Tag Archives: conservative party

Europe Day Special: Avoiding the slippery slopes towards euroscepticism

Today is Europe Day. The Treaty of Rome, the EU’s founding treaty was signed 55 years ago; post war Europe sought a new strategy to end old enmities and forge shared prosperity through economic growth. However one measures the achievements of those goals, the conclusion has to be the European Union has delivered on both counts.

For those of us who believe in the EU’s objectives and feel that Britain should be leading in Europe, these are turbulent times.

Restoring faith in a political structure which may appear removed from the citizen, and rebuilding an economic framework which has been proven inadequate …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , and | 10 Comments

When did the Tories stop supporting Lords reform?

From all the debate and angst within the Tory party over the issue of House of Lords reform you’d imagine the plan to inject an element of democracy into the UK parliament had been foisted on David Cameron by sneakily obsessive Liberal Democrats.

Yet the reality is somewhat different. The Coalition Government’s pledge to overhaul the revising chamber (after Labour’s successive, botched failures) built on Tory promises to the electorate over a decade or more — recognising perhaps that such reform is in fact in their own interests.

Here’s what the Tory manifesto said as far back as 2001:

In

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Dear Conservative MPs, Re House of Lords reform here’s what your manifesto & the Coalition Agreement say

It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Conservative MPs — it appears some of them have only just read their own party’s manifesto and the Coalition Agreement they signed up to. That can be the only explanation for the sudden fit of vapours which have apparently afflicted three of their number over the issue of House of Lords reform.

So as a reminder to them, and as a service to their Tory colleagues, here’s a reminder of the Conservative Party’s promise to the people back in 2010 in its manifesto:

We will work to build a consensus for a

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The Tories’ and Labour’s collective tax omnishambles

Labour is against reducing the 50p top-rate tax to 45p for those earning more than £150,000. What could be clearer? As it happens, quite a lot could be clearer.

First, the omnishambles…

Given how widely predicted George Osborne’s decision to reduce the top-rate was you would have thought Labour would have anticipated it and worked out their line. They failed to — as Mark Pack noted here, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna contradicted himself within 24 hours, while Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls declined to declare his hand.

When Labour did …

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Opinion: we can not allow ourselves to be used as scapegoats by the Tories

It was an amazing coincidence that Lady Warsi’s interview on BBC2’s Newsnight spoke so lamentably about the state of the coalition the evening before YouGov put the Tories 11 points behind Labour. The Conservative Party chairman without hesitation accused us of being immature and failing to accept collective responsibility within the coalition.

Patrick Wintour’s article in yesterday’s Guardian  highlights the despicable manner in which Lady Warsi, as a cabinet member showed no loyalty to her coalition partners by putting the boot in as soon as the going got tough and the Tories started struggling in the opinion polls.

The whole episode …

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LibLink: Chris Rennard – David Cameron wants nothing less than Tory hegemony

On the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Chris Rennard warns that Libdems should beware becoming part of a grand plan to secure permanent Conservative domination:

Thirteen years of opposition were especially painful for those Tories who formed their political opinions in the years when Margaret Thatcher appeared to reign supreme. Opposition from 1997 was humiliating and served to increase the fiercely competitive instincts of the Cameron circle. Time in opposition helped them to plan to try and ensure that, if Labour let them win back power, they would never lose again – even with historically low levels of support for the

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 9 Comments

10 things you might not have known about party political funding over the last decade

The Electoral Commission website is a data-mine of information for those interested in all aspects of party political funding.

For those who’d rather not get their hands dirty doing the mining themselves, below you’ll find 10 interesting (in my opinion) facts I discovered there.

But for those of you interested in excavating further, I’ve uploaded Google spreadsheets of the three main parties’ donations received between 2001 and 2011 (incl.):

And here are those 10 interesting facts I promised you…

1) In total, the Lib Dems raised £33,742,984 in donations from 2001-11. This compares with £173,742,956 for the Labour Party, and £182,418,146 for the Conservatives.

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Liberal Unionism in 2012

There’s no escaping history in our party, and current debates of nationalism, unionism and secession should prompt Liberal Democrats to delve back into the Gladstonian past.

