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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Conservative leadership election 2019"

Members think Johnson should honour his pledge on the 40p rate – our survey

Westlake Legal Group Survey-Tax-Cut-December-2019-1024x742 Members think Johnson should honour his pledge on the 40p rate – our survey ToryDiary tax cuts ConservativeHome Members' Panel Conservative leadership election 2019 Boris Johnson MP

There has bee a lot of focus on the ‘One Nation’ dimension of Boris Johnson’s agenda – but less on what the Prime Minister intends to do for the Conservatives’ traditional base.

Defusing the European question holds out the possibility of winning back many of those Tory voters whom the Party alienated over Brexit. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Conservative coalition is still based on its traditional foundations in southern England, and Johnson’s own seat ought to make him particularly attentive to the Party’s increasingly parlous position in well-to-do London suburbs.

His headline offer to this group during the leadership election was a controversial pledge to raise the threshold for the 40p rate of income tax from £50,000 to £80,000 per year. Not much has been heard about it since – but we thought we’d ask the members their view.

Just over one third report that they disagreed with the initial promise and support the Prime Minister’s apparent reluctance to return to the subject. This is consistent with the share of enthusiastic support we found for ‘One Nation’ in a previous question, which is again about what Jeremy Hunt won in the leadership election.

The other two-thirds – presumably those who expressed more reservations about the change in direction – support the proposed tax cut and think the Prime Minister ought to honour it.

Doubtless pressing ahead with a tax cut for the better-off would be controversial. But even setting aside the question of whether leadership election promises ought to count for anything, recent experience ought to have taught that bold efforts to reach out to new voters must be accompanied by attentive care of your base. Otherwise it could be the Tories, a decade or two hence, watching another party rampage through their heartlands.

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WATCH: Let’s get Brexit done with a One Nation Conservative government – and take this country forwards”

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WATCH: Let’s get Brexit done with a One Nation Conservative government – and take this country forwards”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What Johnson said about an independent enquiry into Conservative anti-Muslim hatred

Cards on the table.  This site first called for an enquiry into anti-Muslim hatred and prejudice as long ago as 2010.  If any right-of-centre media outlet did so before then, we’re not aware of it.

Last year, we suggested that the Extremism Commissioner look at hatred and prejudice more widely in a single inquiry – including anti-Muslim hatred, of course.  It would need to be a major strand of such an investigation.  This is the broad route that the Government is going down.

Some say that there should be a stand-alone inquiry into anti-Muslim hatred focusing on the Conservative Party alone – perhaps commissioned independently by the Party itself.  They add that the main Tory leadership candidates, including Boris Johnson, committed to one during the contest.

For the record, the Conservative Party clearly has a problem with anti-Muslim hatred – though not remotely on the same scale as Labour’s anti-semitism one.  It is also worth looking at the tape to see what was actually said and by whom.  The forum was a BBC debate.  Viewers will find the relevant section at 1.23 minutes in.

  • Sajid Javid says: “You’re all good guys. Shall we have an external investigation in the Conservative Party into Islamophobia?”
  • Jeremy Hunt says “absolutely”, and emphasises his view by stretching out his arms and opening his hands in a gesture of agreement.
  • Michael Gove moves his head up and down very slightly.  It looks more like a movement of assent than not, but he says nothing.
  • Boris Johnson nods, then shakes his head sideways, then barks something.  It might be agreement – or one of those characteristic wordless Johnson expostulations.
  • Javid then says: “Rory, you agree?” to Rory Stewart.  Stewart nods.  Readers will remember that he didn’t fully engage with the debate.

It is true that none of the candidates dissented from Javid’s challenge.  That can certainly be read as assent.  But, contrary to some claims, we can’t see any evidence from the tape that Johnson explicitly committed himself to a Conservative-only investigation.

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Nick Hargrave: As a Tory moderate, I’ve been tempted to give up on Johnson’s Conservatives. But here’s why I’m sticking with them.

Nick Hargrave is a former Downing Street special adviser, where he worked under both David Cameron and Theresa May. He now works at Portland, the communications consultancy.

For all the talk of a new age of populism, many senior Conservatives seem to have fallen for that very Westminster myth of a binary culture war. That the British people fall into two neat camps of Leave and Remain. That both sides foam at the mouth with passionate intensity for these causes. That the country is fraying through this division. That we’re angry and we all hate each other. And that no political party in this country can ever win power again unless it squarely picks a side and tells the other to get stuffed.

