New Logo Anything But Childlike

September 15th, 2006 by Daniel Lucraft

new tory logo

There’s a lot of discussion today about how the new Conservative logo looks like a child’s drawing. This seems to be a sort of automatic response.

Actually, it looks nothing like a child’s drawing of a tree. That looks like this:

a real childs drawing of a tree

Totally different. Not to mention that what kid would draw a tree with a blue trunk? Trunks are brown.

I like the logo.

  • It’s impressionistic, suggesting the nature of a tree without explicit details.
  • The subtle shadow works well in hinting that it’s a bright day with sunshine. That’s a good connection.
  • It also seems more rooted, giving the image the sense that it’s located in the world somewhere, like a park, instead of being a disembodied floating tree.
  • It’s carefree, not taking itself too seriously.

It’s a good logo.

Built to Last? Well certainly written that way!

September 14th, 2006 by Gavin Ayling

I read Built to Last before I voted on it the other evening (by text message!) It’s a fantastic document that I commend from the bottom of my heart. There is none of the previous valueless stuff in there — if you’re Conservative and even slightly liberal you’ll agree with the document from cover to cover.

I admit, while I defend Cameron to old-fashioned Tories, I was anxious about what may be in the document. It could have been less specific and it could have made non-Tory sopps to other interests. But no.

As I read I grew more and more pleased with the party’s new direction. As I read I grew more and more hopeful that those last late-middle-aged bigots may be compelled to leave the party. I suspect and expect this document to be endorsed strongly. I hope it is.

Dave in India

September 3rd, 2006 by Gavin Ayling

One last thing before I go: David Cameron’s blogging his trip to India. It’s a brave and intriguing way of communicating through non- Mainstream Media methods and it will be subject to far less editing, I suspect, than would a news report.

Definitely one to watch!

Read David Cameron’s India blog.

Is Built to Last a Contract with Britain?

August 29th, 2006 by Daniel Lucraft

Cal Thomas writing at, (a conservative and libertarian online community) draws parallels between Built to Last and the Contract with America.

The Contract with America was written by the Republican’s during the congressional campaign of 1994, and was, like BtL, a direct statement from a Party to the people.

Whether or not it can be credited to the Contract, that was a very successful campaign for the Republican’s, ushering in the congressional majority they have enjoyed since then. It would be lovely to think that BtL could fulfil a similar role here.

Both documents are attempts to speak directly to the public. Political advertising is largely banned in Britain which amplifies the effect of media mediation, where no political statement can reach voters without being filtered and deconstructed by media commentators.

This makes it is simultaneously more difficult and more urgent to find ways to talk directly to voters. CwA was an effective way of doing this, but it seems unlikely that BtL has had a similar reach. We can hope that BtL will have more of a ’slow-burn’ effect over the coming years.

If you read the text of the two documents, the differences seem enormous:

  • BtL is mainly high-level stuff about principles, whereas CwA is a bullet pointed list of specific bills to be passed if the GOP gained a majority.
  • The CwA is serious about national finance, whereas BtL hardly discusses the subject.
  • The CwA is serious about national security, whereas BtL, again, largely omits this.
  • BtL is motherhood and apple pie, CwA was (and is) a controversial text.

Now the Contract with America (text here) was written during a campaign, whereas we are four years away from a comparable election so it’s a little unfair to directly compare the two. Perhaps we can hope for a more ‘Contract’-y document when the policy reviews are concluded.

Still, I’d like to point to two ways in which they are in fact, very similar.

Subtle similarities

First, the message of responsibility runs through both texts. The CwA calls for two bills to be passed, the THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT and the THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT.

In their analysis, ToryDiary highlighted the introduction of BtL, which calls for

  • personal responsibility;
  • professional responsibility;
  • civic responsibility
  • and corporate responsibility;

Talk about taking a theme and running with it :) .

Like the ‘accountability’ message of our last election manifesto, ‘responsibility’ is an excellent word with with to convey small-government, and anti intrusive-government ideas. It worked in the Contract, let’s hope it works here.

