Backlash Against Gove

This week 658,000 16 year olds received their GCSE results. For the first time since these exams were introduced the number of exams passed at grades A*-C has decreased. As someone who works in secondary education, I do not share the fury many teachers are directing at Michael Gove.

Whether or not political pressure was put on exam boards to downgrade GCSEs, this needed to happen. So many pupils are gaining the best grades at GCSE that the qualification itself is being devalued. Here are this year’s figures from BBC News:

When speaking to the BBC, Gove stressed, “The decision about where to set grade boundaries is made by exam boards. If you take English, then yes the number of As and A*s has fallen but the number of Bs has increased. The number of Cs has fallen and the number of Ds has increased. And that is the result of the independent judgements made by exam boards entirely free from any political pressure.”

While I can see that many teachers think these results make their hard work appear useless, I think the threat from some headteachers of legal action is ridiculous. The truth is our education system is not improving, as the results over the past 23 years from 1988 to 2011 may suggest. Comprehensive state education is woefully inadequate; it tries to be everything to all people. It is no coincidence that the schools with the best results in the country are either independent or grammar schools.

Something much more radical than downgrading GCSEs is needed to sort out our education system. After all, we’re gambling with pupils’ futures.

The backlash against Gove due to only a 0.4% decrease in results has overshadowed the real news: that many teenagers have still done exceptionally well. Congratulations to them.

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Immorality

Today David Gauke, a Treasury minister, has said that paying tradesmen with cash is “morally wrong”. This comes only weeks after David Cameron accused Jimmy Carr of behaving in an “immoral” fashion by using a tax avoidance scheme.

Seven years ago we had an extension built and I distinctly remember my Dad withdrawing the maximum amount of money from cashpoints on consecutive days in order to get enough cash together for each instalment. My parents paid in cash because this is how the builder asked to be paid. If anyone is “morally wrong”, surely it is the builder, not my parents. It is true that my parents also saved money; builders charge less if they will be paid cash in hand.

However, as I said in my post about Jimmy Carr, I don’t think that avoiding tax is immoral. We’d all do it if we could. Critics have accused the Government of being “unnecessarily moralistic” and I have to say that I tend to agree with this assessment.

In these tough economic times, people will want to save money in any way they can, and who can blame them?

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Can Conservatives win on Europe?… Or in 2015?

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Last night some Mole Valley, Epsom & Ewell CF committee members went to an event at the HG Wells Centre in Woking. The two special guest speakers were Dan Hannan MEP and Tim Montgomerie, founder of arguably the most influential Tory blog, Conservative Home.

Although the event was titled, “Can Conservatives win on Europe?” this topic was not discussed to a great extent. I was quite pleased by this as I’m not a fan of Europe. It is however clear that Hannan would welcome an in-out referendum.

The main point that I drew from the evening was that the Conservative Party needs to re-brand itself before the 2015 election campaign. We’ve lost the moral high-ground. The Tory party is not viewed as the party for ordinary people. As my father said earlier, “they’re for toffs”.

What we need to emphasise is what I’m going to call “three pillar Conservatism”. Here is an important statistic: if families stay together, work and educate themselves they have a 96% chance of avoiding poverty. Family, work, education. These are the three things that we, as Conservatives, stand for and we need to make this clear to the electorate.

It’s a long road to 2015 and there is a lot of work to be done. I haven’t yet lost hope of winning an outright majority but if this dream is to be realised we need to lay the foundations now.

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“What is a rebel? A man who says no…”

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Yesterday the coalition suffered its greatest rebellion since it came to power when 91 Tory MPs opposed plans to elect 80% of members of the House of Lords.

The Lib Dems have warned that if Tory MPs fail to deliver this key part of the coalition deal then they may not back plans to change constituency boundaries that would benefit Conservatives.

The Government still won the vote with a majority of 338 but only after scrapping a vote to limit the time for debating the Bill to 10 days.