Now, of course there is a values divide in our country today on the issue of identity. But if you really think that this trumps everything else in the daily lives of the British people then, frankly, you need to get out a bit more. There is a reason why Holly Willoughby, Gareth Bale and Ed Sheeran have much bigger social media followings than Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson. Only a few years ago, we used to say that the average voter spent just a few minutes each week thinking about politics. Now we argue that it is all-consuming.

Go to any focus group right now, or better still talk to an ordinary voter, and you will find that bemusement trumps bellicosity almost every time. Westminster has gone mad, but most people in the country just want this nightmare to be over – and for politicians to get back to tangible, relatable, deliverable, aspirational, outcomes-based policies that help them and their families live a better life.

We won an election on this platform in 2015 a mere 13 months before that supposed turning point referendum. It is crackers that Conservative MPs are spending more time now talking about free ports and SPS checks on agri-foods – than they are about making childcare cheaper for the parents of zero to two-year olds.

If you are a Tory – an anti-No Deal MP, a Cameron-era member or a wavering Lib-Dem switcher – who yearns for a return to this moderate normality then there are more reasons to be optimistic about the future of the party than you might think. The party leadership has done a good job of trying to alienate you since the summer with their words and deeds. But for people still weighing up whether to stay or go elsewhere, I still believe there is a clear case for sticking with the Conservative Party in the years ahead.

First of all, contrary to appearances, the Prime Minster is actually on your side of the argument. He backed Leave in 2016 because he wanted to position himself with the party membership for the future – rather than because of a neuralgic obsession about our customs relationship with the EU. He ran a leadership campaign aimed squarely at the party’s Brexit-centric voting shareholders because he knew that was the only route to Number 10. But as well as being a political opportunist, Boris Johnson has always had an intuitive grasp of the public mood. As said recently, once we leave the European Union he wants to focus with “an absolute laser like precision on the domestic agenda”.

These are not the words of a man who is looking to spend the next decade grappling with dramatic divergence or Government by Operation Yellowhammer. He knows there aren’t very many votes in it. He patently wants to get a withdrawal deal done, go to the country with a sensible retail domestic platform, win a decent majority  – and then use that mandate to put trade talks in the second tier, minimally divergent in the short-term box they belong.

All the while he will focus on schools, hospitals, housing and crime as domestic priorities instead. For those who say this is impossible given the pressure from his backbenchers – Canada good, Norway bad – I would only say that it is amazing what a healthy majority can do for your powers as Prime Minister. And who knows what the EU itself will look like in five years’ time.

Second, the prospect of leaving the European Union with a deal by October 31 – or shortly after with a brief technical extension- is under-priced at the moment.  It is the least politically difficult for Johnson of all of his options now.

The UK and the EU27 are also less far apart on the substance than suits either side to say. There is a way through on the much obsessed backstop that puts lipstick on the original proposal of limited future divergence in the Irish Sea. So much of the reason that this was a non-starter for Theresa May was that she knew she would never fight another election and her future was bound with the favour of the DUP. That is not true for Boris Johnson in quite the same way. That is before you get to the logical argument that Northern Ireland’s history since its construction in 1921 has been based on evolving and imaginative constitutional flex – that recognises the profoundly unique circumstances of the past.

Third, with a bit of strategic direction in the 2020s, it is perfectly possible to make the Conservative Party’s membership more reflective of the country at large. This in turn has an impact on what front rank politicians in the party end up saying and doing. Boris Johnson beat Jeremy Hunt by a margin of 45,497 votes in the last leadership election. The numbers involved are not enormous. If you want the next candidate of moderation to overturn that deficit then that is the equivalent of recruiting 70 odd supporters per constituency in England, Scotland and Wales in the intervening period. At £2.09 a month by direct debit, with minimal obligations for boots on the ground activism, that is a pretty sellable insurance policy for the future of your country.

Finally – and simply – the perfect should never be the enemy of the just about bearable in a first-past-the-post electoral system. This is not a time to take any chances. If you don’t think Jeremy Corbyn running the fifth largest economy in the world is a good idea then your vote at the next election should be exercised wisely.

It would be disingenuous to suggest that I agree with everything the Conservative leadership have said and done in recent weeks. It would also be dishonest to claim that the thought of voting Liberal Democrat did not flicker momentarily as we’ve veered towards knuckle-head, pound-shop Orbanism – rather than the finest traditions of Conservatism. But for all that noise, I am not sure the task of recapturing those traditions is as out of grasp as commonly supposed. That’s why I’ll be voting Conservative at the next general election and retaining my membership; I’d thoroughly recommend you do too.

