Monday, 2 November 2009

Rocking the Boat

TB wants David Cameron to be Prime Minister. TB wants a Conservative government. A Conservative Party in power because they have earned it, not because they are the lesser of two evils. A Tory government must open up clear blue divides between them and Labour. What is the bloody point of being just as authoritarian, backward looking and untrustworthy as the current thugs? Today has not been a good day for a party that is building an image of change and renewal of hope.

The normally top notch Tory media machine has lost control of the news agenda, and it’s only Monday. Today’s speech on healthcare has gone completely under the radar, and rightly so. There are bigger issues out there that need to be debated and thrashed out right now. When he first read the alleged news that Cameron would be abandoning the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, TB was raging. Although it is yet to be confirmed, (Cameron charmed his way out of answering

Paul Waugh
’s question on the matter) deep down it didn’t come as a surprise in the current climate and direction David Cameron is taking the Conservative Party.

Now is not the time to be wet, now is the time to be bold and radical and for once can a politician please just keep their bloody word? Clichéd? Yes, but surely the words "cast-iron" are not to be taken lightly? Yes, it seems silly to hold a referendum if the Treaty is already in play, but a referendum was promised. A conversation with the nation about Europe was promised. The news is trickling out that there will after all be a negotiation about Britain’s role within the EU. If this is a manifesto promise, it is a risky one - but then that is just what the Conservative Party should be doing. Taking risks.

So TB managed to refrain tearing up the membership card there and then and getting on the phone to UKIP, but that’s not to say the thought didn’t cross his mind. He calmed down and realised how silly that idea sounds. Things only got worse though.

TB hated the fact that the only person he found himself agreeing with in the emergency question debate between Johnson and Grayling, was Chris Huhne. For most of the vile socialist nonsense the Lib Dems pump out, it was refreshing to hear a genuine streak of liberalism echoing around the hostile and close minded chamber. It is an embarrassment that a party that should represent freedom and true, not spun lies, but true right-wing values of freedom and personal choice can be so authoritarian. It was painful to watch the party he loves look so ignorant and disgustingly stubborn. Even David Davis, previously of "For Freedom" fame, backed the sacking of Nutting.

polling today from PoliticsHome
makes for painful reading for any libertarian within the Conservative Party. This is not the time to skulk along hoping to avoid potholes in the road to power, this is not the time to condone the dictatorial, book burning, flat-earther Johnson. This is the time to be radical, to be rational, to be mature and have a long hard look at the thirty year old legislation that dictates our nation’s attitudes towards drugs.

The next generation of the Conservative Party is certainly more libertarian than the current lot and many, many people that TB has spoken to have been equally dismayed and furious, but there has been a casual air of acceptance that TB could just not abide by. As
Ben Brogan argues
, perhaps in the path to power a certain amount of “la la la we can’t hear you” is required from the leadership toward its grass-roots. It may reek of Blairism, but as Brogan says, a seventeen point poll lead can work wonders on party unity. However Cameron must not forget who it is that will run his election machine, who it is that will deliver him to No10, who it is that will be there in the good times and the bad. Cameron must not be afraid to stand up and extol the virtues of individual responsibility, liberty, free choices and fair consequences.

Today was a bad day for the Conservative Party, can some lessons please be learnt from it.



Hear, hear, TB.

I'm not one of those annoying UKIP idiots who thinks they have to join a small single-issue party just because Cameron doesn't agree with everything they think, but even so I have been a little alarmed recently.

As you yourself said: legalise and tax it. We'll probably see a fall in usage to boot, like in Portugal.


Come on TB - don't be too harsh.

Firstly on Europe - the public are Eurosceptic but don't give a damn about Europe as an issue. Putting Europe front and centre will not win votes. The public need to be educated whilst in office as to the issues and the solutions. The reason why we shouldn't do it before is because the public is more concerned about the economy and jobs.

Drugs is a similar story. The youth wing of the Tories may be libertarian on this issue - but the country as a whole isn't. Again, concentrating on this issue is a vote-loser - but once in power there are sensible things that can be done to moderate the position. One would be to have a separate system of classification based on health risk that also includes alcohol and tobacco - this would contrast with the legal classification and would open the debate properly.

For now - the Tories need to get their economic message sharpened and focus on the key issues that matter to the majority. The rest can wait.

