David Cameron’s speech is being hyped in the media today as ‘the speech of his life’. It is no such thing. At the start of the week, when there was despair in the Party, it was crucial that he excelled today. However, following the unexpected success of the past few days, the pressure on him has reduced considerably.
Anyway, here are a few things I would like to hear in his speech today.
Some acknowledgement, however passing, that the grammar school madness of a few months ago, was misguided. (Some hope. I don’t expect him to apologise for calling supporters of grammar schools ‘delusional’, but some humility would be fine.)
Something about social justice, picking up on the theme of Iain Duncan Smith’s speech yesterday. He should emphasise the role of Government, but just as importantly, the role of the community and the voluntary sector.
A promise about further tax cuts. No need for much detail, as Labour would only nick them. Just something further to indicate that tax cuts are part of the longer term strategy. But please, no repeat of that ’share the proceeds of growth’ expression. I’ve heard it enough times.
Something on Gordon Brown. No need for personal attacks of the Hazel Blears variety. Just enough to stress the point that:
- Gordon Brown cannot pretend that he had nothing to do with Government policy for the past ten years. Law and order breakdown, high tax burden, dire public services despite record funding, pensions shortfalls - Brown is a key part of the Government that presided over all this.
- Gordon Brown’s so-called no-spin politics is just another example of typical New Labour spin, yesterday’s Iraq stunt being a good example.
I would like to return to the humility theme I mentioned earlier. David Cameron should address the British people with humility. He should make the point that the Conservative Party is here to serve, and not to get in people’s way unnecessarily. Politicians do not know better than the people, so they should be wary of lecturing people about how to live their lives. The point of a Conservative Government is to enable people to empower themselves. In this way, a proper Conservative Government is far more preferable to the current Government with its the smug, ‘we-know-best’ attitude, which was on full display at the Labour Conference last week.
Above all, David Cameron should make it plain that the Conservative Party will govern for all of Britain. I don’t think it will be hard to make that point after some of the speeches we have heard this week. I must say, there has been much commendable policy detail in all the main speeches. Following this conference, nobody can, with any seriousness, make the charge that it is difficult to know what the Party stands for. Whether or not an election is called, the Conservative message has started to come together, and that is something I very much welcome.
UPDATE. 3.30pm. Well! What a wonderful speech, addressed the issues of the day without resorting to personal attacks. He ascended above party politics, and came across as a statesman. The right dose of humility, enthusiasm aplenty, and a very clear idea of what a Conservative Government under David Cameron would do. Well done.