The key points of the House of Lords reform plans are:

  • Reducing the number of members from 826 to 450
  • 80% of members to be elected
  • The remaining 20% would be appointed by an Appointments Committee on a non-party basis
  • Peers would serve a non-renewable 15-year term
  • Reducing the number of bishops from 26 to 12
  • Members would not have the title “Lord” or “Baroness”

The Tory rebels included David Davis, Nadine Dorries, Zac Goldsmith, Louise Mensch, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

26 Labour MPs joined the rebellion, including Margaret Beckett, David Blunkett and Kate Hoey.

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Carr C(r)ash

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Last week David Cameron picked out Jimmy Carr as one of 1000 people using the K2 tax scheme by branding Carr’s tax arrangement as “morally wrong”. The K2 scheme is based in Jersey and is understood to protect £168m from HMRC every year, with Carr as its largest beneficiary. HMRC is now investigating the scheme but there is no suggestion that the comedian’s actions are illegal. Is Cameron right? Is tax avoidance morally wrong?

Jimmy Carr made the following statement on Twitter after Cameron’s revelation:

I appreciate as a comedian, people will expect me to ‘make light’ of this situation, but I’m not going to in this statement as this is obviously a serious matter. I met with a financial advisor and he said to me “Do you want to pay less tax? It’s totally legal”. I said “Yes”. I now realise I’ve made a terrible error of judgement. Although I’ve been advised the K2 tax scheme is entirely legal, and has been fully disclosed to HMRC, I’m no longer involved in it and will in future conduct my financial affairs much more responsibly. Apologies to everyone.

I think that although people have been very quick to judge Carr, many would find it difficult to resist such a scheme if their accountant offered it to them. Carr let the panelists on 8 Out Of 10 Cats mock his predicament and did so with good humour.

I would argue that we should not blame people like Jimmy Carr – most people would pay less tax if they could. It is the system that should be blamed for allowing legal loopholes to develop. Having said that, if the K2 scheme is shut down, no doubt another scheme will pop up exploiting a different loophole.

It also emerged this week that Gary Barlow and two other members of Take That have invested over £26m in a music industry investment scheme believed to be another way of avoiding tax. However their lawyers have stated that they still pay a significant amount of tax. Again, the scheme they are involved with is totally legal.

Although I said that we should not blame these individuals it is disappointing that Gary Barlow, who has been greasing round the Royal Family in recent months, is avoiding paying the tax that pays for the monarchy. Jimmy Carr also took part in the Diamond Jubilee Concert.

I think Cameron went a bit far saying that what Carr did was immoral. He is on dodgy ground because many Tory party donors are involved in similar schemes. His and George Osborne’s priority now should be to close up these loopholes so these schemes are no longer a legal option.

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Referenda

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Following on from my last post, I think it’s fantastic that the Falkland Islands are getting a referendum on whether they want to remain part of the UK. As a journo in the Evening Standard said this week, it’s high time a similar privilege was afforded to the people of Britain: a straightforward EU in-out referendum.

The recent crisis in Europe has caused widespread relief in this country that we didn’t venture into the Euro. We need to reconsider our membership of the European Union and the people should make the decision as the implications of being a member affect us all.

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Argentine Cheek!

I have heard today that the Argentinian government has been in touch with Welsh nationalists about supporting their fight to reclaim the Falklands. Luckily, Elfyn Llwyd has said he isn’t interested in helping the Argentinians reach sympathetic MPs.

Admittedly I didn’t know that some Welsh Patagonians fought for Argentina in the Falklands War but I still think that this is pretty outrageous. Does Argentina not remember Simon Weston and Sir Galahad?

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I’m looking forward to the resounding ‘yes’ vote when the Falklands has its referendum on remaining part of this country.

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Diamond Jubilee Celebrations

The Bank Holiday weekend is over so now is the perfect time to reflect on the events of the past few days.

Sunday saw 1000 boats take to the Thames in the biggest flotilla the capital has seen in the past 300 years. Unfortunately the weather was pretty appalling but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the 1 million spectators who lined the river or watched the events unfold on big screens throughout the city. It was quite a sight to behold although the BBC left a lot to be desired. A personal highlight of the commentary was when Tess Daly said, ” The Queen is a big part of this.” Well obviously, Tess – it’s her Diamond Jubilee! It was great to see the senior Royals on the impressive barge although they did look a bit wet and miserable at times. The Duchess of Cambridge was looking fantastic as usual. I have to admit to having a bit of a girl crush on her. I love her hair and her always perfect fashion choices.

