Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A break away

I'm taking a break away from London and spending the next few days in Belfast, enjoying all the wonders of the great city. I'll try to keep this blog updated as and when I can.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Young female Conservatives

At this year's Party Conference (which I didn't attend because of committments in London) there were many party activists campaigning for their preferred leadership candidates, including a number of women in T-Shirts with slogans like "Mine's a DD" or "It's DD for me". Whether or not this is a good thing (other than the fact of supporting David Davis!) has provoked two strong opinions on blogs that are linked from here.

First off Labour member Antonia Bance wrote:

I knew the week was going to be surreal when I was greeted at the door by a posse of telegenic young women in very tight t-shirts with the legend “Mine’s a DD” across their boobs: say what you will about our young Labour lovelies (and I do, often), but our women would never take part in such a demeaning stunt, even for a grateful glance or casual cuddle from a potential potentate. The Guardian photographer has evidence of this particular photo-op here.
However another viewpoint comes from Tory Convert:

Two possible tips for young female party members:

1. Read Jo-Anne Nadler's Too Nice to be a Tory conspicusouly on publiic transport - you'll be amazed how many double-takes you get.

2. Get some T-shirts printed with a cunning slogan like "It's DD for me" in "a prominent position". (For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about, this is what a female supporter of David Davis did at the party conference).

However, if you do the latter, be warned - some of the more po-faced journalists and Liberal Democrats will assume that those nasty old men are imposing their sexist will on you asking you to wear such a T-shirt. God forbid that a young woman might actually come up with a witty slogan all by herself and find her own way to the T-shirt printing shop.
She goes on to say:
So girls - ask yourselves - would you rather vote for or join a party which assumes that you've got you own mind and a sense of humour, or a party which assumes that you're a witless over-sensitive flower which needs protecting? And would you rather choose a party which assumes that men are all sexist pigs, or one that views British men for what (most) of them actually are - men whose everyday actions make Britain one of the least sexist countries on the planet.
So there we have it. Two radically different viewpoints from women on whether or not something is demeaning. Now which is closer to the truth? And which is the better party for women to join?

More support for Cameron

David Cameron has the backing of a majority of Conservative Members of the Scottish Parliament with the backing of ten, compared to two for David Davis, three undecided and three (including leader David McLetchie and deputy Annabel Goldie) refusing to say. At a time when the Conservative Party still has problems in Scotland, a leader of the UK party who has strong backing from the Scottish party and a real understanding of the needs of Scotland is essential. No party can seriously aspire to govern all the UK if it cannot offer something to all parts of the UK.

Cameron is the candidate to reach out to new voters

I missed this endorsement of David Cameron by

Young gay professionals are the perfect group of people to support the Conservatives at the next election. They are natural conservatives, they want low taxes, personal freedoms and the ability to shape their own destinies.

It is the bigoted social conservatives (note the small c) that make the Conservatives unattractive when they attempt to portray being gay as being immoral and against 'the natural order of things'.

David Cameron was just a baby of one when homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales. He has lived his entire life without the stigma of prejudice that blighted previous generations.

It must be admitted, however that David Davis, who Mr Cameron will face in final ballot has in the past demonstrated his gay rights agenda. He famously stood up for gay rights when he intervened in the torturing of a gay pupil by a gang of bullies at his tough inner London school.

Both candidates have their merits and both have promised to include gay rights in their agenda and work towards greater equality.

However, it is time for a change, a young leader who can force the party to engage with modern Britain. Party members should vote for Mr Cameron and urge Mr Davis to support him in a senior position in the shadow cabinet.

There are many natural conservatives in this country who currently do not vote for the Conservative Party. Many have been put off by the rhetoric that has come from certain quarters and by the party's whipped support or opposition for certain measures in the House of Commons. The defence of Section 28 and the three line whip opposing gay adoption were just two measures that served to portray the party as narrow minded and out of touch with the modern UK. We have reached the unfortunate point where the proof that society has accepted something is when a row about it breaks out in the Conservative Party. This must change.

If the Conservative Party is ever to win another election it will need many more people to vote for it, including many of those it has in the past been perceived as hostile to. David Cameron has won endorsements in many areas that are not the most fruitful for the party. This is something that cannot be ignored.

Time to end the taboo

Over on Xenon's blog there's the following post:

I was out the other night at a friends 'coming out' party.... Yup, you've guessed it he then 'came out' as a Tory. Well the gasp that went round the room followed by the tittering was unbelievable. I just find it so amusing that nowadays we can accept people of all sexualities and yet God help them if they are a Conservative...

Sadly this is still all too common. Many are reluctant to admit that they are Conservative inclined, as most obviously shown by the way opinion polls and exit polls are distorted by this effect. The title of Jo-Anne Nadler's book Too Nice to be a Tory: It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To says it all.