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Jonny Piper: Personal, unfiltered – and in your own voice. How politicians can use social media to speak to millions.

Jonny Piper was Head of Video at CCHQ between 2014-18, and most recently has been advising Jeremy Hunt on his leadership campaign.

As we touch down at Heathrow, my iPhone pings into life with hundreds of missed WhatsApp messages, reminding me I’ve not had signal for the past hour. After a quick scroll through Twitter, I pass my phone to the man sat next to me. Jeremy Hunt looks up after reading the tweets that I’d pulled out – ‘I’ll reply to those’ – and proceeds to start a Twitter conversation with Tim Montgomerie about his great aunt’s lemon drizzle cake.

Even after six years in digital communications working as part of the Conservative Party’s digital team, this was new. I’ve worked closely with Prime Ministers and senior Cabinet Ministers, yet I’d never seen such a refreshingly hands-on approach to social media, or its use in a relatable and personal way.

In Theresa May’s Number Ten, an op-ed in a newspaper meant hours of preparation, yet a tweet would always be an afterthought. I always found this bizarre – when a single tweet or Facebook post of pure and unfiltered messaging has the potential to reach millions of voters. At the end of his premiership, David Cameron’s Facebook page had over a million followers, with Facebook’s algorithm showing his posts not only to those who ‘liked’ his page, but to their friends and family too – meaning that a single post might reach millions of the UK electorate. In sheer numbers of people reached, there is simply no comparison to print.

There was one moment when I thought things had changed. Soon after the then Prime Minister stepped off stage in 2017 after coughing through her conference speech, I was called into her suite. I took a photo of her red ministerial box and the copy of her speech that she had been reading from moments ago, surrounded by cough sweets and throat medicine. Tweeting simply ‘*coughs*’, at the time it became her most liked tweet ,with over 30k likes and retweets, and was reported on by Sky and the BBC.

Finally, I thought, her team are starting to get it: they’re seeing the potential of showing some character through social media. But I was wrong. It would be one of the only instances in which her team allowed a glimmer of humour or personality to come through on her social account.

In politics, personality matters. We may wish that it’s purely policy or competence that makes one electable for high office but, to succeed in politics, people need to like who you are.

In the recent Conservative leadership campaign, one candidate was a political superstar, known for his newspaper columns and appearances on Have I Got News For You, a man who could find himself stuck on a zipwire but whose personality allowed him to weather any embarrassment. The other, a personality largely unknown by the electorate.

Yet I’d argue that in this campaign, free for the first time to talk policy and politics after nine years of collective responsibility, it was Hunt whose personality shone through. And it did so because he embraced a medium that allowed him to talk in his own voice – social media.

There is no other platform that is so direct. Speak to a newspaper, and a journalist can editorialise your quote. Speak to a broadcast camera, and the interviewer will press you on everything except your pre-planned lines.

But social media lets you have direct and complete ownership over your messaging and tone. You are in control. You can be funny, sassy, or start a debate or discussion. It’s the easiest platform on which to tell the world who you are, and in your own voice. To use it well, however, you have cut through the noise and talk to your audience, not at them. Sadly, too many politicians miss the mark by just regurgitating a press release into 280 characters.

Donald Trump has shown us that a single tweet has the power to make headlines, start debate and – if we’re not careful – international incidents. During the campaign, Jeremy pointed out to me that, for the first time in history, the entire United States wakes up knowing exactly what has kept the President awake that night. The US is perhaps more connected to a President than ever before.

In the private sector, such entrepreneurs as Elon Musk really get social media. Despite not owning a Tesla, I follow him because he keeps me educated, entertained and engaged. With each tweet, I learn what he’s thinking and feeling, and get a glimpse into the world of a billionaire. And if you ask him a question, he (or one of his team) responds.

And he’s not the only entrepreneur that gets it. Throughout the campaign, Jeremy would regularly tweet himself – a rarity at the upper echelons of politics, interacting with colleagues, members, journalists and the wider public.

An example of how effective this social strategy was was #BoJoNoShow. After Boris Johnson declined Sky’s invitation for a debate, Jeremy filled the void by hosting his own Twitter Q&A. Trending across the UK with over 34k tweets, Jeremy conveyed his style and humour while answering questions on Brexit, the Union and the mis-pronunciation of his surname. Despite the financial limitations of a leadership campaign budget (£150,000), this interaction and engagement meant we were leveraging organic social in the best possible way.

