Let no one forget that it was Conservative Party Members who chose Iain
Duncan Smith. They chose him because they trusted him and agreed with his
policies. They rejected Ken Clarke.
And yet now, after the palace coup, which brought to an end the orchestrated
media assassination of Iain Duncan Smith, and installed Michael Howard, the
policies of Ken Clarke, which two years ago were the ones rejected by the
Membership, are now the ones in the ascendant.
Michael Portillo's treachery started the process. David Davis massive ego
played its part, but the minority pro-EU faction of the Conservative Party
could never have been put back into the driving seat were it not for the
determination to orchestrate events on the part of Rupert Murdoch. The
Editors of the Sun and the Times were crying for Duncan Smith's head in
person, the day before he fell.
Normally Murdoch moves in silence promising clandestinely to influence
voters, thereby gaining TV channels and newspaper titles, as the price for
his support. But this week he has for once exposed himself to the glare of
publicity, and given us a snippet of what his recent involvement in the
democratic process may have been all about.
The EU, it seems is no problem to him when itýs all running his way. Both
Blair and the EU have rewarded him with many goodies for his unstinting
support including almost the whole of UK satellite TV and a good chunk
of Italian. He is still hoping he may get his hands on terrestrial TV in
the UK, as Blair has recently changed the rules so he can.
So why is he opening up now when heýs been doing so well? The answer is
Mario Monti the EU Competition Commissioner. Monti does not seem to
understand the power relationship that Murdoch has habitually achieved and
come to expect. The Murdoch view is if the EU back him and let him dominate
world football, and through that world TV, he will back their political
It seems, however that the EU is thinking of putting a spoke in his wheel by
blocking his monopoly of the Football Premier League. Murdoch is not happy.
As far as the EU is concerned, the big prize is and always has been the UK.
Britain's sublimation into a Federal EU is the only goal they have, and if
they can land the UK in one piece, then the rewards will fly. Blair has
been promised the EU Presidency. Mandelson Commissioner. There are rumours
The problem for Murdoch is that with the UK in the bag, or being seen to be
close to being in the bag, as it is now, there is little he can offer the EU
as a trade for the privileges he wishes to hold on to and add to. He is
beginning to reach the end of his usefulness. Worse than that, he is
starting to realise that the EU intend to use the power he has delivered
into their hands, not only to not reward him as he hoped but actually to
start cutting him back. This awareness could well be behind his recent
moves in the UK.
Murdoch's problem was that with Iain Duncan Smith holding sway in the
Conservatives, he could achieve no leverage with the EU. If he started
supporting IDS programme to change the EU into a free trading area, that
would be seen by the EU as a declaration of war, and they would go after
him. With IDS leading the Conservatives, he only had the option of
continuing to support Blair, and hoping for the best.
But with a Conservative Party split at the top between the Duncan Smith
wing, and the pro-EU faction, he could achieve some leverage again by
working to keep the pro-EU faction in the ascendant, seeking his reward from
EU decision-makers accordingly and occasionally allowing the anti-EU wing
some headway to keep the EU power-brokers on their toes. This is exactly
the situation he has coincidentally achieved.
Now Michael Howard may be the cleverest political player of all time, and be
able to ride successfully through this almighty mess. We will have to wait
But in every event, Murdoch has grossly interfered with the democratic
process. His power is far too great, and he is personally putting Britainýs
existence at risk purely to advance his own business interests.
When you read the papers or watch TV, please now read or watch twice. The
first time believe and trust, like you used to do. But the second time,
remember who is behind what is being said or written, and think how what
they are saying might be assisting their aims. You owe it to yourself and
Henry Curteis 2003-11-15
The majority of Conservatives had left Blackpool very pleased with the party's progress. After being 20% behind two years ago they were now nudging a 5% lead. The policy stall was being laid out most convincingly, and Duncan Smith's Conference speech had caused many members of the public to start taking notice of him. 48% said they trusted him against Blair's 36%.
There were, however a few MPs like Maude who had never accepted that Duncan Smith had won the leadership, let alone accept that he be permitted to become Prime Minister. Media reports often made out that Duncan Smith had only won because of Party Membership backing him against Clarke over Europe.What they seemed to forget was that he had also beaten Portillo in the Parliamentary round, were it only narrowly.
Football players accept that a narrow victory is still a victory, but the Portillo faction doesn't see things that way. Portillo was, according to Amanda Platell openly disloyal to William Hague during the General Election campaign of 2001. He had been disloyal to John Major prior to that, and he has been openly disloyal to Iain Duncan Smith continuously for the two years of his leadership taking a key role in his downfall.
The media previously ruled by Campbell and latterly managed by Mandelson saw their opportunity to wreck the Conservatives progress using the Portillo faction's disloyalty. The BBC were well aware of the need to rebuild favour with the Government after their fall-out over Iraq and the Kelly affair. They are expecting an enquiry into their future. By co-operating with the assassination of Duncan Smith, which was much to their tastes of course, they could rebuild position with the government. Murdoch has a long-standing deal with the Blair regime, whereby his support at critical moments is rewarded. The Sun and the Times indeed, were right at the forefront of the IDS assassination. The Mail tried to run against the tide, but the waters were too strong. With Charles Moore, the fair-minded Daily Telegraph Editor retiring the week of the Conservative Party conference, Iain Duncan Smith was left media-defenceless.
The coup was planned in advance, and Michael Howard was being trailed as the Duncan Smith replacement well before the Party Conference. The Independent had even suggested who would have which posts in Howard's Shadow Cabinet. David Frost too had suggested to Michael Howard on his Sunday Breakfast show that he would be the natural person to take the Conservative lead weeks ago. The media involvement in the plot to remove IDS was hardly hidden from view, and without it, IDS would almost certainly have survived.
That said, it can fairly be stated that the Conservative Party leadership was decided as much by Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair as it was by Conservatives. Why though were his political opponents in the Government so keen to get rid of him if he was supposedly so lacking in ability? First of all, Iain was keen to tell the nation the truth about Blair. Blair set up the Kelly enquiry to provide himself with a fig leaf. He then lied outright to his own enquiry. In normal times, when the media is not so tightly controlled, such an event should lead directly to the resignation of the PM.
The fact that Blair lied, however has been consigned to the footnotes of most newspapers, and has hardly been mentioned on TV at all. IDS was sure that this was wrong and wished to expose Blair as a liar. His message was beginning to get across.
Blair wants to sign the EU Constitution without a referendum. Duncan Smith was equally sure this was wrong, and he was determined to exact political capital against Blair for depriving the British people of their democratic rights. It has yet to be seen whether Michael Howard has the strength or the will to continue attacking Blair when he knows the terrible revenge that will be exacted in the media if he does. Duncan Smith had the courage, and he hoped that Conservative MPs would have the stomach for the battle. Not enough of them did.
It is unlikely that the likes of Michael Portillo, a close friend of Peter Mandelson will have any interest at all in attacking Blair. It is more likely he will continue his disloyalty to his own party and get his pay-off with more soft exposure in the media, acquired through his contacts with the likes of Mandelson, fulfilling his own career at the expense of those he claims to represent.
We will see in the weeks ahead of course. But the Duncan Smith assassination might well have been the moment that Britain lost her best chance to continue as an independent country. A mere eight Conservative MPs could have saved the situation but preferred to hide away from the Blair counter-attack exploding daily in the media. The public had enough sense to see that the attacks were being overdone, and were suspicious of some new line of spin at play. But without the required strength in Conservative MPs to fight back, Duncan Smith became isolated. He was gunned down like Col H Jones at Goose Green running solo towards machine gun nests with half his troops still in their foxholes.
