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Time For Civility, Please 25 April 2007

Posted by David in Comment, Conservatives.
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“Think of the messages parents give children from an early age. Be careful. Don’t do that. Do it this way. I’ll do that for you. That seems to me a fair summary of most of the messages that government gives the public. We are infantilising people – treating them like children, with the result that many of us are behaving like children. Policy is made for the minority who do wrong rather than the majority who do right.”

Few paragraphs could sum up the present day government than this one, from David Cameron’s speech on civility. Also worth reading is the sketch in The Times. But for all the ease of joking – and such a stance has much opportunity to lampoon – it’s true. As a society, civility has gone out the window. As he says, “We have come to assume, and to resign ourselves to the fact, that civility is on a permanent and inevitable downward slide. This is curious, since in other areas, we assume the opposite. We don’t assume that the economy will get worse.”

Look at the amount of swearing on television and in public, the downright rudeness and ignorance of some people, the fact every law and regulation is targeted for either the most utterly stupid or obsessively law breaking minority. Because one person may do something wrong we are all held back, like school children getting a class detention.

Some wrongly pin the lack of civility on Thatcherism – the creation of what they would call a “me, me, me” attitude – but this is wrong. The “me, me, me”attitude was just as present, even more so, in those out on strike (demanding X, Y and Z from taxpayers and using force to get it) than in those being successful in business. But this is not the cause of today’s problems.

The civility problems of today are not caused by economics, but by a complete attack on social values. An attack where the state takes over and induces a “help us” attitude rather than a “we can” attitude, where individual action to act is held back by over-regulation, and where the old values of decency, respect and civility are sneered and laughed at for being old fashioned, conservative and dull.

The ties that bind us – family, community, the nation, tradition – have been undermined and destroyed by people who detest what they stand for, failing to accept the strength we gain from such ties. “A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril.” Without sense of belonging, many – particularly young males – go looking for other groups to identify with, many leading to gangs based on race, religion or other divisions. Without sense of belonging, people are less inclined to help each other.

On the less extreme scale the young do not learn good manners and how to behave, and the rest of us soon give them up. The erosion of values and community also leaves us unconfident and weak. But “It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs“.

How we rebuild civility, I really do not know, it is an organic and natural thing. We can however, at least, stop undermining and attacking it.

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The Original Green Tory? 22 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Environment.
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As I frequently tell people, environmental conservation and conservatism have a long history together. Vote Blue, Go Green, shouldn’t be considered alien – we have and always have been the party of the countryside and real environment. After all, which Conservative gave the following speech?

For generations, we have assumed that the efforts of mankind would leave the fundamental equilibrium of the world’s systems and atmosphere stable. But it is possible that with all these enormous changes (population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels) concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself. Recently three changes in atmospheric chemistry have become familiar subjects of concern. The first is the increase in the greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons—which has led some to fear that we are creating a global heat trap which could lead to climatic instability. We are told that a warming effect of 1°C per decade would greatly exceed the capacity of our natural habitat to cope. Such warming could cause accelerated melting of glacial ice and a consequent increase in the sea level of several feet over the next century. This was brought home to me at the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver last year when the President of the Maldive Islands reminded us that the highest part of the Maldives is only six feet above sea level. The population is 177,000. It is noteworthy that the five warmest years in a century of records have all been in the 1980s—though we may not have seen much evidence in Britain! The Government espouses the concept of sustainable economic development. Stable prosperity can be achieved throughout the world provided the environment is nurtured and safeguarded. Protecting this balance of nature is therefore one of the great challenges of the late Twentieth Century.

Find out here. The author later expressed regret for the negative things environmentalism has been used to promote, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to promote good things.

In Defence Of The Union 19 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Scotland, Scottish politics, SNP.
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Today David Cameron is making a speech in defence of the union. As Cameron pointed out in an article for the Telegraph, the defence of the Union must rely not just on nightmares of independence and cold mental logic, as Labour is doing as we speak in Scotland, but also on our hearts and spirits. For nearly 300 years, the United Kingdom has been a remarkable success. Britain, despite its wrongs and faults, has been on balance a force for good in the World beyond the contemplation of nations far larger. From the Common Law through to the English language, concepts of liberty to engineering wonders, this small island has a lot to be proud of.