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The concert on Monday was excellent, I thought. Gary Barlow should be very proud of the spectacle he organised. Having said that, however, I’m not sure it was quite the Queen’s cup of tea. But it was something for the whole nation to enjoy. Robbie Williams kicked the concert off brilliantly and I thought Jessie J sang excellently. Madness on the roof of Buckingham Palace was spectacular, particularly the projections on the facade. There were a few letdowns of course: Cheryl Cole showed again that in fact she can’t sing and I was underwhelmed by Paul McCartney if I’m honest. The fireworks at the end were fantastic as was the performance of Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jubilee song, “Sing”.

Tuesday was a much more sober affair with the Thanksgiving service in the morning followed by lunch at the Palace of Westminster, carriage ride to Buckingham Palace and then the fly past with some of the Royals on the balcony. Then later the Queen’s Jubilee message was broadcast. The decision to have only the Queen, Charles and Camilla, Will and Kate and Harry on the balcony was interesting in my opinion. I predict a slimming down of the Royal Family in the coming years. Another example of this was seen on Sunday as Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were not included on the Spirit of Chartwell along with the senior Royals.

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The whole weekend has been very enjoyable, and it was great that it coincided with my birthday. The country seems to have pulled together to celebrate how the Queen has served the UK and the Commonwealth so marvellously for the past 60 years. There is only one more thing for me to say at the end of this weekend of festivities: God Save The Queen!

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Doctor, Doctor: why is my GP going on strike? Because a £53,000 a year pension deal isn’t enough…

I’ve taken the title of this blog from The Independent’s headline on May 31st. The government have said that the public will not sympathise with the BMA over their decision to strike next month due to changes to doctors’ pensions. The government is right. There has been a media backlash against doctors, who have voted to strike for the first time since 1975.

I’m unashamedly against any industrial action, ever. It’s counter-productive in my opinion. And for doctors to strike is totally immoral, unreasonable and irresponsible. I really don’t see what the fuss is about. Doctors, particularly GPs, are vastly over paid as it is and while I appreciate it’s not nice to have your pension tampered with, they will still be getting a generous package. I don’t think a very high percentage of the general public will be sympathetic towards doctors given that £53,000 is still a large sum of money, although admittedly a big decrease from the average consultant’s salary.

Despite my hatred of striking, when I become a teacher I intend to join a union – probably not the NUT – just for peace of mind and protection. Having said that I’m not a fan of the unions. I find it outrageous that people like teachers and nurses can work up to 5 days a week for their union while still getting paid for the day job that some haven’t actually been to for years. Last night I met a man involved with trade union reform and this is one of the issues he’s addressing – very encouraging.

It’s such a shame that doctors have felt it necessary to strike on June 21st. This country is on its knees so spending cannot and must not continue as the Left wants it to.

Everyone’s feeling the pinch and doctors need to realise they’ve been having it far too good for far too long.

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Regional Pay for Teachers

Last month the National Union of Teachers voted to fight against government proposals to introduce regional pay for teachers. Teachers in London are currently paid more than teachers anywhere else (£4000-5000 more per annum), so why is it so unreasonable to suggest that teachers in Surrey – one of the most expensive areas of the country – should be paid more than teachers living and working in the North East or South Wales, where the cost of living is so much cheaper?

Back when I was in Swansea, all the Biology trainees and our tutor had a discussion about the prospect of regional pay and the general consensus was that it was a preposterous idea. I suppose because most of the group lived in an area where pay would be less made them more inclined to think that it was a bad idea.

Nick Clegg has denounced plans to introduce regional pay by saying that he would reject any action that would the exacerbate the divide between the North and the South. This looks set to be another test for the coalition as Michael Gove calls for the scrapping of national pay rates for the teaching profession.

The Department for Education has argued that in some areas, such as in the North East, East Midlands and the South West, it’s easier to hire staff inferring that teachers’ salaries in these areas could, theoretically, be less. This would leave other more expensive areas to pay larger salaries in order to attract staff.

Many people would think that I’m all for regional pay because I live in Surrey but this is not the case. I don’t think it’s fair that teachers in cheaper areas of the country end up having more disposable income than those living in more expensive parts when they’re doing exactly the same job. In the private sector  regional pay is a given so why can the same not be said for the public sector?

