Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Leadership Contest - 2.

Sat and watched Newsnight last night with rising frustration. Of course Ken Clarke is picked by most people - he is the most familiar. Follow that line of thought and Ford would still be making the model T.

They ramble on about left wing and right wing contenders taking no account of the fact that modern politics is so much more complex. The old battleground of Left vs Right has long been blurred to obscurity.

But an interesting fact is being missed by all the main politcial commentators.

All of the expected candidates are echoing a step-change in our thinking that has already occurred. They are all campaigning -in one form or another- on the platform which we can call "Compassionate Conservativism".

There has been a quiet revolution amongst Conservatives who now accept that we are not just the Party that celebrates enterprise and economic success but also that we have obligations to the most vulnerable members of society.

Most Tories now accept the fact that a 'good society' is not just about creating wealth; tax cuts and free markets, it's about creating a successful civic community. This means finding answers to many of today's social problems such as youth crime, the breakdown of families, poor educational achievement, inter-cultural and religious tensions and above all the so-called 'dependancy culture' - as Governments have done more and more, individuals have had to do less and less and the result has been a massive loss of personal responsibility.

We believe that many of the solutions to these problems will not be found by ever more Government initiatives and new laws but by empowering the institutions of civil society: family, local community (including local councils, schools etc.), church and charity, which we believe have been progressively eroded by the State.

We want to restore a sense of civic duty and pride create a more 'neighbourly society’ in Britain, so that we can tackle our problems together and not just by leaving it to 'them' ('Them' being the Police, Social Services or indeed, the Government).

Often evolutionary change is only visible in retrospect. I think that the Conservative Party has already changed, we have found a new ethos and a new destiny.

All we need to do is choose the leader who can convey it best.

11 comments:

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GaffaUK said...

Being recognised is not the same as being popular - otherwise the Tories wouldn't of stuck the knife into Margaret Thatcher in 1990 when she was a current PM. Plus John Major was more recognised than Tony Blair but that didn't stop him being buried in a Labour landslide in 1997. Sometimes people get bored of Model T when can have any colour as long as it is black.

Marcus Wood said...

I agree with you, that is why I think choosing Clarke merely because he is a familiar figure would be a mistake.

Anonymous said...

Let the membership decide... thats to democratic for the Tory party

Marcus Wood said...

I think the membership will have the final say, as i am faily confident Howard will not get the support of 2/3rds party chairman he needs to change the rules.

Anonymous said...

For your parties sake and for democracy I hope so.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the current system is that IDS didn't have the support of the MPs, and in order to feel secure a party leader should do.
I'd prefer to see the party go back and give the say to the MPs, or if it won't do that, amend the list so that you get a form of 'preferences' - i.e. say you get 4 candidates, they all go through to a ballot of the whole party (with all MPs votes having the same weight as ordinary members, peers and MEP - so no-one knows who they've voted for [unless they announce it in public]) and those with a vote are able to indicate 1st and 2nd preferences. That way you only need one vote, and at each stage take out the candidate with the lowest votes and reasign their 2nd preference votes (like the system for electing the mayor). Obviously if someone gets over 50% they win.
If you won't give the MPs the final say, then why make it complicated? Go for something simple like this and you could have an election done quickly and cheaply.
Just make sure you choose the right candidate this time.

Marcus Wood said...

The trouble is that the party are not being offered any other choice than 'stay as we are' (and risk another IDS moment) or 'go back to the way it was' (and risk another John Major moment).

Because our country doesn't have a written constitution our political structures and institutions are in a slow but constant state of evolution and change. In order to keep up with this our political parties must keep changing as well. the reality of the way this happens is periodic 're-inventions' based around internal restructuring. As our politics have become more media-centric and presidential and less parliamentary there has been a need for a re-think in the way parties operate, and that includes the need to find leaders with 'star' potential as TV and media performers and less as grand parliamentarians, statesmen or great policy inventors. Liberals re invented their party as the Lib Dems in the mid 1980's and Labour followed in the early 1990's - both came up with new images and leadership mechanisms.

We Conservatives have just got to accept this and move our structure and constitution forward as well. The leadership does need to be chosen by a wider electorate than 198 MP's, not least because the leader also needs MEP's and Lords who increasingly play a part in modern Government and opposition.

I gained the impression from Howard before the election that he intended to stay on long enough for a really good re-structure of our party and I was therefore very disappointed with the somewhat 'take it or leave it' nature of the chiuces made available and that is why I hope the membership will say 'back to the drawing board, boys!'.

Anonymous said...

But if they do say 'back to the drawing board' we could be stuck in limbo until next year, with no guarantee of an agreement at the end.

The points about electoral colleges are well made but isn't time running out now?

Anonymous said...

Who are you going support then??
David Davis
David Cameron
Ken Clarke (I doubt it somehow!)
Liam Fox
Margaret Thatcher
Theresa May
I'd like a proper answer if possible, rather than the political jargon that such a question usually results in!

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