Saturday, June 23, 2007

DD: The Right Need Not be Worried

Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester have an interview with David Davis in the Telegraph today. It was slightly less eventful than the last time they interviewed him - on the morning of 7 July 2005. I was his chief of staff at the time and had to constantly interrupt the interview with news of the tube bombings. As it dawned on us what was happening the interview was put on hold while DD swung into action. Alice and Rachel stayed in the room to observe what was going on. They wrote...

As we talk, people are constantly buzzing in and out. At one point, he tells his own Miss Moneypenny: "Get me D1, D2, D3 briefings on reactions to a terrorist attack." To an aide, he shouts: "Call X - he'll be at MI5," then tells us: "You didn't hear that. I know lots of spooks." The first occasion we meet DD, as he is known by his team, is on the morning of the terrorist attacks on London, and information is coming in all the time. Mr Davis admits that he likes a crisis. "Big occasions bring out the best in me," he says. "Life is a test, a thing you throw yourself at."

Anyway, enough of that. In the first part of today's interview DD talks about how William Hague and he have been deputed to reassure the Right...

The man who stood for the Right against Mr Cameron in the leadership contest now wants to keep the two sides together. "William Hague and I are the guarantors," he says. "If we think things are OK, most Tories will probably think they're OK, it is useful having William and I sitting either side of David." The Conservative leader's task until now has, Mr Davis says, been "decontamination, detox, all the phrases I hate. But he has to establish the right to be listened to. In doing that there are risks with your own base. You can be misunderstood, we are trying to explain the project to the grassroots."

Some activists, he admits, are grumpy. "You've inevitably got a group on the traditional Right of the party who are edgy. We all get green ink letters but if you meet the Tory party in the country you will find they're astoundingly normal. Frankly, they want to win. It doesn't matter that they're not trendy and they don't live in Notting Hill." He says the Conservative Party made its choice between two suitors during the leadership contest. "How much did Cameron beat me by? Let me remind you of that embarrassing fact: 66 to 32. If we had the poll tomorrow it would be the same. Of course there's nervousness. The honeymoon has switched to Brown and you can't have two simultaneous honeymoons, it doesn't work."The marriage,
he insists, is solid. Right-wing traditionalists "are a strand but they're a minority strand. I don't think they've been ignored too much ... David's got the formula that will win us the next election".

He then makes clear he thinks that then private equity sector is undertaxed...

The social mobility tsar also has his eye on the super-rich. "The cliché is David Beckham. No one argues or grumbles about his salary, his value is very visible. But private equity is harder," he says. The "peculiar tax regime" - under which some private equity millionaires pay only 10 per cent tax - should, in his view, be reconsidered. He thinks the Tory grassroots would be in favour. "My hunch on the ground is that they would agree this is a tax break too far. They care about fairness ... You need a morally stable society which is why it is important to look at their worth and to sit up when some of their own people are saying this is not right."
Too many politicians are "goggled-eyed" about wealth, he says. "I am not a great enthusiast for cuddling up to the rich ...Labour used to be for the many not the few, and that is what the Tories now are."

And the interview concludes with some reflections which might surprise some people. And before anyone asks, the gay friend he refers to below isn't me!

He agrees that "general well-being" is as important as GDP. "The Right-wingers
who don't care about flexibility at work have got to recognise that we've got a
big unused resource if women are tied up and not able to meet their full

He is socially liberal. "People think I'm traditional but I gave away a gay friend at his civil partnership ceremony the other day. In a perfect world everybody would understand absolutely what I stand for."His environmentalism is old-fashioned. "I'm not into windmills but I live in a house sitting by a pond in 17 acres of ground with 1,000 trees and hares and partridge and pheasants. It's my bit of England. If you came there you'd see what I really think about green issues. I love the countryside but I don't need to talk about it."

Although he does not wear Converse trainers like the youthful Cameroons, he says: "I can run faster than any of them." He was going tieless when Dave was still at school. "I hate the heat." But, unlike his younger colleagues, he feels uncomfortable with touchy feely politics. "I'm much more private than most politicians. I think if you want to be a political leader now you have to be more willing to open yourself up."

Does he think the right man won the Tory leadership? "Yes," he replies without hesitating. As the Conservatives' "guarantor" he thinks he has the perfect job. "You can scare yourself to death - whether in business, politics or climbing mountains - by being over-reflective about what went wrong. If the rope stops you before you hit the ground you walk away and you have another go."


Tapestry said...

Hague and Davis will not reassure the 'Right' for Cameron, if they continue not mentioning the key issue which concerns most Conservative activists.

I wonder what that might be.

Cameron spoke to the 'right' most recently over the Con-treaty - demanding a referendum for any transfer of powers. It just happens that 85% of the British people agree with him.

Hague and Davis are both a bit light on this topic. I'm not sure that left and right works any more. Can David Davis and William Hague explain their positions of Europe, in the light of the Merkel plan to deceive, now being carried out? I thought not.

Tapestry said...

I'm wrong again

Tapestry said...

Hague's made a good statement. Maybe David Davis can add his voice soon, but obviously it is Cameron that we will need to lead the opposition to Merkel's deception.

Iain Dale said...

Tapestry, Hague as made the statement at shadow foreign secretary. It would be a bit odd for DD to comment all the time on issues outside his portfolio. But you can take it as read that he would agree with what Hague has said.

Anonymous said...

"It's useful having William and I sitting either side" Ouch!

I like DD but think he's wrong when he says he'd lose another leadership contest with Cameron by a similar margin; it would be far closer...

Ted said...

A great interview where DD hits all the right notes in terms of supporting Cameron and the party's agenda without seeming to be selling his soul for office.

Hughes Views said...