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Diamond Jubilee: Armed Forces Tribute

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations really kicked off at Windsor Castle today with a pageant involving over 2,500 soldiers, sailors and airmen and airwomen. In addition to all the service personnel, an estimated 20,000 members of the public lined the streets of Windsor to celebrate the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.

The musical celebration was led by six military bands and began with an RAF flypast involving nine Typhoon jets in a diamond formation (below). It culminated at a specially built arena in the grounds of the royal estate (above).

This country is the best in the world at pageantry and pomp. The armed forces tribute today was truly impressive and very stirring. I’ve always been very patriotic but I think any British citizen watching today’s spectacle would have been extremely proud to be British.

Today’s celebrations come after a new poll by Ipsos MORI shows that support for the monarchy is at a 20-year high. Only 13% of the population are in favour of living in a republic while in 2005 this figure was almost twice as high. Before the Royal Wedding last year 75% of those surveyed supported the monarchy but a combination of the “Kate effect” and the Diamond Jubilee celebrations has pushed this figure up to 80%. Support for the Queen is highest amongst the over 55s, with 88% being in favour. However, even in the 18-24 age group 73% want to remain subjects of the Queen. Ipsos MORI believe that the increased coverage of the Royal Family over the past year has significantly contributed to this surge in their popularity.

Although the Jubilee celebrations officially started in March with the commencement of a UK tour by the Queen which will continue until the end of July, today saw the start of the major events. I’m terribly excited about the Diamond Jubilee weekend in a couple of weeks’ time, particularly as my birthday falls on a Bank Holiday. The Queen will be coming my local area on Saturday 2nd June when she attends the Epsom Derby and I’m hoping to get to the Thames on Sunday 3rd to see the flotilla. I was disappointed not to get tickets to the Jubilee concert outside Buckingham Palace on the Monday, organised by the lovely Gary Barlow but I’ll be having my own celebrations at home instead.

I think it’s extraordinary that our Queen is the second longest-reigning monarch in British history, second only to Queen Victoria who managed 63 years and 216 days. I’m almost certain that in 3 and a half years’ time Queen Elizabeth II will become this country’s longest-serving monarch.

God Save the Queen!

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Do Politics and Science Mix?

This blog post is a response to an article entitled, “Politics: An unscientific business”, in The Biologist, the Society of Biology magazine. In it a clinical scientist voices his ‘concerns about scientific illiteracy among politicians and the Government’s unwillingness to listen to the experts.’ It is an unfortunate fact that Parliament now has the lowest number of MPs with a scientific background than it has had for several decades. In addition to this, scientific understanding among the remaining MPs is generally inadequate.

I remember feeling outraged when the previous Government rejected the advice of its drug advisors and sacked Prof. David Nutt after he publicly disagreed with their policies. The coalition meanwhile has removed the need for scientists to sit on such a committee at all!

It is a shame that repeated questioning of ministers has brought to light that evidence-based clinical practice plays no part in the Government’s NHS reforms.

Education also suffers due to insufficient consideration for science when policy-making. Successive governments have sought to expand faith schools when many of these have been teaching creationism as science. However, on a positive note, the Department for Education has announced that free schools will not be allowed to do this.

Les Rose FSB (Fellow of the Society of Biology, not a the Russian security service!) goes on to ask whether arts and humanities graduates have any grasp of objective evidence. These are typically the specialisms of politicians and civil servants. As a former member of the Biomedical Sciences Committee of the Society of Biology, Mr Rose realised that while scientists’ advice to politicians may be valid, this may be watered down by civil servants before it reaches politicians.

Mr Rose ends with a criticism of us scientists – that we shouldn’t be surprised if we’re unhappy with the way politicians deal with scientific issues if we haven’t bothered to engage with them.

On a personal note, when I was a member of Conservative Future branches both in Birmingham and Swansea, I was one of a very small minority of scientists in the ranks. I’m not sure why scientists in general do not seem to want to get involved with politics, but I think it is a great shame because we certainly do have a lot to offer.

