It’s one of the busiest days of the Tory year and this is only my second post of the day – my apologies. I’m already in Bournemouth and my excuse is that I’ve been doing lots of media including Radio 4’s PM Programme, Five Live, BBC News 24 and BBC1’s evening news bulletin. My message to all of the programmes has been essentially the same:
David Cameron is the right leader for the Tories. He’s charismatic and his emphases on the environment and social justice are to be warmly welcomed. What we need to see, however, in the months to come is something Broader, Bolder and Beefier if we are going to convert a modest lead in the opinion polls into a winning lead…
BROADER: I was delighted to hear Francis Maude’s endorsement of the ‘Politics Of And‘ in an interview for ePolitix.com yesterday. The Tory Chairman said "Tim Montgomerie talks about the ‘and’ theory of politics. When we talk about the need, and it is a real need, for us to broaden our appeal from one-third of the vote, which has been the case for about 15 years, to much nearer a half then you have got to reach to people we haven’t reached before." Last night – for Radio Five – I interviewed a range of floating voters in Bournemouth. They were all welcoming of David Cameron’s emphasis on the environment and social justice but that wasn’t enough for most of them. They also wanted to hear about his policies for schools and hospitals. The issue of immigration came up again and again. Europe came up twice in ten interviews.
BOLDER: John Howard and John McCain (who arrives in Bournemouth tomorrow after warmly endorsing David Cameron in this week’s Spectator) have both been willing to lead public opinion when a great issue of state or principle is at stake. They have substantiated their leadership with a willingness to embrace tough policy positions. In the post-Blair era my guess is that politicians will seek authenticity from politicians. David Cameron needs to demonstrate that he has some non-negotiable core beliefs. If he really believes that climate change is the greatest threat to the planet (this site is more worried about nuclear proliferation) he should show the courage of his convictions.
BEEFIER: There have been increasing suggestions that David Cameron is all talk and no substance. That’s unfair. He’s launched a comprehensive policy review and it will report in the next twelve months. If we unveiled policies too early they’d only be nicked by the New Labour magpies. When the policy groups have reported we can decide if Mr Cameron is all style or not. Mr Cameron’s reactions to the Redwood group on competitiveness and IDS’ social justice group will be particularly important tests of his policy seriousness. Until then we should be patient with the policy vacuum but in a year’s time there must be real beef.