Thursday, June 30, 2005

Moneymen Place Their Bets

According to the Guardian, Lord Harris, 'a Eurosceptic carpet baron who gave millions to the party when it was led by Margaret Thatcher and John Major,' is now backing David Cameron.


According to the Electoral Commission, Harris has given about 140 grand since 2001, both directly and through Harris Ventures. Quite a lot of carpets.

And quite important given the widely rumoured bankruptcy of our apparently highly leveraged party.

But as the Guardian acknowledges, DD is still some way ahead in the moneymen stakes, with supporters including Lord Kalms who has given well over half a mill in the same period.

Kalms says Davis "understands the importance of the Conservative belief in freedom and the way it is best achieved through a smaller state with lower taxes, [and] that it's essential to marry that belief with a commitment to social justice".

Spot on, my Lord.

Now where's that chequebook?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Spot The Difference

Look, DD For Leader is not about knocking copy, but I've just read David Cameron's latest speech to Policy Exchange. It's being billed as the launchpad for his leadership bid.

'I think Conservatives should have three priorities for public services.

First, we must roll up our sleeves and get stuck in to the nitty gritty...

Second, we should where at all possible devolve power to the local level. These problems can never be tackled by government, national or local, acting on its own...

And so my third priority is to give more responsibility for social action to the people who very often have the best solutions....

In an age of social fragmentation, where individuals and communities are often turning inwards to themselves, not outwards to each other, I believe that working together for the common good is the way to create a new and inspiring sense of national identity.
That's what I mean by shared responsibility.'

I've read the speech twice, and I'm stumped.

I know David is a decent cove who's trying his very best. But can anyone tell me what if anything in this speech couldn't have been said by T Blair?

The Boy Done Good

Much praise this morning for Our Man's Commons performance during the ID cards debate. The Torygraph rates his speech 'one of the best he has given'. All the more impressive given the comparison with his portly opponent across the floor:

'Mr Davis does not have the advantage of looking like John Bull: he is a thin fellow who at a guess consumes only a quarter of the food and drink put away by Mr Clarke.'

I later watched DD interviewed by Martha Kearney on Newsnight. He gave a serious measured performance, despite being stood outside in the rain with sheets of water running off his umbrella. In another classic of BBC bias, the government minister was then interviewed in the warm and dry.

(BTW, the interview was a good reminder of why poor Martha has been passed over for the top BBC politics job. At one point she asked DD if Clarke hadn't 'shot his fox' (Gawd, I'll scream if I hear that mangy old cliche break cover again) by promising to cap the cost of ID cards. Davis had to point out to her that 'capping the cost' didn't actually do that- it just left the taxpayer to pick up the tab, as per).


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Winning The Argument

Ahead of tonight's Commons vote on the ID cards Bill, Peter Riddell points out that although the government may win the vote, it has not won the argument.

In terms of the argument, the antis have it, and the man of the moment is David Davis. As one admiring commentator puts it:

'It is difficult for an independent minded person to argue with the approach put forward by David Davis on this subject when the government first began to paint itself into a corner in support of an ambitious biometric ID card system more than a year ago. Any proposal, Davis argued, had to be measured against four criteria. Will it work to achieve the stated goals? Is the government capable of introducing such a system? Is it cost effective? And can civil liberties be safeguarded?'

That commentator? Why, the Grauniad of course.

Say what?

Yup, while other Tories were busy painting us into the same authoritarian corner as the government, Our Man was standing up for our freedoms. And he set out the case against the government in clear everyday language that has resonated not just with so-called libertarian fundamentalists, but right across the political spectrum.

Returning to power does not depend on winning a few lawyerly skirmishes in the Commons bearpit. It depends on reaching out to people way outside Westminster, or London, or indeed the comfort zone of our traditional supporters.

It depends on winning arguments like this in the hearts and minds of the electorate, long, long before the next election ever takes place.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Howard Tax Swipe?

Michael Howard's speech today is being seen by some as a swipe at DD.

This is because he says offering tax cuts is not 'a silver bullet' which will sweep (or should that be fire?) the party back to power. And some people apparently think that's 'I'm-a-low-tax-Tory' Davis's main platform.

But on closer inspection, Mikey actually says:

'I do not believe that tax cuts are the silver bullet - the panacea to the party's problems. They cannot be all that we stand for - all that defines us. We need to reach out - we need a broad appeal, a programme that meets the many different challenges we face in modern Britain.

I am a Conservative. I believe in lower taxes. But I believe there is more to Conservatism than just tax cuts: an intense pride in nationhood; an understanding of the fundamental importance of personal responsibility in a civilised society; a sense of duty to others and to one's community; an overwhelming optimism about man's ability to improve the human condition; and a belief in free enterprise as the engine of progress.'

Well, I'm quite sure that DD would go along with that. Nobody- not even Lord Saatchi- believes tax cuts are the be-all and end-all of Conservatism.

Tax cuts are just one element of a much bigger programme that, among other things, will extend choice and consumer power into our Stalinist public services.

Howard was too timid to spell this out prior to the election (although in fairness, he only had 18 months), and ended up with those derisory and effectively disembodied £4 billion tax 'cuts'. Unrelated to the sidelined and barely mentioned pupil and patient passports.

Our Man will be much bolder and more radical. Tax cuts will be but one element of a platform aimed at giving us back the essential power to make our own choices.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

New Leadership Poll

Last night I conducted a scientific leadership poll among a sizable sample of party members

Over glasses of the finest Bulgarian champagne, it quickly became apparent why the 'anyone but DD' camp are so desperate to disenfranchise us. Apart from our man, the only other candidate even near the radar is Doc Fox.

Ken? Too old and too Europhiliac.

Cameron? Too young and nothing known about him.

Rifkind? Too John Major and too...well...

Willetts? Too academic.

Duncan ? Yeo ? Too lightweight.

It was all very like that seminal tome 'Old Hat New Hat' by Doctor Seuss. Too tall. Too short. Too feathery. Too I-really-wish-we-had-someone-more-like-you-know-that-Tony-Blair-to-appeal-to-all-those-housewives'.

Only one hat is going to fit us properly, and the sooner we recognise that, the sooner we can stop 'we're all Eurosceptics now' Blair grabbing the rest of our clothes.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Pitchforks and Scythes Update

The Wat Tyler petitions to the Palace about our impending disenfranchisement have now brought some response.

Chairman Maude writes to say he is 'delighted to have received so many suggestions and ideas' and 'he will make sure my suggestions are considered fully'.

Hmm. Right.

My local Conservative MP says it's 'all very difficult'. Last time we members elected IDS and that 'didn't work out well'.

He also reckons 'there is a widely held belief among the membership that the Parliamentary party should have the final say'.

Well, not round our way there isn't (see earlier post).

So it looks like we're going to need those pitchforks.

Friday, June 24, 2005

DD For Leader Wins Top Award

Modesty does not forbid us from shouting it out loud: against some pretty stiff competition, our blog has won the prestigious Daily Telegraph Jackhammer Award. Describing the blogosphere as 'that unruly corner of the net populated by the passionate, if not always sane', the DT dished out its coveted awards to our good selves and a number of our favourite fellow artistes.

