(a) Guidance will be given to the Regional Selection College "on the attributes needed" in candidates. Who are these arrogant people that know exactly what the electorate want in a Conservative candidate and what is the "guidance" that they will be giving? Have they been elected by anybody in this role? Are they accountable to anybody if they are wrong? Who has approved the guidance to be given?(b) Censorship. The most likely people to know about the candidates are those Constituency Chairmen, Council Leaders and Area and Regional Officers who make up the Regional Selection College (RSC). How ironic that they have been censored. According to the rules:"In order that all applicants are treated on a fair and equal basis, members of the RSC should not at any time engage in canvassing for or against any applicants or group of applicants, and must not circulate any material, either written or electronic pertaining to any aspect of an applicant’s application. To avoid any doubt on this point, members of the RSC should not engage in email, text, blog or telephone communication about applicants. Any members of the RSC found engaging in such action will forfeit their place on the RSC. The decision of the Regional Chairman and Regional Director on this issue will be final.
(c) One possible way that members of the Party might have been able to show their distaste for this abominable process would have been to give one or more candidates no preferential rating at all, but this cannot be done. Unless they vote for all candidates their voting paper will be declared invalid.
- Sitting MEPs who wish to stand again should automatically go on to the final list.
- The Regional College should interview candidates and select sufficient number to make up the list.
- The list should then be put to all members so that they may vote giving their order of preferences of the candidates on the list.
- All candidates should be allowed to campaign and hold hustings meetings.
- Candidates should be allowed to spend up to £1,000 on campaign literature.
- Candidates may email party members.
When candidates from outside a Region are chosen the press often pick up the impression that we are weak on the ground. If the electorate then picks up the same impression it is damaging to our campaign. One advantage of picking a local candidate in a safe Labour seat is that they get publicity during the election campaign. They can then build on this publicity when they stand for the local Council.
Now that we have been told that there will not be a General Election will the Party Board announce that the appointment of candidates has been abandoned and the constituencies can select their candidates in the usual way or will the control freaks at Central Office, now they have the power, hang on to it?
No one can deny that this was a good conference for the Conservative Party. They took the media by storm. The representatives went home happy, but where was the Party Chairman? No opening speech rallying the troops, no closing speech either. In fact all in all we did not see much of Caroline Spellman. Did she tour the receptions? What did she do? In her previous post she did an excellent job, totally on top of her brief. But is she right for the role of Party Chairman? Does the Party Chairman have a role? Michael Ashcroft is running everything other than the media and George Osborne is in charge of the General Election campaign so other than the chicken dinner circuit there is not much for Caroline to do. Could someone enlighten us?
Incidentally, there was no debate on the policy proposals and in one of those control freak modes the representatives had to speak from the floor of the hall addressing the platform rather than the conference and the they could only speak for 90 seconds. Interesting, that when we were in power we had debates at the conference, but ever since we stopped having debates we have been out of power. That is the way the Leadership get out of touch with the grass roots.
British Airways Update
We have now received compensation from British Airways (see below) and congratulations to them on handling the case expeditiously. Mysteriously, my claim was for £136.50 but I received a cheque from them for £200. Thanks British Airways. My wife made a claim for £107.50 plus the damage to her case which cost about £80. She received a cheque for £100. Weird? Not so good British Airways.
- £670,000 was spent on fund raising activities - a lot of money - so how much was raised from this? Answer £624,000. We would have been better off spending nothing and raising nothing.
- Other expenditure went up from £638,000 to £1,825,000. Now that is a serious increase, but is there an explanation? No.
- Membership is slightly down judging from the figures for the capita levy which dropped from £312,000 to £304,000. Why doesn't the Party give accurate numbers for membership? Other Parties do.
- Finally, there seems to have been an explosion in the number of appointed positions. We now not only have the Party Board, but we also have Party Officers, Administrative Committees, and Central Office Management. Who are all these people and what do they do? I think we should be told. Is it just jobs for the boys are are we building up a big bureaucracy?
- I hear that the control freak tendency of the Candidates Committee is resurrecting itself again. After the debacle of Ealing Southall a low profile would have been expected, but you can't keep a control freak down. This will continue until the Chairman of the Committee is accountable either to the membership or at least to the National Convention. If your selection process has been interfered with let us know.