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Tuition Fees

It’s been ever such a long time since I contributed to the BUCF blog and no doubt there has been much debate on this particular topic.

This has been taken from my personal blog. I posted this on December 14th:

It was inevitable that I would blog on this particular topic. I am writing today as the House of Lords have voted in favour of tuition fee reform. The system was in dire need of reform so I’m glad these changes are taking place.

Many of you will think that it’s very easy for me to say this seeing as in September 2012 I will no longer be part of the higher education system. Some of you will observe that I come from a fairly privileged background so wouldn’t care anyway. This is not true. Education, as a trainee teacher, is a subject close to my heart.

The truth is these changes will benefit students and graduates. The threshold for paying back will be raised to £21,000. Monthly payments will now be around £7 as opposed to £45 under the current system. Why is this new system being met with so much opposition.

And as for the student protests, I think the participants should be absolutely ashamed of their actions. Demo2010 has done nothing to support their cause whatsoever.

I have also read today that some members of the NUS are calling for Aaron Porter to resign as President because he has failed to participate in or endorse the protests. They forget that his job is too represent the views of students and that the majority of students took no part in the London protests or indeed regional protests. My message to Aaron Porter is this: I may not agree with all of your political views but stand your ground and do not bow to the pressure of the few.

I do hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you a Happy New Year.

The Politics of Posh

This is a response to an item on tonight’s The One Show (http://bbc.co.uk/i/pymmg/):

Does class still matter? My rational side would argue not, especially as we are born into a background and therefore have no choice over it. However the Labour Party and the media – this time the BBC in the form of Kaye Adams – have made it matter. Is being posh Cameron’s Achilles Heel?

I really don’t see how the Labour Party can indulge in “toff-bashing” when Tony Blair himself was a boarder at Fettes College, also known as “The Eton of the North”. Adams highlighted in this programme that a third of ALL Members of Parliament elected at the last election – not just Tories – were privately educated (and therefore, according to the correspondent, toffs). So why has the Labour Party made being a toff a Tory trait? It makes no sense and is ever so slightly hypocritical, is it not?

So, inevitably, Adams goes on to interview the public – does their supposed “toffishness” weaken the Tories’ position going into the General Election? One lady, very sensibly, stated that it should be the policies that matter. I whole heartedly agree. Others said that it made the Tories seem out of touch.  I obviously understand that those with money don’t feel the pinch as much as most people perhaps but they undoubtedly must realise that there is a credit crunch all the same. As long as their proposed policies fit the issues facing this country at the moment then what is the problem?  One man said that he liked the fact that some people are proud of where they’ve come from and this, to me personally, has always been close to my heart. Why should Cameron be made to feel like he has to shy away from his family, his heritage? Another commentator said that Cameron actively tries to distract from the fact he’s a Sloane Ranger.

A clip is then shown of Gordon Brown when he referred to the Tories’ inheritance tax proposals as being “dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton”. Forgive me for having a rant but why should we have to pay to inherit what our parents worked so hard to achieve? I admit that putting the threshold up to £1million doesn’t make much sense in  a recession but taxing the rich is a bit too Robin Hood for my liking.

Stanley Johnson – father of my favourite mayor (!) – is then interviewed and quite rightly states that generally, the Conservative MPs likely to be elected this year will form an middle to upper-middle class group, just like the Labour MPs elected in 1997.

However the best part of this short item was a quote given by Adrian Chiles at the end; that posh was getting out of the bath to have a wee. By that definition I hope that all of you are indeed posh!

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N.B. I apologise for the number of rhetorical questions but after many debates about class with my housemates I just don’t know the answers anymore! I’m sure some of you will provide me with some…

Disintegration

Aaron Hugh Ellis is reading History at the University of Bristol and is the former VP of the Bristol University branch of Conservative Future. In this generous guest post Aaron outlines his concerns for the future of British politics and captures the contemporary issues facing our modern democracy.

‘The dangers we have to fear may roughly be summed up in the single word – disintegration’, Lord Salisbury wrote in 1883. ‘It menaces us in the most subtle and the most glaring forms.’

