Say-anything Tories – advance to the right, do not collect £200.

The Conservatives have announced they’re abandoning Labour’s pledge to pump investment into deprived areas as a way of solving Britain’s social problems, the Independent reports.

In addition, the Sunday Times/YouGov poll out today has the Tories down to a 2% lead over Labour. Although this figure has been quickly dismissed by leading Tories as “wedding jitters”, the trend in the polls has been downwards for the Tories. So is that why Cameron’s making so much of his no-notes speech today?

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CCHQ and “vetting” Tory PPCs submissions on social networks/blogging.

There’s been a great deal of talk over the past few days about a certain Tory “bloggers meeting”. Left Foot Forward and Liberal Conspiracy were reporting that memos were to be sent out to Tory bloggers stating the party’s policy line, amoungst other pointers. Obviously, the Tory’s bloggerati were out in force to defend the meeting. I’m not a Tory blogger, so I have absolutely no idea what went on in that meeting and neither do I particularly care. We can speculate all we want.

However, today it has been revealed that the Tory leader himself has been issuing strict instructions to Tory PPCs to submit their online submissions (blogposts, Twitter updates and Facebook activities) for approval.

Well, that sure is interesting. So, in order to cut the number of potential gaffes Tory PPCs could make, David Cameron wants to make sure they parrot the party line. This is possibly the stupidest thing I’ve seen the Tory leader do in a very long time. On all sides of the political spectrum, I want to see party candidates who, despite being party loyal, do have their own viewpoints as potential Parliamentarians. Yes, they may be wrong and I could despise their views. But better that for actual debate than some partisan parrot who quotes the book (before anyone asks, I would say the same thing if Labour tried to do anything similar).

Why is the Tory leader so afraid of what his candidates might say? Of course, the Tories jumped on the offensive, stating that they only want to ensure factual accuracy. However, that still means that PPCs opinion could be severely limited. We saw the same thing happen under New Labour, and I disagree with these kinds of moves by party leaders/executives. We need debate, we need opinions and we need viewpoints, otherwise we have no pluralism or diversity in political viewpoint. The blogosphere needs to be an open platform for PPCs to publish and inspire debate with the electorate, other candidates and anyone with a general political interest. They shouldn’t be reduced to parrots by force.

New Labour were famously control freaks. So is the Tory executive planning the same?