Neither do I accept that the continual press coverage of GB's appalling behaviour has not been detrimental. My opinion is never sought and I can tell you that I am appalled at the catalogue of disgraceful behaviour dripping out. I think, character and personality matter in a leader and I am sure I am not isolated in holding this view.

The polls continue to show that David Cameron has a commanding personal lead over Gordon Brown - this is why the current poll is confusing. I think it is right that David Cameron continues to point up the difference between the PM and himself. This is a winning strategy and will appeal to the vast majority of people who do not condone bullying and boorish people.

The idea of Lynton Crosby returning fills me with horror!!!

Man in a Shed said...

For what its worth I think Cameron needs t understand why the Bullying thing has worked for brown ( so far ).

The public see politics as a sort of X-Factor show right now, with no consequences, and are behaving accordingly.

Cameron needs to disavow them of this idea. A bucket of cold water needs to be poured over the voters followed by relentless rage against the economic crimes and mismanagement of Labour.

Remember Labour can't implement the cuts they've promised as they are a wholly owned subsidiary of the Unite Union. We are doomed if they hold onto office.

Pepito said...

I'm not surprised by this new poll. There were some Tories who saw this crisis coming, like Norman Lamont, who moved into gold a few years ago, but the current leadership were caught short.
They didn't realise that we were witnessing the end of the statist consensus that existed most of the last century.
People have got used to money for nothing, they will only realise that such a system isn't sustainable when the cheques stop coming, which will be soon.
We are entering a period of total confusion and anger, until people accept reality, they will vote for perceived safety not change.

john_hunt said...

The fact that it's becoming more likely that Brown will be returned to No.10 is little short of incredible - and also incredibly depressing.

That the Tories are not on 50%+ is, for me, down to the fact that the voting public clearly has not warmed to Cameron and also because, under his stewardship, the party has either been very wishy-washy with policy or pushed policies that people could care less about.

What to do about the former? Little, at this stage, but as a naturally right-wing person I cannot see myself voting for Cameron yet I would crawl over broken glass to vote for Hague's conservatives.

The latter? This is so bloody obvious and had been pointed out by commentators far more engaged and erudite than myself but a manifesto pledge to suspend all asylum claims indefinitely and summarily reject all outstanding claims would get the Tories 20 points in the space of 48 hours.

I know I am not alone in wanting: proper control of immigration, an end to asylum (we're full, and services are beyond creaking), immediate deportation of illegals and immediate deportation of foreign criminals and hate-preachers.

This is but ONE policy area (though there are many more that we want to hear about) that would see New Labour utterly crushed.

The Tories are currently doing a piss-poor job of wooing the voters and Labour's client state looks as if it will be numerous enough to see Brown returned.

Wake up, Cameron, and start delivering.

DocRichard said...

Michael Gove is clearly a dyed-in-the-wool fantasist. He once was a proponent of the view that the invasion of Iraq would bring peace and democracy both to Iraq and the wider Middle East.

Q said...

Iain, we are getting a NuLabor government no matter who wins the election.

If you want us to vote Conservative, you need to give us a better reaons that "Vote for Cameron! He's 30% less incompetent than Brown and 85% less likely to chin you!".

You need to grasp the fact that your party has no policies. You can squeal otherwise 'til you're blue in the face but you and I and all the voters know the truth: at a time when Britain needs a strong Conservative voice bringing reform and renewal, you are offering us David Cameron and a bluer shade of pink.

We do not want consensus politics, Iain, and we will not vote for them. We want a true Conservative manifesto. We wants tax cuts, spending cuts, an end to quangos and a return of our civil liberties. You are offering none of these - oh, I know you'll trot out the usual list of Tory pseudo-policies and tell us all about the change you're promising but when we look at the details (as we do and you do not), we can see that these so-called policies are empty. They have nothing behind them. They do not offer change. They offer the continuation of what has gone before combined a slightly better effort at PR.

You and Cameron are offering more of the same and we, the electorate, are not buying. David Cameron is another Ted Heath when we need another Margaret Thatcher.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Interesting polling practice. The raw data is manipulated to take away 5% from the Tories and add 11% to Labour. That produces 37:35. Before manipulation it was 42:29. That is probably realistic. It is inconceivable that Brown and his much-ups can still command 35% of the votes.

Filter said...

The problem is that whilst we have been through the worst recession for 30 years, people who have not lost their jobs have not felt the weight of it. Even those that have don't blame Labour. Blame has been attributed to greedy bankers and they're perceived as Tories.

People are scared of spending cuts and won't vote for them, even if most people agree we're all going to have to pay for Government debt somehow. That's why the Conservatives' support is slipping.

I'm afraid the country is not on its knees enough yet. I believe we have five more years to wait. 2010 is 74, 2015 will be 79.