- Are you worried that the Chinese government is taking a shareholding in Barclay's Bank. Are you worried that the Quatar Government is trying to buy Sainsburys? The Conservative Party believes in a free market, but governments are not subject to market forces; they respond to political forces. There is great danger in letting this continue. Nearer home the French government subsidises some of its companies. It is time the Conservative Party spoke up on this issue.
- When will the General Election be? October 25th. Why? Gordon Brown will announce the Election on the first day of the Labour Party conference. By doing this it will throw the Conservative Party into turmoil. Will they go ahead with their conference or will they upset everybody by cancelling it? At this point in time will the Conservatives have announced their policies or will they still be waiting for the policy commissions to report? Will they be wrong footed? Brown will claim that he wants a mandate from the people. He will claim that everybody has been calling for him to have an election because he was not elected by anybody. Look forward to a bumpy ride. What is for sure is that over the next few months the Conservative Party has got to pull together or face another disaster.
- The most important issue facing the United Kingdom at the moment is the European Constitution. The people were promised a referendum. They must demand a referendum. Sign up to the Daily Telegraph's referendum. Be prepared to take to the streets if we are not given one. The crunch is coming. Our democracy is at stake. We must fight for it. The Conservative Party must take the lead.
What inexperienced idiot decided to put David Cameron's name on the ballot paper? I am a member of the Conservative Party. I am not a member of David Cameron's Conservatives and many Paarty members feel the same. The Leader presumably sanctioned this, so he must take responsibility. Some would call it arrogance, I would call it the result of inexperience. Let us hope it will not be repeated.
What inexperienced idiot imposed Tony Lit on the Constituency Association when he had only been a member of the Party for five minutes. Do these people not understand how demotivating it is to all Party members to be told that none of them are good enough to fight a by-election so we have to go ouside the Party?
Why did the Candidate Committee not do due diligence on Tony Lit and discover that he had only just been to a Labour Party fund raising dinner and his company had donated £4,800 to the Labour Party (incidentally just below the disclosable amount - that says it all)?
All these were avoidable so who will take responsibility? We hear that George Bridges has resigned to spend more time with his family. We hear that the Vice Chairman in charge of campaigning - Grant Shapps MP has resigned, but what of the others?
Francis Maude was Party Chairman in the run up to this. What was his role?
Caroline Spellman is Party Chairman. What was her role?
George Osborne MP is in charge of the General Election strategy. Isn't a by-election part of the strategy. What was his role.
Lord Ashcroft has taken over the Party. Virtually everybody now reports to him. What was his role?
George Bridges has gone, but was he the Director of Campaigning? If so what was his role?
Ian Sanderson is the Regional professional for London so what was his role?
Who decided that Tony Lit should be the candidate? Was it John Maples MP - Vice Chairman in charge of candidates?
The Candidates Committee should have vetted Tony Lit. The Chairman of that committee is Shireen Ritchie so what was her role?
The Chairman of the Association is usually the person with most local knowledge so what was his role?
Saheed Warsi is responsible for community cohesion. In a seat like Ealing South this is a big issue so was she involved?
Dominic Grieve MP has huge knowledge of community cohesion so was he involved?
All in all there are many questions which I somehow doubt we will ever get answers to but somebody somewhere has got to get a grip on things. There are many people in the Party that saw these fundamental errors coming. Why do we ignore them?
The only consolation is that many years ago we had a similar experience not far from Ealing South. This is what happened:
- "Breckland's Dereham-Humbletoft ward, the one ward in England that was counted both electronically and manually , was found to have 56.1% more District Council votes than when e counted"
- In South Bucks technicians were observed using a USB key to transfer files between computers. Such devices can be used to load unauthorised software or modify existing software to behave in malicious or unexpected ways. Open Rights Group does not know what the key contained or why a transfer was needed to resolve the software problems encountered in South Bucks, but it was clear that the Returning Officer and Deputy Returning Officer were not aware of any implications of such action.
- In South Bucks telephone voting only accounted for 1.35% and 1.25% of the electorate for district and parish elections respectively.
- Bosses to act as smoking spies: Businesses are to be instructed to implement "management controls" of keeping written records of any person smoking. A template Smoking Incident Form is provided for firms to fill out, and firms are to be told to pass the detailed records of incidents to town halls "to inform them of the occurrence".