If the Parliamentary Party wants to pull up the White Flag, and trade with Blair and Mandelson in exchange for protection from the media, the Party Membership must decide if they too want to surrender for the quiet life. If not they must start by deselecting MPs who are working for the other side. Michael Portillo would be target number1.Have you got any fight in you? Only time will tell.
Policy Exchange published a scorecard showing the extent and cost of agricultural subsidies in the first-world.
Today, the rich world protects its farmers with a costly and counter-productive system of trade restrictions and subsidies. As their scorecard shows:
Worse, farm subsidies devastate the world’s poor. Whereas farming makes up only 2% of the European and American economies, and employs less than 5% of their workforces, it is vital to those of less industrialised countries.EU consumers currently pay 42% more for agricultural products than they would if the system were dismantled. Americans pay 10% extra, Japanese more than twice as much. For less well-off families, for whom food takes up a large proportion of household income, freer trade would mean a noticeably higher standard of living.
Each EU cow gets $600 of taxpayers’ and consumers’ money each year, each EU farm worker over $9,000. As with miners and steelworkers two decades ago, the money could be better spent retraining farmers for new, economically productive jobs.
Today’s trade and subsidy regime impoverishes third world peasants and first world shoppers and taxpayers, to the sole benefit of a few rich-country farmers. Cancun is a chance not to be missed.The scorecard can be viewed on their website at www.policyexchange.org.uk. If you have any questions or wish to give feedback, please contact Anna Reid, Research Director at Policy Exchange on 0207 340 2650.Of the 900m people in the world currently living on less than $1 a day, over three-quarters are small farmers. First-world import tariffs prevent them from selling their produce abroad, while export and production subsidies flood their home markets with artificially low-priced farm goods. The system makes it profitable to grow sugar-beet in snowy Finland, while Caribbean sugarcane growers struggle to survive.
The World Bank estimates that scrapping the current subsidy system would boost global agricultural production by 17%, and third-world rural incomes by a total $60 billion a year.
As a member of the party I do wonder whether you wish to get behind the leadership, duly elected via the rules of the party, or whether you wish for some form of "coup d'etat"?
You cannot describe the rules as being undemocratic when clearly they have been followed.
The key issue is to remove this disastrous labour regime before it destroys the fabric of our country and our society - this can only be done by supporting the party, discussing our differences and moving forward - not sniping and griping.
On the issue of democracy I also wonder who elected you spokesman on behalf of the membership and what polling of the membership, formal not anecdotal, you have performed before airing your views to the BBC.
We need to be together, not fighting each othe. Surely that is clear, it is certainly clear to our elected members all of whom of course will be subject to scrutiny by their constituency parties before standing at the next election.
For the sake of the country please desist from this constant back biting
Walnut Tree Cottage
Suffolk IP10 0QR
Dear Mr. Deveney,
Thank you for your e mail of 7 November. I have received many e mails and
letters in support of the stand I took regarding the Leadership, but yours
was the only critical one I received. I will therefore try to answer your
points in full.
I have no wish for some form of "coup d'etat". Indeed all my actions
have been to try to prevent this from happening.
Just because rules are followed does not mean that they are democratic.
Stalin's Russia had rules but nobody would describe it as democratic.
Democracy is a process by which you determine the will of the majority.
Accountability is an essential element in that process. Iain Duncan Smith
was elected by a majority of Conservative Party members. It should be
those members to whom he is accountable and it should be up to a majority of
those members to determine whether or not he should be replaced and if so by
whom, That is democracy.
I agree that one of the key issues is to remove this disastrous Labour
regime before it destroys the fabric of our country. We have played our
part in trying to do that. We were the first body to call for a referendum
on the proposed Constitution for Europe. I wrote a letter published in
"The Times" in August 2002 calling for a referendum and we then pressed
Michael Ancram MP to adopt this as Party policy, which in due course he did.
I was elected Chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy at its
Annual General Meeting. In order to be a member of the Campaign you have
to be a paid up member of the Conservative Party. The members can get rid
of me if I do not reflect their views. Unlike the Chairman of the
Conservative Party who is appointed and therefore not electable or
accountable to the members of the Party. In addition to which the
Conservative Party has no Annual General Meeting.
The Campaign for Conservative Democracy has many achievements
progressing democracy not only in the Conservative Party but in the wider
society. Indeed were it not for the Campaign it is unlikely that the
Conservative Party would have a Constitution at all. It was only after we
campaigned for it that a Constitution was adopted in 1998.
We will continue to campaign even if on occasions we upset someone like
yourself. However I do hope that you now understand our position a little
John E. Strafford
Nominations for the by-election to replace Lord Milner of Leeds closed on
11 candidates registered to stand for election, as follows:
The Earl of Carlisle
Lord Clifford of Chudleigh
The Earl of Kimberley
Lord Vaux of Harrowden
The result was announced by the Clerk of the Parliaments in the House at 3
pm on Thursday 30 October 2003.
Three votes were cast. Lord Grantchester received two first-preference
votes and Viscount Hanworth one. Lord Grantchester was therefore the
i) Are associations being sent every applicant's CV or only those whom CCO wishes to see interviewed? If so are
associations notified of the existence of other applicants? Are their CVs submitted on request and in a timely fashion?
ii) Is CCO submitting constituency profiles? Are these designed to promote some categories of candidate over others? Are
they produced by CCO or by independent sources?
iii) Has a high official of the Party (the Chairman, a Deputy or Vice-Chairman etc) visited an association? What have they
said? Do they present the profile? Have there been explicit appeals to select certain types of candidates? Have ACDs and agents echoed these appeals?
iv) Are members of selection committees being stopped from seeing CVs before they meet together? Are they being prevented
from discussing CVs? If so, who's doing the stopping and on what grounds?
v) How many associations have opted for primaries, postal ballots, non-member involvement etc? What difficulties/advantages have arisen?
vi) Are candidates being 'parachuted' into general meetings without going through previous rounds?
vii) Is there any firm evidence of a "gold list" of preferred candidates? What are the criteria for inclusion?
viii) Is there any other aspect of the selection process that has concerned associations?
The United Nations
The United Nations has 14 peace keeping operations going on around the world. The nation providing the most troops for these operations is Bangladesh. Makes you think!
In the run up to the next election intense media attention will focus on the kind of people chosen by the three main parties to be candidates in safe seats. This poses problems for all the parties but it creates a particular difficulty for us.
There is now a vast gap between the number of women on the Labour benches in Parliament and the tiny band of Tory women MPs. This feeds into a broader perception – that the Conservative Party is male-dominated and, worse, actively discriminates against women, blacks and gays. This is despite the fact that at the 2001 General Election all three major parties had very few new women or minority candidates elected.
There is good reason to assume that both the other parties intend to take radical action to ensure that, at the next election, they will be able to present a highly diverse group of candidates to the voters. To this end the Government has now changed the law in a way that places candidate selection outwith the scope of equal opportunities legislation. For their part, the Liberals have already declared their intention of selecting at least 40% women candidates.
This poses a huge challenge to a Conservative Party that selected no women and no non-whites in Tory-held seats at the last election. We are struggling to overcome the perception that the Party is reactionary and bigoted. It will be a public relations disaster if a large majority of our safe seats select white men next time around. Exactly how this can be avoided will be set out below but it is worth examining further the crucial importance of the outcome of the process.
Why does it matter so much?