The Liberal Party split over the Union. Gladstone favoured Home Rule for Ireland, Liberal Unionists didn’t, and ultimately joined the Conservative Party. This cemented the Conservative Party as the party of the Union, and it is a position the Conservative Party still holds.

The purpose of this article is, however, to challenge the Conservative Party’s stranglehold over being British.

The existing Conservative argument goes that a Conservative Britain is a Britainthat stands proud and takes no nonsense …

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Haggis, Neeps and Liberalism special: Dramatic independence referendum duel in London and Edinburgh

It’s been a torrid few days in Scottish politics.

Since the SNP won an overall majority in the Holyrood elections last year, there has been much talk of the independence referendum they pledged to have in the second half of their term. They have been tight-lipped on their plans.

There has been uncertainty on the legality of such a referendum. Even respected legal blogger Lallands Peat Worrier, himself an SNP supporter, has expressed that the terms of the Scotland Act may not allow it. And amid all the bluster of this blog post from senior SNP strategist Stephen Noon is …

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Opinion: The Tory Party has mutated. It is for us to say Europe is our hope for the future

David Cameron’s renunciation of a Treaty not even yet fully negotiated was the culmination of a process that began around 1992.

In 1992 a small group of Tory ultras, “the Maastricht Rebels”, began fighting their party’s traditional pro-Europeanism. It has taken 19 years to make their fringe views a normal Conservative Party and conservative press position. 1992 has led to 2011 like a river flows to the sea.

Anti-Europeanism’s hold on a major political movement has caused a poorly informed anti-Europeanism to take hold among many of our fellow citizens in the UK, as it has among some of …

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Nick Clegg – Europe: Britain is stronger, better, greater when we lead

Nick Clegg has emailed party members this afternoon, following the EU summit last Thursday:

Support for Europe has always been a cornerstone of what our party stands for. Recent days have been tough for pro-Europeans in our country, but I am clear that it is in Britain’s national interest to remain at the heart of Europe.

As I have made clear since Friday, I am bitterly disappointed by the outcome of last weeks summit, which ended with the UK in a minority of one. There is now a real danger that over time the UK will be isolated and marginalised within the

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 22 Comments

Tim Farron MP writes… EU referendum: the Conservatives are not acting out of patriotism

This is not likely to win me any votes, but I am proudly pro-Europe and in favour of our continued membership of the EU. That doesn’t make me an apologist for every aspect of the EU: the EU could definitely operate more transparently, efficiently and effectively, and we as Liberal Democrats should say so more often and with more conviction.

Nevertheless, our main challenge has to be to win hearts and minds in favour of our broader membership of the EU, and reverse the completely poisonous anti-European narrative. So many of those who were so indignant this summer about Mr Murdoch’s …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 36 Comments

What do you think was the second most important reason why people didn’t vote Tory in the Cotswolds?

Between us, Stephen Tall (he of the Oxford Comma cartoon) and myself (purveyor of news about commas in election law and academic research), appear to be carving out a niche in political punctuation coverage.

I fear it is all going to end in tears when someone puts our own punctuation habits under the microscope, but before it does I have exciting, related news to report.

I have blogged before about the fall-out amongst Cotswold Conservatives following their big losses to the Liberal Democrats in May’s local elections, including their fear that they are seen as “toffs legislating for …

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Bromley Council pulls a controversial novelty with a lollipop lady petition

Tsk, tsk, Bromley Conservatives.

There is a council by-election campaign underway in Shortlands ward, Bromley where the excellent Anuja Prashar is the Liberal Democrat candidate. (So excellent, I’ll forgive her for organising a raffle once that broke all my Lib Dem raffle rules.) She has been campaigning against council plans to axe the lollipop ladies at two local schools and, as part of that, presented a petition signed by 283 residents to the council.

And then things started being done differently…

For the first time, Bromley Council decided to respond personally and directly to all the signatories on a petition, posting out …

Posted in Local government and London | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

After the Coalition: A Conservative agenda for Britain

Collections of policy essays from new or junior MPs rarely have much of an impact or shelf-life in British politics, but however fallible their predictions for the future they can be illuminating about the current state of the authors’ party and its broad ideological direction.