Forgive us if we quote the full citation:

'No doubts whom backs - with the subtlety of a jackhammer. Leadership campaigns are tricky affairs. You can't be too personal in your attacks because you're all supposed to be on the same side. But your unofficial mouthpieces can do it for you. And this one does.'

Fellow inmate of this blog, the EU Serf gets his own award, as do the happy few at Once More.

The Tory Leadership Blog- which this week scored DD at +4 (quite right)- also won an award, but they had to make do with the minor Standing Tallest On The Tory Benches Award. Like winning an Oscar for make-up.

All in all, a good night for passionate insanity.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Davis Stands Up For Free Speech

Thanks to Bishop Hill for highlighting DD's excellent contribution to the debate on the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill (the one that Lord Blackadder objects to):

'Above all, a basic principle is at stake. We believe that the best way to target someone who hates others because of what they believe is through the force of argument, rather than the law. Criminal law should be used to punish people who do injury to the person, the property or the liberty of the individual, not simply offend their beliefs or feelings.'

Bang on. Our PC/nanny state has already compromised far too many of our freedoms with half-baked, unnecessary, and unenforceable laws.

And for those who still say DD hasn't yet explained what he stands for, here's a clear stake in the ground- a robust defence of freedom of speech, explained in normal everyday language. Strong and credible.

Don't Do It Theresa

The Tory Leadership Blog picks up the continuing speculation that Theresa May is considering a leadership bid. Our old friend Mary Ann Seighart is certainly in favour, taking a few more swipes at Our Man along the way.

Now, very well done to Theresa for speaking out in defence of us members on leadership voting rights. According to reports, she was one of the few attendees at last week's 1922 meeting to vote against the MPs egregious power grab, and told R4 Today:

“We must be acutely aware of the message that such a decision would send to voters. If this is indeed representative of how we plan to behave, then we will be out of touch and out of power.”

Go, girl.

But the leadership?

The state-educated daughter of a parson, Theresa is a decent thoughtful Tory, intelligent and hard-working. She has some public profile, if only through her shoes, and she relates very well to many voters. We need lots more like her.

But she's famously nice, not nasty. And managing those Tory MPs is like trying to bag-up a marauding pack of hungry ferrets. They destroyed Major, Hague, and IDS. Even 'something of the night' decided to jump at the earliest opportunity.

I really wouldn't want to watch while those little varmints tore Theresa limb from limb. We've had enough blood- we need some order.

But DD should definitely get her on the team.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Toff Factor

According to Andrew Pierce and others, David Cameron 'will be dismayed to learn that Downing Street has dubbed his campaign team “Toffs on tour”.

It's well known that Cameron is an Old Etonian, but now it seems that all his closest supporters also went to posh schools. They include four other OEs, one Pauline (for all you oiks out there, that's an old boy of St Paul's), and one Old Benendeninendinen... or something like that. Their combined school fees were apparently equivalent to the GDP of Senegal.

Does it matter? We know that Douglas Hurd is supposed to have lost out to Major in the leadership race because he was an OE, but that was 15 years ago. Long before Old Fetteshist Tony and 'Too Posh to Wash' ushered in our more enlightened attitudes to toffdom.

Well, some of Cameron's supporters certainly think it does matter, and they suspect foul play (eg see Toryleadership Blog). They reckon the story has been fabricated by DD's friends and fed to the press to undermine Cameron's campaign before it has even properly started.

I have no way of knowing if that's true or not, but it does seem quite likely that Labour would at some point target Cameron's old school tie, particularly once Tony departs. So why disbelieve the Downing Street provenance ascribed? Labour's spin meisters must be watching our slow-motion shambolic leadership contest with unalloyed delight. And it's only too easy to imagine them chortling and giggling around the TV as they try out tabloid headlines for size. 'Toffs on Tour' is for Cameron, but I expect they're trying out some equally snappy one liners for Our Man. That's just showbiz.

We supporters of DD do not want to undermine David Cameron. In fact, as we've posted previously, we'd very much like him to throw in his lot with Our Man.

But the big picture is that in an era of Presidential elections, DD's 'backstory' will be a very strong selling point for the Party next time. And as we all know, to win, we have to reconnect with voters well beyond our comfort zone of the affluent Southeast and the shires.

That's not to say we couldn't succeed with an Old Etonian at the controls. But at the margin, other things being equal, taking one thing with another, at this particular moment in time, ceteris paribus, ipso facto, mutatis mutandis, per ardua ad astra, it may possibly just turn out to be somewhat less than disadvantageous not to be led by a toff.

There. You can't be more reasonable than that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Davis Takes Opposites Test

A number of otherwise supportive bloggers/commenters think that DD hasn't yet really told us 'anything beyond the leadership contest catchphrases of "reaching out" and "helping the disadvantaged". And they're all saying that!' (eg see here).

That's not how I feel, but it's got me wondering if maybe I've read too much into his pronouncements. So I've taken another shuftie through them, applying the Opposites Test.

The OT is the Tyler standardised test for detecting vacuous waffle. You simply take any political statement, work out its opposite, and then ask if anyone would ever actually say that. If not, then the original statement is motherhood waffle.

So for example, 'Your family better off' (first item on Labour's 2005 Election Pledge Card) becomes 'Your family worse off', and comprehensively fails the OT because no politician of any hue would ever say that. It's pure unadulterated waffle, 100 per cent proof.

OK? Let's look at what Our Man has said.

'I'm a low-tax Tory.'

Well, nobody's going to say 'I'm a high tax Tory,' are they?

You'd think not. But listen to Party Chairman Francis Maude. He says:

'...lower taxes. The arguments are wearily familiar. Yes, you tend to get a stronger economy when taxes are lower. Yes, we do believe that people are likely to be more self-reliant, and look after themselves and their families when they pay less tax... But at the best these arguments sound cold; at the worst they can sound like a self-interested appeal to the voter's own self-interest...blah, blah...It will require activist government but also some serious commitment of taxpayers' money. So limited government: yes. But not minimalist government.'

True, it's not the simple opposite of Tyler's OT test, but it is very much the kind of mealy mouthed centrist vocabulary many of our leading Tories use when they contemplate cutting taxes. And not just Tories who happen to have two girls' names.

Davis is having none of it. 'I'm a low-tax Tory.' Period.

Or take education and health reform. DD says:

'...a Tory programme of empowerment has to go much, much further. So let's transfer to parents the state's power and resources to choose their own school, whether it's local authority or independently run. If socialist Sweden can fund parents to exercise school choice, why can't we? Let's fund and empower patients to choose where they are treated, irrespective of their means, whether it's in a hospital run by the NHS or the independent sector.'

OT? Compare it to the managerialist approach to education set out by David Cameron last week:

'My focus is going to be simple and straightforward - on the basics. Discipline. Standards. Promoting teaching methods that work. Scrapping those that don't. Building on tests, league tables and exam standards that genuinely measure success, failure and progress. It is only once we have established what constitutes a good education that we should go on to ask: what stands in its way? How can we clear the obstacles in its path?'