Of all the changes that commentators have demanded as evidence of Tory ‘seriousness’ one stands out: the selection of a more diverse group of candidates to fight the next election. This has been raised continuously as an acid test. Partially because it is convenient shorthand for a media that likes to reduce everything to simplistic formulas – and partially because those least sympathetic to the Party are convinced that we will be unable to jump the hurdle they have placed in our path.
Until now the majority view inside the Party has been that of course we want more female and ethnic MPs but not if we have to use positive discrimination to get them. This position, whilst philosophically defensible, is now damaging our chances of recovery. Even if we make enormous efforts to get the kind of people we need as candidates we will get absolutely no credit for doing so unless the process delivers the intended outcome. The Party Chairman acknowledged this on On The Record on 3rd February when he said "Judge us on the outcome."
So many people, especially the chattering classes, have convinced themselves that the Party dislikes women, blacks and gays that any serious evidence that we have ‘changed our ways’ is likely to be welcomed with open arms – except, of course, by Millbank. Labour strategists would be furious at having their fox shot. Their job is to convince swing voters (and everyone else) that the Conservative Party hasn’t changed, indeed that it is incapable of change. Such vivid evidence to the contrary – on a subject that they themselves have highlighted – would represent a major strategic reverse for Labour.
How can the right outcome be delivered?
The process of candidate selection this time around must, at every stage, be outcome driven. We should determine, quietly and without public codification, exactly what is required to pass the test. Then we must ensure that it is delivered.
What would be an acceptable outcome? We need concern ourselves only with seats currently held by the Conservatives. Nothing else really matters to the media. Before the last election the Party attempted to showcase candidates like Shailesh Vara in Northampton South and Pam Chesters in Bristol West only to be accused by many commentators of placing white men in safe seats whilst leaving the women and blacks to fight marginal seats held by other parties. Getting a woman selected for a Labour-held marginal will avail us nothing – in fact the Party will be accused of treating her as a second-class candidate by placing her in a second-class seat.
In any case we have adopted different priorities for marginals. We have chosen sixty ‘battleground’ seats currently held by other parties that we hope to win at the next election. The emphasis in these seats will be on candidates with local experience and credibility including a number who fought the seats last time. The selection procedure in these seats will essentially be the same as the procedure for selection in Conservative held seats.
Having decided to focus only on Tory-held seats we can begin to quantify the task. Let us assume that between twenty and thirty Conservative MPs will retire at the next election. As their replacements we should aim to deliver approximately 50% women candidates, 20% ethnic minority candidates and at least one or two openly gay candidates. Some people may fit into more than one category but that doesn’t matter because it is the overall statistic in each category that will count. Gays are a special case in that a single high profile candidacy will satisfy the media that a taboo has been broken – unlike in the other categories where it will be a matter of numbers.
Many senior Conservative would be delighted if such an outcome could be achieved. However some of them might doubt the practicalities of bringing it about. Let us deal with this frankly.
Most of the talented candidates currently on the list are white and male. Although there has been (and will continue to be) some discrimination with selection committees the principal reason why such people get selected for safe seats is because they tend to be the best on offer. This is not surprising given the preponderance of white men on the candidates list. Given that most people who apply to the Party to become candidates fit into the white male category the law of averages dictates that there will be a similar imbalance at the end of the process. Sadly, there is no reason to imagine that this will change in the foreseeable future. A few women and Asians might get through next time but not many. Political market forces are likely to deliver a crop of candidates in safe Conservative seats very similar to those selected in 2001 – all white, all male. Therefore political market forces cannot be allowed to prevail.
There are likely to be two main sources of resistance to any serious restructuring the process: current candidates and local associations. The biggest problem with candidates is that many of them have friends who hold positions of influence in the Party (including MPs) and one can expect a strong element of lobbying and special pleading from such people. Most of the current crop of candidates do not fall within any of the target groups and may perceive (justifiably) that their own chances of success in selections will be diminished under any new dispensation.
The associations are more problematic. Whereas the Party has a number of ways of incentivising candidates it ahs little direct leverage over associations, consisting as they do of volunteers who guard their local autonomy jealously and value their ability to choose future MPs. Nevertheless not only can objections, from whatever quarter, be overcome, they must be overcome if the Party is to avoid a profoundly humiliating outcome to the selection processes.
At the moment each Conservative association chooses its candidate with the interests of the seat in mind. There is no notion of taking into account the wider interests of the Party. The members of each association pick the best placed person placed in front of them and the best person, in terms of fluency, confidence and ‘feel’ is likely to be a straight white male. Even if this is not the case in reality it may well seem so to the (largely) elderly and traditionalist selectors.
In a sense it would be unreasonable to expect them to do anything else. You cannot offer people a choice and then complain when they make it. Therefore it is common sense to offer only choices that are acceptable to the Party. We already do this by having a candidates list but now we need to develop a much more sophisticated and three-dimensional approval process. How can this be achieved?
Given that our objective must be to achieve the desired outcome with the minimum fuss, both locally and nationally, there are several ways that reform of the candidate selection process should not be done. For example, the imposition from the centre of a single candidate would cause enormous resentment. It would send a message to activists that they are not trusted and would make the position of the favoured candidate a potentially awkward one.
Nor should all women shortlists be contemplated. Not only is this a simplistic and one-dimensional approach (will we then have to have all-black shortlists too?) it is far too confrontational and risks accusations that the successful candidate would never have won had she been up against a man.
The clever approach is to maintain the illusion that a good cross section of approved candidates is being offered whilst ensuring that this consists almost entirely of people who we positively want to get selected for safe seats. This may seem a less than transparent mechanism but it goes with the grain of Tory psychology: don’t rub peoples noses in it and they are much more likely to acquiesce.
There is an obvious way forward. Associations must be told that, in order to better match candidates with seats, a new system will be introduced in which they will be given a list of twelve candidates. It will then be up to the association executive to reduce that to three names to be put to a full meeting of the association. The only thing that is being removed from local control is the initial paper sift. Indeed, the proposed system is almost exactly the same as the one the Party currently operates at by-elections.
In order to ‘soften up’ associations Central Office should develop a road show that will go to all seats where the sitting Tory MP is retiring. This road show would include a presentation of focus group and polling research about what the public thinks of the Conservative Party. This will demonstrate that the Party is seen as overwhelmingly male, white and snobbish. The road show would also include video footage of members of the public responding to questions about the Conservative Party. The answers would reinforce the message. The video would go on to show several Tory spokesmen, juxtaposed with government representatives. The contrast between the diversity (women, regional accents and occasional dark face) of the Labour side and the almost uniformly plummy white men of the Tory side will deliver the message that we’ve already got enough of this sort of Conservative and in order to regain credibility with the electorate we need more people as MPs who don’t fit the Tory stereotype. At the end of the video the people presenting the road show will answer questions and attempt to allay fears about the imposition of second-rate candidates.
Part of the means of delivering the right kind of candidate will be to create an informal ‘gold list’ of candidates who are female, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, other ethnic minority or gay and lesbian. This list must be informal because some of the while male candidates who do not fall within its remit will speak out against the system unless they believe that they have least a chance of getting onto shortlists in safe seats. If they perceive themselves as being formally discriminated against they are much more likely to be disruptive.
As the selection round proceeds the precise shape of the shortlists put forward can be altered to accommodate events. If three women in a row have been selected it may be advisable to put a couple of white men onto the next shortlist to allay suspicions of a feminist agenda – and one can safely assume that the associations given such a choice will snap up the men! If , once there have been twenty selections, not a single ethnic minority candidate has been chosen then it will be necessary to pay particular attention to the next couple of selections. And if a notably talented candidate with local credentials became available to fight a particular seat it will be legitimate to ensure that he or she was clearly the best person on the short list.