Cameron will highlight the logical reasons – such as shared prosperity and global weight – but also the British Broadcasting Corporation, founded by a Scotsman and truly nationwide, and the National Health System, founded by a Welshman. He could add the Bank of England, founded by Scottish born banker William Paterson, Sherlock Holmes, wrote by Scottish born Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the steam engine, invented by Scottish born James Watt,the first television, created by Scottish born John Logie Baird, and the free market economist, Adam Smith.

Not to mention the thousands who have died for Britain, defending our liberty and values, and the vast majority of people who have ancestry from all over this island. We are not just three nations – Wales, Scotland and England – but one nation as well, Great Britain. As James I said, “Hath not God first united these nations, in language and religion and similitude of manners? Hath he not made us one island, compassed by one sea?”

Update: For the blog reader Dave On Fire and anyone else interested, “Niall Ferguson – Benefits Of Anglobalisation“, a short working paper. On the topic of things Scottish and British, Niall Ferguson was born in Glasgow and studied at Oxford.

Davids, Davids, Everywhere 17 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives.
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It seems that if you don’t know what someone’s called, it’s a good bet to call them David, especially if they’re Tories. Does being called David make you more likely to be a Tory, unless you’re the son of communist academic and surname’s Milliband? I’m a David. The party leader is a David. The Shadow Home Secretary is a David, almost twice (Davis is almost there). He has a near namesake, David Davies MP, which really confuses the tabloids (especially as Davies talks often about law and order issues). It turns out that in total there are 17 David Conservative MP’s, if my count is correct. And now Nobel Prize winning David Trimble has joined the Conservative David benches, giving a good weight to the party in general but particularly its efforts in Northern Ireland. It’s not often Nobel Prize winners join.

Scottish Conservatives On The Roll 16 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scotland, Scottish politics, SNP, UKIP.
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Suddenly, and unexpectantly, the Scottish Conservatives are on the roll. Their campaign so far has been nothing short of a miracle. Anabelle Goldie, who for ages seemed boring and dull, turns out to be a quad bike riding, ten pin bowling, former naughty school girl who ouzes charisma, trouncing the other party leaders in debates and interviews. The pledge not to go into coalition has proved highly popular, and the lib dem yellow paint-chart – emphasising a Lib Dem vote is a vote for Labour government – is very innovative (and true).

But the SNP are still far ahead, with Labour making the error of portraying their former Scottish deputy general secretary as an ordinary member of the public. It’s almost as if certain elements in Labour want them to lose, perhaps to derail Brown? They also continue to rely only on negative campaigning and scares of life in an independent Scotland that is inevitable if the SNP win, leaving voters feeling insulted. If they have such low opinion of Scotland’s prospects, they’re hardly the inspired optimists needed, but rather failed has beens believing in an inescapable dependency culture on a national scale.

The SNP, of course, aren’t what’s needed either. They certainly aren’t inspired or optimistic, basing their figures on magic growth, EU cash now heading East and fast depleting North Sea Oil (“It’s Scotland’s oil” they may say, but most of it’s nearer the Shetland Islands actually, time for SINP?). Their campaign is merely a glossy, GQ style sales pitch of Alex Salmond. Slogan: “It’s Time”. Time for what? As yet, we don’t know.

And bubbling under, as with all elections using proportional systems, is a plethora of small parties. There’s UKIP, the “Stop the Growth” Greens, the Scottish Socialists, and the Labour supporting Lib Dems.

So who’ll win? Who knows.

Scottish Tories Set For Divorce 4 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Scotland, Scottish politics.
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Scottish Conservatives are set to break free from London, according to Fraser Nelson at the Spectator and ConservativeHome. The Conservative Party will represent just England and Wales (possibly Northern Ireland as well) whilst the new party – possibly called the Scottish Unionist Party – will represent Scotland. This takes the party back to its pre-1965 golden age when the Scottish Unionists polled strongly, as shown in the table.

Scottish vote shares

As unionist as I am, this is the right decision. Moving to a system similar to Germany’s CDU/CSU is a big step in removing the number one problem facing Tories North of the border – namely being perceived as being in the pocket of the London party establishment. The issue of “Scottishness” should be solved by this new and fully independent party.

The two big questions, as identified by ConservativeHome, are whether Scottish members will still be able to attend party conferences, and will Scottish members be able to vote for the main Conservative leader. They believe the answer will be yes to attending conferences, but no to voting for the leadership. I believe the answer should however be yes to both, although it sadly probably won’t be.