The effectiveness of a digital campaign is boosted immensely when the leadership is willing to engage. I was part of the CCHQ team that pioneered the use of highly-targeted digital advertising in politics all the way back in 2015. Every political campaign has since used the same techniques, but often without any direct input from senior leadership. But imagine how much richer our digital campaigns would be if they were enhanced by a leader who fully understood the power of social media, and used it to speak to the electorate directly.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

So we’ve had NHS, policing and immigration plans from Johnson. Stand ready for a schools spending pledge.

So Boris Johnson has pledged 10,000 new police officers, as well as a raft of tougher-sounding anti-crime policies, an Australian-style points-based immigration system (not to mention the relaxion of migration rules for scientists), and £1.8 billion for the NHS.  It isn’t hard to see where he will go next, and soon.

The remaining element of Dominic Cummings’s favourite set of policies – tax cuts for lower-paid workers – may have to wait for a publicity push, because these would need legislation, and the Government has no working majority.  Though the Prime Minister could try them on the Commons anyway, daring Labour to vote them down, as part of an Emergency Budget in October (if there is one).

What is likely to come sooner is a Government commitment to spend at least £5,000 on every secondary school pupil.  ConservativeHome understands that this announcement is written into this summer’s campaigning grid.  But we need no special briefing to work this out for ourselves in any event – and nor does anyone else.  For why peer into the crystal of Downing Street announcements when one can read the book: i.e: Johnson’s Daily Telegraph columns?

For it was in one of these, back during the Conservative leadership election, that he pledged “significantly to improve the level of per pupil funding so that thousands of schools get much more per pupil – and to protect that funding in real terms”.  The £5000 figure was briefed out separarely.  This promise was one of the two main big ticket spending items of his campaign, the other being that undertaking to raise police spending.

“It is simply not sustainable that funding per pupil should be £6800 in parts of London and £4200 in some other parts of the country,” the former Mayor of the capital wrote.  Just as the NHS spending announcement was framed by a visit to hospitals in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, expect any school spending news to be projected by a trip to schools in Leave-voting provincial England: all part of the push to squeeze the Brexit Party.

If that column is any guide, don’t be surprised to see a maths, science and IT element too – which would also be very Cummings – as well as a stress on “giving real parity of esteem to vocational training and apprenticeships”.  There is evidence that these are popular all-round, but especially among older voters.  Gavin Williamson is bound to have a supporting role, just as Priti Patel has had with the weekend’s law and order initiatives, but Johnson will lead.

Like his other spending promises, Johnson’s school pledge may not be deliverable in the event of a No Deal Brexit, and there are inevitably questions anyway about timescale anyway.  But if you want to know what more will be in his campaigning package, look no further.

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Andrew Sharpe and Pamela Hall: Now is the time to back our new leader and unite our party

Andrew Sharpe OBE is Chairman of the National Conservative Convention and Pamela Hall is President-elect of the National Conservative Convention.

As Chairman and President-elect of the National Convention it gives us great pleasure to welcome Boris Johnson as the new leader of the Conservative and Unionist party. We will do our utmost to support him as he faces future challenges, the most significant of which, it hardly needs restating, is to deliver Brexit and unite our party.

The leadership hustings proved to be a very positive experience for our party. We argued the case at the party board that every region had to have a hustings and that all members should have the opportunity to access at least one. The board agreed, the candidates agreed, and the next three weeks proved to be a resounding success.

From the first event in Birmingham, where the quality of questions from the audience was highlighted by the Financial Times as ‘spot on’, to the London Excel where upwards of 4000 members packed the cavernous hall, the candidates were grilled fairly but rigorously under the professional eye of Iain or Hannah, the independent moderators. The organisation of each event was slick and professional and the team at CCHQ deserve much credit.

The usual media trope about us as a party of mustard cord-wearing majors from the shire counties was comprehensively deconstructed as large and diverse audiences packed these events. (To be clear, majors who favour mustard are still very welcome!) Both candidates expounded an attractive vision of a post-Brexit Britain that is global in outlook, pro-business, pro-free enterprise, tolerant and optimistic.

But most of all what was on display was a voluntary party that is ready to unite and, as so often in the past, fight to help the new leader to deliver on his promises. We know that the Conservative Party offers the best hope for the future of our country and we will not let that be jeopardised. That is why our volunteers work so hard, year-round, come rain or shine. The party on display at the hustings is tolerant but it clearly places high value on loyalty.