- Fines by town hall inspectors: These Smoking Incident Forms will provide sufficient evidence for town halls to levy £50 fines on anyone who smokes. If any individual fails to provide assistance or information to the state inspectors when requested, they in turn can be fined £1,000.
- Snoopers’ charter: The guidance explicitly authorises the use of uncover and "intrusive" surveillance – including the use of snooping devices like hidden cameras. It asserts that the Human Rights Act and Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act provide no rights against the snooping.
- Inspectors’ power of entry: The legislation gives town hall inspectors forcible rights of entry into any premises where the public may be. The guidance encourages "proactive inspections", "to generate lists from their premises database", and to particularly target small and medium firms.
- ‘Stasi State’ raids by police: Town halls are told to draw up an "enforcement protocol", and get local police officers to assist in "targeting individuals as part of a pre-arranged programmed activity". Yet this will inevitably displace the police from tackle violent crime, car crime and burglary.
"Experience from abroad shows that smoking bans are largely self-enforcing. Yet rather than relying on common sense and peer pressure, I am concerned that Labour Ministers are giving the go-ahead to a snoopers’ charter of heavy-handed surveillance and zealous inspections to impose the smoking ban on England. This is a municipal sledgehammer to crack a nut.
"Step by step, Labour Ministers are introducing a Stasi State – giving ever stronger powers for state officials to spy and enter private property, and now, even asking bosses to act as secret police.
"Councils are under such intense financial pressures due to fiddled funding and new burdens, that I fear that a town hall Taliban could be tempted to use the easy target of a smoking ban as a cash cow. Ministers would be better to encourage councils to target their limited resources on serious risks to public welfare like under-age drinking and commercial fly-tipping."
If the Conservative Party believes that the Labour government is creating a Stasi State and town hall Talibans why doesn't the Conservative Party pledge to repeal this repressive legislation and defend freedom and choice? It is time to stand up and be counted. After the smokers the drinkers will be next.
- The United States military budget this year is $650 billion.
- The total United Nations budget is 2% of World military expenditure.
- This year the United States will spend $4.5 billion on aid to Africa.
- There are 639 million small arms in the World.
- Each year 8 million small arms are produced together with 16 billion units of ammunition.
- 400,000 people are killed each year from conventional arms.
- $900 billion is spent by the World each year on defence.
- $60 billion is spent by the World on aid.
- 88% of the World trade in arms is conducted by the permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations.
- The translation costs of the European Union will soon rise to £700 million.
- The Common Agricultural Policy subsidy is 54.7 billion Euros.
MEP candidates - Let members decide
In the next couple of months the Board of the Conservative Party will decide how candidates for the 2009 European Elections will be selected. There has been much comment about how this should be done, about the implications for incumbent MEPs, and about the (mis-)alignment between the attitude to Europe of our delegation in Brussels and Party members.
The Spectator is now reporting a recommendation by the party’s National European Forum that unlike the selection for 1999 and 2004, party members will have no say in the selection of candidates. According to the Spectator, the proposal is that incumbents would require the approval of Regional Selection Colleges who would presumably rank the highest places in each regional list. Other places on the list would be allocated by CCHQ.
The arguments are all very reminiscent of the debate about how we select the Party Leader: members can not be trusted to act in the best interests of the Party; the cost of consulting members is disproportionate; an election would be a distraction. I know that some members of the Board believe that the hustings in previous selections were divisive. I thought that, given the passions that the EU raises among some party members on both sides of the debate, the hustings that I witnessed were conducted in a constructive spirit and members representing all shades of opinion contributed and were heard with respect.
There is clearly a belief among those who campaigned to remain within the EPP that they might pay a heavy price during an open selection and the protection being afforded to incumbents probably reflects this fear. I suspect that it is largely misplaced. In spite of the majority of party members being broadly Euro-sceptic, the composition of the party in Brussels remained much the same after 2004. Members of the Party are a sophisticated electorate who are quite capable of appreciating the work, expertise and contribution of MEPs who hold a wide range of views.
Just as in the debate about selecting the Party Leader, the choice is what sort of organisation is the Conservative Party. Are we a membership organisation in which ordinary members actively participate in the decision making processes, or are our members just a supporters club: active, vociferous but disengaged?