The result is that it is all too easy to stereotype Conservative Party members on the basis of a few. Many natural conservatives do not want to come near the party. This must change. More and more members should be willing to stand up and be proud. Only that way can we end this taboo.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The man who most wants Davis to win

Increasingly people are talking about just how difficult Gordon Brown would find it to overcome David Cameron. This is a fast turnaround from a few weeks ago when everyone was asking if there was any Conservative available to take on Brown!

Brown is older than Blair and by the time the latter steps down Brown will have been running the economy for a decade, just as it enters the trouble most economists are forecasting. If Cameron wins then he would be facing a significantly younger man, offering the country "A Fresh Start". Brown would look tired, worn out and unable to shift blame for the country's economic problems.

Past elections suggests that the only way for a government to win re-election in economic crisis is to have an unelectable Leader of the Opposition. A few months ago many in the Labour Party believed that so long as Brown replaces Blair by the next election all will be fine. Now the tide is turning. Faced with Cameron, Labour may want a young fresh face as well.

Do not be surprised when the Davis campaign receives a letter of support and advice written on Treasury notepaper...

Cameron wins further support

David Cameron has received the backing of Michael Heseltine as his campaign continues to grow in size. Many others have also declared for Cameron, as Bloggers for Cameron shows. Iain Lindley declared for Cameron some time back and he has since been joined by Kevin Davis, TorySquire, Tory Convert, Martin Cakebread and Gavin Ayling. No doubt there are many others, so if you know if any I've missed, please email me and I'll add them to the list.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Row about abortion

I outlined my views on this subject in a post a few months ago but I have just been drawn into a discussion about it on another blog.

I won't use other people's words, but if anyone who reads here wants to see, here are some of my comments on the thread:

I agree that this is not an issue that should be dragged into the party political arena (and so condemn Liam Fox for trying to do so) but at the end of the day no-one who goes for an abortion at around 20 weeks does so lightly. Those who do so are not going to be put off by the legality - the evidence both from pre 1967 and from other countries shows that a woman who wants an abortion will try to get one by any means possible.

As to abortion, no woman should be forced to carry inside her something against her will. And the evidence shows that women who need an abortion will seek one by any means necessary. The question is not some philosophical point about whether abortion is right or not but about the degree of provision. The only possible positions that can be adopted are either to pretend it doesn't happen, to make a futile attempt to erect unnecessary and painful barriers to access or to seek to ensure that the women involved receive the best possible care and safe access.

I think it is a good thing that abortion is not a party political matter. To reuse a post on my own blog from a few months ago:

Given how the issue cuts across many personally held religious and philosophical viewpoints I feel rather uneasy about this. Preserving a woman's right to choose is essential, but one need only look at the US to see the dangers of allowing it to become a partisan issue. Repeated in this country we could risk the danger of availability depending upon whichever party was in power at the time, whilst both parties have a very wide range of opinion on the matter and would almost certainly be subjected to bitter internal struggles over policy. For the time being a free vote seems a better way to keep the issue out of the dangers of the partisan sphere.

We're lucky that in this country the right to choose requires a majority of a 646 member Parliament to overturn it. In the US it could require as few as five Supreme Court Justices legislating from the bench (or whatever the politically acceptable term is for when it's in favour of the Bush Agenda). Opinions on abortion are usually rooted in philosophical and religious positions that do not fit within the party political structure. The idea that someone's ability to choose what to do with their body should depend upon which party is in power at the time revolts me.

You cite public opinion. But public opinion is so fickle. We do not have the death penalty in this country - again something public opinion would have otherwise. Merely letting public opinion alone determine issues would have kept homosexuality illegal. MPs are elected to bring their judgement on matters, not stick their fingers in the wind.

If the current status quo was "never passed by Parliament" then every legal challenge for breach of what was passed would have been brought and upheld by now.

The UK does not traditionally decide matters by referendum, but by representative assembly. Other than changing the terms of representation, I'm not persuaded that legislation by referendum works. So it's not a case of should it be a "public choice" but a political choice - and there have been umpteenth Bills over the years that have sought to change the 1967 Act, often generating strong debate. This is an issue that is most definitely debated politically, albeit not through parliamentary parties and as an issue that does not conform to party ideology that is no bad thing.

"Informed public opinion" is a very ambiguous term. One need only look at the drugs debate to see how the definition of "informed" changes rapidly, with numerous studies and information easily coming to wildly differing conclusions. Sometimes our politicians have to give a lead on thorny issues and protect minorities from the tyranny of the so-called majority for a day. (On other controversial matters I oppose the foxhunting ban and the now-abolished Section 28, despite both having opinion poll support.)

I don't deny that the decision about whether or not to keep the pregnancy is the hardest one that most women (and sometimes their partners) will ever have to make. There are alternatives but consideration takes time. Restricting the time limit does not reduce the time to have an abortion but reduces the time to have a legal abortion. Many women go through self-denial or find it difficult to take a decision easily - you seem to want them to take it in pressured circumstances. Any fair objective analysis of the situation has to accept that a woman who needs a termination will obtain one. That must be the starting point on this matter. Legal provision is a necessary evil.

