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Ten things that happened in Manchester

If you are just arriving home here are the ten most important things that happened at the Party Conference this week:

(1) The Europe issue did not explode. Yes, the grassroots are Eurosceptic. Very Eurosceptic. But they don't want a row on the issue. The Conservative Party - once the natural party of government - has rediscovered its self-discipline. Also on Europe, the attacks on Michal Kamiński became savage. Dan Hannan reports. The Left can be very ugly.

(2) George Osborne did enough to keep the Conservatives well ahead of Labour in terms of the party best placed to tackle the budget deficit. He identified very specific cuts that won't make a big difference to the budget deficit but he talked about "tens of billions" in future cuts. I awarded him 14 out of 20. A YouGov instant poll found nearly two-thirds of voters liked the public sector pay freeze but they were split on the extra year of working before retirement.

(3) Compassionate conservatism became more tangible with commitments on failing schools, job creation, low-paid public sector workers and the pension-earnings link. Like me, Fraser Nelson is impressed with Iain Duncan Smith's return: "He positioned the Conservatives squarely in the fight against poverty – on the explicit grounds that Labour has lost that fight. And with news that means we can take him seriously: Iain Duncan Smith will return to government – hopefully to run welfare reform and implement the seminal work he has done with the CSJ."

(4) The party showed that there would be no retreat from its policy towards marriage and the family. Maria Miller probably advanced more than any other figure this week. Her appearances on the fringe and on the main stage have been widely applauded. Report on the Tory family agenda here.

(5) Boris just about behaved but some in CCHQ were unhappy at his loose talk on Europe, in particular. The Mayor of London used his speech to say that his economies in London proved that savings were available throughout the public sector. His Newsnight clash with Jeremy Paxman produced classic TV.

FourHawks (6) In a bid to assure voters that the Conservatives have the experience and knowledge to form a government we saw the enlistment of General Sir Richard Dannatt and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson. Cameron will have his own government of all the talents if victory comes next year. In his party conference speech Cameron basically guaranteed that Liam Fox would be Defence Secretary. With the return of IDS that means four hawks will almost certainly be at the top of the Conservative Party (the other two being Gove and Osborne).

(7) The most interesting speech on the fringe was given by Greg Clark. The Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change noted the power of the Cameron effect. Before David Cameron became Tory leader the party was only winning one in every five voters defecting from Labour. Now we are winning nearl;y all of them.

6a00d83451b31c69e20120a61fa792970c-800wi (8) Is Modern Conservatives the Cameroonian equivalent of New Labour? Michael Crick noticed it was a big theme of George Osborne's speech. Cameron also mentioned Modern Conservatism in his.

(9) The Manchester venue was an enormous success. The party made a £1.5m profit on the Conference. I'll write more tomorrow, however, about the huge number of lobbyists and NGOs that sucked much of the life away from the whole thing.

(10) The party's drink problem. Poor Chris Grayling didn't have the best of weeks but the only real fun had by the mischief-makers was in chasing photographs of 'top Tories' with glasses of champagne. Evidence certainly exists that quite a lot of the bubbly stuff was consumed...


Tim Montgomerie


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