Important as these issues are, I think that the way we select our European candidates also says something about our attitude to Europe. We criticise the EU for being centralising, for taking decisions behind closed doors, from promoting self-interested deals. We believe that institutions should be accountable. We believe that decisions should be taken locally where possible. We are proposing a new grouping in the European Parliament promoting a vision of the EU as more open, more outward-looking, more democratic. How much stronger would be our claim to be the voice of reform in Europe, how much greater would be our espousal of these values, how much more would these ideas resonate if we depended on these same principles in the selection of our candidates.
Let us renounce the hole-in-the-wall deal, the back-stairs fix. They give the impression that we do not take European Elections or MEPs seriously. Let’s trust party members by inviting them all to participate in candidate selection and ranking in a postal ballot. As David Cameron said in his New Year message last year, “I want us to usher in a new type of politics in this country: constructive, thoughtful and open-minded. And I want every single member and supporter of the Conservative Party to remember that personal commitment is the most powerful way to bring about change: as Gandhi said, "We must be the change we want to see in the world."”
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to bring in an "Open List" system for elections to the European parliament so that the people can decide who should represent them and who they no longer wish to represent them. It is the essence of a representative democracy that the people can decide who shall represent them in Parliament. At present the "Closed List" system allows the political parties to determine the order of the lists. Someone placed at the top of a list by the Conservative or Labour parties is almost certain to be elected with the people having no choice. The people should be able, not only to vote for a Party but also for the individuals within the Party.
- Gore asserted that today’s Arctic is experiencing unprecedented warmth while ignoring that Arctic temperatures in the 1930s and 1940s were as warm or warmer (Briffa et al., 2004).
- Gore did not explain that Arctic temperature changes are more closely correlated with changes in solar activity than with changes in atmospheric CO2concentrations (Soon, 2005).
- Gore did not explain that the Sun has been hotter, for longer, in the past 50 years than in any similar period in at least the past 11,400 years (Solanki et al., 2005).
- Gore said the Antarctic was warming and losing ice but failed to note, that is only true of a small region and the vast bulk of the continent has been cooling and gaining ice (Doran et al., 2004).
- Gore mentioned the break-up of the Larsen B ice shelf, but did not mention peer-reviewed research which suggests the ice shelf comes and goes frequently (Pudsey & Evans, 2001, 2006).
- Gore hyped unfounded fears that Greenland’s ice is in danger of disappearing. In fact its thickness has been growing by 2 inches per year for a decade (Johannesenet al., 2005).
- Gore said global sea levels would swamp Manhattan, Bangladesh, Shanghai and other coastal cities, and would rise 20ft by 2100, but the UN estimate is just 8in to 1ft 5in. (IPCC, 2007; Morner, 1995, 2004).
- Gore implied that a Peruvian glacier's retreat is due to global warming, failing to state that the region has been cooling since the 1930s and other South American glaciers are advancing (Polissar et al., 2006).
- Gore blamed global warming for water loss in Africa's Lake Chad, though NASA scientists had concluded that local water-use and grazing patterns are probably to blame (Foley & Coe, 2001).
- Gore inaccurately said polar bears are drowning due to melting ice when in fact 11 of the 13 main groups in Canada are thriving, and polar bear populations have more than doubled since 1940 (Taylor, 2006).
- Gore said the ocean absorbs heat from the Sun, when in fact the ocean takes nearly all of its heat from the atmosphere, without which the ocean would freeze over (Houghton, 2002).
- Gore said a review of 928 scientific papers had shown none against the "consensus". In fact only 1% of the papers were explicitly pro-"consensus"; almost 3 times as many were explicitly against (Peiser, 2006).
- Gore showed a link between changes in temperature and in CO2 concentration in the past 500,000 years, but did not admit that changes in temperature precededchanges in CO2 concentration (Petit et al., 1999).
It is a good job that members of the Party commit themselves to going to the Spring Forum before they see the Agenda. It looks like one of the most boring agendas ever. The Agenda document is well presented, but content is zero. No big speeches other than Cameron's. All froth and no substance. Marks out of ten:
House of Lords Reform
- 82% of the people want either a wholly or a partially elected House of Lords.
- 6% of the people want a fully appointed House of Lords.
- 3% of the people support the ceremonial role of the House of Lords.
I thought you may be interested in a new Discussion Forum I have established at www.euforum.co.uk.