"some private equity millionaires pay only 10 per cent tax" - can I hear the familiar rumble of another opportunistic Tory bandwagon rolling? DD playing the politics of envy eh? How times change...

Btw 'some' in this case equals only about forty according to Anatole Kaletsky -

Tapestry said...

Agreed Iain, but DD was making claims for Hague and himself in combination, and I was rightly stating that there was the need for something to be said re the Merkel Con Trick.

I will now detach DD and Hague back to their respective departments, and forget the idea of a two in one.

Anonymous said...

""My hunch on the ground is that they would agree this is a tax break too far. They care about fairness ... You need a morally stable society which is why it is important to look at their worth and to sit up when some of their own people are saying this is not right."
Good interview, and I say that as someone who has never been a fan of DD, especially in the period between 2001-2005.
I think that he is onto something with the tax break to far argument, it is becoming obscene that they get a tax break taking away from lower income earners.
Just looking at friends and family in varying financial brackets and a conversation we all had after the last budget. None of us could believe that Brown had in effect shafted not the poorest, middle classes or the wealthiest but in fact that group of working singles and families in between the poor and middle classes.
They are working, being screwed by a tax credit system which ends up hurting them more than it helps. It has made many too scared to claim what he has taken away from them in the tax system in the budget, and cynically he know this and is actually gambling his figures on them finding it too difficult to claim what he took away from them in the tax system.
I hope DD, Osborne and Co will realise that what they need is not endless forms but a simple and fairer system of tax.
This hard-working group in full employment earning between £10-20,00 are really suffering now under Brown's stewardship of the treasury, he is just making it harder for them to cling to the bottom of the ladder rather than lifting them up it.
I think that there is now a real resentment building up and some one needs to fight their cause, I hope its the Conservative party which takes up the baton.

Paul Linford said...

"The cliche is David Beckham...."

Indeed, and it was a cliche that was employed by none other than David Cameron in a recent interview on the Today Programme. A sly dig by DD, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

" an aide, he shouts: "Call X - he'll be at MI5," then tells us: "You didn't hear that. I know lots of spooks."

You didn't hear, that, except of course you did. Pretentious? Moi?

Iain Dale said...

Dunkin Donuts, you are well aware why I deleted your last comment. If you actually put a name to yourself I might have some respect for you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, good stuff from DD today. He obviously doesn't agree with everything that Cameron does or says, but he's intelligent enough to know that the current leader is our only hope at the next election.
The Telegraph, however , just hasn't got it. Has anybody seen their leader today?
"What does Gordon have to do to attract our readers?"

Anonymous said...

If David Davis is socially liberal, why is his voting pattern in the House of Commons one of social conservatism? Having gay friends does not make a person a social liberal, as I am sure Ann Widdecombe would confirm.

Anonymous said...

Indeed Iain - contrasting your recent coverage of DD with Guido's in your own comment space was a tad cheeky! Sorry.

I do have, though, personal experience of DD's high-handedness when dealing with lesser beings than himself, quite without any good reason - which taught me volumes about him, and is why I'd never support him for anything even if he turned out to be Winston Churchill reincarnated (which I doubt, given my own experience with DD).

Hey said...

This politics of envy thing is stupid and idiotic. Capital gains are taxed at a low level for very good reasons: it helps encourage investment, takes government out of investment decisions, and helps increase the dynamism of the economy. Increasing taxes is just the same as an increase in interest rates, despite the deliberate ignorance of keynesians to actual reactions.

What needs to be done is to sell the advantages of being a financial capital. Why it is important that transactions take place in London, that investment houses are based in the City, Canary Wharf, and Mayfair. Deloitte et al provide huge numbers of jobs in London thanks to the presence of all these investors. Non-residents keep up the economy, bring more capital into the country...

General Partners are building businesses just like any entrepreneur, but are more tightly aligned to their investor's interests than a regular entrepreneur who has a much different cost basis than his investors. The idea that we should be punishing this concept rather than lauding it is absurd. Eddie Lampert runs a hedge/private equity fund called ESL investments and owns Sears Holdings which incorporates two major high street retailers in the US: Sears and K-Mart. He has rescued these two firms, turned them around, and re-worked their balance sheets for improved stability and focus.

These changes will reduce the dynamism of the economy by entrenching management and limiting activists to those who are already phenomenally rich and don't need to raise money. GPs (and their analysts) put in phenomenal hours to evalute investents and then to rework the businesses, something that very few billionaires are willing to do. Letting them get capital gains rates for the carry improves incentives to be in the business, allows for more entrants, and helps improve the returns of insurance companies, pension funds, as well as the general investing public. These partnerships raise money from institutions such as insurance firms, pension funds, universities, hospitals, and foundations and are now going public, giving the general puiblic access to these investments.

Conventional, long only mutual funds are short term focused - looking to their status in the quarterly and annual league tables and how they compare to the relevant idices. Private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds provide alternative views on investments and enable riskier, longer term strategies. They also have the political cover to do necessary things such as cleaning up union contracts - the reason why Mercedes couldn't make Chrysler work but why Cerberus should be able to is Germany's horrible concept of union control.

The one good thing in the US is taht the Republicans haven't caved into the politics of envy. That Davide Davis has a role focusing on such an idiotic concept as social mobility is liable to kill Baroness Thatcher, not to mentoin the violence he is doing to the country by conceding the field to the bearded socialists. A useful politician of the right would note David Beckham and then MAKE THE CASE for investors, rather than saying that since it is hard, it should not be done. TWADDLE!

Bring back "there's no such thing as society", privatisation, de-regulation, and keeping the creeping EU-caused frenchification of the UK at bay. None of this mad rush to the 70s, the heyday of Britain as the sick man of Europe!