Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why the Tories Need to Find the Common Ground

I've written an article for COMMENT IS FREE on Lord Saatchi's lecture titled IN PRAISE OF IDEOLOGY. In the lecture he asserts that you don't win elections from the centre ground - you only do so if you have a core ideology, which you stick to.

Lord Saatchi is without doubt a man with an enormous creative mind. His pamphlets for the Centre for Policy Studies are invariably well-written, entertaining and provocative. The latest one, published this week, asserts that a political party needs to retain a sense of ideology if it is to prevail in the polls. This is a self-evident truth. Any party needs to remain true to its core roots and traditions, but that in itself does not mean that it should not embrace modernity and move with the times. Reading Lord Saatchi's lecture one gets the impression that life stopped in 1979, that no political advertising since then has been quite so on the metal.

In his lecture, Saatchi challenges what he call's today's "new myth" that "you can only win elections from the centre ground". He might want to challenge this so-called myth, but I can think of few elections that were won from anywhere else. Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 election from the centre ground, not from the hard right. Anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves and has never read the 1979 Conservative manifesto.

I suspect that Lord Saatchi is playing fast and loose with semantics and has created an entirely new definition of the centre ground. In his world, the centre ground is anywhere to the left of where he finds himself on the political spectrum. He is mistaken. In reality the centre ground is the common ground - the place where the majority of the British people find themselves at any particular time. It's not a fixed position and can change with the political seasons.

But wherever that common ground is, David Cameron is right to pitch his tent on it. And as I have written before, he needs to build his tent into a huge, billowing marquee. Without big tents, as Bill Clinton was keen to demonstrate, elections cannot be won. You cannot win purely with the support of your own core voters. Instead you have to appeal to a wider body. This is the lesson of the last 10 years in which the Conservatives have languished in opposition. Continually banging on about the same old message in the same old way is not going to appeal to those who find themselves disillusioned with politics and politicians.

To break out of the stranglehold of opposition the Conservatives have had to start not just a rebranding exercise, but a root and branch process of redefining Conservatism for the modern age. Labour took 15 years to realise they had to do this in the 1980s and early 1990s. I suppose we can be thankful the Conservatives have taken just over half that time.

Lord Saatchi says in his pamphlet: "Without a vision, the people perish". He concludes: "People in politics should stand for something greater than the desire to be in power." Never a truer word spoken, but to get power and achieve great things, you have to be in touch with the common ground. And judging from his pamphlet, Lord Saatchi isn't.


Anonymous said...

I suggest that David Cameron pitches his tent on the moon, because it is extremely unlikely that he will get earthlings to vote in sufficient numbers for him to win the next election!

neil craig said...

As you point out the common ground is a moving target - if you won you are, virtually by definition, on the centre ground (a slight quibble - if the other 2 parties stand on the same spot & split the vote than you can win with a minority vote). My opinion is that you must stand on the common issue, which in peacetime is almost always the economy, as Clinton charmlessly pointed out, not greenery as Cameron & so many of the chattering classes seem to think. Labour have been allowed to get away with saying that the economy is doing well because we have had years of 2.5% growth. In fact the rest of the world is averaging 5%. If the Tories wish to win they must convince the electorate that they can run the economy better than Labour which in turn means convincing them that 2.5% is not good.

As an example - Harold Wilson won not by proving himself more moderate than the Tories but by saying at length that we had an import gap which the Tories were unconcerned about & by promising change, specificly the "white heat of technology" - had he delivered on that he would probably never have lost power.

Anonymous said...

You win elections by winning a majority. It just so happens in the UK political opinion follows a bell curve.

Political philosophers have for so long characterised "human nature" as being at a point on a nature-nuture right-left wing spectrum. The reality is that some people are suited to a communial lifestyle and others to an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Call it life-style (or personalised) politics.

Understanding this means understanding that democracy is a crude compromise rather than a zenith in political processes.

