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Daily Express
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The Daily Express is a mid-market tabloid that has supported the Conservative Party in every election since World War II. 

1997 election endorsement: Conservative

2002 election endorsement: Conservative
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When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans. -Jean Chrétien
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The Conservative Party leadership race is down to two candidates: Sir Harold Saxon, the MP for Aylesbury, and Andrew Summer, the MP for Ashford.

Mr. Summer is widely seen as the more socially conservative and euro-sceptic of the two candidates. He has spoken clearly in his campaign about family values, and his opposition to the United Kingdom joining the Euro. Summer has also taken a tough on crime stance, saying the Conservatives would have "zero tolerance" for crime under his leadership. Summer has argued for Britain to have a veto over EU decisions and against a further transfer of powers from Westminster to Brussels. 

Sir Harold is considered the more moderate of the final two candidates, though has tacked right -- also expressing a "tough on crime" agenda (though sorely lacking in details. So far campaign materials just promise a tough on crime approach). On the matter of the EU, Scott Webster, a supporter of Sir Harold told the Express "Sir Saxon's [sic] plan is to make sure we keep our rights and protections within the EU but making sure that the British public has a say in any future treaty with the EU. He understands that the Common Market is good for the British Economy and for British people but does not want to surrender all control of our economy by joining the Euro. On the other hand Mr. Summer has taken a complete anti-EU approach and I do not see someone who isn't willing to balancing both sides being able to unify this party behind him.

What's curious is, despite these more moderate views on the part of Sir Harold, prominent members of the Cornerstone Group inside the Conservative Party have turned their backs on Mr. Summer, instead throwing their support to Saxon. Amelia Wilson, MP for Eastwood is just one such Cornerstone MP supporting Saxon. On why, she said "If the Conservative Party is to continue, as it has done for all it's history it must be a united party, and a party capable of governing for the British people. Sir Harold's mix of traditional conservatism and more modern ideas is the best chance this party has at unity and as such the best chance this party has at Governance."

There are two schools of thought inside the Conservative Party presently. The first believes that in order to beat "New" Labour, the Tories must move to the centre and win back voters they lost in 1997. The second believes that the only way Conservatives win is to be just that: conservative. While this paper will not endorse either candidate for the job of leader, we do find it curious that some of the most dyed-in-the-wool right-wingers are willing to give up their values. It begs the question: what did Sir Harold promise them in return for their endorsement?


Quote:Dear Ma’am,
Having read the editorial in The Daily Express that was published following my comments to your publication I can only express my disappointment with your newspaper.
I was asked to give my reasons for publically backing Sir Harold Saxon in the leadership race and I did. But your publication has used this to produce a libelous statement about me. Many of my colleagues and I were accused of  “giving up ‘our’ values”, this is simply untrue, as I stated before I believe that the party must unite behind our leader and that our best chance of that is under Sir Harold, who has gained support from people who fit into different positions on the Conservative Party’s internal political spectrum. 
In addition the serious libel came when your newspaper asked the question: “What did Sir Harold promise them in return for their endorsement?” 
I can say loud and clear to your newspaper, readers and the public that neither the Cornerstone Group nor any other MP in our party has been bribed on promised special treatment in order to back Sir Harold and that it is rather distasteful for your publication to imply otherwise.
It would behoove the Daily Express to refrain from attempting to facilitate the creation of internal division where it does not exist. The Conservative party can pride itself on having a relatively non-toxic leadership contest in stark contrast to the current Governing party’s contest. We wish to ensure proper Conservative Governance and to do this the party must be united. If this Party were to become divided we would be no better than the infighting mess that is the Labour party.
The Cornerstone Group will continue to stand up for traditional British, Christian and Family values no matter which party is in Government or who leads the Conservative Party. But if this country is to be governed by a truly Conservative party, then that party needs to be effective and capable of winning an election against Labour, and Sir Harold is the man who is best placed to lead this party in that vision.
It may be wise for the Express to reconsider their earlier statement and their attempts to attack the character of the Cornerstone Group, Sir Harold, his Supporters and apologize for attempting to use blatantly untrue implications in order to divide the Conservative party.

Mrs Amelia Wilson,  
Member of Parliament for Eastwood


Dear Mrs. Wilson,

Thank you for your feedback on our recent article about the state of the Conservative Party and its leadership race.

Our paper has long shared many of the views expressed by the Cornerstone Group: a group you are a part of. That includes strong euro-scepticism and a belief in the family unit. Regrettably, we here at the Express find it disappointing that as a lawmaker, you use the term libel for our analysis of your group's willingness to abandon these principles and instead largely support a man who is more open to the EU than his opponent in the race. By our standards, that is political analysis—not libel. We trust moving forward, someone of your stature, having served in Parliament since 1992, knows the difference.

