One of the biggest challenges
facing all of us in politics today is cynicism. Too many people think
there’s no point in voting because you can’t believe a word that
politicians say and, if elected, they’ll ignore the wishes of the
electorate and do whatever they like.
I want to change that.
But I know that the only way to change the perception is to change the
reality first. Britain can’t afford another government that
doesn’t deliver on its promises. That’s why I’ve been careful,
in my first 100 days as Leader of the Opposition, not to promise the
I’m an idealist but I’m
also determined that every policy the Conservative Party creates will
be hard-headed, practical and durable. We’re not aiming to win
a general election for the sake of grabbing power – we intend to govern
well, make Britain a better place and leave office with the reputation
of politics and politicians enhanced.
Some Tories are impatient for
a comprehensive set of policies. I understand that. After
all, no one is going to vote for a manifesto consisting of mood music.
However, my aim is to build our platform on solid foundations.
That’s why I’ve set up a series of policy groups to examine the
key issues in depth. The participants are people with real credibility
and expertise in their fields and I’m confident that they will deliver
ideas we can unite around and be proud of.
We’re working on the details
of policy but I’ve already set out a clear direction. There
are a number of ways in which the next Conservative government will
be different to – and better than – Labour.
Society will be fairer.
Widening opportunity for those who need it most is a vital part of my
Conservatism. Gordon Brown thinks it’s enough to keep the disadvantaged
on a drip feed of handouts. I don’t. Of course those in
poverty must have financial help but they deserve much more. Under
Labour, social mobility has actually decreased. Our policies will
be aimed at the least well off and will address the need to support
vulnerable families, provide proper education, tackle the epidemic of
debt, fight crime and drug abuse and give people a decent environment
to live in.
Britain will be safer.
Our security requires strong armed forces with high morale and a relentless
determination to beat terrorism. We need practical steps – like
proper border controls – to combat terror, rather than expensive and
ineffective measures like ID cards. And so that’s why we will be hard-nosed
defenders of freedom and security. Crime must also be tackled.
Labour’s proposals to cut sentences for serious offences like rape
will be rejected and reversed.
The environment will be greener.
Climate change is the single biggest challenge facing our planet.
As Britain’s prime minister, I will work ceaselessly to gain international
support to tackle it. On a smaller scale our policies will be
directed at energy saving, locally produced food, better air quality
and conserving our landscape.
Power will be closer to the
people. I’m determined to bring decision making nearer to the
people. That means reversing Labour’s centralising, big government
approach and an end to regionalisation by the back door and no EU constitution.
The economy will be richer.
Britain’s competitiveness has declined since 1997. As other
countries have woken up to the need to win business, our companies are
burdened by a growing mountain of red tape and regulation. Conservatives
are proud to be the party of enterprise. And we won’t put that
at risk – which is why we’ve pledged to put stability before tax
People will be healthier.
The National Health Service is underperforming under Labour. A
wall of bureaucracy stands between patients and the treatment they need.
We want our health service to be run by doctors, nurses and other professionals.
Alongside this, a Tory government will promote a much greater awareness
of the importance of good diet and exercise. We’ll encourage
but we won’t nanny.
And all of this will be underpinned
by my core belief of trusting people. If you trust people, then
you also empower them and their communities. I know that I don’t have
all the answers – nobody can say that. I realise that we’re all
in this together – government, business, the voluntary sector, families
and individuals. And by realising that we have a shared responsibility
for our future then we can be much more positive about the challenges
that we face.
Conservatism is not, and never
has been, a dogma. Our values are enduring but our party has thrived
for 200 years because we always evolve to meet the challenges of each
new era. There’s a new mood of confidence and optimism around
and, when the moment comes, we’ll be ready.
ConservativeHome.com’s last post on David Cameron’s first 100 days will be written tomorrow by The Taxpayers’ Alliance.