Davis passes the OT test with flying colours- he's laying down something of real substance here. He goes for competition and choice over managerialism.

And what of the poor and disadvantaged? DD says:

'The test of the success of Conservative policies is what they do for the disadvantaged, for those on the outside and those who want to make the most of their lives. We should stand by the weakest in society. We should stand for brave reform to extend to all the opportunities currently enjoyed by some.'

Given his own background we shouldn't be at all surprised that he makes this his fundamental policy test, but OT? Well, compare the fundamental test proposed by Doc Fox:

'The first test that we must apply to any proposal, in opposition or when we come to government, is this - does it increase or decrease the size of government?'

Now that may or may not appeal to you, but it is certainly different to Davis. And actually it's easy to imagine other Tories coming up with any number of alternatives.

Again, the point is that DD's statement has substance because alternative views have their own plausibility. And you could do the same exercise for his views on law and order, localism, and personal freedom (eg ID cards).

So my conclusion is that Davis has told us quite a lot already. OK, there's much detail to fill in, but my strong sense is that this man is a conviction politician. We can trust him to follow through, and not to panic into U-turns when the going gets rough.

Just like someone else we all remember. Whose initial speeches were also a little light on detail (see eg first Conference speech as leader), but who certainly delivered on the conviction.

Come On Guys: Game Over

Ken says “If I could go back to the red boxes, the crisis, the excitement of decisions, yes I would, for the one big office that matters in politics."

But only if we ask him nicely.

Andrew Lansley says his daughter wants him to stand: "All her school friends keep telling her I should run. I'm not ruling out standing."

Yes, Andy, and my Dad always reckoned maybe I should be PM, but I never thought that was quite enough backing.

Alan Duncan reckons he'd be a good leader because, like, 'did I mention I'm gay?'

Tim Yeo may give it a whirl, sorry, I give up.

Meanwhile, the bookies have slashed DD's odds even further to 1/2, equivalent to a 67 per cent probability of success. And it must only be a matter of days before they close their books altogether.

Little David is his closest rival, but his odds have slipped again, and now stand at 7/1, equivalent to a probability of just 12 per cent.

And remember, the bookies are not some overpaid drink-sodden pundit, or even Wat Tyler. They represent the opinion of real folding money.

Look guys, it's over. Stop embarrassing yourselves. More to the point, stop undermining our credibility even further. While you're all posing and preening, our Party is looking more and more ridiculous. Open goals are popping up all around us and we just don't need a Lee Bowyer style punch-up in the middle of the field.

In case you hadn't noticed, Blair's 'heart of Europe' wibble has just gone up in a sheet of flame, and yet we've somehow managed to let him grab our Euro-sceptic mantle. Brilliant.

Gordo's once-vaunted prudence is disintegrating in a familiar socialist orgy of public borrowing. But we're so wrapped up in ourselves, we've barely registered a 'told you so'.

Game over. For Gawd's sake, bang your own heads together, and let's get DD into the saddle SOONEST.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Wedding Guest for Davis

Mrs Tyler and I attended a family wedding at the weekend. Nothing whatsoever to do with politics or politicians, but by some strange quirk, a fellow guest turned out to be an unsuccessful Tory parliamentary candidate. And he's known DD for some time (no, it's not Iain Dale).

Cunningly concealing my own hand beneath a slice of wedding cake, I quizzed him on the leadership race and Davis in particular.

He's strongly pro-DD, and like many others sees the proposed member disenfranchisement as the Howard camp's attempt to stop Our Man, and to have Dauphin Cameron crowned instead. But he doesn't think it's going to work.

He was interesting on DD as Party Chairman, given that the slitherers have suggested Chairman Davis never did anything. My fellow guest said this was complete nonsense, and waxed lyrical about the work he personally saw Davis putting in across a number of key constituencies in the South.

His own story also had a familiar ring, slitherwise. During the Hague years he'd tried to get adopted in various constituencies, only to be stymied by the rumour-mongers (see again). It was never entirely clear what the rumour was meant to be about, but in his case, the rumour of a rumour was enough.

Another guest later told me with distressing bluntness that our PPC had been 'shafted by the Party's gay mafia.' I'm a sensitive soul and I nearly choked on the marzipan.

Now at the risk of stating the bleedin' obvious once again, we don't need mafias, gay or otherwise. We need a leader who is strong enough to provide a clear direction, and tough enough to stamp down hard on those who plot for their own faction rather than falling into line to work for the Party's re-election.

The hour is at hand, and we know the man hath already cometh.

Revolting Peasants

We Wat Tylers are always up for it, and it seems from today's Times Tim Hames is joining us. Serf Hames cries 'Come on peasants. revolt!'

'It is time for a peasants’ revolt in the Conservative Party. If I were a typical member I would think that if I am good enough to donate money to it, good enough to raise funds from others for it, good enough to stuff envelopes, good enough to deliver leaflets and good enough to knock on doors, then I am good enough to be asked to decide whether I keep or lose my vote on the party leadership.'

We've already clocked Hames as shifting position to support DD. Today's column echoes much of a previous post here, urging us to grab our scythes and pitchforks, and head for the palace.

My fellow member peasants, friend Hames is right. This is what we must all do:

a) Write/email Chairman Maude objecting to the proposed disenfranchisement.

b) Ditto your Tory MP (if extant), objecting to the change , and asking for an assurance that there will be no repetition of his/her disgraceful 1922 vote.

c) Ditto your constituency chairman, asking for an assurance that he/she will vote against this change at the National Convention (or whatever particular smoke-filled room they intend to use).

Will it work? Scythes and pitchforks against heavily armed medieval knights mounted on mighty steeds and kitted out with those spikey steel balls on chains?

Probably not.

But fortunately we're not up against medieval knights.

Only a bunch of self-obsessed losers who don't even think they can win the argument with fellow party members, let alone the rest of the country.

One More Reason

If you need another reason to back Davis, then the Tub of Lard otherwise known as Roy Hattersley is happy to oblige.

Gloating about the decline of the Conservative Party he has this to say about the leadership candidates:
So, if the nasty party is unelectable and the moderate party is unattainable, what can the Tories be? The alternatives - as revealed by the leadership hopefuls - seem to be the boring party (Malcolm Rifkind), the self-satisfied party (Liam Fox), the weird party (John Redwood) and the party led by David Davis, who is publicly identified as the most rightwing of all the contenders. Surely Tory MPs, who insist that they make the choice themselves, realise that another move to the right is the last thing their party needs?
Roy, it may have slipped your attention, but Mr Davis is fast gaining followers among the modernisers, because they believe he has what it takes to lead. Like a true Conservative, he is also concerned that the government focus its efforts on the disadvantaged, not waste them on the rest of us.

Could it be that you are trying to persuade dithering Tories that they should vote against the leader most likely to strike a chord with the British people?

Do you not realise that your scorn is what every potential Conservative leader wishes to wear with pride?