Uneasiness permeates our society, a vague feeling of dislocation and insecurity, which can roughly be summed up in the single word ‘disintegration’. It is the end to which we sense being driven by the defective working of our political machinery, the public temper of our time, as well as our deteriorating environment. The process of disintegration has occurred in the last twelve years but its pace quickened over the last twelve months. It has been accelerated through the potent combination of an inept government with an irresponsible leadership, the dreary expenses scandal and an unintelligent partisanship that forthcoming elections encourage. A society where all interests are equal is mutating into one where all interests are selfishly pursued, and the institutions which sustain the balance-of-interests in our society decay as their cultures are undermined both from within and without. We sense the power of the dreary, the pedestrian, the pompous, the respectable and the unimaginative and see the triumph of its adherents.

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The disintegration of the last twelve years has resulted from a poor understanding by politicians and their opinion-makers of the British political system. A millennium of perpetual conflict between vying groups and factions produced a settlement where all interests in society are equal, not people. The physical manifestation of this settlement is Parliament, which condensed as fighting between the factions moved from the battlefield to the ballot-box in the 18th Century. Its virtue lies not only in the communal ‘inclusiveness’ but also the guarantee of mutual security. All interests within society are represented and each group has an influence on the country’s laws. By limiting our aims and moderating our actions, we not only preserve our opponents but also ourselves. We are a ‘commonwealth’, and the cohesion of society is sustained through each of us taking two steps forward and one step back – a handy philosophy if approaching a precipice.

Since 1997, however, the settlement has gradually disintegrated as the institutions which sustain society have been undermined both from within and without. The cause is best termed as ‘totalism’: factions pursuing total aims rather than limited ones at the expense of their opponents whom they try to destroy, disguising their dislike with a moral or legalistic gloss. It begun with the New Labour Government attempting to reform institutions it saw as antiquated but upsetting the balance-of-interests. ‘The most fundamental problem in politics,’ Kissinger has written, ‘…is not the control of wickedness but the limitation of righteousness.’ A result of the righteous totalism of New Labour was other interest groups adopting similarly total aims, motivated by the righteous hatred which fights for survival produce. Things fell apart; our institutions could not hold.

Disintegrating institutions led to the decay in their cultures, most notably Parliament. As the purpose of institutions became unclear, and politics characterized by factionalism and hate, there has been an influx of ‘professionals’ who identify public good with personal advancement. Those ‘professionals’ in active politics resemble the character of Widmerpool from Anthony Powell’s ‘Dance to the Music of Time’, pursuing power at any cost but disarming suspicion by being incredibly dull. They are staffed by cherubic aides and interns who soil their dalmatics trying to climb up the greasy pole. This decay in the cultures of our institutions was blindingly encouraged by a mixture of uninformed or ill-experienced pedagogues, prophets and newspaper columnists (for there is no one more stupid and more opinionated than teachers, preachers or journalists…) As a result, the best lacked all conviction, while the worst were full of passionate intensity.

The expenses scandal to some extent exposed this decayed culture, but the restive Puritanism that it roused and the fear it created in politicians led not to the rehabilitation of our institutions but their further destruction. People saw them as the problem and not the cultures that had grown up with their gradual disintegration. The ‘professional’ culture was strengthened, not weakened by measures such as punishing second-jobs. Yet this doesn’t matter to the dreary, the pedestrian, the pompous, the respectable and the unimaginative whose power has grew bit by bit over the last twelve years but now dominate since the scandal. So our sustaining institutions continue to disintegrate, and those who oppose this process fearfully wonder what rough beast slouches towards Westminster to be born?

One would think this is the time for Conservatism, but the Tory Party is as affected by the decay as any other institution. The current Leadership are arguably the best educated and most cerebral since 1945. ‘Cameronism’, if it exists, embodies this idea of ‘equality of interests’ added with the intellectual and humanitarian traditions which extends far back through our history. But like their postwar forebears, they seem intellectually timid; committed enough to defend Conservatism, too afraid to put it on the offensive. They are anxious about appearing the smartest kid in the class, which gives our opponents the opportunity to fill the vacuum in ideas and use our timidity to strong-arm us into conniving in the decay of society’s institutions.

‘The idea that the convictions of politicians are never stable,’ continued Salisbury, ‘that under adequate pressure every resistance will give way, every political profession will be obsequiously recast, is fatal to the existence of either confidence or respect. Neither trust nor fear will, in the long run, be inspired by a school of statesman who, whatever else they may sacrifice, never sacrifice themselves.’