The beauty of such a system is that it is both flexible and virtually invisible. This makes it much easier to operate and creates less head wind. It will also help the Party to respond to ‘problem’ associations in an intelligent way. When Labour imposed all-women shortlists in 1997 it did so in an authoritarian fashion, giving local activists no say in the matter. This caused great difficulty. Our approach should be different. Office holders in associations in Tory-held seats where an MP’s retirement is announced should be the objects of a sustained charm offensive. The importance of ‘playing ball’ with the new system will be emphasised and the gratitude of the Party to those who respond positively should be made clear. Party agents and other staff will be expected to pay a key role in this. If a particular association proves obstinate and makes difficulties it need not be confronted. Instead it can be allocated some of the better white men. In other words it should be quietly appeased, although this should never be publicly acknowledged.
In order to ensure that there is a pool of talent sufficiently large to make up the gold list a parallel process will have to be undertaken to talent-spot, train and service gold candidates. Some of them will already be on the candidates list. Others will have applied but been unsuccessful and yet others will be novices who have been identified as suitable and approached. Obviously there will have to be a proper process of due diligence to ensure that the Party, in its eagerness to recruit people from target groups, does not allow criminals, fantasists or others who might embarrass it onto the list. However, once this has been accomplished, gold candidates should be made to feel special. They should be assisted at every stage because they are the Conservative’s Party best hope for overcoming one of its greatest disabilities – its chronic lack of diversity.
It goes without saying that the system outlined above will require a degree of sophistication to operate it. A continual process of evaluation and re-evaluation of candidates, seats, officers as well as background atmospherics will be needed. It will be like sailing a yacht – in that one would have to perform several tasks simultaneously whilst navigating the vessel towards the intended destination.
A couple of points on tactics
There are several reasons why the Party should not publicly proclaim the new methodology. Most Tories are essentially pragmatic. They loathe political correctness and positive discrimination and they would prefer not to have such things in their Party. At the same time they realise that something must be done to correct the grotesque imbalance that has developed between the parties in terms of minority and female representation. If one tries to be ‘in your face’ about the fact that positive discrimination is taking place activists are much more likely to rebel, so a version of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is called for.
It is also important not to succumb to the temptation to try and gain kudos from the media by offering them snippets of the work in progress. The danger is that they will give us little or no credit merely for trying. They will judge us by the eventual outcome. In particular they will ask us how many Tory-held seats have selected candidates who are not white and male. If we try to milk a particular selection (of, say, a black woman) for publicity journalists will suspect that it is deeply atypical and is being used to provide a smokescreen to conceal a wider failure. The word ‘token’ will be used. We cannot prove to the outside world that we would have been genuinely successful until the process is complete -–and we should not try.
A third reason to keep quiet is that, like a conjurer, we’ll get more applause if the audience cannot see exactly how the trick is performed. The objective should be to convince the public that it is the Party as a whole that has changed. The more that the profusion of women, black, Asian or gay candidates appears to be the result of spontaneous open-mindedness on the part of grassroots activists the greater will be the accolades.
Yet another factor that should persuade us to do our good work by stealth is the fact that, as of today, our opponents don’t believe that we’ve got a cat in hells chance of passing their test. That means that they will continue to use it as a stick with which to beat us. The more they build it up the bigger the pay off for us if we can trump them. As soon as they seriously suspect that we may be able to deliver on candidate diversity they will attempt to move the goal posts. The louder and longer they bang on about it the less credible will be their volt face so it would be counterproductive to tip them off.
On a separate note, the handling of white male candidates should be done with sensitivity. They should not be made to feel second-class and must be assured that the Party wants them in Parliament. However such candidates should be told that the only chance the Conservatives have of winning power again is to gain seats at the next election. This means that we need our strongest candidates in our sixty top target marginals. If the Party does reasonably well then they will all become MPs anyway – and if we do as badly next time as we did last time then the game is up for all of us.
It should be made clear to all those on the candidates list that an extremely dim view will be taken of anyone who tries to force their way onto a shortlist in which they have not been included. Any attempt to do so, either through local influence or lobbying by grandees, would prejudice their chances of being advanced in the future. Time is too short for those making such difficult and delicate decisions to be second-guessed by ambitious and pushy candidates.
Another point worth bearing in mind is that the conventional wisdom that the Party needs to select candidates early does not apply to this process. If, at the next election, we are in the position of having to fight hard to hold seats that we won last time we will be in a terminal position. Therefore it is reasonable to conclude that candidates in Tory-held seats need not be selected just yet. This will give us the time required to put in place the mechanisms to ensure desirable outcomes. The more time the better. To this end it would be unhelpful for the Chief Whip to encourage colleagues who are thinking of retiring to make announcements in the near future. On the contrary it would be much better if they held off – at least until the new systems (and new gold list trainees) are ready.
The Candidates Committee of the Board will, after March, be composed largely of people well disposed to the Action Plan, the key component of which is a reduction of the number of names put forward to associations (ie – the imposition of by-election conditions on safe seats). There is an enormous amount of work to be done, not just to implement the plan but also to identify, attract, train and deploy new talent. None of this will be easy but, taken as a whole, the Action Plan represents the best (and probably the only) way forward. With the active support of the Party leadership we can deliver an outcome to the selection process that will confound our critics and delight our friends. The Leadership
- Can we please go back to the time when a standing ovation was only given for a brilliant speech. There are now so many standing ovations that they have become devalued.
- The BBC has been taken to task for calling those attending the conference "delegates". The Conservatives have never had "delegates". We used to have "representatives" but that was before the decision was taken that any member could attend the Conference and speak in their own right. So the correct description is "Conservative Party members".
We were told that the Agent's Ball had to be cancelled because the cost of security was £10,000. What we were not told was that for the first time the Agents were told that they could not hold the Ball in the Wintergardens because the powers that be did not want to upset their priceless stage. So the agents had to look outside the secure area, hence the extra costs of £10,000. The Agents are poorer as a result, but the arrogance of the Party hierarchy shows no bounds. Maggie never caused a problem like this!
The Following are a few of the e mails received regarding the vote of confidence in the Leader:
From: "Andrew.sibley" <Andrew.email@example.com>
Subject: Where is the militancy?
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2003 09:41:28 -0000
Dear John Strafford
I am not a Tory member, although I was a supporter of IDS. I am disgusted by
the way IDS was removed by a small section of the party. I have read his
policy statement on the Conservative Christian Fellowship website, and IDS
had very compassionate policies to appeal to ordinary people.
But what are the grass roots party doing about this undemocratic coup which
has removed him?
If IDS was your man, then why not get together a petition to bring him back?
Organise your own poll for grass roots Tories who voted him in. March on
parliament, chain yourselves to the railings of central office if necessary.
Socialists are far more committed to their beliefs and people than Tories.
Personally I think the parliamentary party, in electing Michael Howard as
leader will hand victory on a plate to Tony Blair. Michael Howard might look
good in parliament, but then so did William Hague. However it is ordinary
people who vote in general elections not a parliamentary clique, and IDS was
making headway in the country. The only other hope now is Theresa May as
If the Tory party lets this coup stand, then they only have themselves to
blame if the parliamentary party walks all over them again.
Bring back IDS!
19 Cork drive
From: "Robert E A Harvey" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: FAO Quentin Davies & Theresa May
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 08:28:48 -0000
So, they did it. I am extremely annoyed.
