Archive for ‘Conservatives’

January 27, 2011

Uneasy Conservative grassroots seek voice in Coalition, with launch of new Conservative Policy Forum

If you thought it was only the beard and sandals element of the Liberal Democrats that were still finding it hard to come to terms with life in the Con-Lib coalition, think again. Today heralds the start of the Tory grassroots fightback, as the new Conservative Policy Forum is launched.


A lot of the coverage around the current government has revolved around dissent from the Liberal Democrats, and Party President Tim Farron has threatened to lead a rebellion once again, this time against the proposed sale of forests. However, there is much discontent from the Conservative grassroots, who think that their traditional values are being watered down, or stamped on, by the presence of the Liberal Democrats in Government.

Baroness Warsi and Oliver Letwin will launch the Conservative Policy Forum, under the guise of moving towards the next Conservative manifesto. However, after Conservative voters decisively moved towards to the Liberal Democrats in Oldham East and Saddleworth, and senior Conservatives like Michael Gove openly comfortable about the idea of an electoral pact with the Liberal Democrats, the true blue Tories are getting restless.

January 13, 2011

>Jeremy Hunt heckled at debate


A debate with Jeremy Hunt at the London School of Economics was interrupted last night by student protestors heckling the Culture Secretary with the chants “Minister of Culture, Tory vulture,” and (the one that always get’s on VN’s nerves,) “Tory scum, here we come”. Hunt didn’t appear too deterred by the disturbance, and it just goes to highlight further that the current wave of protests are more anti-Tory than anti any particular policy.

November 25, 2010

>Tory Peer Howard Flight warns of the poor ‘breeding’


Picture via The BBC

Newly appointed Conservative Peer Howard Flight has commented that changes to the welfare system might encourage ‘breeding’ amongst those on benefits. Not surprisingly Downing St. has distanced irself from these delightful remarks but, after Lord Young’s comments just a matter of days ago, it looks like the Cameroons still have a little bit more work to do.

Flight has form though. Michael Howard removed him as a candidate in 2005 after saying the party would make cuts if elected. He has also served as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

Such a shame he hasn’t taken his seat in the Lords yet…flight seems such a reasonable chap….

November 10, 2010

>Tuition fees protest demolishes its own argument


Today students took to the streets of Westminster to protest against cuts in education and a rise in tuition fees. Unfortunately some took the name of the protest, ‘Demolition’, a bit too literally, and chose to kick in windows at CCHQ. Well…what do you expect from Trots….

All these so called protestors have done is damage the cause of those who try to raise this issue in legitimate political forums, of which peaceful protest is one. The NUS deserves criticism for making the campaign so partisan, and personal against Nick Clegg. They also deserve criticism for pathetically calling it ‘Demolition, further stoking up all sorts of emotions. However, they are not directly responsible for the actions of a minority of people who came to their protest.

The protestors have done what those who support higher fees wanted, delegitimise their argument, and provide a reasonable excuse to ignore them.  The windows in CCHQ will be fixed by tomorrow, the legitimacy of the anti-fees movement will take a lot longer to restore. All the rioters have demolished is their own argument.
October 7, 2010

>Who did best this conference season?

>As a party it is fair to say the Liberal Democrat’s will have come away feeling happiest this conference season. The leadership (and press office,) was probably expecting a difficult time, with mini rebellions continually springing up from the sandals and beard brigade. What actually happened was the party came together, had a rigorous debate, made positive decisions, and rather enjoyed people caring for once.

Labour will feel better having elected a leader.Unfortunately, that new leader is Ed Miliband. Only time will tell if they got right man, but they will feel that they are on a firmer footing now, and that they have some sense of direction. The job will be completed as the results of the Shadow Cabinet  elections are announced at 9pm this evening and posts on Friday. Undoubtedly though, conference will have left Labour with a renewed sense of optimism and purpose.

The Conservatives had the most disappointing conference. Perhaps everyone had just had enough by the time they got to Birmingham, but the sense of triumph at returning to power didn’t seem quite as rife as it perhaps should have been. Then the controversy of child benefits was ignited, and the leadership found itself in a proper fight, albeit a fight they wanted to have. A well delivered leaders speech saved the final scene, but many were left cold at the curtain call. 

There were though some individual performances from both MPs and media types, that stood out during the season. Here then, in no particular order, is VNs top 5 conference winners and losers:

Conference winners

  • Ed Miliband – Can’t ever really have believed he would pull it off. While his speech may have been dull, it was relatively well received in the hall. Even though the Milibrother saga dominated the conference, it couldn’t really have gone much better for him.
  • William Hague – He is never going to go down badly on home turf, but the raucous (for a Conservative conference,) reception  he received when introducing his cabinet colleagues shows just why he is so vital to the coalition.
  • Nick Clegg – Accurately delivered his most difficult speech as Party Leader, and managed to keep most people on side. He probably arrived in Liverpool fearing wide spread rebellion and rumblings. He will have left knowing most are sticking with him.
  • Iain Duncan-Smith – He may be the quiet man, but his work was at the heart of the Conservatives conference agenda.
  • Danny Alexander – An increasingly impressive and important figure within his party and the government. His excellent economics speech will have won many more converts to the actions his department is being forced to take.

