Tim montgomerie

The Spectator summer party, in pictures | 6 July 2016

In recent weeks, Westminster politicians have found themselves compared to the characters of House of Cards and Game of Thrones over their post-referendum antics. Happily, parliamentarians were able to put such differences aside on Wednesday night as they took a well-deserved break from work at The Spectator summer party. As Labour’s Rachel Reeves and Liz Kendall caught up with Liz Truss, Laurence Fox — the Lewis actor — put on a passionate display for the cameras with his male companion for the evening. Meanwhile with a Tory leadership contest underway, Theresa May made sure to do the rounds and rally support for her campaign at the champagne-fuelled bash. Her efforts did not go unrewarded, with Fox confiding to

Whatever the deal, it will never satisfy the Brexit bunch

In Thursday’s Times, Tim Montgomerie announced that after 28 years, he was leaving the Conservative party. Such a momentous decision requires an equally momentous explanation. Tim has failed to provide one. The gravamen of his charge was that David Cameron is no Margaret Thatcher. Without in any way casting doubt on Lady Thatcher’s achievements, or on her right to be regarded as our greatest peacetime Prime Minister, the reality is more complex than Tim’s hagiographic version would have us believe. ‘It wasn’t just the colour of her politics, but the strength.’ True, she was strong, on many occasions. But what about the Rhodesia/Zimbabwe settlement, the handover of Hong Kong, the

Douglas Murray

Tim Montgomerie has put his country before his party. Will others do the same?

In the wasteland of principles that is Westminster, Tim Montgomerie has always been an exception.  The area is filled with ambitious, bland careerists whose idea of taking a stand (as with most of the commentariat) consists of trying to locate two ‘extremes’ before comfortably wedging themselves equidistant between them.  But in resigning from a lifetime’s membership of the Conservative party, Tim Montgomerie has demonstrated that there is still room for principles in politics. Because nothing has so highlighted Westminster’s prevalence of careerism over principle than the aftermath of the great EU renegotiation charade.  In private absolutely nobody thinks that David Cameron achieved anything real with his ‘renegotiation’.  Yet in public

James Forsyth

Not everyone on the right will agree with this new Conservative agenda

No party knows how to break out of the war of attrition that is British politics at the moment. Neither the Tories nor Labour are expecting to hit 40 percent in May. Instead, they are both trying to work out how to win with a vote share in the 30s. The Good Right, Tim Montgomerie and Stefan Shakespeare’s latest political project, is an attempt to craft a Conservatism which can appeal far beyond the party’s current limits. They want a Conservatism that is focused as much on providing the best social ambulance service possible as it is on social mobility. In their mini-manifesto, they propose a higher minimum wage, state

Why no conservative should support a mansion tax

The Government is expected to raise around £550 billion in tax revenue this financial year. The Centre for Policy Studies estimates that a mansion tax (of £20,000 on properties of £2 million), would raise at most £1 billion, less than 0.2 per cent of revenue. The tax is, however, likely to weaken the market and reduce prices – reducing receipts from other taxes; so even the CPS’s static analysis is probably optimistic. This proposed tax would be a huge burden on those forced to pay. The rate is not 1 per cent of the property’s value. The standard lifetime of a lease on a new build is 125 years, over

The Good Right paves the way to a greater majority in 2020

The Tories may have won the general election but that doesn’t mean they have won the argument. The Good Right, a project setup by Times columnist Tim Montgomerie, hopes to offer guidance on where the Conservative party can go over the next few years. Last night, Montgomerie hosted a dinner at Old Trafford to examine what Conservatives are doing to tackle poverty featuring four of the most interesting thinkers in the party — Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Sajid Javid and Ruth Davidson. They all argued that the Tories need to do more to show their compassionate side as well as understand why people dislike them. Each of of the speakers had different areas of emphasis but the