Two Horse Race

Despite the fact that more hats have been thrown into the ring than you could shake a stick at, most backbenchers expect a two horse race.
The Tory benches were coming to accept that the final contest will be between David Davis on the right and one or two "modernising" candidates, probably David Cameron and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
The fact that most candidates know that they have no real chance, means that they have every incentive to make a deal or otherwise withdraw gracefully, before the real shooting starts. With such a large number of MPs publicly backing Davis, and from such a diverse range of wings of the party the number of potential backers gets smaller by the day.

Even candidates are predicting a two horse race.
Alan Duncan, the transport spokesman and himself a putative leader, appeared to undermine his own prospects by predicting the final battle for the job would be a run-off between Mr Davis and Mr Cameron.
From which the only real result would have to be:

A Davis Victory?


Sunday, June 19, 2005

Why Support Davis

Damian Green has this to say in support of Davis:
For many years he has argued that the test of every Conservative policy should be what it does for the disadvantaged, which I have always believed. He has also been passionate about taking power away from the centre and allowing local communities more power to take their own decisions. The role of Government, we both agree, should be to allow as many people as possible as much control as possible over their own lives.
We do not need a government to "help" comfortable middle class people. If the state has a role in providing support to citizens, it should be to the poor and disadvantaged. The rest of us simply need the freedom to achieve our potential.


Damian Green for Davis

Damian Green who is seen as a left winger and a supporter of Ken Clarke has made a surprising statement:
Choosing the son of a single mother, brought up on a council estate would tell voters the party had changed.
This reinforces what we are saying about Davis's combination of beliefs and character. He represents a real example of success through personal effort, that can appeal to a very wide range of voters.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Maggie Backs Davis

According to the Torygraph:

'David Davis, the front-runner, received the endorsement of Lady Thatcher. She told friends that she supported Mr Davis, a Eurosceptic and supporter of low taxes.'

Yes, we know about Maggie's record in picking leaders, but I bet it winds up those europhiliac metroliberal guys.

Little David Goes For Managerialism

General agreement today that David Cameron is going to stand. Although in truth the conclusion seems to be based on little more than his statement on R4 Today about the 1922 vote: "I didn’t vote at all actually. I think anyone contemplating taking part in this contest should probably not vote on the new system."

But if he is going to run, what does he stand for? The pundits have been praising up his speech on education, several of them comparing it favourably to Our Man's "platitudes...and numbing banality" (Economist).

Well, DC's speech does certainly give us his approach to education:

'My focus is going to be simple and straightforward - on the basics. Discipline. Standards. Promoting teaching methods that work. Scrapping those that don't. Building on tests, league tables and exam standards that genuinely measure success, failure and progress. Exposing and demolishing those that dumb down, promote an "all must have prizes mentality" or simply waste time.

It is only once we have established what constitutes a good education that we should go on to ask: what stands in its way? How can we clear the obstacles in its path?'

You know, that all sounds kind of familiar...oh yes, I know- we've heard it all before from that nice 'Education. Education. Education' man.

Cameron goes on to run through a whole pile of stuff that he reckons would work well in our schools. Including this gem:

'We welcome the Government review of the National Literacy Strategy, but we are clear about the stand that should be taken and the battles that will have to be fought. Phonics works. Tip toeing gently around this subject gets us nowhere.'

Phonics works. Dave, we know you're a nice bright concerned guy. But how the hell do you know that? Are you an expert? A teacher perhaps. Well, I actually trained as a teacher many years ago. And the expert money then was backing something called the Initial Training Alphabet. Of course, those of us who had been taught to read using an earlier expert fad called Look and Say knew it was crackers, but there you are. It was just the current fashion.

Let me tell you something Dave. We punters out here don't trust your education experts. And we've got even less confidence in politicians who want to follow their prescriptions to impose managerial 'best practice' across the country.

We want competition and choice. We want all parents to be given the same freedom to choose their kids' education as is currently the preserve of the rich. You don't know how schools should be run, and you don't know what's best for us.

To say we're disappointed is an understatement. We've already got one managerialist/socialist party, and we don't want another.


And you know the really great bit? Dave made his speech at Policy Exchange.

Another DD Profile

The Times gives us another DD profile, written by Andrew Pierce.

Davis has guarded his private life and, in particular his family, very carefully. But a leader has to open up. So several interesting new snippets here, including a 30 minute visit to 11 Downing Street in 1966 to see Callaghan. It was the prize for winning a school essay competition (yes, the second prize was probably an hour visit).

His classmates at Tooting Bec Grammar also voted him the boy most likely to be Prime Minister by 25, a verdict endorsed later when he was at the LSE. Fellow student John Blundell, now director-general of the IEA, says: “We joked that I would become director-general of the IEA, Michael [Forsyth] would be Scottish Secretary and David would be leader of the Conservative Party. So far it’s two out of three.”

Elsewhere there's also some more detail on how he traced his father and met him for two hours in a London pub: “I was nervous and he was slightly embarrassed.”

But the best bit is this quote from his school magazine: “2nd XV have pounded their way to victory, suicidally led by D.M. Davis”.

It used to be called grit. And right now, we need a bucket-full.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Davis Too Dry For Economist

This week's Economist (sub required) joins many others in the MSM in yearning for Mr Anyone-But-DD. The Bagehot column says:

'Mr Blair's synthesis of economic efficiency and social justice is something that Tories should seek to improve on, not oppose. When Mr Davis says that he regards Blairism as an “ebbing tide” that Tories should not be panicked into chasing, he is making the mistake of confusing Mr Blair, who will not be around for much longer, with Blairism, which is very likely to be.'


Synthesis of economic efficiency and social justice? Do they mean that Third Way nonsense that I spent a couple of years trying to fathom out before I finally realised it was just another squidgy cowpat of socialist wishful thinking? Or do they mean the deal whereby you gorge the economy on a high fat diet of debt and public spending in the hope that something will turn up before the bills come in?

And Blairism? Is that the idea that Labour can win if it has a nice smiley regular Tory at the top?

The Economist goes on to stress '...the need for the Tories to reoccupy the centre ground of British politics, where elections are usually won. Mr Davis seems to think that this would suggest a lack of faith in Tory principles that would compare unfavourably with the ideological confidence he remembers from the glory days of the 1980s. In doing so, he ignores the single most important reason for the Tories' electoral failure: how completely Mr Blair has changed what and where that centre ground is.'

The Economist used to be as dry as a bone. On the 150th anniversary of its founding by a Scottish hat manufacturer, it boasted:

'The Economist has... remained true to its founder's underlying faith... laisser-faire...analysing facts in the light of consistent principles and drawing rational conclusions leads almost inevitably to the recommendation of unpalatable medicine. Since laisser-faire is founded on the bedrock of individual responsibility, logically it requires people to pay the price for their own imprudence.'

Today it's following the FT down the metro-elite's chosen path of centrism, 'social justice', and statism.

Time to cancel that sub.

Two Davids Remix "Pretty Awful"

As previously posted, our dream ticket is the Two Davids Remix. DD becomes leader, with his natural successor David Cameron right there at his side. Unstoppable.

