Conservative Party

What I told the Tories in Manchester

By Lord Ashcroft

Here is the text of the presentation I gave at the ConHome fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this week. (more…)

That’s enough fantasy politics. ‘Margaret Thatcher Day’ is not a vote-winner

By Lord Ashcroft

It is sometimes remarked that the centre ground of politics is not the same thing as the common ground. There is some truth in this. Overall, most people want to vote for parties that seem sensibly moderate rather than those that have veered too far one way or the other, but this does not mean that on any given issue – crime, immigration, the NHS – the centre of gravity of public opinion is always in the middle of the spectrum.

Yet politicians should beware of using this argument as an excuse to pursue preoccupations of their own which few voters share. A good example of this occurred at the end of June in the form of the so-called Alternative Queen’s Speech, a raft of measures (why do measures always arrive on rafts?) put forward by a number of Tory backbenchers which are, according to Peter Bone MP, designed to “recapture the common ground, where most views are”.

I decided to put this contention to the test in a poll. (more…)

“Are You Serious?” Boris, the Tories and the voters

By Lord Ashcroft

What do we know about Boris Johnson? That he is the most popular politician in the country. That he raises the spirits in gloomy times. That he is a Tory who was elected, and then re-elected, in a predominantly Labour city. And that some think the magic that helped ensure his two personal victories would do the same for his party if, one day, he led it.

It is not a ridiculous idea. But in politics, things are seldom as straightforward as that. I decided to look further into the proposition that Boris is the answer. (more…)

The Tories can’t afford to waste another six months

By Lord Ashcroft

The year started promisingly enough. The government’s mid-term review aimed to show what had been achieved and set the agenda for the rest of the parliament. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Europe speech was supposed to clear the decks and allow us to talk about the things we were elected to do.

So much for all that. My latest poll, conducted over the past weekend, shows the last six months to have been a missed opportunity to make progress on the things that will determine who wins in 2015.  (more…)

Enough! Time to behave like the governing party we want to be

By Lord Ashcroft

Was last week good for the Conservative Party because it proved that only the Tories were committed to an EU referendum? Or bad, because we seemed obsessed with the subject and excessively fond of arguing amongst ourselves? Either way, we were surely all glad when the weekend arrived. At least, that is, until we woke on Saturday to read of swivel-eyed-loon-gate, the latest in a seemingly unending series of ploys we seem to devise for tripping ourselves over. (more…)

Britons still don’t believe that the Tories are on their side

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Financial Times

There is a ritual, and even a specialised vocabulary, for midterm local elections in the UK. In advance, they are always a “crucial test” of the government’s popularity, and the opposition’s ability to turn poll ratings into votes. Next comes expectation management, when incumbent parties brief that they will lose practically all their councillors, and the challengers claim they expect to gain hardly any, in the forlorn hope of bamboozling political reporters.

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1992. The last elected Conservative government

By Lord Ashcroft

The past week has been one of great loss for Britain. It has also contained an anniversary which has, not surprisingly, gone unremarked: it is now 21 years since the Conservative Party last won a general election with an overall majority.

Some will recall 9 April 1992 more clearly than most – not least the man who then headed the Conservative Research Department’s Political Section. Can that 25 year-old aide to John Major have imagined that despite its fourth consecutive victory and 14 million votes (a total which remains a record), his party’s standing with the public would be reversed within a year – and that the next Conservative Prime Minister to enter Number 10 would be him?

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Farewell Margaret Thatcher – a colossus of British politics and a dear friend

By Lord Ashcroft

I have numerous memories of Margaret Thatcher and all of them are fond ones. To me, she was not just a colossus of British politics but also a fiercely loyal friend when I was under fire. Her death today, aged 87, has saddened me greatly.

I credit Margaret Hilda Thatcher with rekindling my interest in politics after I had drifted away from it for well over a decade. I had admired her from afar long before I knew her – and not just because she was Britain’s first (and to date only) woman Prime Minister. (more…)

Words matter. Don’t choose them too carefully

By Lord Ashcroft

Nobody who listened to George Osborne’s Budget speech could have been in any doubt about what he was trying to say. If anyone missed the message about “aspiration” at the first mention, or the second, they would surely have picked it up by the sixteenth.  Yawn! The aim of building an “aspiration nation” and helping “hard working people who want to get on in life” was reinforced days later by David Cameron in his immigration speech, in which he also found three opportunities to remind us that Britain was in a “global race”, a theme he first introduced at last year’s Conservative conference.

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Former Treasurer Peter Cruddas wins another victory in his bid to clear his name

By Lord Ashcroft

Peter Cruddas, the former Conservative Party Treasurer, has received yet another boost in his on-going legal battle to clear his name.

Mr Cruddas was awarded earlier this week £45,000 in damages (plus costs) against Mark Adams, the lobbyist and blogger, whose original tip to The Sunday Times led to their undercover investigation against him. Mr Adams has publicly apologised for wrongly – and repeatedly – accusing Mr Cruddas of breaking the law relating to political donations. The full judgement is here.
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