January 22, 2006


Tories have a massive mountain to climb (David Cameron, 23/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

What I'm trying to do is straightforward. I want to put the Conservative Party back in the mainstream of political debate. Only if we do that will we show ourselves relevant to the concerns and aspirations of modern Britain.

This is what the Conservative Party has always done: the secret of our enduring success as a political party has been our ability to keep up to date with social progress and the changing aspirations that social progress brings.

Disraeli recognised the need to make the Conservative Party relevant to the emerging middle class in our towns and cities. Churchill recognised the need to offer the post-war generation the dream of a property-owning democracy.

Thatcher saw the need to make Conservatism the aspirational choice for working-class voters trapped by the patronising assumptions of socialism.

So today we need to show how our values and principles are the best way to meet the aspirations of a new generation who demand social justice for all as well as high standards of living for themselves; who care about their quality of life as well as the quantity of money in their pockets.

I'm fired by a determination to improve the environment we leave to our children. But I believe that we'll do that only if we harness the ingenuity of the market for green ends.

Our mission should be to end poverty at home and abroad - but we will achieve that only through Conservative principles of encouraging enterprise, helping people to independence, and giving them the tools to climb the ladder from poverty to wealth. [...]

The next question is perhaps the one I hear most often. Is what we're doing Conservative? Aren't we just turning the party into a pale imitation of New Labour? I am Conservative to the core of my being, as those who know me best will testify.

I'm a Conservative because my instinctive values, and my responses to every political challenge, are Conservative values and Conservative responses.

First, I believe that the more you trust people, the stronger they and society become. So, for example, my response to the urgent need to restore respect in society is the opposite of Tony Blair's top-down government initiatives.

I want to set free the voluntary organisations and social enterprises that have the knowledge and the commitment to turn our communities around.

Second, I believe passionately that we're all in this together - that we have a shared responsibility for our shared future. There isn't a single challenge we face that isn't best addressed by asking not just what government can do, but what individuals, families, business and the voluntary sector can do.

So in education, for example, while we want to give head-teachers more freedom to run their schools, and ask all parents to take responsibility for their children's education, we also believe that government should show leadership in areas where it can make a decisive difference: synthetic phonics to teach literacy properly; setting by ability to stretch the brightest pupils.

It's typically Tory, but nonetheless bizarre, to emphasize a distinctive Britishness without ever addressing the EU threat and values without ever bringing up any of the moral and morale problems.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 22, 2006 11:30 PM

...to stretch the brightest pupils.

Would seem that he's got the votes of the teachers union and the torturer's guild locked up.

Which, even if the latter probably would have voted Tory anyway, is a good start.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 23, 2006 8:59 AM

Labour-lite - he had a chance to really get the country talking, but no.

Posted by: Sandy P at January 23, 2006 10:44 AM