The only slight problem is that relations between the two camps are rumoured to be cool to frozen solid. A couple of days ago George Jones reported in the Torygraph that:

'Allies of Mr Davis say his relations with Mr Cameron are "pretty awful" and predict that a contest involving the two men will be lively.'

The punters at Politicalbetting reckon the anonymous 'allies' really boil down to Derek Conway, who is thought to loathe Cameron. So maybe we shouldn't be too concerned.

But the underlying story goes back to at least last March. Allegedly, the Howard team were already preparing their 'Stop DD' plans, and got Francis Maude to draw up a secret list of Tory MPs, splitting them into friends and black-listed enemies.

The Mail on Sunday reported the whole thing on 6 March, noting in passing that:

'Right-winger Davis, the product of a one-parent family, and Old Etonian Cameron are deadly enemies.'

It didn't elaborate, concentrating instead on the main story. On that, an unnamed MP was quoted as saying:

"This is a 'stop Davis' list. Howard and his cronies are terrified he will pounce the day after the Election. Howard's camp wants to prop him up for a couple of years so he can hand over to Cameron when he has a bit more experience."

The Howard camp denied all knowledge:

'When contacted, Mr Howard's allies initially claimed they knew nothing about the list and said Mr Maude had been given a dressing down. "Francis was told he had acted like a bloody idiot," said one. But a source close to Mr Maude said the leadership knew about the list from the outset and had "encouraged" him to produce it.'

Hmm...what's the truth we wonder.

Trusty old Guido Fawkes had no doubts at the time:

'Some truth perhaps in the germ of this story, but Guido suspects the machivellian hand of the Policy Exchange crowd in this story. Maude, Gove and some behind-the-scenes players in the Tory party use Policy Exchange as their base.'

That sounds more like it. The full secret list is here, and you can see how some of the 'handlers'- unofficial whips designated to corrall the lobby fodder MPs- were Policy Exchange people (including Nick Boles, its head) who weren't even MPs.

This was Maude and the Portillista rump plotting in their upstairs room at Clutha House to keep DD out. Who leaked it is unknown, but I suppose somebody might have thought itmight scare a few of the flakier MPs out of supporting DD.

So are the two Davids really 'deadly enemies'? Or is it all just a bit of noisesome fall-out from the Maude plot?

Unless any of you have got some meat to offer us, I don't propose to lose any sleep over it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

MPs Elbow Members Aside

So you MPs on the 1922 Committee have voted among yourselves to grab back from we party members the power to select our leader.

It makes us want to scream.

Point 1: This is 2005, not 1922. Today is about democracy, not some smoke-filled room at the Carlton Club. Even the Labour Party now give members a direct say in picking the leader.

Point 2: This party belongs to all of us. We work for it, fund it, support it through thick and thin, and we are entitled to have it represent us democratically.

Point 3: We know how you reckon in 2001 we elected a hopeless buffoon to lead us. But Jeez, it was you guys who put him on the shortlist, and your proposed alternative was a provocative, already over-the-hill arch-Europhile who'd slept with Tony. Give us a break.

Point 4: What on earth makes you think you're better equipped than us to choose? You chose Major and Hague, in preference to the obvious front runners. Your record says you're more concerned with stopping successful, but in your eyes overly ambitious, colleagues than in finding the right person to do the job.

Point 5: How come this was all sprung on us after the election, with no time for proper discussion?

You have let us down badly, and we are very angry about it.

Ideally, we should argue the toss here and now. But as somebody said last night, we've already pissed about quite enough and we've just 'got to get on with it'.

So get on with it, and let's just pray you pick the man who is now the overwhelming choice of party members.

And once he's in the saddle, we want a proper inclusive grown-up discussion about how a modern democratic party should chose its leader.

We might start modernising by updating your Bertie Wooster era backbench committee.

UPDATE: Tory Leadership Blog quotes an anonymous MP as saying:

"Last night's meeting was like a meeting of 1970s trade unionists. There was no secret ballot - just a show of hands. When some MPs asked for a recount of one of the votes, other MPs shouted them down. It is ironic that the Conservative Party - that, under Margaret Thatcher, forced the trade unions to democratise their proceedings - has now voted for the elite of MPs to rob rank-and-file Conservative members of any direct say in the Party's next leader."

Why Delay is Good

Many commentators have suggested that Our Man might launch a pre-emptive strike whilst he has a lead over his rivals. The believe that delay will only help his rivals and so his strategy should be to try and speed things up. I think they are wrong.

Don’t upset the Apple Cart
The first reason that I think they are wrong is that whatever the final system of election is, the MPs will have a bigger say than they do now. Even within the current system, it would be possible for the MP’s to exclude the rank and file’s favourite. Look what happened to Michael Portillo. Any hint that our man is not playing fair, could upset many of those he needs to vote for him. If they feel they are having their hand forced, some may well vote against him out of spite.

Working For a United Front
The second reason is due to the fact that the Conservative party only stands any chance at the next election, if the party can show a united front. A leadership campaign that is bad tempered will reduce the chance of the party working effectively afterwards. A long campaign offers him the chance to focus on issues, not personalities and to build the confidence of those who do not see themselves as his natural allies.

After all to win the next election, he needs a united party. Our Man is too ambitious to do all this just to be leader of the opposition.

The Portfolio Advantage
One poll result showed that Kenneth Clarke was more popular with the voters than any other candidate. Many commentators, myself included dismissed this as Clarke being better known. The next few months offer Davis a great chance to be the party’s spokesman on a couple of issues that offer both airtime and a chance to take the moral high ground. Both the Religious Hatred bill and the id bill are great opportunities for the Conservative party to make trouble for the government.

The leader of that charge will of course be the Shadow Home Secretary, a certain Mr Davis. So by being able to pace himself, Davis can raise his public image, reach out to those in the party who are not sure and maximise his chances of offering to the party a period of peace following the election.

How he could better that by jumping early is difficult to see.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Punter News

The Tory Leadership Blog says that 'Punters raise prospect of Andrew Lansley candidacy'.

They base it on a Torygraph report of 'the latest betting odds', which puts Andy on 9/1, ahead of both Rifkind and Clarke on 10/1.

Which is strange because Lansley's still at 14/1 with William Hill, and 16.5/1 with Betfair. Maybe there's a riskless arbitrage between them and the Torygraph's odds.

Or more likely somebody's trying to jump start AL's conked out leadership bid because all the other non-DD candidates have broken down themselves. They reckon they must be able to get one of these wrecks going again. Or maybe they can cannabalise two to make one good one. (See Serf's post below).

Much better listen to the experts. Quote from Warren Lush of Ladbrokes 'The money screams that David Davis is going to be the next leader. We've taken hundreds of bets on him.'

(Thanks again to Woody)

More Moderniser Angst

As David Davis continues to lead the field by a wide margin, we have seen a large number of potential candidates launch dummy campaigns. This has lead to a crowded field before the official launch of the leadership contest or any candidates part in it.

Which such a strong performance from Davis, few others from the right are considering entering the race. Their chances are better served by declaring for him once the cold war ends.