Please do feel free to get involved and/or initiate discussion on the website. The site is all about encouraging debate, something I know COPOV cares deeply about.
I do hope you are well.
In 2003, Seattle grandmother Bev Harris did a simple Google search and stumbled across the trade secret software of the Diebold Corporation, which counts America's votes. This treasure trove of information about the inner-workings of the company's voting system made its way to computer security expert Dr. Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins University, who found "stunning, stunning flaws".
Filmed over two years, "Hacking Democracy" follows Bev Harris's investigations from the trash cans of Texas to California's Secretary of State and finally to Florida where one brave election official gave Bev and her team access to the county's Diebold voting system. Ultimately proving that votes can be stolen without a trace culminates in a duel between the Diebold voting machines and a computer hacker from Finland - with America's democracy at stake.
The UK will be introducing electronic voting pilots for the May 2007 elections. One of the experiments is being conducted in South Bucks. I am told that the Company being used there is easier to hack into than Diebold.
The film shows how easy it was to change the voting figures by hacking into the main computer software. Alternatively you could hack into the Flash memory disc at the polling station - all done without trace. Passwords - no problem just insert a program by-passing the password. In the words of the hacker, "There is no safe program"
The end result of all this is that the United States is no longer a democracy. Remember in the Presidential election of 2000 the person with the highest number of votes did not become President. It has a flawed electoral college system for the Senate, It is funded by pork barrel politics. The next Presidential election is expected to cost over one billion dollars to the candidates. On top of this electoral fraud. What a mess.
So what lessons are there in this for us? According to the hacker the safest system of voting is by the traditional ballot using pen and paper. In this country if fraud is suspected a High Court Judge can order the ballot boxes to be reopened and the count taken again. In other words there is a paper trail. There is no paper trail with electronic voting. The machine manufacturers refuse to publish the details of their software programs on the grounds of security. Yet without access to these programs there is no certain paper trail, so what will happen if fraud is suspected in South Bucks in May this year. I think we should be told.
What we do know is that the Government refused to bring in individual identifiable voter registration to combat postal vote fraud. It did this because it knows many Labour voters will stay at home during the election, so it would rather have the possibility of electoral fraud than have a safer system of voting. It remembers Northern Ireland where the electoral register went down by 10% when registration was brought in.
One final point - why is this important film not being distributed in the United Kingdom? Why is no Television channel showing it? Could it just be that the establishment is terrified that for the voters this might be the last straw and they will stay away in droves from voting until the whole rotten mess is cleared up and this country once again has a fair, safe voting system.
Give us our democracy.
Fir further information about "Hacking Democracy" look at the following websites:
I have just received my membership card for this year. It states on the card "Membership of the Conservative Party gives you the right to vote in all Party elections subject to the current rules of the Party and to take part in the development of policy" Could somebody tell me how I can take part in the development of policy? The particular area I am interested in is Constitutional Affairs and Democracy. All my attempts to be involved have met with a blank wall. What is your experience?
Under the Anti-terrorism Acts we have had 997 arrested
Did somebody say something about a police state?
happens if they cannot get two women and two men to apply as happened in Leeds North West? Nevertheless the Party is going in the right direction by opening up the selection process to the whole candidates list. The list should be expanded. There are still far too many good people that have been turned down for the list.
What price 'distorted devolution'?By Jim Allister QC MEP
The fundamental distortion imported by the Belfast Agreement was the imposition of D'Hondt as the statutory mechanism for forming a government. D'Hondt is a complicated formula for ensuring that parties are represented roughly in proportion with the votes they receive. It is used in many Continental countries to determine the number of parliamentary seats parties receive, as well as being used for European elections in
The essence of D'Hondt in
No matter how inefficient, even corrupt, a party might be, it remains in government through successive elections, provided it maintains a rump of representation. The voter is therefore robbed of the ability to vote a discredited party from office. Such contempt for the electorate may suit some politicians: it gives them a meal ticket for life. But it will, in time, traduce the political process, leaving voters wondering whether there is any point in voting at all.
D'Hondt is an absurd and undemocratic means of forming a government. And, indeed, nowhere in the world except in
It is one thing, in the circumstances of a divided
Jim Allister QC is an MEP for the Democratic Unionist Party
Who we are
The Direct Democracy campaign is supported by a broad range of MPs, MEPs, candidates and activists from within the Conservative Party, a list of whom is on our website.