MPs please take note. You may successfully argue that you are a ‘trustee’ and not a ‘delegate’ as defined by Edmund Burke. That is between you and your Association, but we will defend your Association’s right to take a different view and those rights are protected by Schedule 7, article 15.2.6 of the party constitution. Under whatever circumstances the next election is called that will remain the case. Please also note that there is zero evidence of widespread ‘entryism’.

We are excited that our next opportunity to get together will be at the Party Conference in Manchester and we intend to harness the positive momentum from the hustings. We have been working hard on the Conference programme. At the National Convention on Sunday morning, we intend to start by having the first of a series of real debates that will occur throughout the Conference.

These will be led by the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) which has grown exponentially both in numbers and in confidence since the 2015 General Election. CPF’s contribution to future manifesto development was enshrined in the Pickles Review of the 2017 General Election and we are determined that this commitment is honoured. The hustings process proved that member engagement is not something to fear but should be encouraged and it was particularly pleasing that Johnson singled the CPF out for praise at the first hustings event on June 15th. Expect more details to follow.

This year has been challenging in many ways but the National Convention has risen to meet those challenges. At the Sunday morning meeting we will be proposing that the NC should meet more frequently. Over the past year, a Senior Volunteers’ Forum has met on a number of occasions. This comprises the officers of the National Convention, the Regional Chairmen plus the Chairman of the Conservative Women’s Organisation and Association Finance Board and the Voluntary Party Director of the CPF. It offers an opportunity for senior CCHQ staff and senior volunteers to interact, discuss issues of the day and solve problems in a timely fashion.

This has worked well and we now see no reason why we should not extend this format to the entire National Convention, say once a quarter, if there is sufficient demand. Most of the issues and problems that are fervently discussed in various forums and chatrooms are relatively easily solved by better communication.

There will be much more on display throughout the Conference and that will include showcasing many local organisations that are truly changing lives.

We hope to see you there. Despite our current difficulties, there is much to look forward to. The hustings showed our party at its best. We are confident that the Conference will continue that positive vibe. We have faced and overcome significant challenges in the past and we will no doubt have to do so again. We should never forget that there is more that unites us than divides us. Many of you will have heard Andrew quoting Lord Hailsham in his introductory words on the hustings’ stages, but those words bear repeating: “Conservatism is not so much a philosophy as an attitude, a constant force, performing a timeless function in the development of a free society.”

We need to remain true to that and we will work very hard to do so, not least because we recognise that our political opponents are far less committed to that free society than we are.

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WATCH: Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister – “We are going to restore trust in our democracy”

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Adam Honeysett-Watts: After three years of gloom under May, it’s time for fun with Johnson

Adam Honeysett-Watts is Director of Conservatives in Communications and works in the financial technology sector. 

Before this leadership election got underway, I wrote that the next leader must be able to tell the Tory story – of aspiration and opportunity – and identified Boris Johnson as the person best-positioned to do that.

Having previously supported David Cameron and then Theresa May, I like to think I back winners – at least, in terms of those who reach the top. That said, while the former will be remembered for rescuing the economy – while giving people the power to marry who they love and an overdue say on Europe – the latter, much to my disappointment, has no real legacy. Johnson should avoid repeating that mistake.

His final column for the Daily Telegraph, ‘Britain must fire-up its sense of mission’, was jam-packed with the kind of Merry England* (or Merry UK) optimism that we experienced during the Cricket World Cup and that the whole country needs right now: “They went to the Moon 50 years ago. Surely today we can solve the logistical issues of the Irish border”. Quite right.

You’ve guessed it, I’m chuffed that Conservative MPs, media and members supported Johnson’s bid to become our Prime Minister. I’m looking forward to May handing him the keys to Number Ten and him batting for us after three, long years of doom and gloom. Sure, optimism isn’t everything – but it can set the tone. A detailed vision must be articulated and executed by a sound team.

Whichever side you were on before the referendum (or are on now), in the short term, we need to redefine our purpose, move forward with our global partners, unite the UK – and defeat Corbynism.

Mid-term, we should invest further in our national security and technology, improving education and life chances and encouraging greater participation in culture and sport, as well as boosting home ownership. Plus the odd tax cut here and there would be well-advised.

However, we must not put off having debates – for fear of offending – about controlling immigration and legalising drugs, and about funding for health and social care, as well as protecting the environment, for these issues matter and will matter even more in the future.

We should also avoid the temptation to ban political expression, alternative media and sugary foods, and celebrate instead free speech, press freedom and the right to choose.

Again, I look forward to Johnson peddling optimism and hope that people get behind him, because, ultimately, he will write our next chapter – and if we jump onboard and provide support, much more can be achieved by us all working together.

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