Conversely, the lack of a real leader among the modernisers has lead to everyone wanting to take their chance. This is generating consternation in that wing of the party.
Modernisers fear Mr Davis could establish an unassailable lead over the summer or, alternatively, launch a pre-emptive strike.
Against which their only hope is to field a single strong candidate.
Tim Yeo, one of numerous the modernisers cited as a likely candidate, urged the party's liberal wing to unite behind one person.
But until such time that a single opponent surfaces, Davis’s campaign will continue to go from strength to strength.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Pundits For (er...and against) Davis

Rees-Mogg comes out for Davis in the Times (well spotted Woody):

'David Davis has emerged as the unquestioned leader of the Eurosceptic, low-tax wing of the party. This is unlikely to change. The only challenger on that side is Liam Fox, but I do not think he has more than a fraction of the support for David Davis, either in the House of Commons or the country.'

R-M (I'm not trying to be unkind, but he seems to have been a pundit for ever...shouldn't he be like...I don't, dead by now?) goes on to explain how Ken's continued leadership posturing is damaging young David C:

'So long as Clarke is in the way, David Cameron must be expected to continue to run third. After only four years in Parliament he has nothing like the experience or public recognition of Davis or Clarke. His only chance is to become the “stop Davis” candidate, to unite the support which is scattered between perhaps as many as seven other candidates.

I doubt whether David Cameron could beat David Davis even so — but he would have an opening. So long as Clarke is thought to be a potential candidate, Cameron cannot build his coalition to stop Davis. It must be very annoying for him. For David Davis, Clarke may be more of a shield than a threat. Michael Howard’s clumsy mishandling of his constitutional proposals may be equally annoying for him. That has delayed what is still Davis’s probable victory, but to no benefit to the Conservative Party. '

Meanwhile over at the Grauniad, Peter Preston goes for Cameron. He describes our man as 'a bustling, classy Buggins demanding his turn', who will be too old for the election after next, which is the first the Tories can realistically expect to win.

Oh, well. At least we know the Guardian doesn't like DD.

Davis Does Humph

DD faced up to J Humphrys on R4 Today this am.

As we would expect, he gave a very assured performance, relaxed and good humoured, but also hard hitting and precise.

We particularly enjoyed the way he didn't let H get away with his usual generalised anti-Tory assertions, but nailed him down. From memory:

JH: We don't know what your party stands for...

DD: Freedom, choice...

JH: Yes, but freedom- that's motherhood and apple pie.

DD: Well, John you say that, but since I've been Shadow Home Secretary, I've had to defend jury trial, the right not to be detained without trial...

JH: Yes, OK but...

DD: No, let me finish the point...etc etc

JH: Yes, yes...but apart from all that, what have the Tories ever done for us?

And he dealt in similar style with niggly questions on choice (swipe at Lib Dems), dumping Howard ('Michael has earned the right to go at a time of his own choosing'), party divisions ('we will have a united party and a shadow cabinet of all the talents'), ASBOs ('they're just not working because breaches are not followed up'), and Europe ('Labour has given away Britain's interests- eg Social Chapter- and got nothing in return).

All right, Humph is way past his sell-by date and really should stick to 'I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue'.

But trust me, our man was excellent.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Davis On Helping The Poor

DD has a piece in today's Observer in which he again underscores the importance he attaches to helping Britain's poor and disadvantaged:

'The test of the success of Conservative policies is what they do for the disadvantaged, for those on the outside and those who want to make the most of their lives. We should stand by the weakest in society. We should stand for brave reform to extend to all the opportunities currently enjoyed by some.'

Mere words to win over his more left-leaning colleagues?

We don't think so. For one thing, though his think-tank Reform, he's been actively engaged in developing policies which can make opportunity and choice a practical reality for all.

But more fundamentally, he actually knows what it's like to be poor and disadvantaged. And those of us who've come up from similar backgrounds know you never forget.

Portillo Backs Davis

I hope it's not the kiss of death, but Miguel really is backing our man. He says:

'Will Davis be right for the Tories? My answer to that is a definite maybe. He might just have it in him. If I were still in parliament I would consider voting for him.'

Which is about as strong an endorsement as you're ever going to get.

Particular points he likes?

'You have to be impressed by this shrewd political operator...also has a remarkable knack with people...he is acquainted with real life in a way that few Tories are...even though the media have wearied of hearing about it, his background remains an asset for him.

It is impressive that he has spoken out against identity cards and the government’s disregard for human rights in its anti-terrorism legislation. Nonetheless he is seen as a right-wing figure (which will help him to be chosen by MPs). Even so I would not be surprised if once elected he emerges as a Trojan horse for the modernisers.'

He also asks why it is that Davis is 'not much liked' by colleagues? He thinks 'perhaps it is because the ambition is not disguised, and smugness never quite leaves the face.'

Sound familiar at all?

PS DD's odds have now shortened even further, to 0.8/1, equivalent to a probability of 56 per cent.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Punters for Davis

Not much to pick up today, so I've taken a scroll through some of the recent comments on politicalbetting.

The great thing of course is that you have no real idea who these punters are. Some imply inside knowledge, but they may just be sad old guys in pyjamas tapping away in the hope of finding some friends. Like me.

Anyway, Rik W, who purports to be Richard Willis, the unsuccessful Tory candidate for Sutton and Cheam, says that based on what he hears and his gut feeling, there will be four runners:

'David Davis will be backed by Cameron, Osbourne, Willetts, Fox,
Rifkind... backed by Clarke, Ancram and Yeo
Duncan - will stand – will be backed by Bercow
May - will stand – she will argue that the party needs a woman to stand

The latter two will be knocked out early and the run off will be between Davis and Rifkind. That’s where it gets interesting. It will be much closer than expected as May will probably back Rifkind whereas Duncan will back Davis.'

Hmm. Not sure about May standing, although we suspect he's right about Ken and Little David.

He adds:

'Contrary to what some think Davis is more in tune with the new intake of younger MPs than some of the old guard. Davis will surprise you all once he declares about his openness to new thinking. Cameron and Osborne will be his praetorian guard.'

Which sounds spot on.

And for what it's worth, Sophia reports:

'On This Week (that Andrew Neill programme), Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott both said that it was an absolute certainty that David Davis would be crowned (with acclaim) leader of the Tories.'

So much for Miguel's support for Duncan. Although in fairness to M, he has also pointed out that DD 'just might turn out to be a Trojan horse for the reformers'.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Bruce Anderson boost for DD

Still catching up after the hols, I've just read Bruce Anderson's extaordinarily supportive pieces in the Torygraph and the Independent (subs required but summary here). Brucie reckons:

'Davis has never said, written or done anything to suggest that he is anywhere near prime ministerial the Despatch Box, he sounded like a freshly captured slave who had just been chosen to become a signs of activity...unsatisfactory...unpopular...over-promising...etc etc'

All of which is excellent news for DD. Because of course, this is the same contrary indicator pomposity who:

'...hailed John Major after Margaret Thatcher was deposed - only to change his mind. Just as he celebrated the arrival of William Hague, only to say that he wasn't up to the job. Just as he first endorsed, then dumped, then reinstated Iain Duncan Smith as the party's potential saviour, only to ditch him again.'

