Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Do You Agree With Tim?

Before the election the media built up a narrative that once the Tories were in government, sites like this and ConservativeHome would become slavish defenders of the administration. Well, if anyone thought ConservativeHome may become a Cameron lapdog they would have got a shock listening to Tim Montgomerie on the Today Programme this morning. Click HERE to listen to what he had to say. On the morning that the coalition took over the reins of power, he tore into the way the Conservatives conducted the election campaign.

Do people agree with what he had to say?


Ralph Lucas said...

No. he seemed to want to retain the horrid world of spin and focus groups that has polluted politics for the last 13 years. A campaign run from the heart, based on belief and political determination, is a far better basis for government.

Anonymous said...

I think your blog, that of Conservative Home and many of the others have demonstrated the diversity within the Conservative Party.
Yes you would expect that, during a campaign, the bloggers would support their party but, post the actual result there have been some obvious differences of opinion - such as you being more in favour of a coalition than Conservative Way Forward.
Thats democracy, even in the Conservative Party, and it has been a fascinating process to watch.

Unknown said...

No way. The 80's Conservatism is outdated and gone. Wake up - DC has stolen the centre ground for 2010 and forward. Thank the Lord - a new world order (to coin a GB phrase) has begun and I'm proud to be a Tory today.

alex popplewell said...

still reading it but broadly yes,there has been a confusion at the heart of the messaging probably as a result of not having a clear chief of staff and the key weakness being agreeing to the three way debate.its pretty objective and realistic while acknowledging that there have been great successes on the ground.

Martin Veart said...

When William Hague and Michael Howard were leaders, they did get their messages across and fat lot of good it did them. I thought the Cameron plan was to keep things vague; just as Blair did in 1997.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to disagree with Tim. The touchy-feely, hang back and watch Labour self-destruct strategy almost backfired.

However, every cloud has a silver lining, and the coalition is just the job to implement the coming austerity package. Without the LibDems on side to take half the flak, the socialists, with their lies, their trouble making with the unions, and their promises of never ending bribes to those daft enough to vote for them, would have crucified a lone Cameron over the coming years.

Unknown said...

I haven't listened to the Today program yet, but I am very encouraged (as a pro electoral reform voter) that you and some other prominent bloggers stick to your beliefs.

Many, if not all, of the newspapers tend to follow parties, and compromise their own beliefs whenever it suits the party interest.

Unknown said...

The diversity of views from all the Conservative blogs has been refreshing.
Yes you would expect all supporters to back their pary during the election campaign
Yet the difference sthat have appeared post election night have added to the wider debate of what is, in effect, an historical time. Your voice of reason over the formation of a partnership compared with Conservative Way Forwards call for a minority Government shows that democracy is rife within the Conservative Party.
The blogging has added an extra dimension to this election, one that can only benefit society and democracy.

Sean said...

Yes I do agree with Tim, while also agreeing with John East (above)

Anonymous said...

No I don't agree with either the content - which is the feeble dribbling of a little boy who got too close to the flames and couldn't take the heat, nor the timing, where a fragile new relationship needs nurturing against the immense outside pressure it's going to get.

Presumably he rolls up to the bride at weddings and tells her what went on during the stag night as well, does he?

The campaign was the campaign, and now the Tories are in power. An overall majority was never really going to happen once Whelan stumped up for the footsoldiers.

Let's get on with fixing the country.

Desperate Dan said...

I'm supremely happy at the moment and I'll be severely pissed off if Conservative blogs, on the first day on the new government, start bitching and wingeing and giving ammunition to the BBC and the Daily Mirror and the Labour rentaquotes. For goodness sake let us enjoy it for a while.
Tim's swapped his blond curls and cashmere jumpers image for a bearded crew cutted hard man image and I think he must be suffering from a crisis of identity.

Mulligan said...

Depends if you believe that the Conservatives can ever again win seats in major Northern Cities or Scotland, however the election campaign is run. Personally I doubt whether the electorate in those areas will ever bring themselves to vote blue ever again, certainly a more right wing, and anti EU, message may have neutralised some of the damage the UKIP vote did (especially in Morley and Outwood) but, on a very personal note, I'm very happy and excited by the outcome of this election, and just hope that the more radical elements in both parties don't spend the next few years finding ways not to work together... said...

Of course he's right: no majority against least popular PM in living memory? blame the strategists...