Conference losers

  • David Miliband – Thought he was attending a coronation, but ended up being beaten to the throne. His speech brought the conference hall to it’s feet, but that will provide little comfort as he sits on the Opposition back benches.
  • Vince Cable – Rightly criticised for going overboard with the bank bashing, and referring to bankers as ‘Spivs’. He has gone from being one of the Liberal Democrat’s most potent weapons in opposition, to an increasingly dull one trick pony in Government.
  • David Cameron – Despite a fairly impressive key-note speech, the Prime Minister found himself requiring a hard-hat more often than he might have expected.
  • Andrew Neil – Close to becoming unwatchable.
  • Lembit Opik – To get a speaking slot a Lib Dem conference, you were required to write at least one Lembit joke…

October 6, 2010

>Cameron closes conference season


Picture from The Guardian

Conference season came to a close in Birmingham, if not quite with a bang,  then at least with a sense of purpose from David Cameron. 

The Prime Minister’s speech, the first delivered by a Conservative leader in Government for 14 years, was not quite as impressive as the notes free barnstormer that won him the leadership. It did though embellish his election themes of ‘The Big Society’, and deficit reduction. This was all tied together in a call-to-arms for the country, even using the immortalised phrase ‘your country needs you,’ to stir emotions. 

However the most rabble rousing bits where two rather long lists, delivered at shot gun speed, and praise for a 92 year old activist. The first and longest list was that laying out the Coalitions many achievements since taking power. It included everything from scrapping ID cards to the banking levy, and was greeted with rapturous applause. Almost as much applause, in fact, as the devastating analysis of Labour’s years in government that followed shortly after. That list was delivered in the same style, and highlighted the ruined economy and centralisation of power.

A few moments in the speech would have made Lib Dems shudder. The first was the description of Margaret Thatcher as ‘Britain’s greatest peacetime Prime Minister’. It was also announced that No. 10 will hold a birthday party for her in the coming weeks. VN can’t help wondering if Clegg will be invited… Cameron also said that Trident would not be scrapped, and said that there would be a new nuclear deterrent based on Trident. This is was a key Liberal Democrat manifesto commitment, and this announcement will surely make some wobbly Lib Dem activists keel over completely. It would be interesting to know if this speech was seen by Clegg’s office, in the same way Clegg’s speech was seen by No.10 prior to delivery.

Cameron is the only leader to have chosen to have his front bench team sitting behind him, and it brought a whole new meaning to Lynne Featherstone’s phrase ‘male and pale’. He proceeded to pick out George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith (twice), William Hague and, most humorously, Eric Pickles for individual praise at various points in the speech. 

What came through clearly, as it did at Lib Dem conference, was that those in the coalition get it. Labour do not. At the top of the government there is a unified approach to a heavily debated programme of government, based on compromise and compassion. Ed Miliband and his team must have sunk into their seats as the size of the task they face dawned on them, and the inevitably of a PMQs pasting come Wednesday became even clearer. But that is for then. Today David Cameron steered his ship through waters that were becoming increasingly sticky for him personally. He matched his liberal pro-coalition inclination, with tough dinosaur talk on Al Magrehi , against electoral reform, and praise for Thatcher 

In fact, after Trident, the thing he got most wrong was his choice of exit music-the self explanatory ‘It Takes Two” by Marvin Gaye. You could almost get the whiff of cheese through the television…

October 5, 2010

>Missing: Chris Grayling MP, if found please return to CCHQ

>Has anyone actually seen Chris Grayling in, well, months really. No, didn’t think so.

Since his ridiculous comments about gay couples not sharing rooms in B&B’s prior to the election he has done a disappearing act that Oliver Letwin would be proud of. This has become particularly noticeable in the last few days, when the discussion has been about child benefit, but as the Under Secretary of State for Work and Pensions he has hardly appeared.

In fact they even go David Davis on the Daily Politics to discuss changes to child benefit not Grayling:

So if you do see him, let someone at CCHQ know, although they are probably not missing him all that much.
October 5, 2010

>Tory Press Office take on Guido, live online

>Tory Press HQ and their official twitter account have entered into an online row with Guido Fawkes. Now once again it looks like Guido is causing trouble because he didn’t feel he was getting enough attention this conference season, but it shows a staggering lack of judgement from the Conservative Press Office to take him on in public.