The only thing I am concerned about is that Bruce is rather keen on David Cameron, who we'd got down as the other half of our dream ticket.

Might need to think about that.

"No Excuse to Vote Lib Dem"

The Serf has already posted on Alan Duncan's leadership bid, and his contention that we should remove "the excuse to vote LD".

During the Election I was out canvassing in a tense race between us and those nice LDs. I can therefore vouch personally for the fact that the most effective way of removing "the excuse" is to draw attention to actual LD policies, as opposed to their warm bath waffle.

In particular, the good people of this constituency were appalled to discover the facts about LD high tax policies, and their softness on crime. They simply had no idea until they focussed on it.

Needless to say, they voted us back.

I think Duncan was really trying to refer to that thing about compassionate conservatism giving people 'permission' to vote for us. But faced with the facts most voters are not as dumb as he seems to think.

What Kind of Party

This blog is not really here to slag off the other candidates, but rather to support the kind of party that David Davis as leader would create.

Therefore I feel that this comment about a new challenger shouldf be seen in that light.

Alan Duncan:
"If it were me [who became leader] everyone would know the party had changed and I don't think anyone would have an excuse to vote Liberal Democrat,"
Not exactly the way I would have thought best to attract the support of Conservatives.

If this is really the case, then with Alan Duncan as leader, surely no Conservative would find any reason to vote Conservative.

After all, the Liberal Democrats are the most left wing of the main parties, and stand for anything that can be described as not Conservative.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

More Slithering Under the Rocks

According to the Recess Monkey:

'David Davis's campaign manager, Iain Dale, is frantic about a so-called "killer" story that would scupper his man's chances. Dale is thought to be asking around the Lobby for details of anything DD might have done that would cause a problem.'

Killer story, huh?


We think it's a simple recurrence of what used to be called Portillista Pustule: that slimey smeary stuff that often got squirted over non-Portillistas.

For a complete diagnosis see here.

Doctor Dale is right to identify the source of the infection. And of course, any carriers should understand that treatment will involve ruthless surgery in due course.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Bloggers for Davis 15

In a masterstroke of understatement, Blimpish calls DD 'The Saviour of the Nation'. He says:

'Davis... doesn't come across as a freak or a weirdo...he is a not-the-Notting-Hill-Tories man, but without being a 1980s Thatcher retread...and he believes in stuff!'

He also makes a vital point about communication:

'...even better is how he articulates it all. One thing I think Tories need to work on is language - we talk too much about means and features, rather than ends and benefits, and we lose the clarity necessary to find common ground with voters. Not so DD, who also seems to recognise the problem in communication.'

Well said.

But somewhat overshadowed by the support for DD from Grumpier Old Men:

'The best news of all is that the favourite to become the new Tory leader is David Davis, quite the grumpiest of all the contenders. There are signs that he may be too grumpy, and to have offended too many people he needs to vote for him, but we can live in hope.

My favourite grumpy Davis moment came a year or so ago when I met Stanley Johnson, father of Boris, at a reception. He told me he had been a member of the European parliament and would like to return. Did I know how he should set about getting a seat? I told him that he was in luck. The then chairman of the Conservative Party, David Davis, was present and I would introduce him. Stanley asked the chairman what he should do.

This conversation ensued: DD: you could start by writing to me at Central Office, provided you don’t mind getting my pro forma letter in reply. SJ: Ah, what does that say? DD: It says ‘no’.

I must say that did make me smile...until I realised that GOM seems to be some kind of marketing device for the truly appalling Simon Hoggart.

Sorry about that.

"What We Must Do For Britain"

Having just read DD's piece in the last Sunday Torygraph, I feel positively light-headed.

While others are still wibbling on about finding that marshmallow centre, our man is busy serving up the beef:

'...a Tory programme of empowerment has to go much, much further...Let's transfer to parents the state's power and resources to choose their own school, whether it's local authority or independently run...Let's fund and empower patients to choose where they are treated, irrespective of their means, whether it's in a hospital run by the NHS or the independent sector...Let's give local communities control over their local police force through a system of elected commissioners.'

Yes, we know some of this was lurking around somewhere in the last Tory manifesto, but Davis is leading on it. Not the core vote agenda of the Nasty Party, but a programme of aspiration and opportunity for the many, not the few.

And we know these are more than mere words. The whole pitch is underpinned by the detailed policy development work undertaken over the last four years by Nick Herbert and the team at Reform, DD's thinktank.

Philosophy and policy are coming together, and Davis is proving he can articulate the whole in a clear and compelling way.

I think I'd better sit down.

No Free Run

Mr Rifkind’s joining of the race, means that Davis will have a proper fight on his hands.

Malcolm Rifkind launched his bid with a speech where he claimed what the Americans call “Compassionate Conservatism” for himself.
He called on the Conservative Party "to build on the one nation tradition" by reforming the tax and welfare systems not only to spur wealth creation but also to provide more revenue to help the needy.
Like his main rival, he also used the words of a previous Conservative Prime Minister.
He recalled Harold Macmillan's comment that if the Conservatives were seen not to care about the old, sick and poor, they would be unelectable, and would deserve to be.
I still prefer Churchill.

The race is likely to get more crowded as Damian Green, Alan Duncan and Tim Yeo look set to launch their bids in the coming weeks.


What's New?

Back from inspecting the sites of historic British triumphs over the European Project- at Cape Trafalgar and Cadiz Harbour- I'm pleased to find that DD is still the overwhelming favourite to become leader.

His odds have shortened further to evens, equivalent to a 50 per cent probability of winning. In contrast, the odds on David Cameron, his nearest rival, have lengthened to 6/1, a probability of 14 per cent. The others are pretty well nowhere.

What's more, the latest polling shows that over 50 per cent of party members now want DD as leader.

Against that, it is disappointing that all those uninspiring also-rans are still jockeying to get up to the starting line. Perhaps it was naive to think they might lay down their personal ambitions for the sake of the party, but I still hope that David C might do the right thing and join our man.

Lying by the pool I read Philip Gould's 1998 book, 'The Unfinished Revolution- How the Modernisers Saved the Labour Party'. Gould of course was a marketing/advertising adviser to Labour from the mid-eighties all the way through to the 1997 triumph. And this was the book that William Hague presented to every member of his shadow cabinet, as a how-t0-do-it manual.

An interesting read, even if Gould's bigging up of his own contribution does begin to grate after a while. And it is a tale that has certainly been influential among our own 'modernisers', who slaver for that orgasmic 'Clause IV Moment'. But what does Gould actually tell us about our position today?

First, you can have as much debate over purpose as you like, but until you have a leader who can grip it, you won't get anywhere. Revisionism/modernisation in the Labour Party began in 1952 with the publication of NewFabian Essays (featuring contributions from Crosland, Healey, and Jenkins), and continued through 1956's 'The Future of Socialism', and Gaitskell's failed 1959 attempt to abolish Clause IV. There was a half-arsed attempt to modernise under waffly/wobbly Kinnockio. But it wasn't until Tory Tony- 'who was utterly unlike any previous Labour politician'- took the controls that 'the Project' was brought to fruition.