Second, the omission of tax cutting ideas from BtL has an interesting parallel in the CwA. (and highly speculative, tell me if I’m off my rocker! :) )

The CwA largely ignored the interests of the Religious Right. There is a bill on strengthening the family, but it’s pretty mainstream. This is odd, since the Religious Right were a big force in the Republican Party of the time.

In different ways, tax and religion are things that energize the bases of the our respective parties, but turn off the wider public. Perhaps the omission of both things from these two documents is a similar tactic when speaking to the public.

American Diversity and how we bring it here

Finally, why was the CwA able to be such a divisive document, whereas BtL is so very bland?

In the US there has long been a contrast between the righteous legislative branch of the Republican party, the congressman who have to face primaries of their memberships in conservative districts, so tack to the right, and the moderate gubernatorial branch, state governors, who have to be somewhat bipartisan in order to work with state legislatures.

In Britain there is no such contrast, and I think it’s our loss. The CwA was written by congressmen who could afford to be controversial, whereas our parliamentarians are strapped tightly to the coat-tails of David Cameron for the foreseeable future.

We miss out on the beneficial effect of having multiple sources of political leadership, which allows American conservatives to try out new ideas and messages that can turn out to be successful, like the Contract with America.

I hope that the introduction of primaries in conservative constituencies will go some way towards creating similar diversity in our Party, as candidates look more towards members than the centre. The A-list is a force in the opposite direction, but on the other hand, these kinds of pressures come from safe conservative seats rather than target seats, so perhaps there’s still hope.

Built to Last beefier, but not so catchy

August 16th, 2006 by Daniel Lucraft

DC announced the revamped ‘Built to Last’ document today, (Beeb). You can compare the new with the old here.

Apart from a new introduction by DC, they have kept the eight principles and added a new principle referring to the need for party change. (The principle on the limitations of government and the principle on devolution have been merged so there are still just eight).

Each principle has been expanded on and given a list of policy proposals, ranging from the specific (abolish ID cards if they are introduced) to the general (undertake social action in our communities to help improve people’s well-being and quality of life).

The policy ideas (apart from being presented as big dense blocks of text - I’m trying to force myself to read through the list under principle 3 but it’s just not happening!) are some improvement on the draft, with much more detail given. It would actually be possible to disagree with elements of this version!

Having said that, I do have some worries.

First, it’s a little less snappy than the previous document. The principles are no longer summed up in just one sentence but a mini paragraph. For instance, they’ve replaced:

There is such a thing as society, it’s just not the same thing as the state.


To fight social injustice and help the most disadvantaged by building a strong society. The test of a strong and just society is how it looks after the least advantaged – but this duty is not reserved for the state alone. It is a shared responsibility: we are all in this together.

Which seems to me to be a lot less catchy. If it was up to me, I would have kept the single sentence ideas and added the new words as an explanatory paragraph underneath. It’s much harder to get soundbites and simple ideas out of the new document.

Public services vs. Constitutional issues

Also, the policy lists are a little mixed in character. For example, contrast the policies under principle 6 on strengthening democracy with the policies under principle 4 on public services.

For principle 6 you will find promises to: abolish ID cards if introduced, create a new Bill of Rights (is that still around? I thought that got pretty much sunk in the press), pass a new Civil Service Act to immunise the Civil Service from politicisation, introduce a single UK border patrol, appoint a single minister for homeland security and give Parliament power over wars and treaties. This is good stuff.

On the other hand, the policies for the public services under principle 4 are much thinner stuff. You get: ending the centralised and target setting bureacracy, action on public health to help everyone to lead healthier lives and encouraging setting and streaming in schools.

Given that the public priorities will be far more concerned with public services than strengthening democracy, what is the document so tilted towards the latter? Perhaps the path is clearer in one direction than the other but it does give the impression that we focus on our own preoccupations.

Security and foreign policy

The elephant in the room while reading Built to Last is the war on terror. Actually any foreign policy at all would have been nice. Section 6 purports to be about security issues from its heading, but is actually far more concerned with measures to strengthen democracy, which means that security and foreign policy is pretty much missing from the document.