A form of life-style politics already exists as people can opt to be self-employed or employed and pay different tax rates. If this concept were extended to other areas of Government policy it would remove many peoples need to change political parties [corruption and incompetence aside].

Anonymous said...

Hasn't he missed the point, now that the Tories are bringing Polly Toynbee's ideas to the party ?

Her ideas are clearly far more relevant to the 21st century than the old-fart brigade like Thathcerite Charles Saatchi.

Anonymous said...

You are quite right, elections are only won from the centre ground. Absolutely.

However, that must not be confused with simply aping the other side. There is no point, no virtue, in confusing turning one's party into a clone of the other lot with being in the centre. It is not; it is defecting, or capitulating, or settling for electoral irrelevance. And it is leaving both your 'core vote' and those who really do occupy the centre ground, seeking another home than you. And it's not going to persuade anyone who is currently inclined towards the 'other' side of the spectrum to defect to a 'fake'.

It is the sort of political strategy one would expect from a party that is run by public relations people rather than those who stand for real principles. And, gosh, it is, surprise, surprise, exactly what we are getting.

"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?" ask the Good Book. Yet here we have something worse: we are to loose our party's soul, but will gain nothing.

This strategy will deliver a short-term boost (maybe: all the gain so far can be put down to Blair's terminal decline) but that will not last and like p**ing in your pants, that nice warm feeling will soon evaporate and you'll find yourself worse off than ever.

Cicero said...

Whatever happened to being right?

The point that Saatchi makes is valid: there is not much point in taking positions that are wrong, just because they are the popular conventional wisdom.

Any party should retain core values as an expression of that unpopular word "ideology". If you change your core ideas in exchange for short term electoral success then you fail to show leadership.

Such a party will be both unprincipled and even ultimately, an electoral failure. I think that the pro-Polly Toynbee comments from Greg Clark are amazing. The Conservatives are flirting with disaster.

Anonymous said...

Of course you win from the centre ground. I have been saying this for donkey's to all my Taliban Tory mates. But this does not mean that all your policies are rooted there.

Part of the problem here is that the Conservative party has swallowed Blurs description of the party as "extreme" "nasty" and so on, while letting the little tinker steal policies and go even further. I doubt a Conservative govt would have passed half the authoritarian nonsense nu Labour has. Under Blair's trendy "liberal" admin we're slipping down the league of proper democracies. Surely the Tories, the party of the rule of law and freedom, could do something here?

Anonymous said...

If occupying the centre ground was what was required, the Lib Dems would be doing far better than they actually are. There is nothing wrong per se with such a position but what is required are a set of ideas which sharply distinguish you from your opponents and which provide answers which the electorate feel may actually work. Following the line of 'me too but better' is likely to be met with cynical disbelief and indifference.

Anonymous said...

We do have a problem in the UK in what can only be described as „inherited bullshit“ from our erstwhile „friends“ in the US. Instead of learning to manage our own affairs we always, and without question, copy trends and ideas which are at best unsuited to the British way of life and worse, are completely contrary to our needs. It was this middle-ground idea of being all things to all men that helped Blair to be elected, but we Conservatives often fail to admit that at that time we succumbed to the allegations of sleaze and offered no recognisable alternative to New-Labour. I don’t think that the voters gave a toss about the good things the Tories had done, but were instead put off by the dithering John Major. New Labour offered a new era and it was this wave of hysteria that brought them to power. The US style electioneering from New Labour was new to the British people and most of us fell for it, but I doubt if the same trick would work again. From my own perspective the Blair style has been well and truly spent and people want shut of him asap. What the Tories must not do is to fall for another Blair clone, because Dave Cameron’s poll ratings will mean zilch when it comes to a General Election. What we have to offer is strength and courage without trying to be middle of the road over everything. You also have to offer people what they want to hear instead of idiotic adventures to foreign parts and mounting propellers on the roof. Most of what Dave Cameron has done so far is coming back to haunt him already and I would politely suggest that he either gets real for a change, or hands the reigns to somebody else who at least sounds as though he’s tough. We need someone who will be emotional and get genuinely angry about the right things, as these are the qualities that inspire people. We certainly don’t need more marketing bullshit, but we do need plain speaking from a Man, not a bloody third rate actor!