Sackerson said...

Iain: "...it is people like you who will allow another 5 years of Gordon Brown. Do you really want that on your conscience?"

If we're talking conscience, then we're talking principles, right and wrong. Whatever your view on membership of the EU, is it not right to consult the electorate on a matter of such giant importance?

Instead of telling those of us being forced towards UKIP that we're being naughty and passively assisting Labour, why not consider the implications of the Conservative Party's collusion with Labour (and the LibDems) in denying us a voice in our country's future?

What is the point of electing an MP who 70% of the time will be rubber-stamping and gold-plating edicts from outside the country? Is democracy un-Conservative?

And do you seriously imagine that a pledge to hold a referendum would be a vote-loser?

Michael Fowke said...

I want to vote Conservative but I can't because the party has a socialist leader.

What can be done about it?

MikeyP said...

If I was ever questioned by a polling organisation, I would lie through my teeth. I just don't believe the polls.

miko said...

Gordon Brown to announce March election tomorrow morning - 9.39am - 11am.

Lets get on with it.

Salmondnet said...

I am less worried by the poll, which even as a Camerosceptic I don't believe, than the fact that Michael Gove goes about impersonating other people. Please tell us that he disclosed his true identity before the end of the encounter, otherwise how can we be sure that he is really Michael Gove? I've always thought his enunciation was too good for him to be a native English speaker.

Martin said...

Where is Camerons vision for Britain? As I posted earlier this nation has no future in mass production, nor should we rely on the useless financial sector. Cameron needs to tell the nation what we have to become, if you like he needs a bit of Churchill here.
We must become the world leader in innovation, in design an new technologies for the 21st century, Cameron should be promoting engineering and science in schools, Labour have totally and utterly failed with the English education system, Cameron should be giving that a vision not bloody targets. Our universities should be excellences for science and engineering not breeding grounds for terrorists and foreigners who come here to doss.
There is a lot that Cameron can do that doesn’t require Government money, we now own half our banks, THEY can be forced to lend money to companies who want to set up research, design and specialist manufacturing facilities here.

If all call me Dave comes up with is some crap about change and nonsense about “wimmin” and “ethnic minorities” to try to please the BBC and the Guardian then he’s failed.

Perdix said...

Dan Brusca 1.06 pm - Don't base your judgements on ignorance. To see Conservative policies go to :
http://www.conservatives.com/Policy.aspx

jojoko said...

The Tories supported NU-Lab on the war(s), they go along with them on the EU and the referendum, they happily agreed with them on closing post offices. They won't mention getting rid of stealth taxes, in fact it appears they want to tax us just as much as NU-Lab, just jiggle the process a bit. Is it true they plan to deduct tax from our bank accounts? Have had it with both parties, and the LibDims are even worse. Where is the choice we were promised? It's just the same old, same old. So what if there's a hung parliament or NU-Lab get back in? Does anyone think whoever is in is going to make a change for the better? Their hands are tied with EU red tape. And the party leaders are to wishy-washy to do anything but micromanage our lives to a state that Orwell would be shocked at.

Colin said...

John R @ 1:50 pm

Your post just about sums up what I and many people I know are thinking and feeling.

We're all sick fed up of waffle. We've done the Blair/new labour thing, we don't need nor want a repeat. One things for sure, we won't get that with brown

Unless the tories get a grip, this will end up as one of those academic case studies...

MoK said...

The biggest challenge facing Cameron the fact that the public believe that he has no policies and is only interested in his image.

Add to that the ongoing personal attacks on Brown, which not only have the effect of creating a victim mentality but are closer to bullying than anything he is accused of, and the Tories face the very real possibility of another five year in opposition.

Concentrate on publisicising Tory policies and crtiticising Labour policies get rid or the airbrushed posters and you might just rescue things.

Richard said...

Brown has done more damage to this country since Hitler. Yet the Conservative's have no policies to deal with this catastrophe. I am a conservative voter and even I haven't a clue what the party's economic or immigration policies are. Small wonder that the Conservatives will lose.

BilloTheWisp said...

It looks like most people simply do not know what the conservative stand for anymore. May I suggest sticking your 11 bullet points on billboards all over the country? Lots of warm whoolly words are no substitute for laying out policies. People are not daft. But they do need to know what is on offer.

Dan Brusca said...

@John Hunt

"...a manifesto pledge to suspend all asylum claims indefinitely and summarily reject all outstanding claims would get the Tories 20 points in the space of 48 hours."

Aside from the fact it wouldn't have that large an effect (though it would have some), it would also breach article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of refugees, EU directive 2003/9/EC on the minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers, among other instruments of international law.

It's a mark of a civilised society that we honour both our international obligations and our obligations to those with a genuine case to be granted asylum. To suggest withdrawal from those obligations would make the Conservative party no better than the BNP.

