The Conservative leadership is destroying its membership

Published by ConservativeHome and The Guardian

BCCA membership 2012The above graph shows rather starkly the decline of the “Premier League” Beaconsfield Constituency Conservative Association over the period I’ve been a member (‘Premier League’ is an epithet bestowed by CCHQ upon those associations which regularly contribute £10,000s to Party coffers – a kind of “cash for status” [with a bit of access]). Notwithstanding a few local variables (like the enforced “cash for questions” resignation of Tim Smith MP in 1997 – during which, it must be observed, association membership remained relatively stable), it is difficult not to attribute this alarming rate of decline to the policy direction and character disposition of the party leader: the less “robust” the pursuit of traditional (not to say “Thatcherite”) Conservative policies, the more people are disinclined to renew their Party membership, even in the “true blue” Tory shires. Continue reading


Cutting the Arts and decimating Culture

Published by The Spectator

Ed VaizeyRationing Mammon emaciates the Muses. Plato knew it, and so does Polly Toynbee: it’s just simple cause and effect. And government cuts tend to be cyclical: seven fat years of abundance are invariably followed by lean years of famine. Unlike health and overseas development, the arts seem to have no divine right of exemption from the fiscal straitjacket presently being strapped around other departments of state: it is undeniably politically easier to cut Northern Ballet than hospital beds or malaria nets. But the suggestion that a reduction of £150 million amounts to little more than a slight nip‘n’tuck in a very fleshy sector is a little misleading. Certainly, there are savings to be made in the labyrinthine, pathologically-left-leaning quangocracy which generously bestows public money more in proportion to political correctness than artistic merit. But, my goodness, we need to be a little careful before we equate the RSC with a bloated BBC; the LSO with the inefficiencies of the NHS; our museums and galleries with otiose Harrier jump-jets; or the local school film club or drama group with rubbish collection and pot-hole filling. Continue reading