Sara Scarlett


Very cute but wrong. You, and the people you associate with, are not representative of the Conservative Party's grass-roots. David Cameron is not ignoring the grass-roots - he's not listening to the twitterati and the blogosphere. The average Tory (as shown by the graphs you've used) is not remotely libertarian they are in fact "ignorant and disgustingly stubborn."

The Conservative Party is torn between extolling the virtues of personal freedom and its vulnerability to slipping into authoritarian paternalistic governance. It's instincts as a whole are essentially those of authoritarian common prejudice. And this little tear between modernity and the past is what's going to make David Cameron's administration wet and ineffective.

Andrew Allison

Just when politics was becoming boring, in true 'waiting for a bus fashion' many news stories seem to arrive at once.

If it is true that cannabis is not as bad for you as tobacco and alcohol, this should be discussed, not brushed under the carpet. There needs to be a debate about the government's drugs policy. I wouldn't be surprised if more government advisers are not thinking about resigning. What's the point of being an expert in your field and giving your professional advice, if you are going to be fired for expressing your views?

Anonymous said...

TB - Is the climate ready for a Referendum Party for the 21st Century?

Do you remember these guys?:

Party registration fee = £125.

Anonymous said...

If there is no rferendum on Europe (ideally one with a simple IN or OUT choice) clearly in the Tory manifesto, we will have no choice but to vote UKIP - or in those places where a shady deal has been done with a Eurosceptic Tory candidate for UKIP not to stand, we can only vote BNP. Is that what they want ? Because that's what will happen.

Old Holborn

Another bunch of idiots searching for "policy based scientific evidence" instead of science based policy.

We're doomed. Are you coming down to Parliament on the 5th TB?

So far, Guido, Devils Kitchen, Anna Raccoon and the Love Police are turning up. Oh, and the BBC and Channel 4.

Jon Harvey

It seems to me that the issue here is one of whether we want a Government that is committed to evidence based policy making & implementation - or not. This Government has gone some (perhaps even a long) way down that path - but there is still some considerable way to go. I hope that whoever gets into power after next Spring will be courageous enough to base policy upon good science and good evaluation. (Remember - Karl Popper was one of Margaret Thatcher's favourite people. Whilst a logical positivist based scientific method may not work in all aspects of Government action - there are many many places where it could and should. The last thing we need is yet more Government by redtop...

That said - Professor Nutt probably did step over the line just a tad too far. As any court jester knows - you may get to say some things with impunity - but go to far - then your head gets chopped off.

It is also worth listening to an alternative view from the World at One today - which shows that not everyone agrees with Professor Nutt. ( about 16 minutes in to today's broadcast) There are many who suggest that the impact of 'skunk' is extremely dangerous for some people.

Meanwhile - as I report on my blog - there appears to have been a lot of money badly spent on tackling teenage pregnancy and a lot of money spent rather well on restorative justice in N. Ireland.

The challenge to all the hacks who browse this blog and you who create it TB - is can you support a policy that may be against your political views but on evidence is shown to be rather and objectively good...?

Blue Blighter

I spent the weekend leafleting for the party locally; and on this, the following Monday I am almost ashamed to be a Tory. Cameron and his One-Nation wets should realise that the Grassroots activists are a lot more libertarian than they assume.

Witterings From Witney


Like you I would love to see a Conservative government - but we don't have a Conservative Party, do we?

To London Libertarian I have to say that I object to being categorised as a 'Ukip idiot'. It is not just the question of the EU that took me to Ukip, but other beliefs suchs as low taxation, truly local government, local taxation, local referendums - oh and the belief we should govern ourselves!

In all this discussion we have to remember that if we cannot trust our politicians to keep their word, then democracy as we know it is - whats the word I want, oh yes 'shafted'


Just promise a referendum on the UK's continued membership of the EU and leave it at that.
Then we can keep the EU train a'rolling.
I know none of you want that, I'm obviously in a minority.


My first comment TB - thanks for the Blog.

Today's news has made my mind up - I'm voting UKIP. The question of in or out or Europe is one thing - but we were promised a vote and dammit, I want a vote.

Davieboy (no, not that one...)


Sara Scarlett's comments encapsulate my own feelings about the Tories perfectly.

I sense we share a lot of values, TB, but I shall be campaigning vigorously to prevent a Conservative landslide next year.

Not that I'll be campaigning *for* anyone, mind. Negative maybe. This is where British politics has lead me.