But you can't get away from the fact that the greatest weakness of the Tories was that they were unable to give off the appearance of governmental competence at a time where the electorate wanted away from Brown, but hoped for a replacement who could see us through economic difficulties ahead...out of power for 13 years, can the Tories really fix this mess, or would it be better just to leave it to someone who at least knows (roughly) what he's it really suprising therefore that we ended up in this mess? said...

Of course he's right: no majority against least popular PM in living memory? blame the strategists...

But you can't get away from the fact that the greatest weakness of the Tories was that they were unable to give off the appearance of governmental competence at a time where the electorate wanted away from Brown, but hoped for a replacement who could see us through economic difficulties ahead...out of power for 13 years, can the Tories really fix this mess, or would it be better just to leave it to someone who at least knows (roughly) what he's it really suprising therefore that we ended up in this mess?

IfYouTickleUs said...

Yes. David Cameron has a lot to answer for. Why with this most unpopular, now thankfully former, PM did he not do better?

I think in these dire times a chancellor with a few more wrinkles and grey hairs would have swayed many. Cameron had not a word to say in 3 debates on civil liberties and the surveillance society. When Gordon mentioned referendum Cameron could have shot back on the broken promise of a referendum on Lisbon but kept shtum as he did every time he could have attacked.

All this Big Society stuff may sound great in focus groups but means nothing to most people and not much even to Tories.

Hopefully he'll do better in government.

Patrick said...


The TV debates (particularly the first) completely dominated and changed the campaign.

Clegmania ran for about two weeks and then there was bigot-gate; not much else mattered during that period.

You cannot easily control the agenda.

PaulieboyCUFC said...

I disagree. I seem to remember a Telegraph headline from November shouting that the Tories were heading for a landslide. Hubris or what? What happened after that was a relentless chipping-away in the poll lead, and nothing seemed to dent Labour, not even the bullying accusations.

The Tories gained a remarkable 100 seats, that was a successful campaign.

The Tories not getting a majority could well be a silver lining. Getting the Lib Dems enmeshed in the government means that the anti-cuts flak hits them equally.

I think the boy Cameron dun good.

Anonymous said...

I find myself disagreeing with Tim more and more frequently. He entirely fails to understand why Labour heartlands remained labour heartlands.

Some of the document (which I read in full) is valid, but other bits are so far off the mark they make me spit blood, shoving the damn thing in the Guardian as well feels like an act of utter treachery.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Tim.

Cameron has come through against an electoral system that was stacked against him and delievered power for the conservatives. One hell of an achievement. The whole thing was so close it was going to be either slight "fail" or a marginal "success". Given the huge electoral bias in favour of Labour and the general disgust of the electorate, it amazing that Cameron managed it. Good for him. Hopefully, good for all of us.

What springs to mind now are two political aphorisms - "Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer still" and "It's better to have your opponents inside the tent pi**ing out, than outside the tent pi**ing in".

Cameron is clearly a smart operator. By integrating the LibDems so tightly he makes it very hard for them to withdraw. Power is a drug and once they have had a few hits they'll be hooked.

I normally quote Orwell (Animal Farm in particular) at The Comrades, but in this instance it applies to the LibDems in government. Give them a while immersed in the Cameron projects and "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again, but already it was impossible to say which was which"

Unsworth said...

I found his views interesting, but without any really research or evidence to support them that is all they were - his views. Now if Tim can put forward some solid evidence I'd be very interested.

However I also think that it is unlikely that all the twists and turns in public sentiment over the past few weeks can be (or have been) adequately documented. So it would seem that we're dealing with opinion rather than fact.

Bear in mind that the campaign itself was rather longer than the official period - on all sides. Does Tim include the lengthy 'phoney war' in his analysis?

Weygand said...

As Montgomerie said, The Big Society is fine as a philosophy but it is not a policy.

When voters asked themselves what it would mean for them in practice, few would have found the type of coherent and urgent message that might influence their vote.

But while Central Office must take the blame for this, one feels that in many areas (certainly in mine) the local party associations are moribund and/or incompetent; such that the Conservative candidate campaigned on opposing policies of the Conservative Council (and unsurprisingly came third behind Labour and Lib Dem)

thebluemenace said...

If Tim wants to marginalise himself, he is going the right way about it.

Liberal toryism is where it's at Tim. It's the only game in town.

