Samuel Coates and I are currently on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower waiting for David Cameron to speak to an assembled audience of CCHQ staff, candidates and journalists.   According to PA this will be Mr Cameron’s main message:

"He will tell an audience of candidates and activists in central London that to win power he must be able to combine tough approaches on issues such as crime and Europe with support for gay rights and civil partnerships."

11.25am: This is my view…

Cameron now speaking. He says party has changed. New candidates. New balance. The environment as well as crime. The NHS as well as Europe. Well-being as well as wealth creation.

11.40am: The first test for every policy will be whether it helps the family. The family, he says, is at the heart of his conservatism.  Social responsibility is second core theme.

11.45am: Download PDF of speech

11.50am: Key quote: "Anyone who says that the family is an old-fashioned idea and not relevant to the modern world and its challenges is just completely, 100% wrong.  It’s precisely because the modern world can move so quickly, has so many varied temptations and opportunities and choices that you need the rock of the family to be a secure base.  Just ask yourself…who is best at bringing up children with the right values, helping with the elderly, sick and disabled…Who’s picks us up when we fall, or puts us back on track when go astray…. It’s the family."

11.55am: "Forget about those on the left who say I shouldn’t talk about Europe, crime or lower taxes… or those on the right who say I shouldn’t talk about the NHS, the environment or well-being.  That is a false choice and I will not make it… And to those who think, even in 21st century Britain that commitment and responsibility cannot be embraced by all, I say: you will not find a stronger supporter of marriage but why not also recognise the commitment that gay couples make to each other in civil partnerships? That’s modern Conservatism."

Editor’s comment at noon: "Speech over. Must dash to speak at a lunch club for David Gold and Eltham Conservatives.  This was a good speech.  He addressed ConservativeHome’s two main recommendations: the need for a balanced Conservatism (‘the politics of and‘) and by rooting his politics in a commitment to the family that was based on values forged by his personal experience, he addressed the need to show authenticity.  We still need more depth but I’m today happier with Project Cameron than I’ve ever been."

Click continue for further points from Samuel and a video of the speech…

Update: In the Q&A the journalists asked pretty lame questions that didn’t get to the
essence of this excellent speech at all. Two of them were on the
resignation of Johan Eliasch – one spuriously picking up on the freedom
and choice theme to ask why Eliasch had chosen Labour, and the other on
the status of his loan. Cameron said that Eliasch was an expert on the
environment and was working for the government on a non-party basis. He
seemed to imply that the £2.6m loan hadn’t been recalled yet, and said he wasn’t worried as the party now had a broad financial base
that included 100 people paying £50,000 a year.

Other points worth noting from the speech:

  • All the new thinking is coming from our side
  • Policies aren’t enough in changing the party, people need to know what beliefs and values lie behind his choices
  • He was brought up by his father to believe that you should optimistically go for opportunities with passion and courage
  • The great divide between Labour and the Conservatives is that the
    former believe in equality of outcome and the latter believe in
    equality of opportunity
  • In several contexts he said that you don’t need Brown’s citizen juries, just a Conservative government
  • Right to buy was mentioned a couple of times so that aspect of the Dorrell report is likely to be party policy

96 comments for: Cameron: Modernisation versus traditional conservatism is a “false choice”

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