We have received an under-the-table copy of what we believe to be the final text of tomorrow’s speech by David Cameron (pdf here) in Tooting, London. The leadership hopes that it will reassure traditional Conservative supporters after the difficult last month. Here are the speech’s key themes:
The Conservative coalition needs to be broad: "We stopped fooling ourselves that we’d get a different result with the same old tunes. We remembered the importance of rebuilding that broad Conservative coalition without which we’ve never won in the past."
Some good ‘politics of and’: "We became the party of the environment and well-being as well as the nation state."
Tory policies will be thought-out: "People have had enough of Labour’s fast-food politics: they want something more serious and more substantial."
Brown-bashing: "His answer to crime, his answer to education, his answer to everything – is a top-down government scheme. Whatever the issue, whatever the challenge, whatever the circumstances, under Gordon Brown all we’ll get is “he knows best” politics, as he sits as his desk expecting a grateful nation to wait with bated breath for the latest master-plan to emerge. He won’t even commit to giving the British people a say over the EU constitution."
Conservatives will trust the people: "Parents know best what works for their kids. Doctors and nurses know best how to improve the NHS and give patients great healthcare. Residents know best how to make their neighbourhoods better places to live. We’re living in an age where people want to control their government, not have their government control them."
Tough on security: The speech highlights the border police pledge and police reform.
Unapologetic about the caution on tax: "That’s why it is the absolute expression of our traditions, not the denial of them, when we say that we will put economic stability first. And that’s why we feel so strongly about the way Gordon Brown has wrecked our pensions system, destroying millions of people’s economic security without a word of apology or remorse."
The family will be front and centre for the next Conservative government: "It is simply no use talking about opportunity for all unless we give every child in our country the secure start in life that comes from a stable, loving home. We are far from that position in Britain today, and turning it around will be the greatest challenge – and I hope the greatest achievement – of the next Conservative government."
Conservatives are the hopeful party in British politics: "I am a determined optimist. I want us to look at the future positively. Every year we get closer to curing the great diseases. There are technologies that will give us the energy to power the world without wrecking the planet. We have communications which overcome every obstacle not just of distance but of culture – making one world."
Education, education, education: "Bringing rigour to the curriculum and testing. More setting and streaming, with a ‘grammar stream’ in every subject in every school, so bright pupils are stretched and all pupils are taught at the right level. Tackling disruptive behaviour by giving head teachers control over discipline. And making it easier to set up new schools so we get genuine diversity and parents have a real choice."
In conclusion: "We can be clear about the shape of the house we’re building. It’s designed to deliver collective security, as the platform for individual opportunity. Security for our society; opportunity in your life. Not copying New Labour, but learning from its mistakes. Not abandoning Conservative principles, but applying them in new ways to new challenges. And in the process making this Party the true force for progressive politics in Britain today. Our foundations are strong, while Gordon Brown’s are shaky. Our vision is built on the truth that no politician, no bureaucrat, no government official, can ever achieve as much as a strong society working together. Social responsibility, not state control. That’s what we believe, and that’s why we’ll win."
I’ll post my own reaction in the morning.