BUCF on Radio 4

In Fresher’s week, many of the BUCF group were interviewed by Radio 4, as they conducted a piece on how Conservative Future was the largest and quickest growing youth organisation in the country (that is any youth organisation not just political groups!)

Vice President Laura Blyth declares herself on the radio as ‘very very liberal’, which as you can listen to from the link, seems to rather upset Tom Guise, chair of BULS.

It actually went out on the radio last Sunday at 9am, but the wondeful new blog www.theyoungconservative.co.uk have put it on the web, the direct link to the radio show is here.

Jimmy McLoughlin, Area Chairman for Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull

Prague Tory: Crewe & Nantwich Post Mortem…

Sounds like good news is coming through from Crewe as expected. I’ll be do my celebrating in private – tomorrow evening for a start – so all I can offer here is some off-the-cuff analysis – hat-tip to my old friend Newmania.

What Does This Mean For The Tories?

First, let’s not over-react. The results were pretty much in line with the local election results in this seat. I couldn’t have scripted a more incompetent Labour campaign or picked a more graceless Labour candidate and yet we didn’t walk it. I know this may sound churlish, but we have yet to prove that we’re much cop at by-elections.

Labour Leadership

Gordon Brown has delivered ten years of growth, high employment, and low inflation. He has taken many many children out of poverty and encouraged a working population with the introduction of tax credits. Taxation has only increased marginally and he has been prepared to stand up for Britain and its values. That any government , buffeted by unforeseeable international problems created by Americans, and in its third term, should be unpopular is not his fault.

He has been implacable in his determination to lead this country through these choppy waters and has a personal moral authority unsullied by any involvement in the Blarite murk surrounding Party funding. He is good man and the British will come to see that in the secluded confessional of the voting booth.

As a Conservative I dread campaigning against this popular politician at the General Election. At a time when we should be pulling together behind our government let us all hope the labour party don’t do anything disruptive like removing him.

– That was Guest Post 2/2 from Prague Tory – BUCF Reaction Tomorrow

Prague Tory: Crewe & Nantwich Pre Mortem…

A Cynical Labour Campaign

We all know that the Labour campaign has been nasty and bigoted. Interestingly, amongst my Tory friends it’s noticeable that whilst posher friends are bemused/non-plussed with Labour tactics, Tories with working class roots are livid. But the campaign is more than nasty – it has been deeply cynical. Moving the writ before a funeral is bad enough, but when the hastily annointed successor is family of the deceased it feels like emotional blackmail. On the day of the funeral, the Conservative agents in Crewe agreed to Labour requests to a campaigning ceasefire – only to see Labour canvassers on the trail. That TKD felt comfortable attacking our candidate for being too posh and insufficiently local beggars belief. Wholly unrepentant about her murky campaign, she seems a deeply unpleasant and unattractive person.

The Others

The Lib Dems have been the electorate’s way of delivering bloody noses to the government at by-elections for as long as I can remember, but the proximity of today to the local elections (where they came a poor third) suggests that even they believe they can’t make it – and just like Clegg they’ve failed to make an impact. The Conservative candidate has remained calm under pressure and has done well to remain above the fray, but I hope he has some choice words if he wins. Some of his early literature was very good, but in the final week I’d have liked to see some local messages (e.g. 10 ways that Edward Timpson will stand up for Crewe) which would help secure more floating voters.

Predictions

An old stat that sticks in my mind is that 9 out of 10 motorists think they are better than average drivers. I think you’d find similar levels of self-delusion amongst political activists when it comes to making election procedures. Another feature of self-delusion is predicting the future too narrowly. Experience teaches us that the colleague who says that he’ll have everything ready for the meeting is often mistaken. And so it is with political punditry. Take a look at some of the predictions for the Crewe & Nantwich by-election on UK Polling report where a groupthink consensus has gathered around a Tory majority of 2,000 to 5,000. Therefore, I am going to predict that the result will be outside these ranges. What do you think?

This was Guest Post 1/2 from Praguetory and will be followed by an election ‘Post Mortem’