Time for a tax cut

Recently I learnt of a campaign by the Terrence Higgins Trust that makes so much sense I cannot understand why it has not been acted upon by the Government yet.

At the moment condoms in the UK are amongst the most expensive in the world. With a cost twice that of those in the US and exceeding the prices across Europe, access to safe sex costs. Whilst free condoms are theoretically available from the NHS, rationing limits supplies and many young people find it difficult to ask for them. The current high prices are a disincentive to use, especially amongst those in at risk groups.

At present the money raised by the VAT on condoms is miniscule compared to the ost of over £1 billion a year to treat sexually transmitted infections and the £350 million and rising cost of HIV care. Making it easier to access safe sex by cutting the VAT on condoms would be a wise investment that would more than pay for itself.

This is supported by experts such as the Government's own Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV, who recommended the abolition of VAT on all over-the-counter contraceptives. Current EU regulations mean that the VAT could not be lowered below 5%, but this would be a worthwhile start.

Taking this action would not only help in the fight against STIs, but it would also be a dual step towards freeing individuals to take the action of their choice and a reduction in the burden of taxation on the individual.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Liam Fox is eliminated

Liam Fox is OUT OUT OUT!

This is fantastic news for the party. Now there is a clear choice of direction for the party - forwards or back.

David Cameron or David Davis? There really is no contest.


Why the last two should be Cameron and Davis

The Conservative Party needs a Clause 4 moment when it shows that it rejects all that holds it back. The party showing that it rejects arrogance and hard line policies would be that moment. Who would be better to be the flag bearer for all that the public hates about the party than David Davis?

My prediction for today

Earlier I thought David Davis would narrowly scrape through today. On reflection I no longer think that. I suspect that the only way he could survive would be for Cameron supporters to put their own preferred candidate at risk to engineer a three way photo finish. And that's about as likely as the Liberal Democrats ever becoming "the real Opposition".

At the moment David Davis may fight on. He may fight to win. But come this evening I doubt that will still be the case.

New desperation!

I've just seen this post on David Davis's blog:

Stuff and Nonsense

We've just put this out to the Press Association in response to rumours being fed to the press by our opponents.

"David Davis is fighting for every vote. He is confident of going through to the next round and intends to take the contest to the party membership and win."

This story is complete nonsense. Spread the word.

posted by Campaign Team @ 5:42 PM

What serious campaign team resorts to such blunt denials of heavy rumours and concessions of perceived weaknesses?

Where did David Davis find these people?!?!

Is anyone else reminded of the seven word press release issued by Margaret Thatcher through Bernard Ingham in 1990 at this stage?

I fight on. I fight to win.

And very shortly afterwards it was all over.

If there is an all member ballot I hope Davis will face off against Cameron. But I seriously doubt that even a mass tactical vote by the Cameron team could save him now!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Could there be a new Conservative Leader by Friday???

Xenon is not alone in wondering if there could be a new Conservative Leader by Friday. The BBC News website is also reporting this and it has been a topic of key discussion on various Conservative forums and elsewhere.

I'll repeat my comments on Xenon's blog:

Frankly the way the Davis campaign team (sic) is disintegrating one has to wonder just what would be the point of a Davis vs Cameron contest other than to finish Davis off for good.

The party is not in good shape financially. An all member ballot will be expensive for both the party and both candidates. If the result is such a foregone conclusion then why not put that money towards keeping the party on an even keel and get on with the important task of exposing the Government's failings, rather than prolonging things for another two months merely for the sake of David Davis's more fanciful dreams?

There's the other possibility that with Davis's support hemorrhaging so badly that Liam Fox might just scrape past him with the supports of about a quarter of the Parliamentary Party. So much for this system ensuring that the leader has the backing of a majority of MPs! Fox is only still in this leadership election because of the tactical support of a handful of MPs with personal grudges against Ken Clarke. That's not a decent basis for starting a leadership or a good basis for a campaign in the country, especially given the way Fox has chased after hardline votes by pretending this is the United States and he's a Bush Republican.

Let it end sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And now it's down to three

Ken Clarke has been knocked out of the Conservative leadership election due to tactical voting, as admitted by a very smug and arrogant David Davis just after the announcement of the first ballot.

Of the three remaining contenders there really is no choice as to who it should be. The party needs a forward looking progressive leader who will bring vision and direction to the party. That man is David Cameron.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Who cares about what someone did decades ago?

The Conservative Party leadership election has become obsessed with drugs this week. Given that the media have never forced Tony Blair to answer the question of whether he took drugs in his youth one has to ask why so much pressure has been put on David Cameron. Hopefully this will now ease.

What I find particularly shocking is the way that many media commentators claim that anyone who's been a student at any point since the mid 1960s will have tried drugs. This is simply bollocks. These days an increasing number of students don't even smoke tobacco and many will have no truck with anything else. A lot wouldn't even know how exactly to take them. However the media carries on in ignorance of this - perhaps the ones who should be answering their question are rather closer to them than they make out?


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