MEP Watch's launch press release declares:
"There is currently a debate taking place within the Conservative Party on how candidates for the 2009 European Elections should be selected. MEP Watch believes that the only method acceptable should be a system of regional hustings where every Conservative Party member in that region has a vote. We also believe that all prospective candidates, be they existing MEPs or new comers should face selection or re-selection on an equal basis. MEP Watch co-founder, Richard Hyslop said, "Existing MEPs have had five years or more working in their regions, if after that they cannot face an open vote of their own Party members, and win, then they do not deserve to be re-selected."
The campaign by Richard Hyslop, Chris Palmer and Andrew Woodman is certainly in tune with the views of Conservative Party members. Earlier this week ConservativeHome unveiled a poll that showed 78%for a European ranking process that gave all regional party members a vote. Party Chairman Francis Maude is concerned that a full democratic reselection process might become very divisive and his fears are well-founded.MEP Watch could become a powerful tool in informing party members of the real records of many of their MEPs. Only approximately one-third of current MEPs have been in constant support of the leadership's desire to leave the EPP, for example. The next ranking process presents an enormous opportunity to nominate MEP candidates who are closer to the mainstream of Conservative opinion. The EPP-loyalist MEPs understand this danger and are co-ordinating attempts to ensure that their place on regional lists is decided by regional officers and not all members. The Conservative Party's Board is expected to decide on the voting mechanism in the coming months. The Board has a poor record at protecting members' rights. Under Raymond Monbiot it led the unsuccessful efforts to disenfranchise members in party leadership elections.
- We do not believe that the Priority List is the best way to achieve this and we propose that it should be abolished.
- It is not having sufficient women and ethnic minority candidates that is the crux of the problem. We should aim to increase their numbers on a massive scale.
- We propose a major campaign to attract more women and ethnic minorities to put themselves forward as candidates. Examples of the way we could conduct this campaign are given in our report.
- The Candidates List should be open and transparent.
- The role of Campaign Headquarters is to eliminate the "mad, bad and sad" from the applications to become a candidate.
- There should be an appeal process for anybody that is turned down as a Candidate.
- A large list of Candidates produces a large pool of workers.
- Applicants to be a candidate should be treated fairly, efficiently, courteously, and communicated with regularly if there is any delay in the processing of their application.
- The Chairman of the Candidate’s Committee should be elected by and accountable to the National Convention.
- The current Candidates Committee seems to broadly reflect the various strands of the Party. We have no view on whether it needs to be changed.
- The Party should resurrect the Regional Structures of the Party with Regional Candidates Committees.
- We welcome the concept of open primaries, but believe that the process of selection should be determined by the Constituency Association provided it is fair and within broad guidelines. Advice to be made available when required.
- The final decision on a Candidate should be made by the members of the Constituency Association unless it is in support status.
- Members of Parliament should submit themselves to a General Meeting of their Association for adoption for the succeeding General Election as happens in Scotland.
- We propose that the same principles of candidate selection should apply to European Parliament selections as applies to Westminster seats. Postal voting should be allowed for European Selections.
- Research should be done to establish why so few people wish to be Parliamentary Candidates.
I felt the speech combined traditional Conservative values and themes, placing them in a modern context. This was done in a way that seemed neither harsh nor uncaring and with a genuine understanding that the hopes and aspirations of many, particularly the young, have been dashed through no fault of their own.
Gordon Brown has postponed the Election but here again we had the classic spin. No-one seriously believes that he would not have gone to the country had Labour been 6% to 8% ahead in the polls and David Cameron’s ratings as a good leader not shot up from 35% to 54%. All this ‘I want to prove myself ‘ stuff from someone who for the last ten years has had total control over domestic policy, simply won’t wash with an electorate who no longer believe politicians of any party.
No; we are not yet half way through the present parliament which need not be dissolved until May 2010. We have been given more time to put more flesh on the bones of what could be a set of policies very appealing to the electorate when the time comes to actually vote.