I am more annoyed at the current speculation that someone will be shoed-in
without the members in the country having a say. I made it quite clear in
my previous two letters that this was the sort of high-handed action that
would make me think very seriously about whether I would still be able to be
a member of the party.
It reeks of nothing less than a return to smoke-filled rooms. This whole
campaign has been lingering on for a month. Who can doubt that the actual
vote of confidence was delayed until the forces of the dark had stitched up
the sort of deal that is being discussed on the wireless today? There is an
obviousness to this manoeuvre that makes the whole conspiracy transparent.
For years the party in Parliament, and central office, have ignored the
opinions of the grass roots. CPP/CPF groups have made coherent suggestions
which have been ignored, and the briefing papers have become steadily weaker
and more totemic, until now they merely rehash the current headline concerns
and seek the cheers of the crowd in the forum. The policy of the party over
Europe, particularly under Mr Major, was at complete variance with the
attitude in the country. And now the haughty members in Westminster are
riding roughshod over the membership in the country with a wholly unrequired
leadership battle, and a vicious manoeuvre to avoid having to listen to us
If Mr Smith was such a plank, why did the members put him up two years ago
for us to vote for? Were we "supposed" to vote for Ken Clarke? No-one who
has ever listened to the mood of the party faithful on Europe would ever
have believed that possible.
This whole debacle has left me with the conclusion that the members in
Westminster cannot be trusted, either to take sensible decisions or to act
in an honourable manner. A pox on them, I cry.
Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2003 05:16:13 EST
Subject: re democratic principles and the vote of confidence, etc
I am not familiar with your Organisation and listened to you with both
interest and further expectations in mind on Radio 4 earlier today. I very much hope
that you and your close colleagues will be heard by all MPs at all levels
...and indeed that they will be guided by yourself for are they not duty bound
to Represent those who elect them; in so doing I trust that you will be able,
within days/ if not hours, to demonstrate or validate your main point ....by
obtaining a very high level of grass roots support. Your point needs to be
made with immediacy ... made forcefully but always in a constructive/ positive
fashion. In my view, it would be potentially catastrophic if this matter were
'swept under the carpet' in the general urge to now 'move ahead' in electing
a new party leader. For I strongly suspect that there are a very large
number of both former and hi-potential conservative voters who will not repeat
NOT be able to either 'stomach' ...or more importantly believe in or respect a
political party where the record shows such scant regard ....indeed in this
case no regard, for the basic requirements of Truthfulness and Openness; the
party must change the ground rules and address these accusation or it will be/
remain the target of abusive and mischievous attacks ...both privately and in
the media. I do not have the details, but it seems clear to me from the long
chapter of events of the last months that the Rules, Codes or other Conventions
under which Central Office, The 1922 Committee, MPs and the elective /
reelective system currently 'works' lack proper democratic integrity and is thus
deeply flawed ..as well as failing the test of truth and reason, and the
demands/ expectation which underpin 'political credibility', the 'leadership
system' is patently unstable, open to rumour and mischievous abuse and inherently
dysfunctional. It may also be that under Human Right legislation certain
procedures may be unlawful. I hope you can get your message across for change
...effectively ...at this juncture ....during what is inevitably a trying and
difficult time. Good luck. email@example.com Brian Tanner 30 Chester Road
Wimbledon London SW19 4TW
Iain Duncan Smith thinks that it was a "strategic error" for the Liberal Democrats to win Brent East. Has he taken leave of his senses. What is the point of fighting a by-election unless you want to win it. Would he have called it a "strategic error" if the Conservatives had won and the Liberal Democrats had lost? This is the politics of the mad house.
In the same speech on Friday 19th September he accused the Liberal Democrats of wanting to get rid of the monarchy because the issue was being debated at the Liberal Democrat party conference. Perhaps he does not understand that until an issue has been debated you do not know the views of those taking part. Is this fundamental flaw in his knowledge the reason we do not have any motions at the Conservative Party Conference?. That explains everything. Could somebody please tell Iain where he is going wrong. Just for the record when the Liberal Democrats debated the Monarchy they came out in favour of it!
So the Agents Ball has been cancelled at the party conference. We are told that the cost of security is the reason, but is this true? The numbers attending conference are diminishing. Anybody wanting a room at the Imperial can have one. They used to be like gold dust, only for the high and mighty. Last year MPs wives and the wives of members of the House of Lords were recruited to sell ball tickets. They didn't find it easy. One more tradition bites the dust. Sad for the agents whose numbers are also diminishing. What will happen to the deficit on their pension fund?
Is it true that the Conservative Whips office took over the campaign in Brent East?
Didn't do a very good job did they? Was this because there were not enough volunteers on the ground or was it interference by the parliamentary party? I think we should be told.
The Conservative and the Labour parties relied extensively on telephone canvassing. The Liberal Democrats put people on the ground. No wonder the Lib-Dems did well. Somebody should have told the main parties that only 30% of Brent residents have fixed phone lines. The rest either have mobile phones or no phone at all. Just as the Conservatives have mastered the art of telephone canvassing the art has changed. Bad luck.
Another Press Release
This week I heard a member of the shadow cabinet say that the result of Brent East by-election was not a disaster. Central Office put out the following press release:
"The Government has seen the collapse of its vote in one of its heartland constituencies. This is a massive blow for Labour's credibility and shows that nobody believes a word they say any more.
Contrary to predictions the Conservative vote held up very well. The result is a sign of Labour weakness, not Conservative".
What planet are these people living on. To get 16% of the vote on a turnout of 36% means that the Conservative Party managed to get 5 electors out of every hundred to vote for them. If this is not a disaster what is? Does disaster strike when we only get three out of every hundred to vote for us? Until the Party faces up to the realities then our terminal decline will continue. What has happened to this once great Party?
Why is Andrew Gilligan being hung out to dry?. The pressure put on him is enormous, so much so that he has been forced to admit to mistakes which clearly were not mistakes. The BBC is in great danger of allowing this battle of spin to be won by the Government because the BBC hierarchy are determined to protect their own backs, and they allow Government hacks to blatantly lie on programmes like "Newsnight" and get away with it. The hacks believe that if you lie often enough and convincingly enough eventually people will believe it is the truth. Does it remind you of a certain German?
This week I heard a Director of Central Office say that he hoped that when an elector went into the ballot booth he or she would have on their mind a picture of a tortoise with Duncan Smiths head. Mind boggling.
The entire Conservative strategy is being determined by focus groups. Why hasn't anybody pointed out to the Conservatives that all you get from focus groups are the views of those people that like to attend focus groups. As they get paid about £25 per hour cash they tend to attract the unemployed, the house wife that wants to make a bit on the side, the intellectual that thinks he knows everything and the curious as well as those that have got nothing better to do. To wholly rely on these bunches of sads as representative of society as a whole is a big mistake which the Conservatives keep on making.
Height of Hypocrisy
This week the Chairman of the Conservative Party said "We do not support the argument for state funding of political parties." She went on "A healthy democracy is underpinned by political parties which rely on their own efforts to secure funding and which therefore seek to engage with their members and supporters."
As the Conservative Party has received over £12 million in the last three years, incidentally far more than any other political party, we now know that their own efforts have been negligible and because of the funding they have not bothered to engage with their members. This explains a lot. Nevertheless the hypocrisy which reeks from Theresa May's statement is one of the reasons why the people no longer trust politicians. Perhaps it would be as well if we had a "Quiet Chairman" as well as a "Quiet Leader".