Anonymous said...

As a fully paid up New Labour supporter, I couldn't find a single thing to disagree with in Greg Clark's Social Justice paper.

Can I be the first to congratulate you all for your conversion to the left.

Anonymous said...

Politics is now more about methodology than ideology. The vast majority of people want to live in a free-market liberal(ish) democracy. The issue for the electorate is no longer what should be delivered, but who can deliver it best.

They will vote for an administration, a management team if you like, who can deliver what they want at the cheapest price (lowest tax rate).

Gone are they days of clashing ideological giants. In are the days of the middle manager. The caliber and attitude of many modern career politicians reflects this.

This is not necessarily a bad thing as it's a product of stable times.

In the less stable times to come differing ideologies will once again become politically important, but as things stand they are neither there to any large degree nor are they necessary.

Anonymous said...

Well well Iain , firstly I notice I have been censored again for being under whelmed at the tedious and at times infantile Sayeeda Warsi`s specs . So impressive? Looks like the sort of thing you get with a new purpose block of flats if you ask me ? These comments form part of a running complaint about the insipidity of the A list candidates who together would resemble nothing more than the Stepford Wives . She may , to be fair , be less appalling than most. Its hard to say when so much custard is served with the pudding
All I would suggest is that if my comments are not welcome , and it is possible they will be come less so , someone tells me . With therapy and time I will learn to live again.
I read Lord Saatchi`s remarks and I must agree they struck me as thinly spread analysis on thick crusty instinct but there is something in the instinct. Certainly , your rebuttal fairly or not , has the distinct odour of “on message “ . . So in the faint hope that this will see the light of day , I beg to differ …as they say.

It is not a self evident truth that any party needs ideology to prevail in the polls and a bald statement one way or the other hardly adds much anyway. The distinctive feature of the Blair triumph was precisely this ditching of ideology , notable at the Blackpool conference. In fact the only major party in British politics that had a recognisable ideology was the Labour party and this ideology was called Socialism .The only coherent ideology the Conservative Party ever had was to be against Socialism and so the birth of new Labour had a knock effect of removing political coherence across the board .

I `m not quite clear what you are saying about the Thatcher period from 79 it may or may not be true that the Manifesto was middling , you and I were both a little young then .( at least I suspect you were young , most of the A listers were grown in a VAT from play dough ). MT only gradually staked out a new ideological drive for the Conservative Party and was able to do so by appealing directly to the party and the voter , above the powers that held sway in the upper echelons of the Conservative establishment . If you are suggesting this is what David Cameron is going to do I would be amazed .If you are suggesting he is going to take us lurching off to the left the moment he is safely installed , I am horrified. Otherwise you are picking a moment of history at random because it appears to fit your case .The appearance is deceptive as I have tried to suggest.

The Centre Ground …”is where most people are “now that is a truism and deserves the faint sneer your reserve for the merit of ideology. Not only is it not fixed it is also not fixed within an individual or on a given spectrum. In fact it is multidimensional and you are better off thinking of various polarities. One would be nice and nasty. Yes the boy Dave has reclaimed the women and other nice votes at the centre of this .Another would be principled and lying. David Cameron is starting lto lose votes along this spectrum because he appears to be lying on tax , the environment and because of the seep of poison from his own party .

Polls may be encouraging but I , and others are concerned that Gordon Brown will appear the man of principle handing the poison chalice of Blairite dishonesty to Cameron . Interestingly I have heard this view from women and I suspect in a real election it will be relevant. So David Cameron`s Liberal Conservatism has its own dangers . The danger is that on one of the polarities he has missed a trick. People are tired of disingenuous politicians with no coherent philosophy ; and Cameron is wrong to follow Blair blur .