What I do hope is that now we have reached another high (and who was it said ‘a week in politics is a long time?’) we do not mess up. We want the leadership to heed the advice of its elder statesmen and stateswomen and also those of us at the grass roots who have to go out and sell David Cameron and our Conservative product to the electorate at large. There can be no more Southalls with candidates parachuted in at a minute’s notice with no proper checks as to history etc. no more ‘off the cuff’ policy announcements designed to confuse; no more gimmicks. Not only do we have to sing from the same hymn sheet we have to sing the same tune from that hymn sheet.
Why then the sudden change in our fortunes? I think we can thank George Osborne who promised to raise the inheritance nil band threshold to £1 million pounds and to abolish stamp duty for first time home buyers. At last, we have a ‘tax cutting’ Shadow Chancellor. As well as delighting the party faithful, it also had an unsettling effect on Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, who, whilst challenging the amount of revenue it would raise from a flat rate tax on foreign nationals, had to eventually confess that even the Treasury Civil Servants had not done their own sums.
Although I did not hear it, I understand Iain Duncan Smith’s speech on social justice was well received. This again is new territory for Conservatives and, although we have certainly for the last sixty years accepted that there must be a certain level of benefit for the sick, unemployed et alia, no serious research had been done by our party in to the causes of deprivation affecting now not only the inner cities but also many rural areas and formerly prosperous seaside towns. All credit to David Cameron for giving former leaders important work to do in formulating new policies.
Better, they say, to be inside the tent looking out than outside the tent looking in.
Until very recently the environment and green issues had been very low on my list of priorities. But a recent article in one of the ‘heavy’ dailies led me to think again. Unless some drastic action is taken and fairly soon we are in danger of leaving a shocking legacy to those who come after us with vast tracts of planet Earth laid waste and unfit for human habitation. I don’t remember much more of the detail - sufficient to say it was pretty horrific!
But to return to the Prime Minister. Surely, the main charge is that, when Chancellor, G.B. raised vast amounts in taxation (whether by stealth or otherwise) and wasted it on grandiose schemes, most of which had little chance of success. Apart from the raid on pension funds, which deprived many of a fairly reasonable income in retirement, there was the complete lack of responsibility (or accountability, as Michael Howard might say) when the tax credits system went horribly wrong and left thousands and thousands of people without the additional income to which they were led to believe they were entitled. Payments just suddenly ceased with no word of explanation. Then there was the national NHS computer which could not cope with millions of patients due to the lack of proper software. And when the going got tough, junior ministers were left to carry the can and answer questions in Parliament.
Could Gordon Brown turn into another James Callaghan? All the signs are there. The postal workers are threatening strike action again and large tracts of the London Underground have been closed due to strike action. A clamp down of 2% on public sector wages has been promised as well as a tough public spending round (although how tough remains to be seen after the Chancellor’s recent announcements). A 10 billion gap in the public finances is predicted. Hard times are seemingly ahead. Like Callaghan, Brown has held high office for a decade and faces a new and relatively untried Leader of the Opposition, eager for the chase. Brown, though, still has a healthy overall majority of 67 and can go to the country at a time of his own choosing.
This is why I find it surprising that he allowed speculation about an early election to get totally out of hand, thus damaging his own credibility. He is, by all accounts, a loner and, being elected unopposed to the leadership, could easily find sniping coming from those, who I refer to as being ‘outside the tent’. He also has Anthony Eden’s habit of ringing up ministers before breakfast. Things could easily start to go wrong, as they began to do for Margaret Thatcher when William Whitelaw left the Cabinet after the 1987 General Election.
And why invite Lady Thatcher around to Number 10 for a chat? Here is a man to whom ‘Thatcherism’ was an anathema and whose acolytes still contemptuously refer to as ‘Thatcher’. It was done coldly and calculatingly simply to embarrass David Cameron and our party.
In politics you have to take the rough with the smooth and you can never control what Harold Macmillan referred to as ‘events’. Every Prime Minister since 1945 has left office in a worse shape than when he or she entered it. The last three have been felled by Europe and the ‘poll tax’ (Margaret Thatcher), the ERM disaster and Europe (John Major) and the Iraq war and cash for honours (Tony Blair). Only one, Sir Alec Douglas-Home who lasted just under a year in 1963/64) has emerged relatively unscathed. And Sir Alec ‘s verdict on his premiership: ‘ a terrible intrusion into one’s family life’. Gordon Brown, heir apparent so long, could quite easily become Labour’s Anthony Eden. To quote Harold Macmillan again: ‘The trouble with Anthony Eden was that he was trained to win the Derby in 1938 but didn’t get out of the stalls until 1955.’ For 1938 and 1955 read 1994 and 2007.