Cameron has created a socialist utopia for pensioners

On the radio this morning, a campaigner from the Child Poverty Action Group had an ’emperor’s new clothes’ moment. Why not, she said, treat the young like the old. If the Tories insisted on having a ‘triple lock’ on pension benefits for the elderly, which guaranteed that the state pension must increase every year by whatever target was the highest – inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5 per cent – why not put a triple lock on the benefits of poor families. The state would then treat the young like the old, and subsidise the future as it subsidises the past. You will understand why she was speaking

A thundering row on the right

It’s open warfare at the Times between two leading lights on the right – the newspaper’s former Comment Editor Tim Montgomerie and longtime columnist Matthew Parris, who held no punches in his Saturday column in the paper: ‘My fellow columnist Tim Montgomerie could not have been more wrong when he wrote in yesterday’s Times Red Box blog that “Ukip voters don’t believe that the Tory leader is serious about the referendum”. The “let’s-get-out-now” brigade in British politics have a very different fear. They fear that Mr Cameron would indeed hold his referendum and win it.’ Montgomerie took to Twitter the same day to dismiss Parris as backward looking – and he pushed

Pinstripes and shorts – Tim Montgomerie vs the Institute of Directors

There is a nice little spat brewing between Tim Montgomerie and the Institute of Directors, after the former Times comment editor and founder of ConservativeHome ‘unloaded both barrels on Britain’s business trade bodies.’ According to Public Affairs News: ‘He argued that the CBI and IoD were losing the air war with consumer pressure groups, partly through presentation (he effectively ordered a Taliban-esk ban on pinstripes on telly) but principally by not explaining how an open free market brings societal benefits’. What Montgomerie actually said was a little more nuanced, rather than the reported ‘Jihad’: ‘Friends of business need to change the way they’re organised. The CBI, FSB, IoD model –

What’s next for Tim Montgomerie?

Normally, we wouldn’t blog about a journalist moving jobs — but Tim Montgomerie is an exception. He is an actor in, not just an observer of, Britain’s political drama which is why it’s significant that he has decided to step down as opinion editor of The Times, to do other things (as yet undefined). Normally, ‘do other things’ is a euphemism – but in Tim’s case, it fits a pattern. He is a serial political entrepreneur, an ex-Iain Duncan Smith staffer who set up ConservativeHome website, and the Centre for Social Justice think tank and can be found behind various other projects (PoliticsHome, 18 Doughty Street TV, and others). A

Lord Ashcroft’s message to the Tories: you’re doomed in 2015

I’m at the ConservativeHome ‘Victory 2015’ conference today, which after Lord Ashcroft’s presentation should perhaps be renamed Annihilation 2015. He started the day with one of his mega expensive polls of marginal seats, a survey of 19,200 suggesting the Tories would lose 93 seats to the Labour Party alone, giving Miliband a total of 367 MPs and a majority of 84. ‘I don’t want to see a Labour majority of four, let alone 84, but I hope this puts the challenge into some sort of perspective,’ Ashcroft said. The perspective being: give up! Go home! Wait for 2020! The noble lord didn’t quite put it like that (update: you can

The rise of UKIP

Who represents the biggest obstacle to a Tory majority in 2015? The natural assumption is Labour, but it’s looking more and more likely that the party David Cameron should be most worried about is UKIP. Tim Montgomerie has written in the Times this morning (£) about the reason behind this, the ‘split of the right-wing vote’: ‘Team Cameron has always believed that the Tories’ right-wing voters could pretty much be taken for granted. The theory was that they had nowhere else to go and that Mr Cameron had to devote all his energy to winning swing voters. This gamble worked as long as Tory-inclined voters were primarily motivated by a

Why property tax rises aren’t the answer

When Tim Montgomerie first started calling for new wealth taxes I was horrified. Sweden has only just abolished its wealth tax after seeing hundreds of billions of kroner leave the country in capital flight over a number of years. Other countries have found wealth taxes are associated with narrow bases, high costs of collection and often very unfair treatment for different classes of assets. We should not replicate that here. As his proposals have been refined though, it isn’t that bad. More bands would be a relatively reasonable way of making the Council Tax system more progressive. It might require a revaluation which would be politically toxic, and it would