Barnacle Bill said...

I always had my doubts about Cameron, believing him to just be Blair-lite, but kept these doubts to myself in the hopes he might mature into a half decent leader.
Unfortunately as soon as he reneged on his Lisbon Treaty referendum promise, I knew he was just another fecking politician after my vote.
Not a man of principle, nor having the backbone to stand up for his country.
Probably more interested in the gravy boat than the gravy train.

jaybs said...

I do get concerned how weak Michael Gove comes over as, he may be a thinker but not a communicator same with George Osborne.

At least Ken and William come over as strong! in the Campaign itself when it starts we must Use our best communicators to get our policy over!

Twig said...

@MoK
"...the Tories face the very real possibility of another five years in opposition."

Do you call that opposition?
The LibDems put up more opposition than the Tories and they're basically the Labour wets!

Get Nigel Farage in there and then you'll see what opposition means.

Jim Arnott said...

I posted on a previos topic that:

"The problem is Osborne."

That post was not allowed.

I have to say that I also cringe every time Osborne appears on TV.

It's probably too late now to change him for KC but please, please keep Osborne out of it as much as possible.

Maybe, just maybe, you will allow this post this time and the advice will be heeded.

Another problem where have the Conservatives been these last few weeks. A strong media presence is required every day.

Iain Dale said...

Just to be clear, I have never not allowed a comment from you.

Jim said...

Ive had to resort to ID as Guido is now restricted. Freedom etc etc

JONAN CAMERON STRIKES AGAIN. ALL OVER THE PRESS IN BIRMINGHAM LAST WEEK, DECLARING TO BE A VILLA FAN !!

Hope to connect with Worcs woman and midlands man

YEAH thanks DAVE 2-1 ...JONAN.

happyuk07 said...

Iain,

As for opinion polls, do try taking a statistics course sometime, and learn why many polls and surveys, particularly those with biased samples, loaded questions, false causality and data manipulation are not taken seriously by statisticians.

Jim said...

Your problem(s)

*Gideon
*Gove
*IDS
*and especially ...Hague

Martin said...

jaybs: Spot on there are too many wet Tories getting airtime, Pickles, the dopey woman (can't remember her name the one with the shoes), Osborne, Gove and Hammond. The Tories have few decent attack dogs, Hague and Clarke are the only two that can take on the likes of fat boy Prescott and Mandy.

Jimmy said...

"1. Replace Osborne with Ken Clarke"

Why Osborne rather than Cameron?

How serious are you about winning?

Martin said...

barnacle bill: Correct, the Tories decline in the polls started when Cameron went back on his word, people expected it from McBust but Cameron made it a CAST IRON PROMISE.

All Cameron had to do was say we'll have the referendum and if people vote it down we'll raise hell in Europe and there's nothing Liebour or the Limp Dems can do as the people have voted for it.

Martin said...

@danbrusca: Written like a typical liberal. Can I ALSO point out that people are supposed to claim asylum at the first safe country they arrive at, NOT I repeat NOT travel through half of western Europe to queue up at Calais trying to hop on a lorry over to the UK. you left that bit out of your mad ramble.

Anyone turning up at Dover hidden in a lorry should be sent straight back to France. If needed the port of Dover should be closed down.

Gareth said...

Had Cameron a track record of a couple of years as a credible opposition leader holding the Government to account he would have a bumper crop of performance to rest his shiny laurels on. He hasn't. The steamroller has largely squished them. The Conservatives, for whatever reason, have been consistently outplayed by this malicious, malevolent and miserable Government. Every argument has been on Labour terms. The Conservatives simply haven't done enough to get the media away from Labour.

Were Dave to promise a referendum on the EU I'd vote Tory in a heartbeat.(And perhaps even a referendum every 10 years or two Parliaments so it is not saddling future generations with the decision of past ones.) It's a really, really easy way to get shedloads of support regardless of what Dave himself thinks the country should do.

There are *no* downsides to having a referendum. If In we can get on with being good Europeans, fully committed to the Project and fully accepting that Westminster is less important and can be vastly slimmed down. If Out we can stop importing a load of nonsense from the Continent and insist that our directly elected representatives get on with the job they abandoned to unaccountable Eurocrats years ago. What is the EU, and Dave, so afraid of; hard work and democratic accountability?

On financial matters again the Conservatives are losing the argument. George can be all for cutting. Cut loads. Cut hard and deep imo. The key thing to say is they'll cut waste. Labour have been in top form at controlling the language of political discourse by sticking with cuts = cuts in services. George could even take on that challenge and produce a big long list of services that taxpayers shouldn't even be funding like five a day monitors and real nappy co-ordinators. Hell, fake charities would be an ideal target. Why are taxpayers paying lobbygroups to lobby the government to make life more expensive and more miserable for taxpayers? Charity begins at home. We know best how to spend our money. Simple messages. If we want to donate we will. The Conservatives seem unable to play that game to such a fine degree.

