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The despatch box

We're you thinking what the Conservatives were thinking? Did you believe the Lib Dems were the real alternative? Is Labour moving forward not back? This blog will focus on all things political. It will be irritating, agitating and maybe just maybe it will get you thinking.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My one to one with Gwyneth (well not quite)

I was strolling up to the steps of one of the Parliamentary building today when who should I see but everyone's (apart fron the Labour whips) favourite Select Committee Chair - Gwyneth Dunwoody MP.

I decided to hold the door open - and got a very friendly thank you and "these steps seem to be getting steeper every day don't they".

Don't let Gwyneth kid you. Im sure she is saving all her stamina for the fight to keep her committee seat. (And it was me who needed to use the lift and not the stairs to get to where I was going).

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

World's most expensive screwdiver techncian!

It has emerged that the cost to you the taxpayer for the DTI's name change to DPEI and then back again was close to £30,000.

Seems quite a lot of money given that Alan Johnson the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (it is still called that isn't it??) suggested all that was invovled was some bloke coming to screw the old sign back onto the building.

Wasn't it the DTI who had the final say in changing the Post Office name to Consignia??

Oh dear oh dear.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Smoke free workplaces - you couldn't make it up!

The Government has today published its consultation on making public places smoke - free.

In it they provide a list of exemptions where smoking will still be permitted. Is it only me who is worried by the fact that amongst places such as private houses and private vehicles - the Government in its wisdom will allow smoking to continue on....... wait for it........

oil and gas platforms

You couldn't make it up!

Taxes on the up? (Again)

Public Sector borrowing has reached its highest levels since records began (£8.7billion in May).

Where does that leave Gordon Brown with his golden economic rule?

Reporting on BBC News Online, Gavin Rednap of Standard Chartered Bank commented, "We think it's likely that soon the chancellor will face the choice of raising taxes or breaking his golden rule- He will likely go for the former, which will be a further impediment to economic growth."

Any bets when we face the 67th Labour tax rise - or have we already had that one?

Saatchi probes leadership candidates

In a fascinating pamphlet published by the Centre for Policy Studies entitled "If this is Conservatism, I am a Conservative" Maurice Saatchi publishes a simple test to determine whether the next Conservative leader deserves your support. He challenges the reader to ask the candidate to describe:

  • A noble purpose
  • A fight against injustice
  • A sense of direction
  • A destination

He then urges the questioner to look into the candidates eyes to see if they really mean what they say.

I wonder how long it wil be before all the "runners and riders" are suddenly speaking about noble purposes, and fighting injustice.

All in all a good read.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Europe in Crisis

I returned from a roasting day on the beach at sunny Bridlington - on the Yorkshire coast to read reports of "Europe in Crisis" due to failed talks on the budget.

Shock horror that France is pursuing its national interests - and thankfully so is Britain.

Am I the only one to find it slightly ironic that literally days ago many commentators suggested that the voters who had chance to say no to the European Constitution got it wrong and that the European project had to move forward.

Now all of a sudden national differences have come to the fore and the European Project is not so "hunky dory" as was once thought.

The nation state may well have a shelf life - but I don't believe that time has yet come. The French may not want us to have our rebate - but the fishermen left at Bridlington are probably not too keen to subside French farming either!

Viva la difference.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Assassination attempt?

About 6 months ago vandals hurled a rock as my train sped up North, smashing the outer window and making me jump out of my skin. Due to the wonders of modern technology I can tell you that the second attempt which took place 5 minutes ago failed to have a similar shattering conclusion.

I hadn't realised this blog was worrying the current political establishment so much! You'll have to try harder next time.

On a serious note, I wonder if an ASBO from Hazel Blears would have stopped the little bleeder!

Only if there's enough police to actually catch the culprit. That's what we want Hazel!
Sent via BlackBerry

Sunday, June 12, 2005

What's in a name?

An interesting point was made by Mark O'Brien in the post below which once again raises the issues of What's in a name?

When you come across people who say "I like you - but you're not really a typical Tory - and I don't like the Tories" and all the persuasion in the world can't convince someone to vote for you - then along with policy there needs to be a wholsesale examination of what people feel when they hear the word "Tory" or "Conservative" an idea I suspect Andrew Lansley who has advocated the possibility of a name change could well support.

I've worked for two of the most trusted brands in the country (One has lots of little red vans with letters in, and the other is where you will probably go to get your prescription from)- and while working for the first one the "powers that be" decided in their wisdom to change their name.

You wouldn't believe the media outcry and indeed the outcry from MPs of all sides - with the upshot being the new name was dumped little over a year after it was introduced. Yes we need policy - and a leadership election will help focus the party's minds as to where it thinks it should head.

We all know that Coca Cola will not let its adverts appear in magazines if the editorial on the page next to their ad isn't seen as complimentary to their brand. Brands these days are worth millions and are very persuasive in convincing people to buy something, or to give people a feeling of trust.

Little things can have big impacts. I advocated a change in the name of Central Office a couple of years ago - and was so pleased that (if reports are true) Lynton Crosby changed the name to Campaign Headquarters - because that's what it is.

I am the first to admit that political parties are not the same as companies - but brand values do play a part in politics. Now are we actually a "conservative" party - or are we reforming, progressive and forward thinking - words that actually are sometimes very much in conflict with the "Tory" label which in Northern parts of the country is used to beat us about the head.

If we were starting from scratch post the 2005 election I wonder what name the branding experts would chose to call our party. A name that would fit in with the policies and ideas we

The question is - does the party need a new name?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Renewing the party

The Direct Democracy site which has been much publicised in the Telegraph is well worth a look. Knowing some of the authors of the book, and also the new supporters - including the likes of Priti Patel and Iain Dale, it is clear this organisation clearly won't be short of ideas or input.