We welcomed the opportunity to share your position on our piece. We look forward to your continued patronage of the Express and to hearing your views on issues in the future. As for your request for an apology: thank you, but no. We will continue to provide analysis of political developments, whether the subjects of said stories are satisfied with them or not.

Best wishes,

Editorial Team, Daily Express
Media | Home Office
Infrastructure, Energy & Environment | Chief Whips

When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans. -Jean Chrétien
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The Express has repeatedly voiced our concerns for Sir Harold Saxon. Whether it be on Europe, on crime or on the encroachment of traditional values by an insidious 'progressive' agenda, Sir Harold seemed like he was all too willing to win on a bland, pale blue platform - or even worse, a pale pink one. 

It's time for us to come forward cap in hand and admit we were wrong, and we're happy to: it's clear the Conservatives have some work to do before they get into government, but Harold Saxon's Newsnight interview showed he is willing to do what has to be done to get into government - however, his pragmatism isn't a facade for having the politics of a wet mop, throughout he expressed opinions too many of the British public believe but are too scared to say.

And it doesn't stop there: with Francis Finch-Holt showing the Conservatives are looking to the future and saying goodbye to Mickey Mouse degrees, subjects and education, Gus Quigley offering solid solutions to the bus wars and Saxon himself giving a speech proving the Tories are the only party that are willing to give no nonsense solutions to crime, the Conservatives could offer a solution to the sleepwalking Labour government. Saxon already had the full weight of the Tory Party's support behind him - now he must take efforts to ensure the electorate feel the same.
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It is time for an election.

The Labour Party has given Britain not one, but two unelected Prime Ministers. First, Elizabeth Tanner took over for the late John Smith. Under tragic circumstances, it was right and prudent that the government move forward -- slow as it did -- to avoid looking to cash in on a sympathy vote. But with Tanner gone and a new Prime Minister ensconced in Number 10, it is time for Callum Finch to do the right thing, dissolve Parliament and call an election.

Yes, the rules of the Westminster system allow for changes in leadership. And yes, the next election isn't due until 2002. But the problem is this: Labour does not have the legitimacy to impose its agenda on the people any longer. The government has tabled a budget that puts the surplus at risk, that raises taxes on people making more than £29,000 a year, and is making the simple things -- like a pack of fags -- cost more. 

What's worse is that with the infighting we saw during the Tanner/Maulty leadership race, voters did not have a chance to weigh in on the shenanigans inside the Labour Party. The voters have not had a chance to weigh in on the government's silence regarding the brutal murder of a 10-year-old boy that went ignored. Voters have not had a chance to say yes or no to the Smith/Tanner/Finch/Whomever is next agenda that is damaging Britain.

It is time for Labour to admit that it has no legitimacy: it is time for an election.
Media | Home Office
Infrastructure, Energy & Environment | Chief Whips

When you're a mayor and you have a problem you blame the provincial government. If you are provincial government and you have a problem you blame the federal government. We don't blame the Queen any more, so once in a while we might blame the Americans. -Jean Chrétien
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Old MacDonald Should Resign

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Just as the government seems to be at its weakest, it is rocked by a scandal at its very heart - Belinda MacDonald, the Deputy Prime Minister, was exposed for the love rat she was. Evidence leaked to the press, some of it too dirty for we here at the Express to even think of, exposed her long standing affair with the Conservative MP and former Shadow Education Secretary Francis Finch-Holt.

The government has had a competence problem for some time. Now it's clear it has a morality problem. Both Finch-Holt and MacDonald are married with children. What they've done isn't something behind closed doors, but deserves to be exposed: if MacDonald is prepared to take reckless action that will tear her family apart, how do we know she wouldn't take reckless action that'd tear the country apart? If MacDonald lies to her husband, and to the country, how can we trust she won't lie to us again and again?

This may not need to be the end of MacDonald's political career: Old MacDonald has some chance to show she has some dignity. She should, at the very least, end the affair, resign from the frontbench, apologise to the public for this deception and spend the next Parliamentary term making up for her mistakes by focusing on the constituents she lied to and working to repair her family.

If she doesn't jump, Callum Finch has to push. For a long time, the Labour Party have tried to claim that it is they that are working to protect family values. It's as much about principles as it is splashing out cash to whatever family wants it. If Finch keeps MacDonald close, he has shown that is a bluff and that he has a cabinet of liars and adulterers. It would beg the question, who's next?

Harold Saxon has already quietly shuffled Finch-Holt out of his own cabinet. If it were for reasons related to the affair, we commend him. It's time for Finch to show he can also step up. But judging from the Prime Minister's performance so far, we don't have much faith.  
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The Tories' gains are worth celebrating - but the party must discuss how to move forwards.

