What the Conservatives need to achieve in Manchester this week
ConservativeHome contributors look forward to the week in Manchester.
BRUCE ANDERSON: CAMERON NEEDS TO CONVINCE VOTERS THAT HE’S ON THEIR SIDE
David Cameron has stamped his authority on Parliament and on the governing process. In the square mile around Whitehall and Westminster, he is in control, and recognised as such. In the rest of the country, the position is less clear. The evidence suggests that he can command respect, but that many voters are still not convinced a) what he stands for b) that he is on their side. Part of this is due to the Big Society. The concept is dear to him. It embodies his version of Toryism, his vision of Britain. But the public do not understand it. This week, commanding maximum media attention, he must use the opportunity to explain himself more effectively.
DANNY KRUGER: CAMERON MUST TACKLE THE SOCIAL CAUSES OF THE RIOTS
David Cameron caught the public mood in the week of the English riots and did things in the right order – a firm smackdown to the criminality itself, followed by a sensitive analysis of the social breakdown that gave rise to it. His task now is to move forward on both fronts. People want reassurance that the police, not criminals, rule the streets. But they also know that crime is ultimately a social problem, not a state problem – it’s caused by a breakdown in social relationships and it’s only going to be solved by building up the network of reciprocal obligations that make a society strong. This means supporting ‘values-based’ institutions – not just marriage but faith groups and local charities – rather than those which are neutral about personal behaviour. It’s a tough task but it’s got to be done.
The Chancellor has the support of Tory members and the public on his deficit reduction strategy. His task in Manchester is to show that he also has a growth and jobs strategy. Andrew Tyrie MP has suggested that the Coalition’s current approach is incoherent. Osborne has told the world that Britain will pay its bills but we won’t be able to if he doesn’t supercharge growth.
MATTHEW BARRETT: MINISTERS MUST ADDRESS VOTER DISTRESS AT ENERGY AND PETROL PRICES
A Populus poll published this summer showed that fuel prices outstrip the NHS, unemployment, spending cuts, crime, and tuition fees, as the issue that most voters are concerned about. 63% are "very concerned", and a staggering 87% are concerned overall about electricity/gas prices. It's not difficult to understand why - families are worried about their shopping bills, and are already sacrificing economic luxuries - it's not fair for them also to be punished by the government's climate change-inspired fuel policies. We need to hear from George Osborne and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker that the Coalition will be taking action on unreasonable fuel prices.
ANTHONY BROWNE: SKILLS MUST BE A CENTRAL TORY THEME
The Conservatives are the party of personal responsibility and aspiration; central to our belief is that people should be able to better their lives through hard work and application. This is why we should put skills at the heart of our agenda. The UK has a slow-motion, little talked about skills crisis, with too many people unable to read and write, and too few with high-end vocational skills. Without skills people are far more likely to be unemployed or in low wage jobs; equipped with skills and they will forge ahead. Raising skill levels will boost our national competitiveness and economic growth. We are making great strides with free schools, technical colleges and apprenticeships, but we should spell skills out as one of our central themes.
IAIN MARTIN: CAMERON MUST SHOW THAT HE’S READY TO FIGHT FOR THE UNION
If he doesn’t want to be the last Prime Minister of Great Britain as we know it, then David Cameron will have to wake his party up to the grave threat posed by Alex Salmond. The SNP leader is sweeping all before him and Scotland has never been closer to independence. The temptation in these circumstances might be to see the United Kingdom as a lost cause, but that would be a tragic historic mistake. This week David Cameron must show that he is - despite all the previous setbacks and the seemingly endless problems of the Scottish Tory party - getting ready to regroup and fight for the Union.
RUTH LEA: THE BRITISH PEOPLE DESERVE A VOTE ON EUROPE
The EU is an increasingly troubled organisation for which Britain pays dearly. Our net EU contributions were over £9billion last year and are set to rise. Meanwhile the EU’s regulatory zeal chips away at our business competitiveness - the new Agency Workers Regulations will alone cost business nearly £2bn a year. It is time to rethink our whole relationship with Brussels. But rather than try and negotiate the repatriation of some competences, which I fear, will achieve little, the Conservative party should offer the British people a full referendum on membership of the EU, as campaigned for by the People’s Pledge (www.peoplespledge.org).
PAUL GOODMAN: CAMERON SHOULD LEAVE THE LABOUR BASHING TO HAGUE, BORIS AND BACKBENCHERS
Journalists specialise in giving politicians advice they're unwilling to take. I'm pleased to be able to offer an exception. Nothing would delight a section of the conference floor more than for David Cameron to roll up his sleeves and take Ed Miliband on during his conference speech.But that's a job for Sayeeda Warsi. Or, better, for William Hague. Or, better still, for Boris Johnson (plus a legion of backbenchers). Because Cameron should be serious, weighty, Prime Ministerial - and above dignifying Labour's floundering leader with anything other than a single dismissive joke. Such is my advice. Which he'll take. Because he's worked it all out anyway.
HARRY PHIBBS: SOME CONFERENCE THEMES FOR BORIS
Boris Johnson enjoys a stronger personal following than any other politician from any political party in our country at the present time. He is unapologetically Conservative but also has an independent streak. But a well oiled machine of highly motivated Conservative activists is key for him to secure victory. Most Londoners probably won't vote at all. Last time the turnout was 45%. So Boris should stress Conservative themes and show us that he is ambitious to achieve more to get Conservatives out to the Polling Stations. Wider home ownership. Reducing traffic delays. Releasing surplus GLA building to be used as free schools. Fighting crime with more Special Constables. Above all, a cut and not just a freeze on the Council Tax precept.
JOSEPH WILLITS: TORIES MUST TALK IN A STREETWISE WAY
Cameron and the Conservatives need to take lessons from a Labour party conference full of soundbites and a Liberal Democrat conference fuelled by humourless jokes about the coalition. Activists love this sort of thing but people don't want big rhetoric. They want competent change. At all costs they should avoid appearing fake and out of touch, whilst trying to seem otherwise. Cameron and other Tory MPs should never try to pretend they are from an estate in Hackney, or somewhere alien, or even to undestand - just show that the job is being done properly.