I write to you, dear reader, from the secret command bunker of the ConservativeHome conspiracy network. (It is, naturally, on a remote island carved into the shape of Tim Montgomerie’s head). Henchmen dash back and forth in colour-coded boiler suits, while Paul and I plot the imminent takeover of all British government policy. Should James Bond turn up, we will of course make the time to explain our dastardly schemes to him in full before leaving him alone in a cell from which it is reassuringly easy to escape.
Or at least, that’s how things work in the world of Polly Toynbee, who this morning generously interprets our ConHome manifesto as the official “cuts Osborne dare not speak”. Oddly, her report neglects to mention the focusing of new opportunities on the young and poor, the radical improvements in democratic accountability or the economic shift from haves to have-nots. I guess she assumed they’d been included by accident so decided the decent thing to do was ignore them.
Sadly, I can confirm we are not (yet) in fact the shadowy authors of all official Conservative policy. Rather, we are one part of a movement, all of which seeks to put its varying ideas into the mix. Happily, a number of our ideas have been successfully adopted by our party and we certainly hope that more will be taken up over the next few months, years and parliamentary terms.
One such example is on the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph, which reports that:
“A garden city in the Home Counties to provide thousands of houses for young families is to be announced in the Autumn Statement. Plans for a new settlement in Bicester, Oxfordshire, containing up to 13,000 homes, will be funded with nearly £100 million of public spending and loans.”
A variety of groups, including Policy Exchange, have helped to encourage the idea of Garden Cities, while the location was selected in part because of the strong backing of local Tories, including Sir Tony Baldry. The precise mechanism for delivering Bicester Garden City is not yet clear, but our manifesto contains proposals to give those living near to any such development shares in the project, encouraging local support and compensating existing residents for any disruption – hopefully that approach will be considered for Bicester.
Of course, if the Chancellor really was a ConservativeHome sleeper agent, it would be George Osborne announcing such good news and boasting of “another wave of Garden Cities” to give the opportunity for home ownership and settled communities to the millions who currently have little hope of either. Instead, that privilege has for some reason been left to Nick Clegg.
Perhaps there’s a wariness in Tory high command that new building in Conservative-voting areas may prove too controversial. There shouldn’t be – and Banbury Conservatives don’t seem to think it’s a problem for this scheme to go ahead in their own patch. As we have long argued, Conservatives should always be the champions of people’s opportunities to get homes, jobs and savings – we should be unapologetic about radical approaches to secure all three and to rebuild the mass middle class which was so devastated by the Labour years.
If Polly Toynbee was right, and our Vast Right Wing Conspiracy was shooting capsules of directives along a secret underground tube straight into Downing Street, the revolutionary transformation of opportunity in Britain would be swifter and Tory voices would always be proudly at its forefront. I’d best get back to the control centre to redouble our schemes, before Paul drops me into a tank of piranhas.