Guest article by:
Robert Douglas Griffiths
Deputy Chairman Political West Cheshire Conservative Future
So the scores are being chalked up and conference season is now in its last innings. Up at the crease we have Dave Cameron, who’s having a rather better time of it recently given the weak pitching by Ed Miliband and crew. No sixes as yet, but we’ll have to see what he’s like on the final day of play. That’s enough cricketing (I’m no sportsman, the analogies would soon wear thin pretty quick). It’s politics and the commentary thereon that are my forte and why I’ve been asked to guest-write on this blog. However, I do think that with conference season closing, it’s as good a time as any to compare what’s gone on over the past couple of weeks and give a little speculation as to what we’d certainly like to hear on 2nd October.
So we’ll start with the Lib Dems, who kicked off in Glasgow last Sunday. I’m betting that most of us were simply only paying attention to it via the headlines and interviews, rather than the blow-by-blow stuff on BBC Parliament. Nevertheless, the one theme that emanated from their few days was that they’d like to be in coalition again and it apparently doesn't matter with whom. My guess is that secretly Nick would quite like another round with us. Vince Cable on the other hand would of course like to see the bird roost in the rose bush. Either way the message was loud and clear “we’re here (we think), we’re...er...still here! Get used to it!” Whether or not the average Briton believes that coalition is now to become a norm in political life, it’s certainly now not entirely fashionable to rule it out. How exactly this will manifest itself in 2015 is anyone’s guess. I’m a fan of the long game, so we’ll see.
Sidestepping the UKIP sideshow that they claim was a conference (here read The Godfrey Bloom Show); we’ll head to Brighton where Labour has recently vacated. Much has been made of Red Ed’s pithy proclamation claiming a desire to re-introduce socialism. As I said in my own blog post, and indeed in the wider blogosphere, this may be popular with the voters right now, but what will they prefer when May 2015 rolls round? The only credible Tory offer right now seems to be tax breaks and indeed that’s what we should be offering. Having more money to spend on what one wants or needs on a personal level rather than give it to the collective for it to be misspent and frittered away is a much more attractive option.
So then we come to Manchester and we’re on the starting grid come Sunday. I’d certainly like to see some consolidation this year. We are now just over a year away from the general election and it’s time to start taking stock of our record in government and begin to think about where we want to go. Certainly a harder line on immigration, the welfare and education reforms to be further entrenched and taxes to be cut further. It must be made clear to the Prime Minister that he has to re-stamp his authority harder than ever before on the party. We must think about being tougher on the EU and actually putting up a fight to repatriate powers lost to Brussels. Better investment in our health services is vital and this must be stressed by Jeremy Hunt. That said, we’ve an awful lot to be proud of. Theresa May will be coming with the victory earlier this year of deporting Abu Qatada back to Jordan. George Osborne has just stood up to Brussels when they tried to make us cap bankers’ bonuses. William Hague has had a marvellous three years as Foreign Secretary, re-affirming our principles abroad and giving us a broadly dignified foreign policy.
I look forward to the Conservative Party Conference each year with excitement and trepidation. Usually the latter dissipates rather quickly and I’m hoping this year to be no exception.