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Keine Experimente!  With that admirably conservative slogan, Konrad Adenauer and his Christian Democrats swept in 1957 to their greatest ever election victory in West Germany, taking 50.2 per cent of the poll.

No Experiments! The slogan has not been pressed into service in Manchester in 2017, but would nevertheless serve as an accurate summary of the message of the Conservative Party Conference.

In particular, there must be no experiment with a Boris Johnson leadership. The party line, not articulated from the platform but strongly implied at every turn, is that making Johnson leader would be like lighting the blue touchpaper on a huge, homemade firework.

A spectacular explosion would result, and might well cause any amount of fun for those observing from a safe distance, while inflicting grievous injury on his party.

That is not, incidentally, my own view, which I shall perhaps offer on some other occasion. Johnson himself will speak this afternoon, when he will perhaps offer a more adventurous and enjoyable idea of conservatism than has generally been seen this week.

Meanwhile we had Amber Rudd, who articulated the Safety First theme in an admirably reassuring manner. Tone is very important in a Home Secretary, and hers is good.

She ran through the threats that face us, starting, quite rightly for a speech delivered in Manchester, with terrorism, and only coming at the end to the leadership question:

“When the country is facing so many complex threats, I do not believe that our country would be safe in the hands of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott.”

She went on to praise the “distinguished” leadership of Theresa May. Here was a loyal speech, proposing that we carry on as we are.

Rudd was good on the struggle she has had to save her own seat, which she holds by 346 votes. She offered heartfelt thanks to the activists who turned out with her in the rain on Saturday mornings, and who “scrabble on hands and knees to shove a leaflet through those irritating letter boxes located at the bottom of the door – my personal hate”.

The Home Secretary managed to convey the precariousness of life, while also suggesting that by hard, unglamorous work, and personal competence, the Conservatives can win through.

Jeremy Hunt had earlier offered another fine version of Safety First, in his case describing how we can create “the safest health service in the world”.

He offered charts which illustrated all sorts of valuable conclusions, and also showed a Pathe News clip from 1944 of the Conservative Health Minister in 1944, Sir Henry Willink, announcing the setting up of the NHS.

As Hunt said, the NHS is not Labour or Conservative, it is national, and enjoys cross-party support.

No experiments, but an unexciting process of gradual reform, so sensible that everyone of good will can support it. That was the Hunt pitch, delivered to a hall with many empty seats, but those who were there gave him a standing ovation.

 

8 comments for: Sketch: Rudd supports “distinguished” May over Johnson

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