The election has been postponed simply because we have had a successful party conference and were ahead in crucial marginal seats. David Cameron and his team can take great credit for that. Gordon Brown wants to be judged on his record as Prime Minister. We need constantly to remind people of his record as Chancellor when, even though he taxed and spent, somehow managed to avoid a serious economic crisis.
As Conservatives, we believe in smaller government, less bureaucracy, less red tape and we must give help to small businesses, the lifeblood of our economy, which have been badly hit by the Chancellor’s recent announcements. Provided we hold our nerve, maintain discipline, and have sensible policies, realistically costed, we can have a good election campaign and result no matter when it comes. I think we once fought an election on the slogan: ‘ Set the people free!
Let this be our clarion call once again!
12th October 2007
An independent report concluded that the gap between the richest and poorest people in the UK is at its widest for 40 years.One of Gordon Brown’s last acts as Chancellor was to knock £2 billion off the health budget in England.In some parts of the country couples are now having to borrow up to 10 times their average salary to gain a mortgage.Irrespective of the need for equipment etc., more British soldiers pro rata are being killed in Iraq than American soldiers.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will no longer exist. The "West Lothian" question will be unresolved. An English electorate will have tired of continually subsidising public expenditure in Scotland.Scotland will have a measure of independence in the North West European region. But North Sea oil and gas will be under control of the European Parliament in a United States of Europe.Northern Ireland will have left the Union, a referendum demanded by Sinn Fein in 2020, showing the Unionist people, largely Protestant, to be a minority in the Six Counties.Wales will have ceased to exist, confirming the publication issued way back in 2004 when the country was removed from the European map issued by the European Parliament.There will be more practising Muslims in this part of the North West region of Europe than Christians.Although preparations for the coronation of King Charles III went ahead it was only after a huge argument over whether he should be anointed "Defender of the Faith" or "Defender of Faiths" and also whether his Queen, a lady previously divorced, could be crowned and anointed with him.The European Parliament, to which a nominally Westminster Parliament, was totally subservient, decreed that in the interests of European unity, the monarchies of the former United Kingdom, Netherlands and Norway would be abolished – without any reference to the local Parliament or a referendum.The disastrous economic policies pursued by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, one Gordon Brown, finally came home to roost as our section of the North West region was unable to meet its financial obligations, it being noted that billions of pounds had been left off the balance sheets from 1997 to 2007 due to ‘dodgy’ accounting practices. Consequently, strict financial controls were put into effect leaving many citizens impoverished and unable to sustain their current standard of living. The gap between those receiving pensions from a private employer and those who had worked in the public sector was the widest in living memory.The North West region was one of comparatively low productivity, primarily because our education system had been one which failed adequately to reward those who had achieved high success. An "A" grade in GCSE Mathematics could be gained with a mark of 30%. 25% of students were gaining "A" grades at Advanced Level, many in courses which could not be deemed academic. In addition, tutors at universities (not necessarily the oldest or most prestigious) were complaining that students could not spell correctly, had no knowledge of English grammar, and were unable to engage in reasoned argument. Latin had long gone from the school curriculum, it being deemed "detrimental to the learning of foreign languages in schools". This failed to take into account that Latin was the basis of three European languages – French, Italian and Spanish.NATO, once the bedrock of the defence of the United State of America, Canada and Western Europe, had been replaced when the United States, after its failure in Iraq some 25 years earlier, had decided to go it alone and adopt a policy of "splendid isolation". An angry American electorate had consistently and continually elected Presidents on the slogan "America first" and, with the continued threat from states such as Iran and North Korea, now holding nuclear weapons, was intent on protecting its own. Europe’s response was a common defence policy based on the pooling of resources and an end to each individual region going it alone. Defence headquarters of the European Defence Union (EDU) were based in London. This was primarily because when the North West region was forced to adopt the Euro (there being no realistic alternative), it was agreed that London – with its long history as a major financial centre, would be ideal and quite easily accessible to mainland Europe. In addition, it ensured that the old "United Kingdom" part of the region would never cede and that we had been forgiven for slavish adherence to the United States policy in Iraq when other European nations had been openly sceptical.