I need to get on with responding to the guest posters who have kindly graced my blog in recent weeks. First up: Richard Hill
. Have a read of what he said, as that would be much better than me trying to summarise it.1. Winning is everything.
It is certainly true that firing off press releases, writing pamphlets and venting the spleen is less appealing to any self-respecting politician than forming a Government. But surely it is equally clear that there is no point in winning power unless you have SOME idea about what you want to do with it. Yes of course no-one in a democracy can get their way all the time, and there will be compromises to be had. Some of us will even support withholding plans for radical policy changes until after an Election; Labour never seem to get any heat for making the Bank of England independent without telling us about it first. And to an extent we should expect policy to evolve once a party is in power.
But those same self-respecting politicians are nothing other than power-crazed bastards if they are indifferent about the broad direction the country should go in. And that means having some specific principles that cannot be jettisoned for the sake of popularity. What those principles should be is a matter for a broader debate.
There is a more specific point here, however. We are continually told that being more socially conservative and more eurosceptic, and advocating substantial reform of the public services, would be a vote loser. I dispute that, and will come back to it another day.2. Work for us, not for Labour.
See the previous paragraph.3. Take the narrow road.
I doubt very much that I will not believe that we should advocate tax cuts at the next election. But Richard’s point here is well taken, and we have suffered from a credibility gap in the last couple of elections. And David Davis has not demonstrated sure-footedness on this issue recently.4. Forget the little stuff and learn how to say no.
Yes indeed. We’re not the Lib Dems – we aspire to govern so we can’t promise the world.
Although picking on the Olympics and marketing tourism was just mean Richard – I recognise a dig at a former Tory DCMS desk officer when I see it!5. Why promise tax cuts?
Yes. Although I still believe that there is a powerful case to be made for cutting taxes. And we need to look at spending – particularly on public service pensions, which are preposterously generous.6. Forge an agenda for the state.
I have nothing to say about this other than that it is wholly correct and brilliantly expressed.7. Be bored stiff by Europe.
I would love us to put this issue to bed once and for all, and I can see why people have breathed sighs of relief that the Tory Party is not tearing itself apart over Europe any more. But …
… the EU is undemocratic, sclerotic, regressive, racist, injurious of third world development and one of those issues that I alluded to under point number 1. It’s just too important to ignore, and I would happily see us lose some Party members if it meant we could firm up our position. Moreover, whilst it may be true that no majority in favour of withdrawal exists, I do not believe that we could not win the argument. It would be hard however, so perhaps we should focus on renegotiation.
“Remember that people can agree with your position and still find your obsessive approach to the subject a little strange.” That’s true enough. One of the problems is that some of the soundest people on this subject are swivel-eyed loons. That used to give me pause for thought, but it doesn’t any more. But it probably does still give other people pause, I admit.8. Know Brown’s strengths and his weaknesses.
Elegantly argued, and persuasive.9. You’re a politician, so don’t behave like one.
Correct, correct, correct.10. Treat Parliament with contempt – or at least with a little less reverence.
No. I see the point – in a media age, little old Parliament seems rather twee. And I do not, for example, support Gordon Brown’s pledge to hold a vote in the Chamber before troops are committed to a war. But Parliament should stand as a bulwark against Government excess, we have a legislative system of government - and we tinker with or ignore that at our peril.
Yes, let’s not expect everyone to be as interested in Parliament as Sir Patrick Cormack and Tony Benn are, but the Conservative and Unionist Party should still have something to say about how Blair has ridden roughshod over democracy.
Making the hours more civilised was a good thing though, and Tory Whips who delighted in keeping Labour members in Westminster for late night votes (and I know for a fact that they did delight in it) should be ashamed of themselves. We’re meant to be the Party of the Family. And, if your board meetings clash with morning sessions in the Commons, quit the board - arsehole.11. Don’t allow NIMBYs in your back yard.
Fairish point, but the calls for expanded airport capacity are based on unsustainable and unrealistic projections for an increase in demand, and we need to be looking at reducing the size of our population if we want to retain any green fields. And yes, that means being much tougher on immigration.12. This is a secular election.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I am puzzled about which Bible people are reading when they suggest religion and politics don’t mix.”
You can’t separate politics and morality either. If something is profoundly wrong, it is profoundly wrong. And the chances are that it is government which is making it possible. That’s certainly true of abortion and stem cell research. Everyone, including politicians, should be engaged in a lifelong search for the truth – however inconvenient that search might sometimes be.
More specifically, the likes of Tim Montgomerie, Cameron Watt, Peter Franklin and co. have a deep seated concern for improving the welfare of the disadvantaged, which many modernisers only seek to imitate for cosmetic reasons. (I accept that Richard respects them too, but too many Conservatives have spoken of Tim in particular in grotesque terms.)13. Don’t mistake an elephant trap for an open goal.
As my American friends say: word.14. Be robust on the war on terror.
Correctomundo.15. Get the right sort of candidates.
Yes. But if we end up with all-women shortlists, I am going to kill and eat someone. Identity politics is for weenies.16. Don’t ‘make the case’ – accept that people have made theirs.
Yeeeeah, but we shouldn’t be too timid. It’s just that we also shouldn’t be too mad.17. Do your research.
Well argued – it is easy for people to reflexively slag off opinion polls (or the growth in special advisers). It’s nice to see an intelligent case for them, even though I am bound to come back to my boring old principle-comes-first-schtick.
A buddy is making a case for compulsory voting, in stark contrast to Nate’s piece
, so I’ll deal with those together. Next up will be a response to James’s post on drug laws
, which has attracted attention elsewhere