To a great extent I do not blame David Cameron for this in a sense.Its easy to criticise but the realities of the marginal seats give him little room to manoeuvre . I think he has made a great mistake, however, in not including different voices close to him in the shadow cabinet . I think the handling of an A list of tedious lackeys is a disaster and this will bunch the tent tighter around his apparent position . Paradoxically he needs less loyalty , not more.

I know he has calculated that he can afford to lose many many votes in the Conservative South and needs to move into the Nu Lab client areas but the equation is not so simple . The appearance of shiftiness , opportunism and betrayal of principle is itself an electoral problem . The people who should be taking uo this challenge are the useless shadow cabinet and the new firebrand Conservatives he will not allow to progress in the party. He has learnt the wrong lesson from Blair. Nu Lab have been able to include many contradictory messages.

The Conservative Party is becoming a monoculture of opinion which can be to easily picked of . You article Iain is part of the mono- culture and I think you can safely leave this sort of thing to Adam Ricketts and his ilk. There will be no lack of volunteers

Anonymous said...

Lod Saatchi has it bang on. Elections with two lame ducks may be won in the murky centre pond with much backpeddling, ducking, quacking and weighing, but, there is such a thing as 'branding' and right now, the Tory manifesto is a no-name, opinion-free zone.

People chose leaders not just on policy but mainly on their ability to lead and to stand their ground and fight for their vision.

Right now, the Tories' best attribute is that they are not Labour. And that is a pretty poor basis on which to form a government on.

Anonymous said...

this post is so dull.

couldn't we presume upon wrinkled weasel and raincoaster to discuss women's lingerie again ?

Anonymous said...

Well said Iain, I totaly agree. Besides which Conservativism is less about ideology and more about principle values and pragmatism. If you get to ideological you just tie yourself up in knots when the next challenge comes along.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

To be honest Iain, at the moment the party doesn't appear to have any policies - just catchy soundbites.

I realise Dave is unlikely ever to keep the wingnuts on the right of his party entirely happy regardless of what policies he eventually does declare. He does have to appeal to the people who inhabit ground closer to the centre.

But quite frankly when every official statement emenating from CCHQ makes the party look more left wing than NuLabour, one does have to ask: "to whom IS Dave trying to appeal?"

I know I keep banging on about this, but the Bromley and Chiselhurst by-election showed the core vote may not defect but it can be turned off enough to make it stay at home. And no matter how "modern" and "inclusive" you try and make the party look, without concrete proposals in which both the members and the electorate can believe, there ain't going to be any swing from the other parties.

We've had ten years of government by focus group, tabloid appeasment and image consultant. The people are tired of it and all the lies that go with it. They want something tangible; a real alternative. Simply standing up and saying, "I'm nice and I'm not Tony", isn't going to cut it.

And if that's what Dave's campaign policy is based upon then we can look forward a five year Brown premiership. That will screw the country good and proper and it'll be largely the fault of the Tories.

Anonymous said...

newmania -i'm no fan of censorship, but if it focusses your mind on expressing your verbal diarrohea more concisely, then it may be a price worth paying..

Dr.Doom said...

Doubt he will find common ground in Darfur.

Nice photo shoot though.


Etzel Pangloss said...

It's funny isn't it, that that magic centre ground cannot be won by the centre..

Anonymous said...

Iain wrote:
"But wherever that common ground is, David Cameron is right to pitch his tent on it..."

Leadership? Leadership?

Followership more like.

We may as well appoint Phillip Gould 'Dictator' and cut out the middle men (Parliament).

Anonymous said...

This centre ground - this is where La Toynbee squats, left foot in mouth, is it? 'Cos that's the latest moonbattery from one of Desperate Dave's little policy wonks.

God help us.
Try *creating* the centre ground by winning the policy arguments - that's what Maggie did. She was no more a 'centre ground' politician than Michael Foot was - but she won the votes by winning the arguments.