European Ideas Network
Over the last few days one of the most influential think tanks of the centre right in Europe met in Madrid. It was addressed by the Spanish Foreign Minister as well as the Spanish Prime Minister. There was a strong Conservative presence. There were ten working groups at this "Summer School" and they are developing some very interesting ideas. If the "Eurosceptics" want an influence on the future developments in Europe they should get involved. They just might learn something. If you want to see how things are shaping up visit http://www.europeanideasnetwork.com
Dumbed Down Conference
You will recall that last year the morning sessions of Conference were abolished in favour of extending the afternoon sessions to 7.30pm. It proved disastrous and in Blackpool it would have been worse for the Blackpool land-ladies do not take kindly to moving dinner times around. The Party learnt the lesson and the afternoon sessions will end ot 5.30pm, but the morning sessions have not been reinstated. Of course there are no motions for debate.
The total hours now devoted to full conference session amount to 13 compared to 17 last year and 23 hours in 1995 when we had motions to debate. How long will it be before somebody says "why don't we just have two days for the conference". All this is disastrous for the Party. Will they not learn? Membership continues its decline. The Constituency Associations are getting weaker but the hierarchy do nothing because the one thing that they could do to change all this would involve them giving up a little bit of power. Sad really!
Electoral Commission joins the Establishment
For four successive quarters the Labour Party has been late in reporting donations to the Electoral Commission. This is a criminal offence so why has the Labour party not been prosecuted? Is it because the Electoral Commission has become too cosy with our established parties? After all it pays out millions of pounds of taxpayers money to undemocratic political parties that do not account for the money spent to their members or even allow their members to elect their Treasurer, and we thought they were going to be independent. Some hope!
History of Spin
With the acres of newsprint being devoted to Alistair Campbell's resignation it is appropriate to remember that perhaps the first spin took place at the time of Athenian democracy, approximately 450BC. Thucydides – a political opponent of Pericles and a former Olympic champion in wrestling– said of Pericles "If I wrestle him to the ground he will deny this and deny it so vigorously that he will convince even those who witnessed the fight." A tribute to Pericles power of oratory or the first case of political spin?
2 Cheers for the BBC
When the BBC does something well in the realm of politics, then politicians should congratulate it. On Saturday 9th August the BBC did two things well. First of all on the "Today" programme Laura Trevelyan jointly presented with John Humphreys and refreshing it was too. She was cool and clear and and the programme benefited from having a new voice. Well done.
Later at 11am the "Talking Politics" programme was presented by Dennis Sewell on the subject of "torture". This was a superb programme, well put together with excellent contributions from all, including Bruce Anderson and Peter Hitchens. This programme was in the tradition of the BBC. Well informed, good debate, and a joy to listen to. Well done BBC.
Now for the complaint. I hear that Ann Widdicombe is to replace Michael Portillo on the late night Andrew Neill programme. This programme started off disastrously but has grown into a good programme. It would be an enormous setback if Portillo is replaced.
One more complaint: Tim Sebastian is one of the best interviewers on the BBC. His programme "Hardtalk" is put on at the ridiculous hour of 11.30 pm on BBC 24 hours. How about repeating it at a more sensible time on BBC2? Enough about the BBC.
Since the end of the war in Iraq 55 US servicemen have been killed. 1,000 children under five have been injured or killed by unexploded bombs, in particular cluster bombs. The United Kingdom should ban these weapons immediately. It is a disgrace that we still use them.
Did you Know?
One third of all members of the United States Congress are millionaires?
Conservative Party Accounts
This week the Accounts of all the political parties were published by the Electoral Commission. In order for them to have a common year end the Conservative Party Accounts were for the nine months ended 31st December 2002.
For a Party which professes not to believe in State Funding we see that in the nine months the Party accepted £3,000,000 in State Funding and still managed to have a deficit of £500,000. No less than 30% of the Party's total income now comes from the State; but where is the democratic accountability for this dollop of taxpayer subsidy. It is non existent. The Electoral Commission has got into bed with our two main political parties and would appear to be quite happy to hand over our taxes to the oligarchies which run the parties. There is not any pretence. The Conservative Party has reverted back to stating that Central Office is the office of the Leader of the Party, So much for William Hague's reforms. We now have the following appointed by the Leader: Chairman, Deputy Chairman, six Vice Chairmen and Treasurer.
Looking in detail at the Conservative Accounts there are a couple of interesting points:
- £1,757,000 was spent on raising £5,761,000 in 2002 compared to spending £1,557,000 to raise £17,495,000 in 2001. Things are getting harder!
- Changing Auditors has brought about a considerable saving from £177,000 down to £61,000.
- There is a strange note relating to "Quasi-subsidiaries" It states "The net assets of the quasi-subsidiaries totalled £5,764,000 at 31 December 2002 (31 March 2002 - £7,472,000), including property of £5,655,000 (31 March 2002 - £5,715,000 and investments of £113,000 (31 March 2002 - £208,000). Other assets and liabilities are insignificant."
Before the tragic death of David Kelly the name on every journalist's lips was John Scarlett - Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.
It is very convenient now, for the BBC to state that the sole source is a man that cannot deny it although when he was alive David Kelly said that he did not think he was the main source for Andrew Gilligan. Makes you think!
The European Elections are to be held next year. The results will be closely scrutinised for an indication of the General Election result. So terrified is the Government that they are about to be decimated that they are going to change the system of announcing the results. Last time the results were announced by Constituency making it very simple to see what would have happened if it had been a General election. This time they are going to announce the results by Local Authority Area thus making the waters muddy. The Spin Kings continue!
At nearly all possible occasion, whenever Mary Archer met a Conservative MP she asked them to go and see Jeffrey in prison. It is a sign of her persuasiveness that over 70 of them did so. n Was it guilt that a man that did so much for Tory fund raising was so unceremoniously kicked of the Party?
Bliar's Speech to Congress
In his speech to Congress Tony Bliar spoke about freedom justice and democracy and his admiration for the United States for upholding these ideals. What a pity then that he did not also mention Guantanamo Bay which is what you get when freedom is lost, justice abandoned and democracy treated with contempt.
"Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue; extremism in pursuit of liberty is no vice."
- If the Commission is to be part of the legislative process the people of Europe should directly elect its members. If it is not to be part of that process it should act like the civil service, under instruction from the Council of Ministers, and have no formal powers,
- The Council of Ministers should meet and debate in open session.
- The closed party list system of proportional representation for election to the European Parliament must be abolished, because it denies the people the ability to elect or get rid of particular representatives.
- Each Member of then European Parliament should represent a similar number of people.
- The meetings of the European Central Bank should be held in open session with the Council of Ministers having the power to dismiss one or all of the directors of the Bank
Jack Straw MP has called for a written constitution for the European Union (Report, August 28) and the Convention on the Future of Europe is in the process of drawing up such a constitution. By defining what the European Union can or cannot do you also define what the United Kingdom can or cannot do.
Some 55% of legislation affecting the United Kingdom now emanates from Brussels. For the first time in our history we will effectively have a written constitution. Such a critical and historically important step must be put to the people of the United Kingdom in a referendum for their approval or disapproval. All political parties should commit themselves to this now.
JOHN E. STRAFFORD To put the record straight the first politician to call for a referendum was James Elles MEP at a meeting of COPOV on 8th November 2002. As a result of this meeting the Chairman of COPOV wrote to Michael Ancram MP asking for the referendum to be Conservative policy. After some delay he confirmed that it was policy in February 2003. It has taken the media some time to catch up but thank heavens, at last they have.
Letter to the Chairman
On 19th March the Chairman of COPOV wrote to the Chairman of the Conservative Party asking specific questions about membership. So far there has not been a reply, not even an acknowledgement. Perhaps her time is spent adding up the £500,000 that it is said that the Party is having to pay out to former Chief Executives and others as a result of the cack handed way the Party(or was it IDS) has treated its senior staff in the last six months.
