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ConservativeHomeEditorial A year ago the Conservative Spring Forum was in Gateshead.  I urged the Tory leader to give a speech that levelled with the British people:

"It's time for David Cameron to tell the British people that Britain is going in the wrong direction.  He needs to say that we're living beyond our means.  We're spending too much and borrowing too much.  We have surrendered our streets to yobbery and incivility.  Britain's schools are failing the poorest members of society.  He needs to promise a government that will put things right and he should tell the British people that it won't be easy or painless.  We need to forget the focus groups and the polling for just one minute and tell the truth about a nation that is in trouble.  Mr Cameron might be surprised at voters' reaction.  Our hunch is that the first politician to tell the British people 'how it really is' will form a bond with many millions of them."

From reports it appears that David Cameron will deliver something close to that speech today, in Cheltenham.

With the considerable exception of the party's opposition to Darling's autumn stimulus (although even that was backed by considerable private polling) the Tories have been very unwilling to get ahead of public opinion on the recession.  And let's be clear: This tactic has been an enormous political success.  A second YouGov poll put the Tories 18% ahead last night.  The collapse of Labour means that it's as certain as anything in politics that David Cameron will be Prime Minister. Political success doesn't mean success for the country, of course.  New Labour were an enormous political success but did not succeed as a government. 

I have the same concern expressed by Fraser Nelson in today's News of the World.  Does David Cameron have a plan to rescue Britain?  Fraser writes:

"Stick a microphone in front of a Tory MP and he’ll say that David Cameron is a genius who’ll save Britain’s economy. Put a row of G&Ts in front of the same MP and a rather different story will eventually come out. They’re worried. And this isn’t the usual Tory plotting. It’s a discrete and genuine concern that there is NO PLAN at the very top… Just look at the last few days. We’ve had the worst budget in history, which Cameron brilliantly denounced in the Commons. Take the 50p tax on the superrich. It’s expected to prompt 25,000 top earners to leave, destroying 130,000 more jons. It’s a crazy proposal. As Cameron says: “I think it’s rubbish. I think it’s a really bad idea.” BUT, he says, he’ll do it anyway. Why? To show he has the courage of Gordon Brown’s convictions?"

LAWSON NIGEL TODAY Nigel Lawson writes for The Sunday Telegraph today and reminds us what every conservative knows: the 50p tax "will be economically damaging".  The former Chancellor of the Exchequer continues:

"So far from contributing to narrowing the yawning deficit in the public finances, it will increase it as the highest paid move to more benign tax jurisdictions overseas, or else engage more actively in tax avoidance, of which the conversion of income into less highly taxed capital gain is only the most obvious of many examples."

Even now, with Labour collapsing, the Conservative leadership appears reluctant to really level with the British people.  The 50p issue has become a symbol of this reluctance.  Opposition to this sort of tax must feature in a credible Tory recovery plan.  We must also become much more honest about public spending.  Policy Exchange have
calculated that public spending will rise to more than 50% of GDP next year. This, The Sunday Times tells us, "is
higher than the 49.7% peak reached when Denis Healey had to turn to the
IMF for help in 1976, and underlines the scale of the crisis in the
public finances and the even deeper cuts in spending that will be
needed after the election."

Perhaps the Tories have a secret plan to put Britain right and it will be unveiled shortly after election day when all the votes are safely gathered in?  My fear is Fraser's fear.  I fear that there is no secret plan.  I fear that a Conservative government will do just enough to manage us away from the edge of the cliff but not enough to restore Britain as the enterprise capital of Europe.  I'm desperately hoping to be proved wrong and I'm hoping for signs from David Cameron that I am wrong in Cheltenham later today.

Tim Montgomerie

82 comments for: Let’s hope there’s a secret plan

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