Either get on board or get out of the way.

Charlie the Chump said...

Yes, too wishy washy, not enough simplicity, focus and continuity of message

Straight with you Nick? said...

Have we all just become the victims of a dastardly LibDem Con?

p smith said...

The coalition deal is a great coup for the Tories. The Libdems have instantaneously decontaminated the Tory brand.

The deal is a horror for the Libdems with Clegg reduced to the pitiful role of "Dave's Fluffer". They are finished as an electoral force and the two main parties will carve up their seats at the next election.

Anonymous said...

Tim is rabid right winger-a British neocon. He is talking nonsense as there is nothing like perfectly executed message. We should agree that the voters have a shade of liberalism- a one-nation conservatism if you like, and as a Tory voter for 330 years I am happy about the outcome. Cameron could not have done what he has done , ana chievement in overturning the huge in-built Labour majority but straying into the neocon and UKIP territory would have seen him losing seats. Thatcher is still detested in Scotland and though Scots like Cameron they will not vote for him as he is a Tory, but I am sure when they kno the current Tory govt, they will realise that time s have changed.
Cameron is PM today and Tories are in power albeit with Libdems. That is good enough for me.

Dave said...

As a libertarian who wanted to see the back of Labour and their disastrous ruination of the country and the imposition of petty, spiteful and vindictive laws, passed while they looted the place, I am naturally pleased to see the back of them.

But that does not make me a Cameron fan. I want to see some of his promises put into action before I make my mind up.
He has 100 days to make a difference.
No focus groups, no spads, no spin, get rid of the quangos, put the Repeal Bill through Parliament,
scrap ID cards, the NHS IT fiasco, get the confidence of the money men without resorting to bribery and maybe I'll reconsider my opinion.
The Jury's out.

Steve Horgan said...

He may have some points about the technical aspects of the campaign, but the reality is that we had the best leadership team and the best policy platform and it was communicated reasonably effectively. Certainly here in Basildon we had what we needed on the doorstep.

May I draw your attention to the name of the current Prime Minister?

Unknown said...

The campaign could have been done better, but I agree that once we failed to get an overall mjority Cameron did the right thing in forming a coalition. I think both Cameron and Clegg have come out well out of this. Both men did what their old guard would never have done and compromised for the sake of the country. I'm pleased that we now have a whole new generation in charge after all those years with the Boomers running things. As the Independent predicted last week ( “the torch has been passed” from the Boomers to Generation Jones (with Clegg and Cameron as members of the latter.

Unknown said...

He's a typical blogger, loves the sound of his own voice and puffed up with self-importance. Just ignore him.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I should have said 30 years!

BrianSJ said...

Tim is largely wrong. The debates were the right thing to do. 'Big Society' - untested - was a mistake.
He should have sounded angry more often from my point of view but perhaps was wise not to. He was robbed by electoral fraud and UKIP.

Anonymous said...

Attacking an election campaign is not attacking an administration.

If I thought Cameron was a magician, I would have said he engineered this result deliberately. It means the end of the 1980's Hefferlumps on the extreme right of the Tory Party and a centre right coalition that could last for years.

The Tories/LibDems have become the true progressives. Very, very clever placing by Cameron even if a few noses are out of joint.

And, with any luck, death to Labour.

golden_balls said...

whats everyones opinion regarding
making confidence votes dependent on 55pc of MPs - not 50pc plus one as now. or is this going to be swept under the carpet by the Tory Blogesphere ?

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

The campaign was often pusillanimous - eg IHT

A clear, crisp, memorable New Labour sound bite - "tax cuts for the richest 3,000 families" - was never cogently refuted.

Why not say for the super-rich it is a voluntary tax as they have freedom to plan in a way that the practicalities of everyday life prevent "ordinary" people copying and so the real burden of IHT falls on those whose wealth mainly consists of their own home. These are the very people who now meet extra burdens, like tuition fees etc.

But no - the New Labour disingenuity was allowed to stand.

p smith said...

I may be missing something here but doesn't the fixed term proposal that requires 55% of MPs to support a no confidence motion in order to trigger an election, effectively deliver permanent government to Dave for the next 5 years?

55% of the Commons amounts to 357MPs. With 307 Tory MPs (assuming they win in Thirsk) there are only 343 other MPs so not enough to reach the 55% threshold.