Given the labour government’s current policy of attacking our security record in Parliament, this seems unwise. Thank goodness for DC’s speech on the government’s record on security the other day. I just wonder why some more of the ideas there couldn’t have been included to round it out a little?


This seems like a version that is going to go down better with activists, and the greater detail is very welcome. The large sections on the environment and the very practical suggestions on global poverty are good continuations of Party strategy to reposition. But the lack of ‘grit’ in conservative policy is only getting more noticeable so I’m not sure how the omission of a decent section on the war on terror and weak proposals on public services help us.

Cameron believes in environmentalism

June 11th, 2006 by Gavin Ayling

Cameron believes in protecting the environment but many people think that’s not a normal Tory position.

It is. We believe in recycling. There is only so much oil so to waste any on making plastic that could have been recycled is illogical at best. In fact that’s key to Conservative pragmatism. We understand the needs of man and we understand how to protect that.

There’s a lot of nonsense said about the need to recycle. Paper, for example, when produced in renewable forests, is no worse for the environment than is sweetcorn. In fact, in many ways it’s better. Ming accused us Conservatives of being against environmental protection when the truth is we’re against taxation as a ‘green’ incentive.

The main reason to protect the environment is ultimately for the long term benefit of mankind. If we destroy ourselves in the short-term trying to bring about this ideal world, what was the point? So Conservatives are for recycling. This must be why, then, Conservative Councils recycle more of their waste then other parties’ Councils.

Society hasn’t yet worked out how to stop climate change or even whether it can be done without harming humanity. There’s also the possibility that climate change is a natural phenomenon.

One thing you can be sure of, though, is that if and when a solution is found it won’t be taxing cars and flights. It won’t be encouraging people to use buses. It won’t even be making trains cheaper than planes.

No, when the solution is found it will be technological — much like recycling, the answer is not to not-use but to find solutions.

And that solution will be best implemented by Conservatives.

Cross-posted from the Cllr. Gavin Ayling blog.

On a similar subject: Retaking Green issues from the far left

When the hand over?

May 25th, 2006 by Gavin Ayling

Cameron, sticking the knife in, excellent stuff:

If the Chancellor is doing such a good job, why does not the Prime Minister let him take over?

A fine sentiment

May 24th, 2006 by Gavin Ayling

The Conservatives are gaining ground and are, indeed, leading Labour according to a recent Guardian poll, because of their excellent communication of key facts and tempering of the language used so that it doesn’t sound nasty but effectively conveys what is right about the Right.

So I am pleased to pass on this golden nugget of logic from Cameron’s leading team member:

We need to increase the supply of new housing – and that means increasing the supply of land available for development. Labour Ministers say the same thing.

“But their approach is almost tailor-made to ensure that it does not happen, because it sets out to antagonize local communities instead of working with them.

“The whole process starts with huge regional housing targets announced by Ministers. These targets are then handed down to unelected, unaccountable and unwanted regional assemblies and regional housing boards to impose on local authorities.

“I propose a totally different approach. Instead of working against local communities, let us work with them. Instead of trying unsuccessfully to use sticks, let us use carrots.

“In urban areas we need to show how new housing does not just mean yuppie flats in the city centre, but can also provide the key to much needed regeneration to our neglected suburbs.

Of course.


May 16th, 2006 by Gavin Ayling

Don’t worry, we’ll not be gone for long.

Please check back for further activity… I’ll write something here soon.

What the pundits said

May 5th, 2006 by Gavin Ayling
If the Conservatives made over 200 gains:
  • Rallings and Thrasher said this would be ‘the basis for a claim that David Cameron really has made a different to the Party’s fortunes’ (Local Government Chronicle, 2 March 2006).
  • Peter Riddell said: ‘David Cameron can claim that the Tories are really on the way back’ (The Times, 3 May 2006).
  • The Financial Times said: ‘David Cameron can claim lift off’ (4 May 2006).
  • The Sun said: ‘The Tories are back’ (4 May 2006).