Having been brought up in the Midlands -(actually 15 minutes south of Sheffield) it is clear that the party needs to ensure that we have high calibre candidates who aren't just representative of the "Tory South". The party has to ensure it is a party representing the whole of Britain - and that means winning seats in the North - areas that have historically been seen as the "Labour heartlands".

Policy is key to success - but so is presentation. Pinstriped suits and posh voices win no friends where I live and campaign - and presentation has to be modernised hand in hand with policy.

Charities Shadow Minister appointed

Congrtulations must go to Andrew Turner MP - the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Charities who will work under David Davis. Having helped Andrew since 2001 I don't know of a harder working Member of Parliament, and this promotion is certainly well deserved. It will be interesting to see how the Charities Bill proceeds through Parliament.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Duncan to give it a go!

It looks like Alan Duncan the immaculately dressed often describe d(harshly in my view) pint sized MP for Rutland will be throwing his hat into the ring in an attempt to become leader of the Conservative Party.

I seem to recall Alan said he had all the ideas but none of the support - but good for him for giving it a go.

I wonder how many contenders will emerge by the time the election takes place

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Clare chastises Cherie

According to BBC News Online Clare Short has slammed Cherie Blair for making money out of her position as wife of the PM.

The saga is likely to continue.

Is this clamour for cash anything to do with the expensive house Mr and Mrs Blair bought, yet have been unsucessful in renting out.

Perhaps we could have a whip round?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Go on you know you want to!

If you have a spare moment get yourself onto ebay and in the search option type in Vote Blair Out.

What better way to show how you feel about our current PM?

Monday, June 06, 2005

New faces - but who will shine?

For a moment while I walked through Portcullis House today I imagined how my life would have been different if I had picked up just over 10,000 more votes taking my total to the 22,000+ votes Id have needed to be the MP for Bassetlaw.

Oh well - next time - as people keep telling me. I'll have to settle for the occasional cup of tea with an MP and a trip to the Gift shop every so often.

following the 2001 election I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to help out one of the best campaigners in the business - Andrew Turner MP for the Isle of Wight- who was rewarded with a much increased majority this time.

But who are going to be the stars of the 2005 intake for the Conservatives. Michael Gove has often been portrayed as one on the great new hopes of the party. Ed Vaizey is well established within Conservative circles. Jeremy Hunt fought a great campaign and comes across as just the sort of person the party needs. Of course we can't forget people such as Theresa Villiers who has been talked about as the next female Conservative leader. Perhaps only time will tell as to who out of the 2005 intake is destined for greatness.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

David sets out his stall

David Davis set out his stall as to what sort of Conservative party he wants, in an article in the Sunday Telegraph. I am sure this article will certainly create quite a bit of healthy debate in coming days.

I wholeheartedly support the stance taken about the need to fight big Government. Time and time again we here from certain quarters that Labour have stolen the clothes of the Conservative party. In the 80's and 90's the economic argument was won and people have moved on. The fundamental differences between Labour and Conservative is one side believes it knows what's best for individuals, and the other believes individuals know best what is right for them.

There is the old saying that a Socialist is someone who will tax you as much as possible - and when they can't tax you any more, they will tell you what to do with whatever you have left. There is still that distinct difference between Labour and Conservative. Under Tony Blair there is a belief that Government creates jobs, not business. That the state knows better than voluntary groups, individuals, parents and so on. If David Davis is speaking the language of freeing people from an overbearing Government, this can only be music to the ears of the British public, and New Labour should be rightly worried.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Its the Sun stupid!

In an article in the June Edition of "Public Affairs News" ex Sun editor David Yelland explains why he would have come out for Labour (as the Sun did) if he had still been in charge.

"I have many Tory friends but the Conservative Party is just not ready to execute policies which will help Sun readers."

To me this is the key issue which the Conservative party needs to address. There needs to be continued emphasis on ensuring the policies of the Conservative party strikes a chord with the hopes and fears of Joe Public - which isn't just Telegraph readers - but the 4 million plus who buy the Sun!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What do the Conservatives want in a leader?

I read on another blog someone worried about the possible candidature of David Davis, because they had heard that he wasn't nice. Well firstly every time I've had the pleasure of meeting him , he has been more than nice - but that isn't the quality I look for in a leader.

What the Conservative party wants is someone to firstly inspire members to go that extra mile on a cold Winters evening - knocking on doors and delivering leaflets. Secondly they need someone who can connect with those Conservative voters who have deserted the party. That means that a leader is needed who just doesn't appeal to Conservative members or voters in the South, but can engage with people who live in the Midlands and North.

What the party needs is someone who will take tough decisions, which may mean that being nice isn't always possible.

What the Conservative party needs is someone who looks like a leader and all importantly can re-ignite a burning ambition to win.

Dunwoody fights Labour control freaks

Labour MP, and Chair of the Transport select committee Gwyneth Dunwoody is fighting to remain in post as Chair of the committee, but coming under increased pressure to step aside, accoridng to BBC news online. No doubt a New Labour loyalist would be much more preferable to Mr Blair.

I wouldn't want to be the whip who calls time on Gwyneth's Chairmanship. Didn't they try this before?

Anyone who is a thorn in the side of this Government is OK by me.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

They think it's all over.... it is now!

France says No. Holland says No.

I wonder what the argument will be now. That the people in France and Holland didn't know what they were voting for? That they misunderstood and need to be asked again until the get it right? Or the latest one - just because you voted no doesn't mean you should be able to stop all those who voted yes?

Suggestions for reasons why these two votes should be ingnored gratefully received.
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