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RichardC
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The biggest difficulty for me in choosing between the many potential candidates is the relatively small amount of solid positioning we have heard from any of them. Another poster comments above on the eventual withdrawl of Willetts, and whilst I don't see him as a Leader, it is worth noting that he is almost the only one who has really given a narrative on what modern Conservatism is for, and why we would be different. We need to tell a story of life in a new Conservative Britain, to start doing this as quickly as possible, and until Cameron does this convincingly I will continue to ally myself behind Davis. That said, I will be watching very carefully as the various bids evolve to see which camp Willetts becomes the intellectual powerhouse for, as he could provide a turning point for me. Personally, I would love to see an alliance of the Davids - but no, I'm not saying which ones...
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I have to agree with many of the previous points. IDS, as someone who "sets a course, and then sticks to it" (approximately his own worlds, I believe) was abandoned. However, that is one value from his leadership the Party would do well to adopt. A few within the party need to do some growing up, at least with regard to gaining the intellectual maturity to play a slightly longer game, to be able to integrate up across a series of individual opinion polls. We need a leadership that sets out a long-term strategy, and then follows through on that. As a starting point, thinking back to the beginning of Michael Howard's leadership (to whom we owe a debt of grateful thanks), whatever happened to the British Dream, to a Party for all Britain and all Britons? We need to build a narrative, to tell and sell a story of life in a Conservative Britain, and that seems to be as good a point as any for us all to start. (I hope that no-one sees this comment as the launch of a personal leadership bid ...)
Toggle Commented Aug 2, 2005 on Reverting to type at The conservativehome.com blog
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"But I have never understood how the modernisers also hope to hold onto the votes of people whom they repeatedly and publicly despise and smear as bigots, racists, homophobes, xenophobes, etc etc." Perhaps through addressing the truth where it arises. Sadly, some of these descriptions do apply, when referring to a small minority of members and supporters. I am sure that others have met them too, and I utterly disapprove of their closed-minded positions. However, the same can be said to be a fact of life in many mass-membership organisations. I use the term loosely, currently, as I feel with renewed energy and a focus on recruitment and membership subscriptions in local Parties we could do much better than presently on membership. A challenge for us (just one of many, I agree) is to present a face that overcomes the disproportionate if subliminal effect that a very small number of such people have had over a period of time on the image of the Conservative Party.
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Simon C - I was present, as you will remember, at the Area meeting you refer to. I was perhaps a rarity in arriving supportive of many of the points and aims of the consultation document, especially with regard to some suggested reforms of local parties. At the meetings that have taken place, I am concerned that I have not really heard many clear views from the Associations on what changes they *do* want to see in our Party organisation. I was genuinely disappointed at the Lincolnshire meeting that much of what I heard from the floor was what CCHQ, the Leader and the Parliamentary party should be doing. The Conservative Party is one party – volunteers, professionals and parliamentarians working together to a common aim of winning government again. Anyone who can’t sign up to that should get out of Dodge… This is a time for the national Party to take stock as well, to look again self-critically at their own operations on the ground – what can we do differently, how can we work smarter, how can we do better? At any level, not to change is not an option at this time.
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Modernise *and* die? The natural corollary of that is that the solution must be to remain "stuck in the past". The quotation points are not a rhetorical device; that is a statement with which a net 15% of the electorate agreed as their view of the Conservative Party, as little as a month prior to the General Election, according to private polling. It brought us precious little benefit then. If the headline actually seeks to propose a solution to the past ills of the Party, it is spectacularly unhelpful. As a profound believer in economic and social liberalism, tempered by a sense of compassion (going hand-in-glove with being a hard-working Conservative campaigner), I would find such a hard-line religious position for the Conservative Party rather hard to stomach, and I am sure that I am not alone among supporters and voters in this view.
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Something concerns me about the pressure for Party members (like myself) to have a direct vote in the election of the leader. We are, by definition, self-selecting and unrepresentative, but that is not my major concern. I am more worried by the fact that we are feeding, however unwittingly, into a lack of trust in parliamentarians. Just three short months ago we were standing on doorsteps presenting our then parliamentary candidates as the people who could best represent the views of their constituents, and ensure they were taken into account on important issues. How hypocritical would it appear if we were to send the message that they could not now be trusted to represent our views on who should lead the Party? This has hardened in my mind in recent weeks the fact the the real choice now is between a vote of the parliamentary party (who have been mandated by the electorate, albeit only in just under a third of constituencies), and open primary elections, which I would love to see more widely discussed within the Party.
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