Begins with Boris Joke – apparently DC doesn’t mind if people go off message – what an encouragement to ConservativeHome!
"Everyone in this hall, me included, knows that a
low tax economy is a strong economy. But some people want me to flash up some pie in the sky tax cuts to show what
we stand for." – that’s an unfair representation of those who would just like the Tory leadership to make a sustained economic case for lower taxation and not think a casual mention of the benefits of low taxation will do.
"For me, it’s not a question of saying the NHS is
"safe in my hands." My family is so often in the hands of the NHS. And I want them to be safe there. Tony Blair once explained his priority in three words: education, education,
education. I can do it in three letters. NHS. " – very powerful expression of David Cameron’s personal commitment to the NHS. We may need a priority watch soon – the leader has also said climate change and terrorism and the care of children were his top priorities.
"So I make this commitment to the NHS and all who
work in it. No more pointless reorganisations." – reorganisations… perhaps – but pointless ones… no.
[Lansley is sat between Hague and Osborne in a sign of the new prominence in Tory strategy of the NHS. Big stop NHS cuts campaign to be launched by Tories next week.]
Labour have done many good things – Bank of England independence… The minimum wage (which we’ll raise when we can)… Education reforms.
"For too long, the big political decisions in
this country have been made in the wrong place. Not round the Cabinet table, where they should be. But on the sofa in Tony Blair’s office. No notes are taken. No-one knows who’s accountable. No-one takes the blame when things go wrong. That arrogant style of government must come to an end." – first big round of applause from packed hall.
Good self-deprecating joke about loving trees but not wanting to hug them. Delivery of speech is very confident and conversational.
"Government must show leadership by setting the
right framework. Binding targets for carbon reduction, year on year. That would create a price for carbon in our economy. What does that mean? It means that things which produce more carbon will get more expensive. Going green is not some fashionable, pain-free option. It will place a responsibility on business. It will place a responsibility on all of us."
"Let us not pretend there is a pain-free solution
to this dilemma that satisfies every vested interest… as well as providing all the new homes we need. We must be on the side of the next generation. If we are to be the Party of aspiration, we must be on the side of aspiration. And that means building more houses and flats for young people." – the NIMBIES won’t be happy.
"Let the message go out from this conference, to
the best armed forces in the world. You are fighting in our name…and we are proud of what you do." …massive applause… But I want us to send our forces a second message. Responding to the questions that our troops themselves are asking. They’re asking for armoured vehicles that will actually defend them against
roadside bombs. They need more helicopters. They’re asking to be able to phone home for more than twenty minutes a week. And they’re asking for decent treatment for their families at home."
"There are some who still believe that the threat
we face today is no different from ones that we have faced before, such as the
IRA. They are profoundly mistaken. We are dealing with people who are prepared to do anything, kill any number,
and use suicide attacks to further their aims. Defeating them will be a battle of hearts and minds, as well as force. But this threat cannot be negotiated away or appeased – it has to be confronted
and defeated." – excellent… this is, indeed, a battle for the future of civilisation.
"I believe that yes, the British people need a
clear definition of their rights in this complex world. But I also believe we need a legal framework for those rights that does not
hamper the fight against terrorism. That is why we will abolish the Human Rights Act and put a new British Bill
of Rights in its place."
"All we get from Labour are endless get-tough
headlines and thousands of new criminal offences. They’re not building the prisons. They’re not reforming the police. They’re not cancelling the early release schemes. Those are the things that need to be done." – much more of this law’n’order stuff please, Mr C.
"Everyone in this hall, everyone watching at
home, knows that we will only tackle crime…if we tackle family breakdown…if we tackle drug addiction…if we mend broken lives. So we have a new reality in British politics today. With David Davis as Home Secretary, this Party, the Conservative Party…is the only party in Britain
that will be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime." – tough, compassionate and honest – all at the same time. Cleverly done.
"We cannot stand by and watch further genocide in Darfur." – a disappointingly passing reference to the greatest tragedy in the world today with no indication of what ‘we’ should do.
"We must make sure that new immigrants learn to
"Only this week the Church of England said it
would implement this recommendation in all new church schools it creates…admitting a quarter of pupils from non-Anglican backgrounds. That is a great example of what I mean by social responsibility. The Church deciding to take responsibility for community cohesion. Society – not the state. I believe the time has come for other faith groups to show similar social
At the end of the education speech Mr Cameron pays tribute to David Willetts. The whole speech has been seasoned with tributes to his shadow cabinet team. Very collegiate.
"The real privilege of my childhood was that my
family was loving and close. Families, to me, are not just the basic unit of society, they’re the
best. They are the ultimate source of our society’s strength or weakness. Families matter because almost every social problem that we face comes down to
family stability. And so I will set a simple test for each and every one of our policies: does it
"Britain has got the most expensive childcare in Europe.
So we support the Government’s efforts to put more money into childcare. But why are they saying you should only get help if you use formal childcare? What about the grandparents, the friends, the neighbours…who for so many
families, provide that lifeline by looking after the kids. So let’s trust the parents in the childcare choices that they make."
"There’s something special about marriage. It’s not about religion. It’s not about morality. It’s about commitment. When you stand up there, in front of your friends and your family, in front of
the world, whether it’s in a church or anywhere else, what you’re doing really
means something. Pledging yourself to another means doing something brave and important. You are making a commitment. You are publicly saying: it’s not just about me, me me anymore. It is about we – together, the two of us, through thick and thin. That really matters. And by the way, it means something whether you’re a man and a woman, a woman
and a woman or a man and another man. That’s why we were right to support civil partnerships, and I’m proud of that." – Perfect AND THEORY CONSERVATISM. Clear commitment to marriage but also support for other stable relationships. A few conference delegates scanned by the BBC cameras looked unimpressed at the references to same-sex relationships.
Ends on very hopeful note: "We must not be the party that says the world and
our country is going to the dogs. We must be the Party that lifts people’s sights and raises their hopes. We are getting ready to serve again. Standing up for what we believe. Reaching out for what we can achieve. Let us be confident as we say, together, here today. The best is yet to come." Good – ‘we need morning in America’ conservatism.
OVERALL REACTION: Much better than I expected. The sections on supporting marriage and ‘tough on crime and its causes’ were very sensitively delivered and offered the kind of balanced conservatism – alongside the modernising green and public service messages – that this website has long hoped for. Very encouraging but let’s see much more of this balance in the months to come.