George Osborne’s biography shows the shallow success of the Tory modernisers

George Osborne, Trade Mission, January 2014 by Lee Davy

In the wake of Labour’s humiliating summer it is tempting to think that the Tories have returned as the natural party of government, and are set to dominate politics for at least the next decade.

Few have profited from this perception more than the chancellor George Osborne, credited as one of the chief architects of the surprise Conservative general election victory, as well as the party’s success against New Labour more generally.

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Rebel Tory MP condemns cuts to tax credits

Heidi Allen, via Twitter

Heidi Allen, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, attacked the plans of her own party to slash tax credits in her maiden speech to the Commons on Tuesday.

Her first speech to parliament saw her challenging the government directly, joining many on the left and much of Fleet Street in questioning plans to cut tax credits, a kind of working benefit that subsidises someone’s income.

Not all of what she Allen made sense, with her incorrectly claiming that “debt has been falling consistently” when she presumably meant the deficit had been falling consistently (the deficit being, in rough terms, government income less government spending).

British national debt is still pretty high, though not out of keeping with the rest of the EU when calculated as a percentage of gross domestic product.

Where Allen was more convincing was when she made like Guardian columnist Owen Jones and began waxing about people who keep the country ticking over:

“A constituency does not function – a country and its economy do not function – if the people who run the engine cannot afford to operate it.

“To pull ourselves out of debt we should not be forcing working families into it.”

Some have speculated that Osborne and Cameron are getting the nastiest of the cuts out of the way so that by the time the next general election happens in 2020 the public will have forgotten what mischief occurred in this parliament’s early years.

But even so, it is hard not to disagree with Allen’s view that the Tories seem to be “sending a message to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society that we do not care”, and that the pace of reforms are “too hard and too fast.”

The MP previously attracted attention for saying that chancellor George Osborne is “too smooth” to succeed prime minister David Cameron as the next Conservative leader when he steps down later in this parliament.

It should be noted that none of her criticism above stopped her voting for tax credits.

She joins the Scottish Nationalist MP Mhairi Black in using a maiden speech to make a political statement, a departure from the previously dull format of maiden speeches, as explained by the BBC’s Norman Smith below:

Image Credit – Heidi Allen, via Twitter

Oakeshott: Cameron pledged to ‘trash’ piggate biography ‘whatever it said’

Pig's Head, January 2009 by Chareze Stamatelaky

However true the claim that prime minister David Cameron stuck his cock inside the gob of a dead pig, it has certainly defined the reception of Call Me Dave, the biography which publicised the rumour.

Yet Isabel Oakeshott, the former Sunday Times hack who co-wrote the book with Tory peer Michael Ashcroft, believes that the Conservative leader would have panned the book “whatever it said.”

Speaking at the book launch on Monday night, which Ashcroft could not attend due to health problems, Oakeshott said that she had discussed the book with DVD Dave prior to its being written:

“[Cameron] went on to say – quite politely – that he wouldn’t cooperate with our book and furthermore, he would trash it whatever it said. So I brush this off but it did show what we were up against and he did exactly what he said he would do and I must say I don’t really blame him, this is politics.”

Earlier in the evening Oakeshott also claimed that Cameron dismissed an earlier biography about him by journalists Francis Elliott and James Hanning, Cameron: Practically a Conservative:

“I asked Cameron that time if he liked the book. His reply was — and I’m sorry for the language but these were the exact words — ‘No, it’s a piece of shit.’ And that was a book that he had asked everyone around him to cooperate with.”

At the event it was revealed that Ashcroft had been diagnosed with septic shock and suffered multiple organ failure, as revealed by this video that some in the audience were said to have initially taken for a spoof.

Whilst the condition was life-threatening, Ashcroft is said to be recovering.

Despite the rather sycophantic end to the news report, the Tory peer’s influence in the country where he spent some of his earlier years has not always been popular among Belizeans.

Image Credit – Pig’s Head, January 2009 by Chareze Stamatelaky

Cameron loses to Thatcher in Tory Top Trumps

Margaret Thatcher via Robert Huffstutter

Have you ever wanted to play a game of Top Trumps with Conservative leaders as your cards? No? Not even a bit?

Okay, so the premise of this strange game from Conservative Home is dubious, but the analysis of Tory leaders on obvious metrics of electoral success is revealing.

Tory Leaders Top Trumps, by Conservative Home

Source: Conservative Home

Matt Smith and Peter Hoskin point out some clear problems with it:

“Aside from the positions of Thatcher and Cameron, the relatively low ranking of Winston Churchill stands out. Seventh place is not a flattering finish for a man who has come to symbolise Britain’s resilience and fortitude in the face of global conflict.”

This nods towards the general inadequacy of judging a politician purely on whether they can win or lose seats, and even the importance of metrics more widely.

After all whilst Churchill faced the Nazis, Margaret Thatcher faced a Labour party in disarray and William Hague the most electorally successful Labour leader of all time, Tony Blair.

Sure, you can only play the opponents in front of you. But before one gets carried away praising a particular pol it is worth considering the state of the opposition, their own party, and most importantly the state of the country and wider world.

A further analysis from Smith can be found on his website.

Image Credit – Margaret Thatcher via Robert Huffstutter

Zac Goldsmith smashes Tory rivals, winning 70% of votes to contest London mayoralty

Zac Goldsmith, June 2013 by Policy Exchange

The Tories chose Zac Goldsmith to contest the London mayoral election on Friday, as the Richmond and North Kingston MP smashed the competition to secure 70 percent of the votes cast.

Goldsmith’s nearest rival and MEP Syed Kamall failed to secure even a quarter of the ballots of the winner, with deputy mayor for crime and policing Stephen Greenhalgh and London Assembly member Andrew Boff limping into third and fourth.

Candidate Number of Votes Percentage
Andrew Boff 372 4%
Zac Goldsmith 6,514 70.6%
Stephen Greenhalgh 864 9.4%
Syed Kamall 1,477 16%

The extent of Goldsmith’s victory emphatically confirms expectations that he would contest the London mayoralty against Labour candidate Sadiq Khan, with some speculating that the Tories deliberately chose weak rivals to ensure his candidacy.

Number of votes secured by Tory London mayoral candidates, October 2015

Goldsmith and Khan will face the Lib Dems’ Caroline Pidgeon, Ukip’s Peter Whittle and the Greens’ Sian Berry, interviewed by the Right Dishonourable last month.

The Richmond and North Kingston MP has earned public attention for his opposition to expansion at Heathrow Airport, as well as his considerable personal wealth, which is estimated at £280m.

Many see him as a continuity candidate for the current London mayor Boris Johnson, and Goldsmith has even hired Lynton Crosby to run his campaign, a move Johnson made back in 2012 and David Cameron made in the recent general election.

Image Credit – Zac Goldsmith, June 2013 by Policy Exchange