All Mod Cons

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A blessed relief

The more headbanging elements of the Tory blogosphere is getting it's knickers in a twist that the Conservative leadership is failing to advocate tax cuts with sufficient vigour.

The distressing thing is that it suggests a failure to learn from the previous two elections which largely revolved around discussing the validity of our billions and billions of cuts/savings (depending who you were). Which rather distracted people from why we wanted to cut taxes in the first place.

I agree we need to tax cuts in due course as Margaret Thatcher herself advocated to the Conservative Party Conference in 1975 ;

We must get private enterprise back on the road to recovery, not merely to give
people more of their own money to spend as they choose, but to have more money
to help the old and the sick and the handicapped.
The way to recovery is through profits. Good profits today, leading to high investment, well-paid jobs and a better standard of living tomorrow.

Accept she didn't did she? Thatcher in 1975 knew that tax cuts can't be sold as an end in themselves. If we are to make tax cuts attractive we must only ever talk about them in context. It's about China and India, keeping the economy growing and helping (and it pains me to use this phrase) hard working families. If we take them out of context we become weird selfish Tories to people again - which personally I would rather avoid....

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Second Phase – Battersea

This is the first in a series looking at the constituencies that are being released in the second phase of the selection process for parliamentary candidates for the Conservative Party for the next General Election.

June 2005 General Election Result -Battersea

Electorate 69548
Martin Linton, Lab 16569 40.36%
Dominic Schofield, Con 16406 39.96%
Norsheen Bhatti, LDm 6006 14.63%
Hugo Charlton, Grn 1735 4.22%
Terry Jones, UKInd 333 0.81%
Total 41049 59.02%
Lab Majority 163 0.40%
Lab Hold
Swing from Labour to Conservative of 6.67%

Wanted: Prospective candidates for this attractive South Chelsea constituency. Features include large open spaces (Wandsworth Common and Battersea Park), a Peace Pagoda, and major transport interchange (Clapham Junction) plus a sympathetic landlord (Wandsworth Council). A love of dogs is an advantage.

First contested under these boundaries at the 1983 election Battersea was won by Alf Dubs (Now Lord Dubs) for Labour. Battersea experienced a good deal of social change which helped it go Conservative in 1987 when the candidate was John Bowis (now a London MEP) who won again in 1992 but was defeated in 1997 by the Labour candidate Martin Linton (a former Guardian journalist whose cameo appearances in John O'Farrell's Things Can Only Get Better suggest he's a nice bloke) who remains the incumbent MP.

At the 2005 election Battersea was on the verge of becoming the Conservative's most eye catching gain with a swing of 6.67%. Significantly the Party increased it's vote from 13,445 to 16,406 rather than merely benefit from a shift of Labour voters to other parties. Linton hung on however with a majority of just 163.

Battersea has a high percentage of young upwardly mobile constituents noticeable in the high votes for the both the Greens and Lib Dems. At the next election it is these 7000 voters who will be key in pushing the Conservatives into 1st place. It is likely that the Cameron leadership will have a strong appeal to these voters especially those so called "South Chelsea" riverside residents who are unlikely to be comfortable with a Gordon Brown led Labour Party.

Furthermore with the strong organisational base of Wandsworth Conservatives to draw on this is an attractive seat indeed for any prospective Conservative MP.

Previous Results

June 2001 General Election
Electorate 67495
Martin Linton, Lab 18498 50.26%
Lucy Shersby, Con 13445 36.53%
Siobhan Vitelli, LDm 4450 12.09%
Thomas Barber, Ind 411 1.11%
Total 36804 54.52%
Lab Majority 5053 13.73%
Lab Hold
Swing from Conservative to Labour of 1.21%

May 1997 General Election
Electorate 66928
Martin Linton, Lab 24047 50.73%
John Bowis, Con 18687 39.42%
Paula Keaveney, LDm 3482 7.34%
Mark Slater, Ref 804 1.69%
Richard Banks, UKInd 250 0.52%
Joseph Marshall, RDrm 127 0.26%
Total 47397 70.81%
Lab Majority 5360 11.31%
Lab Gain From Con
Swing from Conservative to Labour of 10.21%

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Modern Conservatism

It's been a bumpy ride for David Cameron over the last few weeks. The leaked memos, the hug a hoodie speech (an interesting example of a thoughtful, eminently sensible speech being overshadowed by a soundbite that was never actually used), the alleged dilution of the Priority List, the delayed withdrawal from the EPP and the delay for the Mayoral Primary.

Our opponents will seek to exploit this and claim that the gloss has come off David Cameron's leadership and that he will soon abandon his modernising efforts. Some within the Conservative Party, especially those who have become comfortable with opposition will repeat these claims. Some may even seek to strengthen them.

They will be wrong, and they will fail.

The strategy David Cameron has in place is strong enough to deal with these, the minor ups and downs of every day politics.

Most of these setbacks (the EPP, the memos, the Mayoral Primary and the Priority list) are of virtually no interest to the general public. They will do us no harm. In time we will forget them ourselves as the goals are still achieved even if it does take a litle longer.

Where on policy Cameron has inspired attacks this will actually help him over the long term. Generally the attacks have come from sources that the floating voters are uncomfortable with. These attacks will give the confidence in David Cameron.

Even hug a hoodie once you get past the crassness of the sound bite will be ok.He has demonstrated that he is prepared to go beyond traditional Conservative thinking on crime thus firmly anchoring himself as a centrist.

The real strength of Cameron's modernisation is that he embodies it. His style and choice of issues reflect who he is. For all the alleged gimmicks David Cameron's not faking it.

When David Cameron talks about the plight of the worlds poorest he speaks as someone shaped as young man by mid 80's politics. Live Aid was held in 1985 when he was 19. Like everyone in his generation his perception of the world was shaped by the startling pictures from Ethiopia.

Cameron has grown up as the environmental movement has gathered pace. Putting the environment front and centre isn't a gimmick for him. He's 38 and his children will directly be affected by the ramifications of climate change. It's real for him.

Cameron grew up with the Queen on the throne and Margraet Thatcher in Downing Street. It's no wonder that getting more women on to the Conservative benches is a preoccupation. From the prespective of anyone his age or younger it is profoundly odd that this is a discussion we should still need to have.

I could go on.

I believe in David Cameron. He shares my concerns. He sees the world roughly how I do. I trust he won't reverse the modernisation because to do so would be to betray who he is as a person.

I won't agree with everything he says or does. But that doesn't matter.

Ultimately we share same aim, the election of a modern Conservative government which can then address the problems of the today with contemporary Conservative solutions.

Because we need them.