Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Cameron vs. Davis

David Cameron and David Davis will go through to the final ballot of party activists in the Conservative leadership election, after today's second round vote brought this result:

David Cameron.......90
David Davis............57
Liam Fox................51

(EDIT: Forgive my inaccurate post which declared that David Davis had taken 90 votes from members of parliament. For those seeking to get an endorsement for one of the candidates out of me, they should not view the post as wishful thinking, just my failure to differentiate between two people with the same forename!!)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Exit Clarke

The first round of voting for the election of the next Conservative leader has been concluded, and the result is as follows:

David Davis............62
David Cameron.......56
Liam Fox................42
Kenneth Clarke.......38

This means Kenneth Clarke is out of the race. Four pledged Davis supporters deserted their man, as I suggested may happen in a comment on the Conservative Home blog several days ago. And both Liam Fox and David Cameron take a significant number of votes from those MPs who have not pledged their support to any candidate. But until Thursday, the politicking and manoeuvring will go on as the three remaining candidates each seek to cement their place amongst the final two.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Cameron Questions

In my mind, David Cameron is faced with two major stumbling blocks in the coming weeks, as he goes into Tuesday's first round of voting on the election of a new Conservative leader as the new favourite. His problem is that he appears to have no intention of countering either of them.

Is Cameron more Blairite than Blair?
It is often remarked about David Cameron that he is very much in favour of pursuing the kind of modernising agenda that Tony Blair took on when he became Leader of the Labour Party back in 1994. This perception has gone unchallenged in the past few months (perhaps because many activists have finally come to the conclusion that, after eight years of Labour government, they want some power far more than they want their principles). It comes through whenever the man talks about his big ideas, like his speech on social entrepreneurship recently, which came across to many as just another Blairite initiative. It comes through whenever he discusses what he really believes in, such as another speech soon after the election when he criticised the Left for talking too much about resources in the public services, saving his anger too for the Right for talking too much about changing the structures of the services, when what he felt was that what the public really want from politicians are answers to their problems. That's a fair position to take, but it did come across as offensive to many of us on the Right, and I don't imagine that Mr. Cameron has changed his mind recently. And finally, the perception of his Blairite credentials comes across with today's suggestion in the Times that a senior Cameron backer says his man might try to cut off up to 7% of the party's core economically liberal and socially conservative supporters in order to appeal to the liberal-leaning voters out there. To some, Cameron's Blairite credentials are a sign of great things for the Conservative Party. But it is a serious flaw to many in the party, and it is a question that must be addressed by the man if he wishes to lead the party.

Is Cameron part of the ambivalent metropolitan elite?
There is not much which is Conservative (with a small 'c' or a big 'C') about the trendy London elites which Mr. Cameron is frequently thought of as being a part of. His background is one of affluence, with his Eton and Oxbridge education, his Oxfordshire upbringing and his West London lifestyle today all bearing witness to this truth. The question is whether he is a part of the liberal elite frequently criticised by the Right for their destructive social libertarianism, and for what comes across as their lack of understanding for what life at the rough end of society is like. And it is this perception which has come across with Mr. Cameron's drug history being at the centre of media attention. The stereotype of the liberal, metropolitan elite is that they are unmoved by the conventional principles of morality and responsibility for onesself and one's society. They don't care much for the institutions of marriage and the family. They feel no problem about moral questions of the day, such as abortion or euthanasia. And they take a very liberal, very trendy attitude to crime and especially drugs. Whilst that kind of attitude may work in Notting Hill or North Kensington, it is damaging to those of us who live and work in the crime-ridden and quietly depressed inner cities of this country.

Those are the two greatest questions that have to be addressed before I, as an individual Conservative Party member who believes in the virtues of freedom and responsibility, who believes firmly in taking the State out of people's lives, but whose principles are firmly socially conservative, could ever vote for David Cameron to be the next leader of my party - the only political party in modern Britain which believes in the same things that I and millions of others believe in and know to be true.

That is his challenge over the coming weeks. I hope he will live up to it.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

And The Weeks Go By...

At the end of a fairly promising and optimistic Conservative Party conference, things have changed.

David Cameron is pressing ahead. There are still doubts from the right about what he really believes in, but it appears that activists don't think of principle as such an important issue as power. And they feel that Mr. Cameron is the man who will give them power. I still feel that Cameron is a victim of what commentators have called 'initiativitis' - the desire to solve profound social problems with a media-friendly quick-fix and a misdirected but attractive cash injection. His speech several months ago about how the left goes on about resources in public services and how the right bangs on about changing the structures was rather insulting to Conservatives like me who do not necessarily favour his Blairite managerialist attitude to public policy. And whilst his belief in social entrepreneurship is impressive, it must be made to sound like something more serious than he has made it sound so far.

Ken Clarke, meanwhile, is becoming a part of Conservative Party folklore. He is without a doubt a great man, with the power to inspire, but the leadership may be the wrong place for him.

David Davis is slipping. The huge momentum he had built up without saying anything over the last few months since the election is starting to ebb away now that he's opened his mouth.

Malcolm Rifkind is well-liked, and even admired. But few see him as a potential leader.

Liam Fox certainly has plenty of valuble things to say and, as far as I'm concerned, has been the only candidate to put forward a cohesive agenda on which the Conservative Party can run, with his pursuit of traditional conservative ideas based on patriotism, the family and building a stronger and more confident society. But he clearly needs to work on his ability to rouse and inspire. A friend of mine who attended the conference spoke of how his speech was overshadowed by that of William Hague. Liam Fox has impressed me, but I don't think he has done enough to convince me that the leadership is right for him.

David Davis still takes most support from members of parliament who have officially declared their voting intentions. Of course, these official declarers should not be taken with absolute certainty. I can well imagine that some who have promised support to Mr. Davis (or other candidates) are now questioning his ability and hoping that they might vote for somebody else, under the radar, without him noticing. It could be highly amusing to the impartial observer for some of the 65 MPs planning to vote for Davis to move away from him.

Assuming that the two Davids go through to the final round of voting, it will be interesting to see how it turns out. For activists, the safe choice is David Davis. He is the man who they can be sure of as far as his beliefs are concerned. But perhaps the thirst for power is coming back to us so much that we are ready and willing to shift our position to make the party more attractive to voters throughout the country - voters we've lost in the past, and even voters we've never won before.

What a difference a week makes!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Conservative Party Conference

The Conservative Party is gathering in Blackpool for the start of its annual conference.

Labour threw out an elderly gentleman for expressing his opinion. The Liberal Democrats faltered when an activist deigned to criticise them. What fun is in store for the party of the blue torch this year?