Conservative Diary

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Has Cameron found his big message today?

Jonathan has already reported on David Cameron's speech in which he announced a tax on banks.

Forgive me for blogging on it again but I think Cameron may have found his big message. The speech was entitled 'Taking on vested interests'. It could have been called 'against the big interests' or 'a government for the little guy'.

The new Tory message against the unions and in favour of a bank bailout were the headline sections but David Cameron said (very fairly) that his whole leadership had been characterised by taking on vested interests...

IN POLITICS: "Scrapping Parliamentary subsidies. Cutting the number of MPs. Cutting the number of ministerial cars. Cutting and freezing ministerial pay. Full transparency over expenses. Closing the final salary pension scheme. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary – because this way Parliament can start to look the British public in the eye and say ‘we’re here to serve you, not ourselves’."

THROUGHOUT GOVERNMENT: "I said to the quango chiefs, the town halls, the government departments... all the officials that for too long have jealously guarded their budgets... that a Conservative government would bring transparency to everything they do. Publishing every item of central government spending over £25,000 and every item of local council spending over £500. Publishing every public sector salary over £150,000 and every town hall salary over £60,000. Cutting the number of quangos. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary – because if we open up the whole process of government we’ll make it accountable to the people it serves."

AGAINST BIG BUSINESS: "I have had battles with entrenched interests, including those in the corporate sector. Opposing the third runway at Heathrow. A right for every parent to request flexible working. Changing advertising rules to stop the premature sexualisation of children. Taxing banks to fund free financial advice. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary – and today I think big business knows it will be criticised when it ducks out of its social responsibilities if we’re elected to government."

The Tory leader could also have mentioned his commitment to cut big media down to size by ending the ways in which the BBC, for example, tramples on start up broadcasters. He promises to take on the teacher unions and the educational establishment by delivering Michael Gove's schools revolution.

6a00d83451b31c69e201156ff98cae970b-500wi I like this message. It captures the spirit of our age.  I commissioned the drawing on the right to illustrate the role of the internet in this 'age of Davids'.

The anti-big thing can go too far - in, for example, a war against supermarkets but after experimenting with lots of narratives... the heir to Blair; honesty versus dishonesty; progressive conservatism; Conservative government costs you less etc etc... this anti-establishment message might be a winner. The key thing is Cameron must stick at a big message soon.

Tim Montgomerie


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