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Following the Election Night something remarkable happened: the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Harold Saxon, led an election campaign that saw the Labour Party's majority effectively abolished. The Tories gained forty eight seats with swings as high as 10% in key marginal constituencies in the Midlands. While some Conservatives were hoping for more, the scale of the challenge means that the results for the Conservatives were - for all intents and purposes - brilliant.

Which begs the question, why are there rumours of a coup against Sir Harold Saxon?

Some put it down to the Tories being their usual selves. Some may assume that this is an ideological battle - but it's not. Sir Harold Saxon's key quality was his ability to put out a unifying platform that neither wets nor dries were particularly incensed by. This is a battle of leadership, and a lot of Tories, maybe even a majority, are dissatisfied with Saxon's.

And while rocking the boat and ousting him may be dangerous for the Tories right now, the concerns with his new dissenters aren't just worth understanding - their analysis is, if you breakdown the public mood, completely correct if you evaluate what seemed to go well for the Tories and what seemed to go badly for them during the election campaign.

Sir Harold Saxon isn't a particularly disliked figure. But he's not seen as a candidate worthy of Prime Minister. Despite his approvals floating above Callum Finch's before the election, when you ask voters who they would prefer as Prime Minister the shift in tone is stark and apparent. To his biggest fans Sir Harold Saxon is a noble leader who united the party but doesn't have any chance of making it to Downing Street. To his harshest critics, even Labourphobic ones, he is a joke.

There are a culmination of events that have led to this: Saxon's dire Newsnight interview, his meddling with the President of the United States which led to a backlash so harsh some feel his credibility was forever ruined at that moment, the budget debate where his performance was considered more than lacking (he was repeatedly humiliated and outwitted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Labour's smear campaign against him. Whatever you think of 'Headline Harry', it has stuck and it isn't going away. Sir Harold Saxon's attempts afterwards to revise his image have led to people warming to him, but not in the way he'd want to if he wants to win an election. 

And despite this, he found himself occasionally leading in the polls: the most remarkable poll lead being the year long lead he held after the fuel crisis which remained stubbornly in place. But this wasn't the Conservatives' victory, it was the government's loss: their reaction to the fuel crisis was cold and unforgiving. Their legislative agenda lacking and uninspiring. Their term in office ridden by scandals. Their Prime Minister an ineffective fencesitter. And they still won, Pyrrhic as it was.

Any view that the Conservatives could wait it out for the next election and hope that unpopularity would oust the government out is potentially correct. But it is a complacent view and a gamble. The government may strengthen their hand over the next five years, especially if the more bold aspects of their agenda is a PR and legislative success. With Saxon now having another weak spot following the election night dissatisfaction it artificially strengthens Callum Finch. The government will learn what went wrong with their lacklustre campaign and come back in 2007 or earlier as a strengthened campaigning force.

Dissatisfaction with the government isn't enough to remove them from office. The British public needs to be satisfied with the alternative - it is uncertain, and probably unlikely, that could be the case if Saxon carries on with his current trajectory. 

To some Tories, Callum Finch has been weakened and is an old and stale figure, but it would take a newer and fresher face to take him down.  

It wasn't all doom and gloom for the Conservatives, though. Their campaign had leading lights and a strong message that led so many voters to flock from Labour. Many people did vote for the Conservatives, not against the government.

The problem for Sir Harold Saxon is he had nothing to do with that. Instead, it was the former Shadow Chancellor Elizabeth Atwood who did. Overnight it was she, not Saxon, who turned the Tories from a laughing stock to being on par if not even more competent than Labour on economic credibility. Her final speech in the election campaign was considered the very best. She is more respected by the British public than her leader, and it may be that she is more respected by the Conservative Party too.

But she has for all intents and purposes turned against Saxon - and he has removed her.

Michael Kirton is clearly a strong politicker - the fact he seemed to singlehandedly disrupt an allege coup speaks for that. But it is doubtful he, or any Tory, could visioneer the way Atwood could. 

Not only was removing her, as justified as it may be from Saxon's point of view, dangerous because it's doubtful he has the political capital to do so, it makes any chance of victory at the next election look slimmer.

That is why Sir Harold Saxon should consider his position. It may be that the best thing for the party is a better the devil they know scenario - for the sake of party unity. But Harold Saxon must play a key part of that party unity: if he wants to stay on he must consider how he can bring his party together, rather than proving his critics right by firing his most competent lieutenant on a rumour and a whim.

But whatever conclusions are ultimately reached, the Conservatives must discuss if these issues can be resolved and be prepared to take some tough decisions. If they don't, they could suffer for it.
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