Blair knows the Tories' problem
IN his bravura conference speech in Bournemouth last week, Tony Blair mockingly encapsulated the huge problems still facing the Conservatives.Sine 1997, the Conservatives have all but vanished from large areas of Britain.
IN his bravura conference speech in Bournemouth last week, Tony Blair mockingly encapsulated the huge problems still facing the Conservatives.
Sine 1997, the Conservatives have all but vanished from large areas of Britain. And, claimed the Prime Minister, when the Tories lose an election anywhere in the country, they say it's not their natural territory.
"Like Scotland is not natural Tory territory," he chanted. "Like Wales is not natural Tory territory. Like the North of England is not natural Tory territory. Like the big cities are not natural Tory territory. Like Harwich, Hastings and Hove aren't natural Tory territory.
"If I was a Conservative, I would be wondering where on earth is our natural Tory territory. We always knew the Tories didn't have a heart - the problem now is they don't have a heartland."
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This was typical knockabout conference stuff – but in essence, it's completely true. The Tories still face huge problems in making a breakthrough anywhere - they can't form a government based on winning constituencies where stag hunting is a leisure pursuit.
Only a small swing to the Tories will see them pick up between 20 or 30 seats at the election. But as the Prime Minister so eloquently said, what is clear is that until the Conservative Party wins Harwich, Hastings and Hove at a general election, it will never occupy Downing Street.
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CONGRATULATIONS to my good friend Iain Dale, managing director of Britain's leading political bookshop Politico's in Victoria, who has been chosen by North Norfolk Conservatives to try to turf out the Liberal Democrats.
And great credit should go to the local Tories who selected Iain knowing full well that he is openly gay and living with a long time partner.
Plenty of other Tories have "come out" - some voluntarily, most because they have been exposed by a purient and hypocritical media - but Iain is believed to be the first candidate to say to his selection committee: "hey, I'm gay, what difference does it make?"
Iain, who told North Norfolk at an early stage of his sexuality, was proposed and seconded for the Conservatives candidates' list by Norfolk South West MP and party vice-chairman Gillian Shephard and David Davis, who shadows the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
"People should have honesty in politics. I am proud that North Norfolk Conservatives should put their trust in me. This is the first and last time I will talk to the media about this," says 41 year-old Iain. "It is totally inappropriate to my ability to win the seat."
Quite right. And I hope any doorstep whispering from supporters of rival candidates during the election campaign are reported to the Equal Opportunities Commission.