We congratulate Therese Villiers on becoming a westminster Parliamentary candidate, but wasn't it only a few months ago that she was reselected for the European Parliament? Is her move to Westminster anything to do with losing her position as Deputy Leader of the Conservative Group in the European Parliament?
Who is paying for Democracy?
Every Westminster MP now receives over £100,000 each year for researchers, computers etc. In other words over a parliamentary term of five years he or she will receive a cool half a million pounds to help them retain their seat. At the next election their opposition candidates will receive no money at all, thus making their task of replacing the sitting MP ever more difficult. Democracy in the United Kingdom is becoming more and more remote, but it is as well for MPs to remember that democracy was born out of revolution. The people have taken to the streets - Fuel tax protest, Iraq war, Countryside march. One day they may go further if the politicians do not listen to them.
- All troops in Iraq should be placed under the command of the United Nations and they should be authorised to take whatever action is necessary if attacked..
- Sanctions should be lifted immediately.
- A programme should be formulated for holding free and fair elections in Iraq.
- The United Nations should be reformed and a programme for reformation developed giving a higher standing to democratic nations. A nation's representatives to the United Nations should be elected by the people of that nation.
- The reconstruction of Iraq should be under the control of the United Nations.
- Hopefully before we start trying to teach democracy to Iraq we will put right some of the undemocratic elements of the British - soon to be - European constitution. Democracy is the process by which you determine the view of the majority. The Convention on the Future of Europe has spent its entire time arguing about the redistribution of power amongst the politicians. The people do not get a look in. If the present system of membership of the Commission were left unchanged, with the ten new members of the Union the seven smallest countries with 2.4% of the population would have more seats and votes than the six biggest members with 75% of the population. This is the kind of distortion you get with electoral colleges. So what is being proposed? Why another electoral college.
- Under the Royal Prerogative the President - oops, sorry Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has the following powers:
1) That it would be a short war
2) That it could be completed before the hot season.
It now looks as though the troops are doomed to spend the months ahead
either fighting or "digging in" until the summer heat is over. My heart
bleeds for them.
Some time ago I heard a very sensible contrary view:
1) We should time any assault on Iraq to begin at the end of summer -
at a time when temperatures are falling.
2) This would give plenty of time for the weapons inspectors to do their
work and establish the true situation.
3) If there was proof that Iraq was intending to harm other nations,
then it would be easier to get the support of the Arab world and the UN.
4) If proof could not be found in six or eight months by an extended
team of weapons inspectors, then the world should settle for continued
inspection and control of Iraqi oil revenues.
5) If Iraq was shown to have evil intentions, the invasion (by the US,
UK and other forces) could begin with the winter months ahead to
complete the task.
It seems incredible that the judgement of our political masters and their
advisors can be so poor. Heads must roll.
5 Old Brewery Yard
Suffolk IP19 8AW
They attack us or others;
Unless war is approved by the House of Common on a free vote;
Or unless war is specifically authorised by the United Nations.
There are two major policy changes that distinguish this proposed war from others. They are the policies of pre-emptive action and/or regime change. Both are highly dangerous to world stability.
The question that has to be answered is this:
If Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and we believe that he is prepared to use them, then under what circumstances would he most likely use them, bearing in mind that the policy of containment has had 12 years of success.
I suggest that the most likely circumstances in which he would use them would be if he is attacked or trapped in Baghdad. If this were to happen the war will have triggered off the very action that it is supposed to prevent.
On the other hand if he does not have weapons of mass destruction or he is not prepared to use them, then thousands of innocent men, women and children will lose their lives for the mistaken beliefs of our Prime Minister and President Bush, and when the bombs fall who here believes that the Iraqi people will say "That’s all right, these bombs are not meant for us, they are meant for Saddam Hussein."
election system. The first ballot under the rules that William Hague
introduced took place over a year ago - the excitement has died down but
it was not too long ago for memories to fade. There are few signs at
present of an imminent re-run to raise the temperature and cloud our
judgement. So what are the options?
Keep the Hague system? Conservative MPs selected two candidates and
paid up members chose one of them. One view of the experience is that
two very different people with very different views were proposed, and
members had a clear choice.
Another view is that MPs were in no doubt that the majority of members
are anti-EU and so could ensure that anyone standing against Kenneth
Clarke (or someone with his views) would be elected. So all future
elections held in this way would be flawed. MPs could achieve any
desired result by selecting one bete noir and one A N Other. MPs
would deny the winner the right to believe he or she was the best
candidate. Some - if not all - members would resent a system that is so
prone to manipulation. This method must be changed.
The Closed Room system: One alternative proposed is that all candidates
for the Party leadership should be locked in a room until they jointly
decided who should be the solitary candidate. This takes away the
members' mandate altogether but has certain advantages. The
self-selection process is carried out in secret and presumably, as it
involves all of the potential leaders, it would provide a genuine
opportunity for the "right" person to emerge. But there would be
widespread suspicion about the result and it is unlikely that all
involved would keep the process secret. Such a system might have suited
the Party some years ago, but it would not be satisfactory today.
A Committee-selected Shortlist: Clearly all leadership candidates must
be MPs with comfortable majorities, but other people should be offered a
role in the selection of a shortlist. As well as a number of MPs, this
special committee should include MEPs and representatives from the House
of Lords and from regional assemblies. There might even be a presence
from the candidates' list. The composition of this committee would
ensure that all candidates were assessed objectively and weaker ones
Once a shortlist has been chosen, the candidates (at least three in
number and no more than seven) would each prepare a short CV and
election address. These would be incorporated into the voting paper and
electors invited to vote by selecting and ranking a minimum of three of
the candidates. The postal ballot would be conducted independently and
overseen by the selection committee. The successful candidate would be
the person with most voting points.
Such a system would be seen to be fair and to result in the choice of a
popular leader who would have the assurance of knowing that the Party
had indeed selected him or her.
The only disadvantage - if it is one - is that the role of Conservative
MPs in the selection process would be weakened. Some members clearly
think that MPs have not shone in this regard during recent years, so
perhaps this is not a bad thing.
Further Alternatives: I don't claim to have considered all the possible
options here and invite other proposals for consideration. All I would
ask is that alternatives should be improvements on my Committee-selected
5 Old Brewery Yard
Suffolk IP19 8AW
- Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act there have so far been 270 arrests. Most of those arrested originated in North Africa. Not a single one is from Iraq!
- According to general Michael Rose there is not a single general in the British Army in favour of going to war with Iraq.
Freedom is about the ability of people to govern themselves and democracy is the process by which we determine the will of the majority. That is why we should have a wholly elected House of Lords.
Tax the Rich?
The first four men -- the poorest -- would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man -- the richest -- would pay $59.
That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the rrangement -- until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language-- a tax cut).
The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six -- the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"
The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they
subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and The sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.
And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free.
But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings."I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man, but he, pointing to the tenth. "But he got $7!". "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too, ........It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!".
That's true!" shouted the seventh man, why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?" The wealthy get all the breaks!". Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill!
And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore.
Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straightforward logic!
T. Davies Professor of Accounting & Chair,
Division of Accounting and Business Law
The University of South Dakota School of Business
414 E. Clark Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
|T & G||Bill Morris||97,000|
All recent polls must surely confirm Mr. Duncan Smith’s worst fears: his enemies dislike him and his friends despise him. More Conservatives are dissatisfied with him than content. He may care to pause and ponder why. He was, after all, elected by the majority of Conservative members – and, therein, ironically, is to be found the very cause of his, (as one might put it in a school report) lack of progress.