Lansley’s battle should’ve never been fought

A small war has broken out over Lansley’s NHS Bill — ConservativeHome has three Cabinet members attacking it. I find that shocking. At least a dozen want the Bill killed, and why ConHome found just three is beyond me. Politically, it’s probably impossible for Cameron to drop it. But if it was torn up, I for one would shed no tears. For what it’s worth, here’s my take. It’s depressing to think that Alan Milburn’s NHS Plan of 2000 was both more radical and more sensible than what Andrew Lansley is serving up now. The whole debacle has shown politics at its most petty, partisan and pointless — a complete

Catflap Latest: Sack Theresa May!

Good god, #Catflap shows no sign of abating. And people are losing their minds over it. Poor old Tim Montgomerie is the latest fellow to see the rumpus as an excuse to get rid of Ken Clarke. Apparently a “Cabinet minister should never publicly attack a colleague” and so Ken must be sacked as soon as possible. Personally, I’d rather Cabinet Ministers ceased behaving like idiots and since May is the idiot in this case, if a head must roll it should be the Home Secretary’s. She started the Catflap after all and only in the topsy-turvy political land could Ken carry the can for telling the truth while May

Cameron needs to take this opportunity

Libya has elbowed the riots off the front page. But, in the medium-term, how Cameron responds to them remains one of the big tests of his premiership. In the Evening Standard today, Tim Montgomerie vents the frustrations of those Tories who fear that Cameron is missing his chance. Tim’s complaint is that Cameron has actually done — as opposed to said — very little and that the chance to use this moment to push through a whole bunch of big, necessary changes is being missed. With every day that passes, action on — say — the Human Rights Act becomes less likely as the Liberal Democrats become more dug in.

The limits of stigma

As James says, it’s been a day of high passions here at The Spectator. He feels strongly that many of the problems in Britain are societal, and require a cultural shift. Maybe so. I disagree with James when he says a Prime Minister’s role is to “lead society”. I disagree. We pay him to run the government, not offer his advice (or, worse, condemnation) on how society is running itself. Sure, society is shaped by government incentives. Cameron can fix these. But shaping society by exhortation is not what we expect of limited government. Fundamentally, it confuses what I see as the natural pecking order. In Britain, the people pass

Clegg adheres to the script on deficit reduction

What a curious speech by Nick Clegg to the CBI last night. Curious, not because it was bad — but because, in straining to give a uniquely “liberal” justification for deficit reduction and the spending cuts, the Deputy Prime Minister actually crafted an address that most Tory ministers should, and would, deliver themselves. Take his “liberal analysis” of the last decade: “On a liberal analysis, the last decade represented the worst of all worlds. On the one hand: unchecked private debt; an unsustainable housing market; an overleveraged banking sector; overreliance on City-based financial services while other regions and sectors suffered neglect. On the other: an inefficient state; central government wasting

Dave doesn’t agree with Nick and he’s “very relaxed” about it

A row over internships has upset this unfeasibly perfect spring day. The Prime Minister has given an interview to the Telegraph in which he contradicts Nick Clegg’s view that internships should be open to more than “the Old Boys”. He says: “I’ve got my neighbour coming in for an internship. In the modern world, of course you’re always going to have internships and interns — people who come and help in your office who come through all sorts of contacts, friendly, political, whatever. I do that and I’ll go on doing that. I feel very relaxed about it.” There is a split, but I suspect it’s a calculated one. Tim Montgomerie

Cameron must head for the common ground

All the attention last week was on the Lib Dem split – but what about the division within the Conservatives? This is the greater threat to the coalition, and while there is not likely to be an earthquake soon, one can discern the outlines of the tectonic plates. Ladbrokes has odds of 5-2 of an election next year, and these don’t seem so short when one considers the short life of coalitions in British peacetime history. So where might the tension lie? A while ago, I referred to the bulk of the party as “mainstream Conservatism,” as a more useful phrase than the tautological “Tory right”. Tim Montgomerie last week