Conservative Diary

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The Telegraph concludes its "Path to Power" series looking at the Conservatives by interviewing David Cameron and praising his "strong set of core principles"

CAMERON DAVID official There is little new in the Daily Telegraph's interview today with David Cameron, whose hair is - according to the paper's interviewers - "going noticeably grey".

He reaffirms the pledge to scrap inheritance tax on estates worth less than £1 million and describes as "crucial" the party's commitment to maintaining the newly re-established link between the state pension and earnings.

The party leader states that he "would rather not get elected saying the right thing than get elected saying the wrong thing. Because if you get elected saying the wrong thing you are going to be a failure.”

He also refers to William Hague in terms as “a very capable deputy” for the first time.

In a separately written up item, the paper also discloses that Mr Cameron has opened talks with the unions over how to tackle the cost of public sector pensions and pay:

The private meeting with Brendan Barber, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), took place in the Conservative leader's Commons office. They had a "sensible" dialogue on the future of public sector pensions, Mr Cameron said.

But there will arguably more interest in picking through the paper's editorial at the end of its series considering the Conservatives' readiness to take power within the year.

In recognising that the party does not have a poll lead quite as vast as that enjoyed by Tony Blair, Mr Cameron runs the risk of being too timid, argues the editorial, and should be extolling his "strong set of core  principles":

"In seeking to avoid complacency, there is always a danger of timidity and eclecticism, of trying to please too many people, while failing to project a coherent set of values and beliefs that voters can easily recognise and with which they can identify. As is clear from many of his public speeches, the Conservative leader does possess a strong set of core principles:

  • he believes in the Union and respects this country's traditions and heritage;
  • he is enthusiastic about social and welfare reform;
  • he is suspicious of big government and all its trappings;
  • he is unapologetic in his approval of marriage and the family;
  • he believes taxes should be as low as possible and that the money should be properly accounted for, that spending should be constrained and the public finances put in order.
These are recognisably Tory instincts; they are shared by many who have not voted for the party in recent years who can be persuaded to once again. Mr Cameron has no need to hide them, and every reason to extol them."

It goes on to suggest that the Tory leader needs to be "more collegiate in his leadership style" and "cast his more widely to make use of experienced former ministers" as well as those outside politics - not the first time those criticism have been made.

And in rightly stating that he is wise to take nothing for granted, the editorial concludes:

"The task is to persuade a lot more people who are heartily sick of the Government that a Tory administration offers an alternative that will benefit them, their families and the country as a whole."

Jonathan Isaby

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