So it is with After the Coalition which is very different in tone and hope for the future from last year’s Which Way’s Up? by Nick Boles. The contrast is there in the sub-titles for the two books. Boles had “The future for coalition Britain” whilst the five authors behind this volume have gone for …

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A very unusual use for a Conservative Party membership card

Take a young man, alcohol, a police station, a Conservative Party membership card, a police-issue balaclava and a cup of tea, and what do you get? Why, this story of course (with further details from here).

Hat-tip: Richard Clare

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Anonymous Tory MP launches broadside against “hypocritical, immature, manipulative” David Cameron

There’s a quite extraordinary broadside against David Cameron’s leadership in today’s Mail – written it appears by a current Conservative MP who chooses to remain anonymous — accusing him of “cynically manipulating” the party’s candidates’ list to stuff its green benches with “friends who went to the same school or moved in the same social circle”.

Here’s a flavour:

Speeches Cameron made before the Election about a new politics gave us great hope. But before too long, the less appealing side to his character became clear as he displayed an immature tendency to poke fun at certain individuals or groups

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Do CCHQ staff have to bring their own toilet paper in to work?

I only ask, you see, because earlier today the Conservative Party’s press team decided to highlight the fact that a Labour MP, Chuka Umunna, claimed £43.12 for “soap, toilet roll etc”.

Toilet paperWell, the claim was for his office where staff work. So quite why would someone want to pick on an employer providing toilet roll (and soap! yes, soap! the sheer luxury!) for his staff?

But perhaps that’s how CCHQ works and the staff there are so used to having to bring their own toilet paper …

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Opinion: Big society or big community?

We seem to be stuck in a warp of niceties at the moment. In the bad old days the Tory party was the nasty party. Thatcher flexed her muscles and in a previous downturn we all had to get on our bikes. Yet today we seem to get a different flavour of conservatism. It’s all big society, low interest rates and a penny off fuel duty. What is going on?

I’ll let you into a secret. The Lib Dems may have a little something to do with this. We seem …

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Tories run into a treble spot of Scottish bother

The Herald reports,

THE Scottish Conservatives were plunged into a fresh crisis last night after a sacked election candidate said he had been denied natural justice by the party’s “dysfunctional” leadership.

Malcolm Macaskill, who was dumped as the leading candidate in Glasgow last week, said his treatment would cost the party £1 million, because his friend, Tom Coakley, a former footballer who made a fortune in property, had now withdrawn a pledge to give the Tories £100,000 a year for a decade.

It has also been reported that a second major Tory donor, John McGlynn, the airport car park magnate, no longer

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Conservative party in Hornsey & Wood Green packs up

Conservative Party member and Telegraph journalist Ed West reports,

My local constituency, Hornsey and Wood Green, certainly is closed to new members – it was recently wound up altogether, and I’ve heard that other party organisations in north London are in trouble (admittedly not Tory heartlands). All I get for my party membership are bulk emails from “David Cameron”, “William Hague” and “Baroness Warsi”, all of which now go straight in the junk filter with emails from Nigerian fraudsters.

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Back from the Brink: the extraordinary fall and rise of the Conservative Party

Peter Snowdon’s history of the Conservative Party in opposition, quickly updated last year to include the final stage in their recovery, has four white men on its cover striding towards the reader – Cameron, Osborne, Hague and Clegg. It tells you immediately the sort of book that Back from the Brink: The extraordinary fall and rise of the Conservative Party is: tightly focused in on politics as seen from and carried out in Westminster.

This is an account of senior political figures and their political, policy and media manoeuvrings. The public feature very rarely (unlike in Deborah Mattinson’s memoirs from

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Opinion: the Tories should be supporting voting reform

I am not a Liberal Democrat who is going to apologise on the doorstep for the Coalition. I think it was the best situation that could have transpired.

The Conservatives are not the party they were in the 1980s; they have a leader who is clearly much more in the centre-ground of politics, and his and Nick’s personal chemistry certainly attest to a political dovetailing as well. You need look no further than the disquiet about Cameron and the coalition coming from the traditional right-wing elements of the party, and the brewing arguments over defence spending to …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 27 Comments

Opinion: a worse government

What would a minority Conservative government look like?

