HUMOUR: "Well it’s been a busy few months. Charles Kennedy’s retired. Tony Blair’s about to retire. He’s certainly taking his time over it… Soon I will be the longest serving leader of a major political party in the country. But don’t worry, Gordon; don’t worry Ming… I won’t be attacking my opponents for their youth and inexperience." Reagan would have been proud of that line!
A HEALTHY PARTY: "We’ve signed up 20,000 new members – at a time when other parties are losing support." Francis Maude said it was 25,000 yesterday!
HOUSING: "In 1997 the average deposit for a house or flat was around £5,000. Today it’s approaching £25,000. Put simply, we’re pricing our young people out of aspiration. There is a new housing apartheid in Britain between those who already own their own homes… and those young people who look at their salaries, then look at house prices, and fear that they will never achieve that dream. We need starter homes. We need shared ownership. We need more houses that are beautiful, environmentally sensitive, and above all, affordable. We helped millions to buy their council houses in the 1980s. And we must become the Party of aspiration once again." The only major section on social justice within the speech.
GREEN TORIES: "Our planet is rapidly getting warmer. The polar ice caps are melting. Sea levels are rising. Hosepipe bans in April. What more evidence do we need? We simply cannot afford to ignore it. This Government hasn’t taken the environment nearly seriously enough. We need to be the party that doesn’t tiptoe around the issue. Instead of just far-off targets that we will never meet, we need binding targets for carbon emissions every year. We can take a lead. We can make a difference. Imagine if twenty years ago I’d have told you that all our cars would be running on unleaded petrol…that we’d be recycling our waste on a daily basis… that houses in England would have solar panels on their roofs. You’d have thought I was mad. Well today I want this Party to lead a new green revolution. Daring to imagine possibilities that seem a distant dream today. Unleashing innovation, imagination, inspiration. Setting a clear framework that brings forward the best technology, the brightest thinking, the boldest plans. And setting a clear challenge for individuals, for households, for business and for government… a clear challenge that says: this is our planet, our future, our responsibility. We’re all in this together, and together we can lead the way." This section won loud applause.
PENSIONS: "The advance of science, medicine, prosperity means that we are living longer. Forty years in work followed by forty years in retirement. That could soon become everybody’s expectation. It must surely be our mission to help each individual live each precious stage of their life to the full. Filling in forms to get means-tested benefits? What a way to treat the elderly, those who by any moral code most deserve our respect and support. So let us set a clear direction. Raising state pensions to reduce means testing. And raising the retirement age to help pay for it. We must lead the debate on pensions." Nothing on Labour’s £200 General Election year tax bribe.
NO TO ID CARDS: "Under my leadership, we’ll always strive to do the right thing. That means saving our energy to oppose the government when it’s wrong. Like on ID cards. Labour can’t decide what it’s for. They can’t control what it costs. They can’t explain why they’re making it compulsory. Labour’s plastic poll tax has no place in modern Britain. It’s an ugly monument to the waste, chaos and vanity of intrusive, over-mighty government. I promise you this….in office, we will pull it down." The audience liked this commitment.
CHANGE WILL ONLY GET FASTER: "There’s so much we need to change in our country – we can’t afford to waste time going slow on changing our Party. So now is not the time to put our foot on the brake. Now is the time to press on the accelerator. We must fast forward to the new Conservative Party. I know some of you think we’ve had quite enough change for the time being. I read the letters… Asking me to slow down… Telling me to take it easy… Sometimes reminding me to wear a tie… Well I say this. Britain cannot wait while we take it easy. We have a massive mountain to climb if we’re to win the next election. If we falter on the way, then Labour will win again."
Missing topics: Iraq, Iran, Darfur, Tax, Immigration, Crime, UKIP, And Theory Of Conservatism.
Editor’s overall verdict: Nothing new in this speech but a reaffirmation of David Cameron’s leadership message of ‘change’. If David Cameron is to convince voters that this message is more than spin he will have to start taking difficult decisions soon on issues like green taxation, energy and pensions.