What this means is that even if the coalition disintegrates, Dave's Fluffer has given up the right of the Commons to evict a government that no longer commands a majority. This is presumably what he meant by a new kind of politics.

This proposal would make Mugabe blush.

Evensong said...

Tim has an opinion, it's in some places quite objectionable but if taken as an attempt at being constructive then you could argue it's a reasonable viewpoint. What is perhaps more irritating is that some will take this as a first step in trying to pick apart the new Government; in this respect Tim should know better and hold his own counsel. But hey, we live in a free world despite the best efforts of Blair and Brown to bring the shutters down on that concept.

After a rubbish sleep last night I'm very hopeful now that we will see this election as a watershed for the future prospects of this country. Our Government remains too large, business is still being sucked dry of the means to be competitive and society has to get over it's debt and benefits drug dependencies, but with an Administration that truly does command a majority of the vote - ironic how Labour were frantically using this line over the last few days to push their case to stay in power! - and a whole new swathe of fresh-faced MPs, maybe the self-serving greed will finally disappear and representatives who really do care about this country are now in the house.

Here's hoping.

Bessie said...

I don't know if the Big Society was insufficiently "focus-grouped", because I don't really know what focus groups do. But I have two criticisms to make, one about Tory PR over several years, and the other about Tory and Lib Dem PR in the last few days.

Firstly, ever since Theresa May coined the phrase "the Nasty Party", Conservatives have been apologizing for being Conservatives. Why? OK, one can make many criticisms about Conservative policy in 1979--1997, and 18 years is a rather long time to be in power. But if they were so awful and unpopular, how did Margaret Thatcher get such big majorities in 1983 and 1987? If they were so damaging to the economy and society, why did Labour continue Conservative spending plans during their first term? And why have I had to put up with spotty twenty-something Labour canvassers on the doorstep asking me earnestly "Do you really think the Tories have changed?" Changed from what, exactly? Did I miss that bit where Norman Tebbit personally gunned down the leaders of the NUM and allowed their children to starve in the gutter?

Secondly, for several days we've had to put up with TV commentators (e.g. Kirsty Wark, batting her eyelashes at Alastair Campbell) telling us that Labour and the Lib Dems have so much in common, because they're, like, so progressive, and they should just cosy up together and ignore those nasty Tories. I've been hoping somebody would point out to them that the Lib Dems' classical liberal manifesto and the Tories' liberal conservative manifesto have a huge amount in common -- both favouring small government and localism -- because (well, duh...) they are both a reaction to Gordon Brown's big government policies. And I'm still waiting. (Though I did notice David Cameron describe the coalition as "progressive" today, so clearly he's paying attention.)

The problem isn't going to go away. These negative public perceptions have to be tackled head-on, or this coalition will be pecked to death by the media.

Andrew Ian Dodge said...

Actually, I think Tim is spot on in his observations. Its a good shot across the bow to let people know that his site is not a ConDem mouth-piece and will stay conservative.

Unknown said...

I haven't heard Today but I read his Guardian article this morning. I was gutted we didn't win an overall majority but - provided we manage to defeat the proposal for AV - this coalition could be very good for the Conservatives because:
1)We will have LD backing for the worst austerity measures this country has and to face since the war.
2)It should complete the work of decontaminating the Tory brand.
3)When the going gets tough - and it will - the weirdy beardy lib dem activists and possibly weirdy beardy lib dem MPs will jump ship leaving one of our rivals fatally weakened.
4) If we'd won a small overall overall majority we would have been vilified for making necessary cuts.
Having said all that, I still think the campaign run from the centre was a disaster. You don't have to agree with Tim Montgomerie's political position to see that. I'm not talking about policies so much as having a clear message - a clear slogan.
I think the debates were a mistake, but if we were going to have them all three should have been telescoped into the first week and a bit - say Thursday, Monday,Thursday. That would have allowed room for traditional campaigning to make up for any losses in the debates.
We also need better coordination. I contacted my branch Secretary (I live in safe seat) the day after the election was declared to say that from the following weeK I would be able to help in the marginals. A week later I got sick of waiting to be told when we were going to help so I tried to contact the two marginal seats nearest to where I live. One I couldn't find any details of on MyConservatives or even Yellow Pages. The other I found in Yellow pages.
That was the one I went to.
Once I got there I was very impressed by the marginal seats operation. It was extremely effective and we won by over 800 votes with a 6.9% swing. However, I'm sure we could have done so much better with better coordination.
We have the coalition now and I hope it lasts. If it doesn't we are going to need to learn the lessons of what went wrong in the campaign quickly so we can get it right if there is an early election.

