I'm sitting in my car in total darkness outside Powick Village Hall in West Worcestershire where I am about to speak at a fundraiser for my friend Harriet Baldwin, who will succeed Sir Michael Spicer at the next election. I first met Harriet when she was in the final with me at North Norfolk. Despite me beating her she was really kind to me afterwards and held a fundraiser for me at her home, which Margaret Thatcher attended. Tonight I shall do a shortish speech, then we're both taking part in a mock Any Questions.
I have just been looking at the Conservative Home Tory Diary thread on my Telegraph article. It seems I have upset some of the Tory Taleban. I've been called a Europhile (!), a lightweight amd God knows what else. Sometimes I wonder if some of the people who contribute to Conservative Home are on the same planet. Rather than engage with a perfectly reasonable argument there are too many people who seem to prefer to attack the man rather than the ball. We are, after all, all supposed to be in the same Party, although it seems Conservative Home is sometimes more like UKIPhome on threads like this.
I find it a constant source of amusement that one week I get slagged off for praising David Cameron and then the next week the very same people criticise me for talking about something which is not quite on message. Apparently this article will diminish my chances in Maidstone, according to some commenters on ConHome. Do they really think I write every word on this blog or the Telegraph thinking to myself: how will this go down in Maidstone? Maybe that is how their minds work, but it isn't how mine works. I'm paid by the Telegraph to tell things how I see them, and that is what I try to do. If a columnist writes uncontroversial and boring columns he very soon becomes an ex-columnist. You might not agree with what I write but I hope it is at least sometimes thought-provoking.
Your article caused debate not only on the Telegraph site, but on here, ConHome and many other blogs. I think that is what is called a successful article.
Well said Iain. I've had similar experiences myself when I've been criticised for not quite speaking on message, particularly in relation to global warming/climate change.
Good luck in Maidstone.
Good grief man. You purport to be surprised that people 'attack the man not the ball' - do you never read either your own posts or those leaving comments on your blog?
Tell it as you see it. About time we had some candour in politics. I've every admiration for those who express their real views rather than slavishly toeing the Party Line.
After all, look at the state of NuLab now. All of their honest and honourable men - and there were precious few of them - gone, a bunch of mindless toadies who dare not speak about anything at all in case it might offend The Leader. Completely characterless, rudderless and shot to pieces.
Speak up. Let's have genuine debate and honest exchange for a change - unlike some of those lickspittle apparatchiks on the real Any Questions
And here I was thinking you were the Tory Taleban and the grassroots were just the suckers......
Good for you Iain - your right to stand up to the weird world of Taliban Tim
Could have said where you were going tonight ... would have walked round ;-)
Heh Iain - focus on what Des Browne said today.
Yer mistake, Iain, be there one (this time anyways) is that you wasted most o' your latest outrage in The Telegraph upon UKIP (who?) and and the Lib-Dems (good grief).
INSTEAD should have spent a paragraph or two on the referendum, stealing washing, UKIP death-rattle, etc . . . THEN devoted the bulk o' yer blaterings to your own standard EUROPHOBIA . . . explaning for example that you learned German as a way of keeping tabs on sausage-munching euroschwein . . .
if 0 = very constructive comments and 10 = very personal ones then ConHome gets a 2/3, yours a 6 and Guido's a 9.
AND its editorial doesnt lower itself to referring to "iain's idiots" or something similar.
You are right Iain. It will not do for anyone to attack the man rather than the ball.
But shame is whoever is writing this blog in your place has no idea that that is your policy.
The EU in/out? issue should be the second part of a referendum question.
Before any referendum is held, the Conservatives should first specify the relationship with the EU they believe to be achieveable, and negotiate to get it.
Whatever the result of those negotiations, the resulting offer by the EU should be made the subject of a referendum,as follows -
Do you A. want Britain to continue as an EU member on the terms offered by the EU, or B. would you prefer Britain to withdraw from the EU completely, and operate as a free independent country once more?
Individual Conservative MPs could be allowed to support A or B depending on their viewpoints, but the voters' decision should be final.
If voters decide to remain in the EU, the same process could be gone through again after a suitable period of time had elapsed.
On reflection, Iain's idea has some validity for the period after the Conservatives win power.
If they were to make this approach to the EU clear as of 'soon', they could build their platform to win the next election with the subject of Europe put to bed.
That would be a relief.
I do hope you managed to slip in a solid reference to the floods and the much needed additional Severn river crossing there. It is high on the agenda for most people around that neck of the woods.
The European Union? What about the Empire!
The Hindu Rights Action Force is going to rally outside the British High Commission, Kuala Lumpur,in support of a $4 trillion lawsuit that holds the British responsible for the Indians' economic woes in Malaysia.
I am not of your political persuasion,(in fact none at the moment) but I thought that was your best ever column.
Original, and thought provoking, I'm not surprised it upset so many,'stuck in a ruts'
Can't people see, the public want politicians, to start behaving in a 'new way' they are sick,sick,sick of the present set up.
Apart from Vince Cable, there isn't an impressive person amongst the bunch of 'em.
@ Chris Paul
"You are right Iain. It will not do for anyone to attack the man rather than the ball.
But shame is whoever is writing this blog in your place has no idea that that is your policy"
Really? That rather proves the point. We'll be watching your future comments with some interest....
ConservativeHome is such a horrible website. The people who post on ConHome are they type of people who have kept Labour in power for over a decade. They are the type of 'Tories' that the public still detest.
They need to get a grip and move into the 21st century.
Howard may loose seat.
It may seem clever to sneer at the Liberal Democrats and dismiss them as irrelevant.
Except that last time round 63 Liberal Democrats got themselves elected to the House of Commons, and early next year they'll be whipped through the government lobby to defeat the Tory amendment calling for a referendum on the revived EU Constitution - no matter how many Labour MPs pluck up the courage to rebel against their whip.
Not so irrelevant, after all.
You might not agree with what I write but I hope it is at least sometimes thought-provoking.
Not in this case Iain. Quite frankly I found the article naive, unnecessarily contentious, and blatantly politically motivated.
At no point do you explain how the British people will benefit from this and what the potential issues are, only how this 'might' get some votes for the Conservatives.
So we have a referendum and against the poll indicators we vote to leave the EU. What then?
Personally, I believe the BOO approach is fraught with risk. It is a potentially head-on car collision waiting to happen if this country goes down that route.
Of course there is the risk that we end up in the worst of all worlds. We could end up stuck in the middle of the EU for the rest of my lifetime.
As for your faux astonishment for going off message. I find it astounding. It seems to me that going off message and against the poll indicators would ensure you would get a rough ride from posters when the party is seemingly as unified behind the leadership as it is now.
By the way I always thought that one of the pre-requisites of being described as being part of the 'Tory Taleban' was being part of the BOO bandwagon.
All in all your line lacks consistency and substance and for those reasons I don't think it will do your PPC ambitions any good.
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