In watching the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this week, I was struck by the diversity in age of those attending.
Nearly half of the delegates I saw milling around on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics shows (BBC2) were twenty- or thirty-somethings. The racial mix is also more evident. Both were a pleasure to see.
Therefore, it was only right that David Cameron and his cabinet help to define Party essentials for a new generation.
His speech today — October 2, 2013 — did just that. No, it wasn’t exciting. It didn’t promise the world. It didn’t say we were out of the doldrums. However, Cameron presented his case honestly, forthrightly and clearly. He also rebutted Labour’s past record and current proposals.
Afterward, pundits and Tory party elders (e.g. Lord Heseltine) said that Cameron’s words truly embodied One Nation conservativism.
Highlights (my notes) follow from his 50-minute speech, which closed the conference. I’ve put certain items in bold; it seemed to me that he was making important points for younger party members to remember once they returned home.
– began by saying the Tories were helping first-time buyers purchase their own homes, backing marriage and creating jobs as well as wealth.
– said that only the Tories have the ‘verve and energy’ to turn Britain around for the better.
– made it clear that the country is not ‘there’ yet but well on its way.
– thanked Britons for persevering whilst the Tories clear up ‘the mess Labour left’. He added that this was ‘job begun’ not ‘job done’.
– emphasised ‘aspiration, opportunity — these are our dreams’.
– reminded the audience that Abu Qatada was finally deported, thanks to Theresa May’s efforts.
– said that the Tories were protecting NHS spending and noted that the Staffordshire NHS scandal occurred under Labour’s watch.
– on Europe, he said the Conservatives got the UK out of the bailout scheme and also cut our EU budget. He again promised a referendum. (Hmm …)
– said, ‘We may be a “small island” but we’re a great country.’
– noted that Britain’s defence budget is the fourth largest in the world.
– on the Scottish Referendum said, ‘We want us to stick together: the nations as one, the Kingdom united.’
– asked for — and received — a lengthy standing ovation and applause dedicated to British troops in Afghanistan for their service.
– criticised Labour’s ‘relaxed’ attitude toward the rich getting richer whilst ordinary Britons suffered in the economic downturn.
– again said, ‘We still haven’t finished paying for Labour’s debt crisis.’ He reiterated George Osborne’s plan to pay off the debt and build up a surplus in better times.
– hasn’t quite left behind one of his 2010 campaign ideas: ‘A bigger society not a bigger state.’ (Hmm …)
– said, ‘We will fight higher corporation tax every step of the way’ because it hampers job creation in Britain. ‘Bashing business … is crazy for our country.’ He pledged to get both regulation and taxes down. He added that he would make it easier for people who want to start their own businesses.
– reminded the audience of the increase in jobs and new businesses, thanks to the Tories. (Zero-hour contracts?)
– talked about ‘help to buy’, citing his tour of a young couple’s — Emily and James’s’ — house. They are among the first to take advantage of this new scheme.
– pledged to put more money in people’s pockets by freezing council tax and fuel duty.
– noted that Labour mentioned 24 hours later that they might not be able to freeze fuel prices as they stated at their party conference. He referred to ‘Red Ed and his Blue Peter economy’.
– told the audience that the Conservatives — not the Liberal Democrats — have cut taxes for 25m people.
– said that HS2 would bridge the North-South divide by bringing us together as individuals as well as for streamlined business reasons.
– proclaimed, ‘We are the party of the future’.
– said that jobs are up, as is consumer confidence. He reminded party members that new cars, planes and other high-end products are being exported every day around the world.
– emphasised, ‘Labour wrecks our economy. It is we Conservatives who clean it up.’
– talked about the high standards of education that free schools will bring. He also praised technical schools which private companies such as JCB sponsor.
– said that thanks to the Conservatives, 4,000 were adopted last year in Britain.
– asked for and received a round of applause for social workers.
– pledged ‘welfare that really works’, adding ‘We must act on immigration, too.’ He said that appealing deportation orders must happen post-deportation, not before.
– talked about removing the possibility of recent university graduates getting on the dole.
– said that Conservatives ‘look people in the eye as equals’, adding that they fight for equal opportunity, unlike Labour, who writes them off as no-hopers.
– pledged, ‘We will be fighting head, heart and soul for a majority Conservative government, because that is what this country needs.’
– discussed his love for Britain and doing the decent thing for the country. (I look forward to the comments on this one!)
– closed his speech with this: ‘Together we will build that land of opportunity’.
Cameron received a standing ovation with wife Samantha by his side.
More on the conference this week, all being well.