FF said...

To be fair to Tim Montgomerie, he's putting himself forward as the voice of the grassroots, many of whom quite genuinely believe David Cameron "lost" the election.

This viewpoint flies in the face of reality. Only Cameron has transformed the Conservative Party's prospects out of the past five leaders. It's also shows a lack of respect towards electors who have choices. Who voted Labour in the past for perfectly valid reasons and who won't switch to the Conservatives without a convincing explanation of how they have changed.

Anonymous said...

Frankly I don't agree with Tim at all. The Tories had a very difficult job, since they had to campaign in favour of cuts the need for which is not understood by the public.

There was one big error - agreeing to those TV debates - but otherwise I think it was a good campaign under difficult circumstances.

And I think the "Big Society" theme, far from being a turn-off, was a creditable attempt to look beyond the immediate difficulties to a better future.

Anonymous said...

'Tim' was right to say that the idea of a 'big Society' did not resonate, but he pointed out it was a good policy. Surely this is the main point. The conservatives have been pretty honest in this election campaign, well as honest as a politician can be in an election.

Anonymous said...

Finks comments in todays Times are relevant. With one bound the Tories are free and the cuts will be hacked away by Laws, a Liberal democrat. The cuts will not be tory cuts but coalition cuts.

Lets consider the options. Labour and the LDs conspiring to keep us out. Is ?that a good idea

Anonymous said...

The aftermath of the GE is that the Tory leader is now the PM of GB. If Tories had a majority and cuts made, both LD and Labour would be howling rubbishing Tories and come next GE, Tories look like the nasty party hacking at the public services. Now
LDs are in Tories tent. What more do we ask? It is excellent strategy. The Tory candidate that I voted did not win in our safe Labour constituency. But I am happy that the party that I voted got rid of bully Brown and the vermins like Lord Sleaze and Campbell from No 10.
These days DT is a UKIP Viper pit to which Tebbit is feeding the anti-Cameron message. Tebbit forgets that in his days Labour under Foot and Kinnock were unelectable with the population of loony left. Once Blair made the party electable and thanks to Eurosceptics hounding Major and Heseltine, the Tory party in turn became unelectable. Given the two landslide victories and one with majority that Labour achieved, the gain of 100+ MPs by the Tory party is remarkable. No words of appreciation from Tebbit. UKIPs ranting in DT and self congratulating how they derailed Tory majority, does not realise that the Tory/Libdem coalition is the result. How does it help them? EU is not the burning problem for us.

Hughes. said...

If Cameron had been as sure footed during the campaign as he was in the Number 10 garden this afternoon, he would have romped home.

The period where he was having to let Gordon score points at PMQs so that Labour wouldn't dump the slack-jawed electoral kryptonite and get somebody electable in, seemed to knock his confidence.

He seems to have taken to government like a duck to water. I was worried about how many seats Labour had managed to hold onto with a view to future elections, but after today's performance I think he'll be a superb electoral force.

Chris and Laura said...

People forget so quickly. At the time Duncan Smith resigned as leader just six and a half years ago, triggering the fourth leadership election in 8 years, there was a real danger we could fall behind the Lib Dems and become the third party. We had achieved practically nothing since the defeat of 1997. If anything our position had declined. Michael Howard managed to stop the wheels falling off completely but the very limited progress at the 2005 election was largely due to Labour voters staying at home in protest at the Iraq war and we didn't even get to the 200 mark in terms of seats. Cameron has got us from life support to government in four and a half years. That's impressive. Who is Tim again - and what's he ever done?

Jim_Watford said...

I like Conservative Home but I think Tim is not only wrong but his timing absolutely stinks,now is not the time for recriminations about the campaign, it's time to support the leadership unless we want a swift return to the red peril at the next election.

The 80s have gone, the people have moved on. We've put the type of agenda the dinosaurs want to the British people and they gave their answer by electing Labour. I sometimes wonder if some within our party are happier in opposition than they are talking the responsibility of government.

I don't want to see ConHome turn into our version of LabourHome, a site full of bitter people living in the past.