This is because both parties – Conservative and Scots Unionist – should form one block within Parliament to share resources, work together as opposition, and of course form government. In short, permanent coalition, as before the parties formally merged. There will be differences in manifestos I imagine, and both parties will be sepperate, but working together will be vital. 

But if Scottish members are blocked from electing the overall Conservative leader, and Scottish MP’s blocked from standing, we’re swapping the “un-Scottishness” for being a permanent junior partner. The “leader” of the Conservatives in Westminster is more than just leader of the Conservative party, but leader of the opposition or Prime Minister. Therefore, if the Unionists are to be part of that opposition or government, a joint leader must be elected.

As such there should be an elected Scottish Unionist leader in Westminster, given maybe the role of [Shadow] Scottish Secretary, just as Labour elects a Deputy Leader. Then the overall Conservative & Unionist coalition leader (currently David Cameron), elected across the entire UK. There could also be elected Welsh, Northern Irish and English Secretary positions if members wished.

Separating the parties is a good idea, but a joint leader is needed. If you look at the German CDU/CSU, they jointly vote to select their candidate for Chancellor, and the same must apply to the CON/UNI set up.

Goldie Moves Towards Supporting A Minority SNP 2 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Scotland, Scottish politics, SNP.
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The Scottish Conservatives are focusing on bread and butter issues, particularly crime. This should do them well in the last 4-5 weeks of campaigning. It looks as if they are possitioning to support a minority SNP Executive…

“Finally, I want to make one thing so clear and watertight that it might be referred to as a double-glazed declaration. Our manifesto policy commitments are not for sale in any post-election horsetrading process… Other parties can cobble up deals behind closed doors. The Scottish Conservatives will enter into No Pacts and No Coalitions, we will operate on an issue-by-issue, case-by-case basis, and do what’s right for Scotland.” Annabel Goldie

If votes hinge on the Conservatives, that will give them serious power and far better press coverage. It won’t give them the credibility of being in a coalition, but then they can’t be blamed either….

How Shaun Bailey Blew It – Or Did He? 2 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives.
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Last night I was watching ITV’s The Moral of the Story, a late night discussion programme about ethics and current affairs. The three guests were Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith, Dave Hill, a lefty journalist, and a female journalist who’s name I sadly forget, but I think wrote for the Guardian. I’m not normally into these programmes, I don’t even watch Question Time (which makes me odd among political junkies), but I somehow got watching this one due to it following a Falklands War documentary.

The first half was talking about City bonuses and executive pay. Dave Hill and the other journalist both trotted out the usual leftist rubbish about inequality, fairness etc. “It’s wrong that we accept one person is worth more as a human than another,” said one person. Seemingly forgetting they are worth more financially, not as a human being! Both lefties agreed that Peter Hain is right, that anyone successful must be taxed at crazy rates. Oddly they accept football players and Elton John earning millions however, weird. They didn’t say how much they were worth themselves…

Shaun Bailey did well combatting them with the argument “tax the rich and they’ll leave, and then where will we be?” – basically the economic view. This worked well, although I personally would have liked the “it’s none of our business what other people earn so stop being nosey” argument as well, but then time was short so he may have got to it had there been time.

So by the adverts, Shaun Bailey had me on side. Then it all went wrong.

Part two was about slavery, namely apologising and reparations. The two lefties of course were in favour of an apology, though ruled out reparation on the grounds the apology is too vague (i.e. we don’t have slaves, no old slaves survive, so it’s indirect ancestors and you can’t force money exchanges based on that). I was hoping Shaun would take the tact taken by Sayeeda Warsi on Question Time, namely that we cannot apologise for something we haven’t done (i.e. guilt cannot be hereditary). Sayeed is of course right, it’s like punishing the child of a murderer.

No such luck. Shaun trots out some lefty rubbish that slavery has caused black gang culture, which is weird because it’s a new phenomena really, and been the root of racism (again odd since there’s racism against other races – not just Africans). Britain should pay reparation, he says. But who will be forced to pay? Will he be paying? And to who exactly? And how is it right to punish the whole present day population for something done by some people from that country? Let alone for something done by some people over 200 years ago! What a nutter!

