Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Moving On

Naturally we’re disappointed, but we’ll fully support David Cameron as our new leader. Loyalty is right and proper, and unless we can manage it, our party will never return to government. DC has won fair and square, and while we may challenge his policies, we will support the man.

So congratulations to him, and commiserations to DD.

Now we must move on. There's a mountain to climb, but if we are bold and work together, then whatever the doomsters say, we really can win in 2009. Or more likely, 2010, as disintegrating Labour clings on to the bitter end.

But it wouldn't be right if we losers didn't reflect on what we can learn from defeat. First, even in the telly age leaders just have to make good platform speeches. Right at the start we recognised this was a potential issue for DD, but set against his strengths we didn’t think it would be a showstopper. And without DC’s noteless tour de force it might not have been.

Second, excellent media relationships are not some optional bolt-on extra, but the very essence of modern campaigning. DC got a huge boost from that egregious Newsnight focus group, and the media spin on subsequent Conference speeches. But while we can complain about the Old Chums Connection, in reality it’s like complaining about the weather. You just have to deal with it- which DC has.

So we’ve learned- or perhaps more accurately, fully understood- that presentation and media management are absolutely vital. Let’s all hope that the skills which have been so effectively deployed in our leadership campaign can now be used to return the party to power.

We’ve also encountered something rather less comfortable. It’s whether Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral politics are at all suited to serious policy debate.

Because beyond a few totemic issues like Europe, it really does look as if all parties must crowd onto that sacred centre ground, all laying claim to the same current consensus. They can follow the consensus, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to lead. Which means that real policy change must be pursued outside the formal electoral arena.

We strongly believe in the Davis vision of “Opportunity Britain”- his agenda for boosting prosperity through lower taxes and deregulation, and tackling Britain’s social problems through radical public service reform and localism. He summarised it as using “traditional right-wing tools to achieve traditional left-wing objectives”. Despite our defeat, we will do what we can to see that agenda adopted by our new leader.

So good luck to David Cameron and his new team, and we hope to hear from you all at Burning Our Money (now with added blue Tory rosette!).

Monday, December 05, 2005

DDFL Wins Another Top Award

Following hot on the heels of our success at the Daily Telegraph Jackhammer Awards, DDFL has won ConservativeHome's prestigious Blogger Award.

To say we are tickled pale blue is an understatement...and to have beaten that ruffian Guido Fawkes as well!

Mrs T is so thrilled she's decided we need a whole new mantelpiece to accomodate the statuette. Her chosen model is shown above. It's called the Cameron. In tasteful Crema Marfil.

All-New Burning Our Money

And now, the end is near, and so DDFL faces the final curtain (well, in a couple of days anyway). Regrets, we've had a few...

But no more for that. No talk of wakes til we've actually heard the result.

On the day when Gordo finally fessed up to his egregious crimes against sound finance, the real news is that we're resuscitating Burning Our Money (Blogger version). Its mission- to boldly go into that giant conflagration of grandiosity, waste, and pork barrelling that is public spending. And to expose the schemers and dreamers responsible.

For is it not written:

"BRITAIN’S BIG GOVERNMENT POLITICOS spend 42% of our income, yet fail to deliver decent services. They promise prosperity, yet tax and regulate our economy into stasis. They talk up social justice, yet consign millions to welfare dependency.

Enough is enough. We the peasants demand our high-spending, high-living, irretrievably conflicted politicos come to heel."

With any luck we might even unearth some solutions.

And we'll certainly be pressing our new Party leadership to give the whole issue the priority it demands. We'll praise them when they do, and offer helpful commentary if they don't. Because unless we Tories take action, nobody will.

The first new post is on today's fiscal turning point. Hope to hear from you there.


Spin Kite Leak

Looks like DC's spinmeisters may have over-reached themselves yesterday with that story about DD's forthcoming "humiliation".

Today we get a "clarification" from Camp Cameron. "A spokesman" now says:

"David Cameron very strongly disapproves of these backstage briefings. This is exactly the kind of behaviour that we have to get away from in modern politics. We do not even know if we have won yet. This has not come from us. What is in the Sunday papers is completely unauthorised."

The suggestion we are now fed is that it was all a bit of kite flying from Camp Doc, who naturally hate DD because he's from their own wing of the Party. Of course, DC's spokesman doesn't actually deny the story. He just wants to say that if it did come from Camp DC, it's a leak and definitely not spin. Because everybody knows DC doesn't spin.

But come on guys. We're not complete fools out here. We know all about spin-kite leaks. And deniability.

And most of all, we know about the foetid incestuous bond between politicos and the media that mires our politics in the oozing slime of....

Gaaaah! It must be time for my medication.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Greasy Pole

The Sunday Telegraph reports frenetic activity around DC's greasy pole. Naturally much of it is self-promotion. But plenty of energy is also being directed at doing down DD. According to anonymous well-wishers:

'David Cameron...plans to "humiliate" his rival, David Davis, by demoting him. Mr Cameron is planning to strip Mr Davis of his job as shadow home secretary and award the post to Liam Fox... Mr Davis will be offered the lesser post of shadow defence secretary and told it is "a job he cannot refuse".

A Cameron ally said yesterday: "Davis's reputation has fallen dramatically. There is no question in our minds that the leader of the Right is now Liam Fox."

In a cooing profile of DC, the S Times expands:

'Davis...has seen his status slip from “SAS hero to middle-management zero” in the space of a few months, joked one of the left of the party last week.

Shadow defence secretary...may not be a top job, as one Cameron adviser said, but it is “bloody hard to turn down”.“Davis needs to be kept in check by being offered a decent, relatively senior job,” explained another.'

So far, so predictable- none of us really expects too much in terms of magnanimity from our ever-lovin' MPs.