The row centres around previous Guido target William Hague’s decision to pull out of an on-stage interview with Telegraph journalist Peter Oborne. He will be replaced by Education Secretary Michael Gove. Both Guido and the press office seem to be talking about the same event, but there appear  to be two invitations. Soon after Guido tweeted that Hague had pulled out, Tory Press HQ tweeted a picture of this invite, on which Gove is clearly billed as the speaker:

@guidofawkes seems to have a different invite to us on Twitpic

However, below is a picture Guido claims is the original invite, with Hague as the speaker:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Whoever is right, it was really poor of a press office to take on a figure such as Guido when he was on home turf. Although it was nice to see someone taking on the plotter and his personal attacks on a senior cabinet minister, all is currently quiet on the western front…for now.
October 4, 2010

>How can Labour genuinely argue against Osborne’s child benefit cut?

>As expected, the Chancellor George Osborne announced the end of universal child benefit in his speech to Conservative Party conference today. Those earning over £44K a year will no longer receive the payments from 2013. 

If you consider monitoring the Twitterspehre as a good way of measuring opinion, the Labour trolls seem to be out in force. Clearly cutting any kind of benefit is deeply unpleasant, but how can a left-wing party make a genuine argument against the benefits for the better-off being reduced in order to protect those of the less well off? There is the issue of combined salaries; a couple could earn £43k each, a combined total of £86k, but could still claim child benefit. A single parent on £45k could not. However, in a benefit system that under Labour nearly drowned in complexity, this seems the most efficient and effective way of protecting benefits for those that need them most.

Politicians can believe in a less domineering state, but very few come into politics to hack up benefits and make people worse off. Stopping the poor paying for the benefits of the better off can hardly be considered some Thatcherite idealogical cut, which is how many have tried to characterise the Coalition’s deficit reduction plan. Today’s proposal from the Chancellor shows that the Coalition are making difficult decisions in a fair way, that also cuts through the complex bureaucracy that put so many off claiming what they were entitled too.

August 3, 2010

>Cameron and Clegg’s letter to the Cabinet


Prime Minister David Cameron and his  Lib Dem Deputy Nick Clegg have sent a letter to their cabinet, outlining the principles that run through the heart of the Coalition Government, notably deficit reduction and localism.

The full text of the letter reads as follows:

Dear colleague,
In the weeks ahead you will be engaging in vital negotiations with the Treasury about the Spending Review, with important decisions to be made to deal with the legacy of the previous government and restore health to the public finances and confidence to our economy. In that context we thought it would be helpful to remind you of the discussions held at our cabinet meeting at Chequers just over a week ago – and the conclusions we reached about the central purpose that will guide all our decisions as a government.
Deficit reduction and continuing to ensure economic recovery is the most urgent issue facing Britain. We agreed that, as we deliver this, our government’s purpose is to make two major shifts in our political and national life:
The first is a radical redistribution of power from government to communities and people, to reverse decades of over-centralisation. Almost all our plans involve giving individuals, families and communities more control over their lives – whether that’s through opening new schools, giving locally elected councillors a say over local NHS services or holding local police to account. The importance of this approach cannot be overstated. It underpins our attitude to public service reform. It animates our plans for genuine localism. It explains our focus on government transparency. If we are true to this purpose then the people of this country will feel a new sense of power and responsibility in their daily lives.
The second fundamental change is that this government, unlike previous governments, will govern for the long term. That’s why we are prepared to take the difficult decisions necessary to equip Britain for long-term success. This approach not only underpins our commitment to safeguarding our environment for future generations and to restoring transparency and accountability to our politics, it must also underpin everything we do in the spending review. That means welfare reform that will get people off benefits and into work; effective support for children in the crucial early years to provide them with a fair chance in life; tackling the blight of youth unemployment and long-term investment in our infrastructure to build a competitive and sustainable economy for the future. These should be our priorities, not the short term gimmicks, top down dictats and wasteful subsidies of the past.
So this is the purpose of our government, in one sentence: putting power in the hands of communities and individuals and equipping Britain for long-term success. Over the course of the Spending Review we need you to ensure that this purpose is felt across your departments. Whatever the options on the table, whatever the decision to be made, the same questions must be asked: will it put more power in people’s hands? And will it equip Britain for long-term success?
Finally we want to thank you for your hard work and commitment to this coalition.  It’s been an intense and at times tough twelve weeks – we hope you get a good summer break.

The Coalition has got through its first 3 months in power quite strongly (Michael Gove aside), with some ministers scoring highly in polls. As a party the Liberal Democrats have taken a hit, but a good party conference will turn that around. 

After the summer recess is completed, it will be fascinating to see what happens now that the honeymoon period has finished.
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