If they want public support for cuts the politicians need to own the decision making process rather than hand out arbitrary budget cuts that the bureaucrats will make sure get inflicted on the frontline services.(The pen pushers are never going to sack themselves.) Something, anything to show they are not only prepared to make decisions but take clear responsiblity for them. We have had enough of MPs using the EU as a handy patsy, using quangos as a whipping boy and any mug within arm's reach to distract from their own poor decisions.

Ditch the AGW rubbish. Wind turbines are not the future. 'Green jobs' are a cost not a benefit. Commit now to nuclear power and loads of it for reasons of energy security. Tried and tested designs please not ones which no other bugger dares build or that private enterprise wants taxpayers to fund the prototypes thankyou. How about some more hydroelectric plants? Any plans to build new roads? Freeze fuel duties.(They alone already raise far more money than even UN approved levels of green taxes should). If the Conservatives want Britain to get back on it's feet making life more expensive for everyone is not the way to do it.

Dave and the Conservative Party represent a change of face not a change of direction. That is the problem. Fighting the 1997 election 13 years late is doing no one any good.

The comment from Dylan Jones-Evans is also bang on the money. It doesn't matter how many or how good the Conservatives policies are if you are no good at getting the message across, which does require highlighting what your opponent will not do as much as what you will do. Putting the policies into a Labour context is perhaps the missing piece of the Conservative strategy. What have Labour done? What won't Labour do? Why are Labour wrong?

eb said...

How do policy pledges rank against a "cast iron guarantee"?

Why are they not doing better? because the visible major shifts in policy have trailed public opinion by a mile, they appear no more competent than Noo Labor and, in many ways look like a poor imitation of Blair's Noo Labor.

Wyrdtimes said...

Some more issues the Tories should address.

Don't be like Labour and be afraid to say England when talking abut England.

Commit to consultation on an English Parliament.

Pledge to do something about the Barnett Formula that values Scots at >£1500 more per person, per year from central government than the English.

Promise to attack British Govt inequality on prescription charges, tuition fees, care for the elderly, eye tests, dental check-ups, road tolls, school meals, council tax etc etc etc

In short - make the change - stand for England.

A big vote winner, and Labour with their record can't do a thing about it.

Sean Haffey said...

The problem is this: Cameron has gone flat.

I am really sorry to say this, as I was an early supporter (before he became leader) but the parts of his speech shown on Sky News a few minutes ago had neither the content nor the tone to convince swing voters.

Where is the positive, simple message? Lost in a mass of policy wonkery.

adamcollyer said...

Stop being jittery, you lot. Opinion polls are closing because of lack of clarity on Tory plans. But the clarity will come during the campaign. We're going to win this, but we do need to stop bickering and face the enemy.

Twig said...

@Martin
"Anyone turning up at Dover hidden in a lorry should be sent straight back to France.
If needed the port of Dover should be closed down."


Government sell-off plans could see the tricolour flying over Kent's white cliffs.

Do keep up Martin.

Martin said...

@Twig That's Ok I'll just point them in the direction of Hampstead Heath

The Random Punter said...

Iain, I've asked several times about Osborne without response. Several others have made the same point here. I'm prepared to believe that he's very intelligent and gifted, and I'm prepared to believe he may make a fine Chancellor.

However, he has singularly failed to sell himself to the country as the best answer to our economic problems. He's not even managed to convince us of Brown's and Darling's uselessness. This will be an election fought on the economy and the Conservatives are losing the argument.

All this while the last Tory chancellor, who bequeathed a great economy, is respected by the electorate and who can connect with the electorate, is being underused.

I'll ask you again - why does Cameron tolerate Osborne losing the argument on the economy when he has Clarke to call on?

Twig said...

@The Random Punter

Could it be because Ken would have us in the Euro before you could blink?

Jimmy said...

"I'll ask you again - why does Cameron tolerate Osborne losing the argument on the economy when he has Clarke to call on?"

Because Clarke agrees with the Government.

stephengash said...

Thatcher was stupidly stubborn

Blair was stubbornly stupid

Cameron reckons he is Blair's heir.

He is stupidly stupid.

Tory electoral fortunes rest in England. However, Cameron barely mentions the words 'England' and 'English', unless it it is to disparage both.

He sucks up to the Irish, Scots and Welsh promising them more and more. The Tories don't have a prayer in any of those places. To rub Celtic salt into the English post-devolution wound the Tories field Scottish, Welsh and non-British Irish candidates all over England.

And they wonder why they are polling so badly.

It's the English, stupid!