In contrast, Heath was a centrist and he failed - not only in the country but in the party too. There appear to be many similarities between Heath and Dave - and it spells disaster.

Anonymous said...

Forget about policies, how about some principles ?

I cannot tell what Cameron stands for on individual liberties (apart from idiotic things like repealing the HRA), the role of the government in society, etc...Saatchi is at least partly right, you need a leader to govern, something Cameron isn't by a long way. I will never forget he voted for the war (when Clarke didn't) and that tells me a lot about him.

As for encouraging polls, you must be kidding ? After 10 years of Bliar, Brown and all those sleazebags, the Iraq disaster, the NHS deficit, pension deficit, PFI malarkey to keep the debt off the books, civil liberties, etc..., the Tories should be miles in front. There should not even be a contest.

Anonymous said...

The CCHQ boy wonder and Ted heath would have found much on which to agree.Sir Roger Moore has it right when he says that it's time politictans got back to their day jobs.
"Politics ought to be about conviction and not performance.I wish we could get back to the days when politicians actually believed what they said and didn't have to act it"
Lord Saatchi is right-the boy is wrong!

Anonymous said...

What's the problem, policies who needs them, just send for Polly.
Polly Polly Polly ininin, Winnie Winnie Winnie outoutout!

Anonymous said...

In reality the centre ground is the common ground - the place where the majority of the British people find themselves at any particular time. It's not a fixed position and can change with the political seasons. But wherever that common ground is, David Cameron is right to pitch his tent on it...

With all due respect Mr. Dale, by your own yardstick in this matter, it could be claimmed that Churchill was wrong about Hitler in 1938, yet he was suddernly right about him in 1939 because the public now agreed with him.

Being on common ground is not the same thing as being right. If it were then you justife all manner of things such as homophobia, racism and fascism on the basis that it was flavour of the month in 1974 and 1987 and might be so again.

Instead of giving into peer pressure, we Conservatives should instead focus on winning people around to our ideas.

Anonymous said...

I remember Keith Joseph complaining about The Centre Ground and how it had dragged the Conservatives it seems to be where they want to go, following Labour's lead

Thus the circle is complete - Conservatives introduce a National Curriculum for Schools - Labour uses it - Conservatives embellish it.

Conservatives privatise railways to reduce the £1 billion annual subsidy...................Labour brigs it under public control with a £6 billion annual subsidy from an £11 billiion Transport budget

I bet the Conservatives won't abolish the subsidies in the interests of the Environment because most of the £6 billion is spent on those commuting to work in London with just £5 billion left for the national road network

It would be better to remove subsidy and let London commuters decide if it makes economic sense to commute into London rather than subsidise them

Anonymous said...

Paxman: "What is the policy of the Tory Party?"

Windmill Dave: "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The answer is blowing in the wind."


And this, my friends, is the position we are currently reduced to. Anyone who think it's a winning position should try some other career; perhaps in comedy, with a 21st Century version of Monty Python.

But a new career is certainly called for. Soon.

Anonymous said...

The centre ground is claimed to be where all three main parties are currently pitching their tents. I'm not so sure it is actually there at all.

The current 'centre ground' happens to coincide with the tent positions that are acceptable to the media - BBC, Murdoch and so on, and to the consensus view of civil servants and so on. I'm not so sure the current 'centre ground' represents the popular view at all.

People are far more concerned by crime than are the media or government departments, for example. The average voter would be in favour of much harsher punishments for criminals, for example than are acceptable to the cultural elite that controls our bureaucracy.

The BNP is able to attract large numbers of supporters by promising to deal with street crime effectively - and by that they mean corporal punishment.

I think the centre ground now simply means backing the policies that have been established by the cultural marxist elites over the last 30 years - the leites that control media, the EU, the judiciary and the civil service. These people are well dug in and don't want any change. Any political party that proposes substantial change is demonised or their leaders are assassinated (thatcher/IDS etc).

