September 30, 2011 11:43 pm

Lord Tebbit

For this vociferous critic of Cameron, announcing a good new idea is not the same as delivering a new policy

Former party chairman who held various cabinet roles under Margaret Thatcher. Vociferously rightwing and anti-Europe, he has been a vocal critic of Cameron

Announcing a good new idea is not the same as delivering a new policy. Remember Drake’s despatch of May 1758 to Walsingham. “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.”

The favourable impact of a popular policy announcement is vastly outweighed by the unfavourable impact of a failure to deliver it, while exceeding moderate expectations is better by far than falling short of high expectations.

Distinguish between the middle ground and the common ground. By definition, moving a party towards the middle ground moves the middle itself towards the ground of your opponent. That adds to his credibility while leaving a tranche of your supporters deserted. Elections are unlikely to be won on the policies of your opponent and would not be worth winning anyway. The common ground is defined by the opinions and assumptions across a wide political spectrum, eg. immigration is out of control. Foreigners should not make our laws. Overseas aid should benefit our country as well as its recipients.

Read the Beveridge Report. Beveridge foresaw and warned against precisely the welfare abuses now common. Do not attack welfare as such. Support Beveridge as you move against those abuses of the system. Remember that human beings behave logically in their self-interest as they perceive it. Whether that behaviour is socially and economically benign or malign is largely governed by whether the environment of incentives and disincentives is well or badly designed.

Start now to tell voters what you would do if your tenancy of No. 10 did not depend upon the votes of your coalition partners and promise that you will do those things if you receive a majority in 2015.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.

LIFE AND ARTS ON TWITTER

More FT Twitter accounts
SHARE THIS QUOTE