It is now widely accepted, by Jack Straw among many others, that a coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats would, sadly, have been unworkable.

The numbers didn’t add up, we suffered real difficulty – whichever account you believe – negotiating with Labour, and there was the ever-present threat of nationalist lobbying.

So the alternative was a Conservative minority government.

And what would this government have been able to pass through parliament with the support of the next biggest party Labour? What policies would be implemented by a minority Conservative government with Labour’s blessing?

Academies. This is …

Posted in Op-eds | 34 Comments

Tory donor, tax affairs, Oakeshott on the case: some things haven’t changed

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott is clearly not put off by coalition from his pursuit of Tory donors and their tax statuses. Today it is Jon Wood, whose tax affairs have been in the papers with Lord Oakeshott saying, “Now is the time to take big money out of British politics”. You can read more here.

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Party finances in the news

For the Conservatives it’s the quitting of their next treasurer, David Rowland, whilst for Labour it’s John Prescott warning of the Labour facing bankrupcy (the context for which you can see in these graphs).

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Conservatives forfeit £101,500 in donations

Two illegal donations totalling £101,500 dating back to 2004 and 2006 have been forfeited by the Conservative Party.

The issue came to light after it was revealed that over £1m in donations taken by the Conservative Party and booked as being from RF Trustee Co Ltd were not in fact donations from the company but from a series of individuals.

As a result, the Conservative Party re-examined the donations and discovered it had accepted £1,500 in 2004 from an unidentifiable source and £100,000 in 2006 from Mrs Joanna Kate King, who was not on the electoral register at the time.

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Philip Lardner gets official warning but keeps job

A quick update on Philip Lardner, whose suspension as a Conservative candidate during the election following homophobic comments we covered back in April – and who had previously been suspended by the Conservatives in 2008 for praising Rhodesian leader Ian Smith.

After he made the homophobic remarks this year, he was also suspended from his teaching job. He has now been reinstated, but given a formal written warning over his behaviour.

Hat-tip: Stephen Glenn

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How the central finances of parties have been panning out

The following three graphs are from the Electoral Commission and show income and expenditure for the three main political parties as reflected in their annual accounts. There are some important exceptions to what they show, such as the money brought in and spent directly by election candidates, though from what I know of these exceptions they paint a similar picture to those annual accounts of the relative trends over time.

As Stephen has often noted on this site when reporting on the quarterly donation figures, the Liberal Democrat figures show a consistently higher level of income in this Parliament than …

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Two Tory non-doms quit the Lords

A footnote to our previous coverage of Lords McAlpine and Laidlaw, two non-dom Conservative members of the House of Lords. They had both for a long time been unmoved by criticism of their tax affairs, but ahead of changes to the law they have both decided to give up their seats in the Lords.

Lord McAlpine’s case was relatively straight-forward, but Lord Laidlaw’s case had the added twist that he broke a promise he made on being appointed. Indeed, the Lords Appointment Commission was subsequently moved to say that they would not have authorised his peerage if they had known …

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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarRory O'Brien 17th Feb - 10:40am
    It is good that a review is beginning to get underway. But why so SLOW. The election was two months ago and the party is...
  • User AvatarBrian Edmonds 17th Feb - 10:29am
    Good news if it is recognised that our Comms were awful over the last few years. The failure to rebut the Tory/Leave slogans with a...
  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:58am
    p.p.s. It might have been useful to have someone from the West Country where the batch of seats the party once held as strongholds have...
  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:51am
    p.s. if we are recommending books that shed light on the political big picture of our times, I strongly recommend "The light that failed" by...
  • User AvatarIan 17th Feb - 9:48am
    This looks good - if rather large and potentially unwieldy. Do we have anything on process and timescale?
  • User AvatarAdrian Mark Sanders 17th Feb - 9:45am
    @Thomas I don't think we are in any disagreement although I would be interested in an expanse of what economic patriotism really means. I'm certainly...