Ordinary people are sick of it all, and would want to move on to effective measures to deal with crime and other aspects. That's the story I hear as I talk to folk. Am I the only one? I doubt it. It's just that Cameron does not want to enjoy the same fate as IDS and Thatcher and so he's playing another strategy for dealing with the very powerful forces that hold Britain in their grip.

People do want change - urgently - but no politician dares to offer it. The BNP do but are hopelessly unhinged on race and religion to be a serious help. UKIP should move towards a stronger position on crime - increasing prison populations, corporal punishment and so on. They might be amazed at the results.

The media dictates what the centre ground is at the moment, not the voters.

Anonymous said...

"Why the Tories Need to Find the Common Ground"

Somewhere to bury Lord Saatchi on the cheap?

Anonymous said...

It is quite simple really. In a democracy it is an electoral asset if a political party has a distinctive vision of what it hopes to do in government, but if that vision deviates too widely from what is popular it is an electoral liability.

Some politicians address this problem by saying (and doing) whatever they think is popular regardless of the consequences. Others say whatever they think will be popular and when in government do what they were going to do anyway. New Labour is somewhere between the two – although it is generally true that Labour MP’s [with rare exceptions] are charlatans it is also true that most have [misguided] beliefs about the world which although consistent with their craving for power are not wholly reducible to it.

The best politicians listen to what people are saying and try to persuade them that they have good solutions. In short a good politician pays careful attention to opinion polls, but does not passively accept whatever they tell them.

The leader of the Conservative Party asserts that to gain power his party will have to accommodate popular opinion. The general population may be frighteningly ignorant and shallow (and if the establishment has anything to do with it soaked with Leftist propaganda) but if you follow how people vote in reality programmes you will discover that they are not irrational. Personally speaking if Cameron does not persuade me that he is going to seek to reduce the power and size of the [essentially parasitic] Leftist establishment there is little point in voting for him. But if he is going to be elected also needs to understand why the British public voted for the Labour Party.

Anonymous said...

Aping Sky, the only solution is for the Mirror to buy a 20% share in the Tories immidiately to stop a full takeover by the Guardian.

Where else will they find a target. Mr Cameron may be seen to be shrewd for avoiding policy and re-branding, but if there was an election tomorrow I would not vot eof him and I live in a Tory marginal. Hopefully things will improve in the next few years; but at the moment this 'centre ground' is more left wing than Labour - why would I vote for that?

Anonymous said...

In one way or another the sadness here is that during the Blair period the Conservative party ,for me, came to stand for integrity in Politics ,in opposition to Blair . There seesm little of that left now ; and Osborne is as appealling as a slug in the bath.

( If that)

Mikey said...

Voters in this country tend to fear a change from the status quo, no matter how frustrated they are with it. So it makes sense for the opposition to sit on the centre ground. Once in government, it is desirable to open up some "clear (blue) water" to make the prospect of the other party seem dangerously different and unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

'Wonderful' is absolutely right.

All these politicans of the different parties want lining up and shooting. You are not putting to the public what you believe in and allowing them to choose betweeen you, you are all just testing various marketing strategems to see which seem most popular (or least worrying) to the public in orde to help you to compile several sets of equally dishonest manifestos, out of which one of you will be elected and then do what the hell the leader of the winning crew wants to. Hailsham was right. 'Elected' dictatorships. What he didn't say was 'political and moral bankrupcy'

Anonymous said...

but if that vision deviates too widely from what is popular it is an electoral liability.

This is Marketing-Speak - it is called The HOTELLING PRINCIPLE or Principle of Minimum Differentiation

It is why most electrical retailers are the same selling the same brands at the same prices

James Higham said...

I just commented at Paul Linfor's that the Tories should not move too far to the centre because though they'll capture some middle ground, they'll lose in the sense that the campaign will then come down to personalities.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see that John 'the vulcan' Redwood is throwing his lot in with Polly Toynbee. Wonder what he thinks of Maurice Saatchi and his meanderings ?

towcestarian said...