Labour's experience tells us that it's a delusion to think we can have a nice neat two-stage process, whereby we first agree our 'purpose' and then choose the appropriate leader to achieve that purpose. Real life just isn't like that.

We're all Conservatives. We need to choose the best leader, and let him get on with it.

Second, compared to the hole Labour were in, our position today is much better. That fabled 'Clause IV' moment was about ditching a formal written constitutional policy- nationalisation- that was clearly a recipe for economic disaster. And that was on top of their crackers policy on nuclear defence.

We have no such formal policies. As DD reminds us, we are the party with a coherent living philosophy, readily applicable to the problems of any age, which does not need to be entrenched in some time-warped parchment. Our philosophy is that of the future, not the past, as Tony was quick to grasp.

There are more Gould reflections to come, but must unpack now, and bury the cat (which Eu-Serf forgot to feed).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Centre Ground

This week the rivals are making more of the noise, and today is the turn of Malcom Rifkind. In reply to Davis’s call to take the common ground, he has called for the opposite.
The Conservatives must recapture the "centre ground" if they are to avoid a fourth successive general election defeat.
The Moderates have been increasingly upset with Davis’s momentum and are trying to claw back some territory.
His intervention comes amid increasing frustration among Tory moderates at the way Mr Davis is getting his message across before a full debate on the future of the party has taken place.
The point is perhaps that Davis has a message to get across whereas many of his rivals are defined by what they are against rather than any kind of vision. Which makes it very useful that Malcolm Rifkind has chosen to lay out his vision for the party and the country.

In Summary:
  • First, we must proclaim our belief in liberty.
  • Second, we must proclaim our belief in smaller government.
  • Third, we must unambiguously embrace tax reform.
  • Fourth, we are a one-nation party and that means we must make the elimination of deprivation and poverty a prime objective.

Not a bad set of policies, it looks like David Davis is already shifting the debate towards his territory.

My only question is with the fourth target. Deprivation and poverty are relative concepts, and as the good book says the poor will always be with us. I have always believed that the role of Conservatism is to offer opportunity, not to equalise outcomes.

I think that our man’s version, as borrowed from Winston Churchill is better.

A Britain in which "there is a limit beneath which no man may fall, but no limit to which any man might rise".


Monday, June 06, 2005

In the Sunday Telegraph, David Davis set out his vision for what kind of Conservative Party he believes in. His most important message:

David Davis calls on the Conservative Party today to stop talking about itself and start talking about what it can do for Britain.

A self obsessed party is never going to win the trust of the British People.
If we aren't interested in changing the way the country works, but only in chasing after an ebbing political tide, then we will earn nothing but ridicule.
We should not abandon timeless Tory principles that are universal in their appeal. Why should anyone believe us if we believe nothing ourselves?
The constant battles concerned with following the tide, reinforce the opinion that the party is only interested in power.

So what is the party for:
Mr Davis said the party existed to "speak up for Britain, to stand up against intrusive government, and to reach out to those who need help in order to help themselves
It is beliefs like this that make Mr Davis the best available leader of the party. Setting out a vision for the country that is based on Conservative principles is the only way back to power. It is the only good reason for wanting that power.

James over at Once More, agrees with us.


The Vulture?

The Times, in a backhanded compliment talking about his toughness, calls Mr Davis a vulture.
He has backbone. Indeed, if Mr Willetts is hailed as “two brains”, then it would be apt to refer to Mr Davis as “two spines”.
But following a quite clear discussion of his basic principles in the Telegraph, I think this following comment was completely wrong.
This is not helped by his instinct to keep his cards not so much close to his chest as superglued beneath his ribcage.
Seeing as the leadership contest has not even started yet, I think he has set out his stall well. If the people at The Times were to read The Telegraph from time to time they would know what I am talking about.


Friday, June 03, 2005

Mr Howard's Nightmare

From a subscription only article in the economist:
To Mr Howard's chagrin, such is Mr Davis's momentum it is not inconceivable he will ascend to the leadership without the bother of an election—whether on the old or the new rules.
Mr Howard's bad strategy is forcing the very outcome he had hoped to achieve. Much to the merriement of the party faithful.

Two Horse Race

Whilst it is still a fairly open contest for second place, punters seem to increasingly fancy Ken Clarke's chances.

Long time favourite Davis has been cut from 11/8 to 11/10 by Hills, while Clarke has been backed from an opening price of 33/1 down to 9/1 joint fourth favourite.
Probably the impact of the referenda, the bulk of the new money is going on Clarke.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Common Ground

David Davis is rejecting the idea of moving to the centre, instead talking of common ground.
David Davis made a high-risk intervention in the Conservative leadership race yesterday when he rejected calls for the party to fight on "the centre ground".
Despite claims otherwise, Conservative policy over the last few years has been firmly on the centre ground. Issues like Immigration and Europe have been emphasised for the sake of the party faithful but the main thrust of policy has been not to upset the apple cart.

Such a statement from a leadership candidate is not without its risks, but is a welcome focus on policy over style. Potential rivals have been quick to jump however. They are trying to create a strategy based exactly on that centre ground.
His remarks clash directly with the views of David Willetts, the shadow trade and industry secretary and a potential leadership rival, who in a speech today will urge Tories to "challenge Tony Blair for the centre ground of British politics".
The common ground that Davis spoke of was a reference to Keith Joseph, the brains behind the Thatcher revolution. For those who have forgotten, his ideas propelled the party to four consecutive election victories and revived a nation headed inexorably downwards. To dismiss this out of hand as more failed right wing policies as some have done is to ignore the facts.

We applaud this return to real Conservatism.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Leader with Vision

Conservatives want a visionary leader:
In our poll today, 64 per cent of party members said that one of the two most important qualities of the next leader should be: "The ability to articulate a clear vision of the party's future.
You’ll not be surprised when I tell you that it sounds like Davis to me.


We are not Alone

Our enthusiasm to see David Davis as leader of the party is apparently shared by the majority of the Conservative party.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, is the overwhelming favourite among local Tories to succeed Michael Howard as party leader, a YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph says today.
Its not just that he is leading, but that the lead is so large.
  • Fifty-four per cent of members name him as their first or second choice
  • David Cameron is named as the first or second choice by 30 per cent of party members.
  • Liam Fox, the shadow foreign secretary, is third with 24 per cent
So the only major challenger at this stage is David Cameron. The Wet’s favourite Ken Clarke is regarded as a non starter by many in the party.
He is seen as completely unacceptable by 54 per cent of party members, with only 19 per cent naming him as their first or second choice.
Asked what they want from a leader:
The poll found that 52 per cent of party members wanted a "staunch Eurosceptic" leader and 37 per cent a leader who was committed to cutting taxes "drastically" and to reducing "greatly" the state's role in society.
We couldn’t agree more.