But much more concerning is how DC's supporters would apparently interpret the broader significance of victory:

'For the “Cameroons” it is not so much the beating of the man (DD) that is important but the fact they have beaten his politics. If this is the case, some radicals ask, why not banish him to the back benches? What better way of signalling that the Conservative party is on the road to reform?'

Now just a cotton pickin' minute there. If you DC supporters really think you've won the policy battle, you're in for some serious disappointment. As the ST points out:

'The Davis question is made all the more significant by the fact that Cameron has not necessarily won the hearts of party members but has successfully appealed to their heads by demonstrating his strength among the electorate.

Smart, metropolitan and at ease with modern Britain, the Cameroons have effectively been saying to the blue-rinsed Tory grass roots: “You may not fully understand or even agree with everything we say, but we can win.”

Having had my own blue rinse touched up only this week, I'm well placed to underline that comment. Cameron's proffered usp is that his charm, his noteless speeches, his charisma can get us elected. Not that he will rewrite all our policy beliefs.

And what better way of indicating good faith than to offer Davis a senior post. Just as Davis would for him.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Precisely What We Were Worried About...

The FT has an worrying interview with George Osborne, DC's campaign manager. George- now widely tipped to retain the Treasury brief- is attempting to talk down expectations for DC's first 100 days:

“Anyone expecting a miracle on day one, and a complete turnaround in the political environment which has existed in this country for 10 years, and suddenly we’re going to be 20 points ahead in the polls, I think is going to be disappointed. I think this is going to be a long hard slog.”

Long hard slog? We thought DC's claim to our leadership rested on the sales proposition that he could replace bloody trench warfare with a brilliant Blitzkrieg campaign of movement and optimism. He's never mentioned a long hard slog.

But it's a little late now- for us members the expectations hurdle for a DC leadership remains a 10 percentage point uplift in our poll rating- just like Tony delivered. After all that hype, anything less, sadly, would be seen as failure.

More concerning still, are George's comments about fiscal policy:

“The whole point about [sharing the proceeds of growth] is that it shows that they’re both important, that you don’t have to choose one over the other, that investing in public services and reducing taxes are both necessary for economic prosperity.”

He believes taxation is too high, but also warns there could be little or no scope for tax cuts if the Tories regained power. “If there’s a problem with the economy then the country can’t afford tax cuts.”

So don't hold your breath.

Does he at least still agree with Mr Cameron’s assessment that the flat tax is an “exciting idea”?

“It’s an exciting idea but that doesn’t mean it can necessarily work in a mature tax system. We have to be fiscally responsible and we have to introduce a tax reform that works.”

Well, yes. Nobody is going to argue with the last bit. But I reckon George is going to discover that finding tax reforms that "work" is rather easier said than done. There are always trade-offs- winners, losers, and all sorts of unknowns. All we can really ask of our political leaders is that they have the right instincts.

And of course, the guts to take action.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Comeback King

It's set to be the biggest comeback since Elvis played Tranquility Base. The media are against him, the bookies are against him, and whole swathes of West London are against him.

But as Blogger For Davis James Hellyer reports, the man himself hasn't thrown in the towel. Standing toe to toe with DC in a frozen cattle pen way, way out West, DD obviously is still a hunk a hunk of burnin' conviction. As James says:

"My impression of the evening was that Davis was far stronger on policy issues, and on explaining how policies work, while Cameron was more skilled and easy in stage presentation. In the end the choice appears to come down to one between a man who knows what he wants and explain to us how he intends to get it, and a man who is more in touch with image led politics, but is far more vague about what he intends to do and how he intends to do it."

It's the King vs Alvin Stardust.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Last Chance

Today is the last chance for posting ballot papers. The last chance for choosing substance and experience over style and fingers-crossed.

We can all see the odds are heavily stacked against DD, but we are the members and it is still in our hands.

Even if he does not win, it is important that he polls well. We may not be invited to those North Kensington pasta parties, but attendees need to understand we do have a voice. The very worst thing for the Party would be a Year Zero reinvention, junking all those timeless Tory principles most of us still hold very dear.

The time to make ourselves heard is NOW.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Party That Likes To Say Yes!

Do you remember TSB- "The Bank That Likes To Say Yes!" (1mb TV ad download here).

The SDP's Danny Finkelstein reckons the Tory Party should copy it. And he makes DC our yes-man, pitched against DD's no-man, a case spun from that Sky hustings exchange:

DD: "We have a situation where the centre of many cities and towns in this country are no-go areas for decent people.”
DC: “We must not make everyone who wants to go out and have a drink on a Friday and Saturday night sound like a criminal.”

The moment I heard this I recognised the debate the two were having. Should the Conservative Party paint the skies blue or should they paint them black?"

You can guess which side Fink comes down on, but just in case we don't get it, he spells it out:

"The reason that optimism is a superior political position to pessimism is really quite simple — association. Why do you think car companies advertise their products with attractive women? It makes their cars seem sexy."

Simple as that huh?

And what happens when you might actually have to say "no"? Or won't that ever happen?

PS For those interested in these things, 'the TSB movement was started in 1810 by the Reverend Henry Duncan in the small Scottish village of Ruthwell to improve the financial position of what were then termed the "labouring classes". For the next 175 years it ran a very conservative and successful operation. Unfortunately, after it floated in the go-go 80s, their board got carried away with a whole load of frothy ideas driven by management consultants and admen. Like saying yes to everything. It didn't really work, and in 1995 the whole wobbly shebang was gobbled up by Lloyds. Most of the branches then got turned into bars or worse; the picture shows all that's left of the flagship branch in Newcastle- probably after a 24 hour drinking binge.

Not that anything like that could happen to our Party.
Definitely not.