Poly Toynbee in the "centre ground"? The "centre ground" seems to have moved a long way to the left in recent years. If this is where DC is taking the Conservatives he has lost any chance of my vote.

Are there any other free-market types out there want to join me in launcing a proper centre-right political party? I wouldn't much care if we won anything or not, just so long as we help to screw up DC and his loony chums.

Anonymous said...

Polly Toynbee is mad and has been happily so for some years, as the late, much missed Auberon Waugh was fond of pointing out. She is comfortably engrossed in her own peculiar world. We should leave her to it.

Meanwhile: oppositions don't win elections. Governments lose them, as this Government is steadily doing. Tired old cliche but still true. What poor old looney Cameron and his sad sycophants think or do is largely irrelevant. It's what happens afterwards that should really be worrying us all.

Anonymous said...

The common ground seems to be associated complexly with common sense; which we all aspire to apply if we can get self-interest to move over.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, what a wonderful debate you've generated Mr Iain; mind you I wouldn't put too much money of your being elected to the Carlton even if they were to change the rules. ("Centre ground, centre ground, hasn't the boy any opinions of his own?")

Secondly, Anon wrote:

"The best politicians listen to what people are saying and try to persuade them that they have good solutions. In short a good politician pays careful attention to opinion polls, but does not passively accept whatever they tell them."


It would be doubly delicious if 'Honourable' were substituted for 'The best'.

Thirdly, Is an 'honourable politician' an oxymoron or a moron? Discuss.

Anonymous said...

Proud to be Anon,

It may be true that oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them.

I'm just afraid that we are witnessing a truly unique moment in political history: The government losing the election while simultaneously the opposition loses it as well.

Of course some schmuck and his tribe of schysters will obviously get into office, come what may, but in the long run I suspect the country will be the real loser.

Iain once classed me as a Conservative blogger. At the time I wasn't sure if he was right or not. Every day I'm becoming more sure he is very much full of wrongfulness (at least if one defines a 'Conservative blogger' by his continuing support of The Conservatives).


Free market? Small state? Anti-eu? Civil libertarian? Where do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

Why do Tories have to seek Common ground? Ron Davies seemed to find it easily enough when he needed it.

Anonymous said...

Are there any other free-market types out there want to join me in launcing a proper centre-right political party? I wouldn't much care if we won anything or not, just so long as we help to screw up DC and his loony chums.

If the Tories continue their march to the left, then I'm in favour of creating the Libertarian party.

Anonymous said...

You are right that most elections are won from the centre ground, but in some areas David Cameron is moving the Conservatives to the left of Labour. Perhaps the leading reason that I vote Conservative is that they believe in the individual above the State, and in the small State. Labour's habit of making us pay for them to tell us what to do is anathema to me. Why is Cameron apparently up for increasing the State's influence on our lives? The man's trying to tell shops where to put their chocolate oranges for God's sake. A leader that offered less state interference, the hope of lower taxes and a stop to the proliferation of these crazy laws that restrict our freedom and allow the state to micromanage our lives would be a popular one. This could be done from the centre but Cameron offers none of this. Why? In a time when terrorism and violent crime is on the rise, the public want a leader who is "tough on crime". Come to think of it, the public have always wanted a leader who was tough on crime. Although I understand where he's coming from, his Hug a Hoodie message comes across all wrong. The public is quite right-wing when it comes to crime, and it is left-wing when it comes to healthcare - here though Cameron is hitting the right notes while Labour implodes.

However we now have a choice between three parties that want to expand the state, interfere more in people's lives, and that will have to raise taxes to do so. Expect a large proportion of the core vote to vote UKIP at the next General Election if that's the way Cameron wants to play it. Expect many disenchanted with Labour to vote for the BNP. The gap between politicians and the public has widened to a chasm. Cameron has a chance to bridge that gap without veering to the right - he is blowing it. Maybe he should get out of Notting Hill for a day or two - and not to go sledging in Norway.