Five hopes for the Tories in Manchester
As we look forward to what we hope will be our last Party Conference in opposition here is my checklist of five hopes for what will be achieved in Manchester.
(1) David Cameron needs a TV moment on the deficit: The next few years will require some painful budget measures. David Cameron and George Osborne do not need to spell out every measure that will be necessary but they need a mandate to take tough measures. They need to be able to say - credibly - that we warned the country that we would do these things and we are now doing them. The message should be framed as necessary to put Britain back on track; 'We are going through a tunnel but there is a great future for Britain at the end of that tunnel'. We need a clip from within David Cameron's speech that will be replayed on TV in the years to come as the truth-telling when David Cameron made it clear what was coming.
(2) More concrete reasons for voting Conservative: It would be great to have another inheritance tax moment. That may be an unrealistic hope but we need some stronger policies for the doorstep. In today's Sun - see graphic on right - David Cameron has set out ten positive changes that the Conservative Party will deliver. It's a good list but could be stronger. Pledges 3, 5, 7 and 9, in particular, need a lot more definition.
(3) An ambition for realignment: Labour may not be heading for defeat but for disaster. Their reaction to The Sun's endorsement of the Conservatives was puerile (eg this and this). As Scott Colvin records on today's Platform there is now a nastiness to Labour. The initial years of Tory government are going to be hard work but there is a possibility for realignment of the whole of politics in the year ahead. I've addressed this before but a Conservative Party that take social justice and internet activism (which takes a leap forward today) seriously could raid deep into Labour territory. I'd like to see hints of that ambition this week. Lower taxes for the low-paid could underpin realignment.
(4) Education, education, education: Michael Gove's education policies are the most exciting ingredient of Tory policy but David Cameron has not made a big statement on education since the start of the year. In Manchester this week I'd like a sign that Gove is getting the 100% backing that his supply-side revolution needs.
(5) Patriotism manifesto: I've advocated a Shoestring manifesto of measures to ensure we deliver progress as a government without spending too much money. The Shoestring manifesto included ideas on democracy, social justice, the environment, media reform and patriotism. I'm hoping to see a particular emphasis on patriotism and a commitment to end the ignorance of British history. If you are going to Manchester don't miss Chris Grayling MP talking to ConHome at 9am on Monday on the theme of patriotic renewal. More details here.