The dwindling Tory membership of some 300,000 is almost totally at variance in aspirations and outlook to the 6 million lost Tory voters, and indeed with many Conservative voters generally. It is these very members who elected a leader cast in their own mould. It was not his fault: it was his fate. For the first time in our political annals, a Party voluntarily voted itself into unelectability. Mr. Duncan Smith, for all his integrity, is the unsung hero of the Labour Party: for where does quietness end and dumbness begin?
Now in some circles such a state might might be regarded as political treason, not least among those with no knowledge of history, at present in the ascendant in Tory counsels. Until the defeat of Mr Major the Conservative Party’s evolution could be traced across two centuries. Peel modernised it; Disraeli traditionalised it; Churchill revived it; Macmillan popularised it. The arrival of Mr. Hague who made his best speech aged 16, masked its descent into fatuity; the multiples of the nonentities as Lord Curzon would have said, "Like cushions bearing the imprint of the last arse that sat upon them." Having wooed the ethnic vote, Mr. Hague warned of England being like a foreign land while Mr. Duncan Smith’s reconnaissance was such that he failed to spot a BNP supporter among his patrons. The fact that such a character felt drawn towards him should surely have worried him.
Now we witness the supposed debate between the Traditionalists and the Modernisers as each faction vies to be responsible for defeat at the next election.
The plain fact is that the Tory Party has had no responsible leadership since the defeat of Mr. Major – that much maligned leader able to still secure victory after 13 years of Tory rule. Five years into the Blair Presidency and Mr. Duncan Smith knows full well that Downing Street eludes him. At present the Tory Party does not remember where it has been, does not know where it is now and from these chaotic bearings is unable to plot its future.
Gimmicks have replaced policies where the largely ignored voluntary section declines the invitation to sell second rate knickers at third rate jumble sales to support a fourth rate hierarchy of youthful stereo typed chinless wonders. One nation Tories who have jumped ship have only themselves to thank; you cannot jump ship today and hope to chart the course tomorrow.
Cromwell’s words to the Long Parliament, applied to Neville Chamberlain by Leo Amery in 1940 might be not inappropriate to Mr. Duncan Smith now "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God go!"
The year 1940, however had its compensations, not least the arrival of Mr. Kenneth Clarke on this bedevilled planet.
The Tory membership, having failed the wishes of the majority of Tory voters, must, as soon as the opportunity arises, make a leap of faith. It must elect the man it previously rejected, bearing in mind that a vote among Tory subscribers in 1940 would no doubt have been overwhelmingly in favour of Chamberlain, despite the Nation crying out for Churchill. Mercifully in 1940 the subscribers were not asked.
Why did Mr. Clarke lose last time? Europe. Like Neville Chamberlain the majority of Tory members were for keeping out. In fact the proposed referendum with Mr. Clarke as leader would have allowed for an electable Conservative Party in or out of the Euro according to the nation’s wishes.
There were other reasons for Mr. Clarke’s failure to become leader. So used have we become as shadows that we fear substance when offered it. The tortuous pseudo-sophistications of the make-up boys have no effect on Mr. Clarke who is sold as seen; much healthier than hired but unseen. He has a robustness, a charm which relies upon the lack thereof, and rarity enough, is a man of principle. He did not pretend to be other than he is to secure the leadership: nor will he face the problem of being elected on one ticket and then trying to hold the leadership by adopting other tickets which he previously decried.
Let those extremists who have threatened to leave the Tories if Mr. Clarke ever became leader – let those extremists find their spiritual home in the extreme parties where their creeds will not embarrass the Conservatives. Mr. Clarke alone is capable of regaining the centre ground for the Tories; a one nation Tory rather than a one suburb Tory with a mentality that searches for a passport before entering the next suburb.
He is the Dennis Healey of the Tory Party. Lady Thatcher owed much of her success to Labour’s folly in failing to elect Mr. Healey. Mr. Blair owes a great deal of his success to the Tories failure (so far) to elect Mr. Clarke.
The Prime Minister’s idea of opposition at present is to be confronted by a frightfully decent little man opposite to be treated with contempt, made all the easier by his pledge to be quiet. As far as Mr. Blair is concerned, Mr. Clarke is frightful, decent and definitely not pledged to a vow of silence. It’s no use sticking one’s colours to the mast and then lowering the mast.
A half-witted rabbit in the latter stages of senility would be able to deduce the self-evident fact that the only reason the Prime Minster is not invariably harsh on the Leader of the Opposition is that the former regards the latter as his chief ally in a troubled political world.
It is, alas, futile seeking salvation with another version of Mr. Hague or Mr. Duncan Smith. Mr. Davis, for example, would simply be Mr. Duncan Smith with a quiff.
It falls to Mr. Clarke alone to be able to offer an appealing yet principled programme which would place the Conservative pyramid firmly upon its broad base rather than precariously upon its sharp apex. The great test of a national leader is whether people not automatically inclined to vote for his party would do so as a matter of personal trust, transcending party divisions, and thereby bring that party to power.
Therein lies the Tory conundrum. Does the Tory Party want power or does it want so-called ideological purity? – the very notion that kept the Labour Party out of power for so long. Those who voted for Mr. Duncan Smith must now ask themselves whether it was wise to vote for ideas enshrined in electoral defeat. For how could such ideas ever be implemented? Thus the Right Wing of the Tory Party has secured in safety a Labour Government.
The British people are fanatically against fanaticism, being conservative by nature, which is why the Conservative Party was once the natural party of government.
Gratitude is rarely the language of politics but the Labour Party has been known to select for the Conservatives their best leader. By refusing to serve under Chamberlain the Labour Party brought Churchill to the helm. By resolutely refusing to allow Mr. Duncan Smith to make the slightest inroad into their poll ratings, the Socialists may compel the Tories to accept the only man capable of beating them.
At any rate, Churchill observed that he hoped to see the day when an Englishman would feel as at home in Europe as in his native land. This mantle does not exactly fit easily upon Mr. Duncan Smith’s isolationist brow.
Time was when Lord Prior and Lord Tebbit served in the save cabinet weaving together different interpretations of the Conservative cloth. Lord Prior has retired and Lord Tebbit is no longer in favour because he has the temerity to suggest that yesterday’s outlaws would not be appointed today’s sheriffs. To find the parallel to contain appointments one would have to return to the day when Caligula made his horse consul.
Besides, presumably Lord Tebbit is considered too left wing; worse still he has had actual experience of government. He’s actually very pleasant but pretends to be otherwise. Modern thinking prefers the reverse.
Only Mr. Clarke can remove from voter’s minds the suspicion that shadow ministers wish to emerge from the shade merely to dismantle the Welfare State, at least at a more rapid speed than is at present on New Labour’s agenda. Put simply it is, or will be, for the Tory membership to convince millions of despairing but potential Tory voters that it is willing to elect a leader that the nation is willing to elect.
It is inevitable that the Tory Party will again shortly be faced with a choice between the monkey and the organ grinder. The organ grinder has more than generously offered his services to the monkey. In 1940, Lord Halifax declined to subvert Churchill’s claims, his greatest service to his nation and his party. Whether Mr. Duncan Smith is possessed of a similar sense of history remains to be seen; Lord Halifax continued to make a contribution while recognising Churchill was the man of the hour, without whom no practical contribution could be made by anyone.
24 West Hill,
Hertfordshire SG5 2HZ.
Tel. 01462 433939