Conservative Diary

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A nine day plan to win a majority

With just nine days to go until polling day the Tories are running out of time to get an election winning lead.

Target more vulnerable Labour seats
The decision to target harder-to-win Labour seats is a sensible one. The weakness of the Labour vote means that the constituencies of Ed Balls, John Denham, Jack Straw and lesser known Labour MPs could be within reach. We could call it 'The Melanchthon strategy'.

Campaign against the Hung Parliament Party
The decision to run against the Hung Parliament Party is necessary but a double risk. It's a risk because it may mean voters see the Tories as too negative and it is a risk because voters are divided on the merits of a indecisive result. According to today's Sun/YouGov poll 47% of voters think that a hung parliament will be bad because it "produces weak government, unable to take the tough decisions Britain needs". But 37% think a hung parliament would be "good" because "it will force at least two parties to work together in some way".

The economy debate is an opportunity for straight-talking
Thursday night's economy debate on BBC1 is David Cameron's last, best opportunity to add a few points to the Tory position. My own hope is that he'll do three things in that debate:

  • Level with the British people about the gravity of the economic situation. There's a good leader in The Telegraph, accusing all politicians of ignoring the deficit. If Cameron can present himself as the truth-teller he could get the respect that may lead waverers to see him as a Prime Minister-in-waiting. If voters are reminded of the seriousness of the economic situation they may also be more likely to worry about a hung parliament. We can't expect voters to treat the election seriously if we ignore the most serious of issues; the deficit.
  • He needs to confront Nick Clegg about his claim to offer new politics. He needs to confront Nick Clegg about his lack of honesty about who he'll support in the event of a hung parliament. I drafted some words here.
  • Go into the debate ready to deploy a memorable phrase. The Conservative leader has not emerged from either of the first two debates with a phrase that reverberates.

Define what can happen from day one of a Conservative government
The final thing Cameron needs to do in the final week of the campaign is define change. The Big Society rhetoric must be dropped. It's a brilliant governing philosophy, not a campaign theme. Every voter in Britain - through email, through a party political broadcast, through stump speeches, through eve-of-polling leaflets - needs to know there are ten worthwhile things that will happen from day one of a Conservative government. My ten are listed below:

  1. Stopping Labour's tax on jobs; the National Insurance rise
  2. A cut in net immigration of 75%
  3. No more early release for convicted criminals
  4. A two year freeze in council tax
  5. The abolition of inheritance tax for all families except millionaires
  6. A cut in the cost of politics including a 10% cut in the number of MPs and a 5% cut in ministers' pay
  7. Restoration of the link between the basic state pension and earnings
  8. New laws that will give householders more rights against burglars
  9. Abolition of Labour's expensive ID cards
  10. Free anti-cancer drugs for all those need them on the NHS.
Deploy the big beasts
Get the big beasts - Boris, John Major, IDS, Michael Heseltine, David Davis, Ann Widdecombe - on to the TV screens.

Tim Montgomerie


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