After the 1914-1918 Great War, as it was then known, the Treaty of Versailles demanded Germany pay reparation for its sins. It caused resentment, which gave rise to Hitler. It’s wrong to punish everyone for something done by a few, full stop, even more so if there’s 200 years between the event and the reparation. Guilt is not communal, and is not hereditary. Hence why we are now at peace with Germany, rather than endless hostility over old wounds.

I am really sorry slavery ever happened, but I have never ever owned slaves, and will not say sorry or pay any compensation to people not themselves harmed and with nothing to do with me. And, I am really proud Britain banned slavery.

Update: I’ve since researched Shaun more, and although I find his views on reparation crazy, he seems an able and sensible candidate in every other way. I am interested though how he came to such contrasting views.

Second Preferences Mean Little – Except Sometimes 1 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Polls, UKIP.
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 As discussed on ConservativeHome, the YouGov survey for The Daily Telegraph identifies some interesting findings on the second preferences of likely voters for the main political parties.  They are summarised in the graphic. Second Preferences

Some have rushed to suggest large numbers of Tory voters (23%) are leaning left, to the Liberal Democrats. False. The Lib Dems are the second preference of everyone who seriously hates Labour, and wants to stop them. If you can’t vote Conservative, they’re the only credible alternative to seeing Labour win (i.e. they’re the only viable second choice).

I expected a higher share for UKIP than 18%, but their recent problems and near zero chance of winning makes them second choice for all but the most serious Eurosceptics. The BNP rank of 12% surprised me, but I imagine its down to protest voting and their higher chances of winning in certain areas such as London, the Midlands and Yorkshire.

With the Conservatives, the second preference statistics are largely irrelevant as they will contest all seats with a good chance of winning in many. The voters therefore have no need of second preferences and tactical voting. The figures for Labour and Lib Dems are more important however, as becoming the second choice controls tactical voting, and is surely the first stage in full conversion to becoming first choice.

In most Lib Dem seats, the Conservatives are the main opposition. And in many Labour seats with Tory opposition the ratio of how the Lib Dem tactical (i.e. second choice) vote splits is the difference between the seat staying red or turning blue. With Labour still ahead 21% to 16%, Cameron will be keen to keep wooing the Lib Dems without upsetting any more Tories. The Conservatives need Lib Dems to significantly prefer a Cameron government to a Labour one, so as to chose to vote tactically (to stop Labour, and to boot out Lib Dem MPs in favour of Tories under the “Vote Lib MP, Get Lab Gov” principle).

The fact Labour voters split 33% for the Lib Dems and just 9% for the Conservatives is worrying, and suggests there’s few more Labour voters to win over. It also suggests the Lib Dems will do well in the Labour seats they’re currently second in, matching their long running council seat shift from rural to urban. Cameron needs policies to win strivers – the people Margaret Thatcher built her landslides on. Cameron must also target non-voters, which are a large constituency needing a home.

Interesting too is the 30% of Lib Dems and 14% of Labour voters who list Green as their second choice. This is a good opportunity for the Conservatives if they get green enough to win them over. It also gives the possibility of a few Green MPs in places like Brighton.

Tebbit, Better Off Out, and a Dim View of John Maples MP 1 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, EU, Europe, European Union.
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Lord Tebbit has joined the Better Off Out campaign. I have a problem with the campaign, known as BOO. This is because I agree with it 100%, but find its campaigning tacky, cheap and low quality – sorry, but I do. Its websitehas improved, but it’s still awful, and the campaign fails to put across the high minded, liberal case against the EU (i.e. freedom and liberty for all nations). Instead it’s too inward looking, focusing on us, being better off, out. Instead I want everyone, free.

Anyway, my moans aside, I hope more candidates and MPs now join BOO. But such common sense, free thought and individuality will not be helped by schoolyard bullies such as the Euro-statist MP John Maples, Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party. When asked “What is the Candidates Department’s policy on candidates signing up to support the “Better Off Out” campaign?” he replied “this campaign is contrary to party policy and we will take a dim view of any candidate who signs up to it.  We expect candidates, before and after selection to support party policy (and I hope to continue to do so after they have been elected as well!)”

Mr Maples and his dream of robotic, carbon copy idiot candidates is certainly not in the party’s best interests. Who will be tomorrow’s leaders if all candidates believe only and exactly in the policies of the 2009/2010 manifesto? What happened to being a ‘broad church’? Why has the “dim view” not been taken with others who broke party line? Such as Ken Clarke.

It’s clearly John Maples who has dim views.