Michael Heaver

Staying in a party that is clearly going to lead us deeper into a federal Europe, when you are a eurosceptic, really is quite puzzling to me.

Deep down, do you truly believe that Cameron is going to defend Britain's interests as Prime Minister? It may pain you, but put country before party rosette and I think the more realistic answer emerges easily enough..

As for the claim that UKIP are single-issue, I'll say what I always do. Go to and click on policies and amazingly our supposedly non-existent raft of policy papers (with more to come) spring up.


Anonymous said...

Hear, hear.

I am stopping paying anything but the minimal membership dues to the Tory Party. My dosh is going to the Taxpayers' Alliance instead.

Now - I;ve suggested this to the dinosaors at CCO before, but to no avail:

What I want is website of banner advertisements and Google teaser ads - a website that allows me to donate some money to place those ads and to see the data about the resultant click- throughs.

I am buggered if I'm paying for the Tory Party and its ridiculously authoritarian approach to many issues. However, I'd be delighted to fork out for some attack ads on - for instance - Gordon Brown's appalling record of tax and waste. Could someone please make this happen?

Pot smoking tory said...

Thanks for fighting the good fight. I wish you all the best for the future.


Group Hug!

Anonymous said...

If you want to be libertarian, go join the libertarian party. I'm sure the goat, Ayn Rand and Donal Blaney would be very pleased to have someone else to speak to.


TB, I thought you'd never touch on Europe!

You are right, the Conservative party isn't conservative any longer. Whatever it is now, it certainly isn't something I'd vote for.

I wonder why Cameron's changed his mind on the referendum? Outside forces at work, perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Here's a prediction: the Conservatives will win the UK election, with UKIP depriving the Conservatives of some votes and therefore seats, but not as many as threatened, because the desire to bury Labour will just be too great.

HOWEVER, if Cameron and the Conservatives fail to be sufficiently EU-sceptic in power, UKIP will become the largest UK party in the European Parliament elections in 2014. This will reflect that, on that single issue, UKIP represents the overwhelming majority of public opinion, and that the public no longer feels the need to support the Conservatives just to send a message to Brown/Labour, 2009-style.

If the Conservatives have not kept up their end of the EU-sceptic bargain, those 2014 EP elections will be a quasi-referendum on the whole question of in/out of the EU.

Gez Smith said...

Not that I'm party political any more, but i still can't see why any party would want to stick to the current 'war on drugs' line. Cannabis usage fell when it moved to class c, other countries with more 'liberal' policies have lower levels of usage than we do.

In essence, the evidence seems to point to treating drug usage as a health concern rather than a matter for the criminal law as being a far more effective way of reducing drug usage.

It's a shame this issue gets caught up in matters of relative dangers and political philosophy the whole time. If as a country we want to see less drug usage, we would do well to develop a genuine evidence based policy on what works in achieving that.

Old Holborn

Tony Sharp

I agree almost completely with you TB. However, I did tear up my membership card two weeks ago over all women shortlists - but I have not been on the phone to UKIP.

Any politician who says our relationship with the EU is not the most important issue facing this country is either stupid or lying. How can membership of an entity that controls 80% of our laws and regulations be a minor matter? It will affect how we deal with almost every major policy area.

The British people have not given their permission for this extension of EU power. The Tories are now saying they wish they could so something, but well, it would be a bit hard. So instead of climbing a comparatively small hill to deal with Lisbon, their answer is to scale Mount Everest and more widely renegotiate "some" of our sovereignty back.

It isn't good enough. It's unacceptable. But it's indicative of the uncompromising centralisation that has taken place during Cameron's leadership. Small wonder that the party front bench is revealing a similarly authoritarian streak in other areas.

I will not return to, or vote for, the Conservative party until it becomes a conservative party again. That will not happen under Cameron.

James Wallis

This blog and the comments have cheered me up. I thought I was alone in feeling like this. Perhaps studying politics has left me a utopian (ironically) view of Conservatism. But I find myself wondering why I would vote for Cameron. I don't believe that he will correct most of the disaster of the last twelve years, he won't give us back our liberty. He doesn't even practice what he preaches and what he preaches, when he actually gets round to telling us something doesn't generally enthuse me that much. On the other hand, I don't want Labour or the Liberal Democrats to get in and in my constituency they're the incumbents. I've nearly sent them my membership on 4 or 5 occasions. One day I might just do it.

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