I first published this at 17:39 yesterday but, sadly, RSS issues at my end prevented it being posted at LibDemBlogs until now.
I am not sure that David Cameron’s speech this afternoon will do much for the Conservative’s poll ratings at all. He does mention a few policies (about 18 either vague or broad ones). We’ve heard the themes many times before. But I just wonder whether people actually like the policies and themes he’s presenting. Take the main example. The economy. Once again he starts the whole discussion on the economy by talking about the deficit. That’s the priority, he says. Except that it isn’t. Not for anyone. Not for economists. Not for people in the street. The priority is always jobs and economic growth. It’s got to be.
He had the odd soundbite in there after saying that he wants to put an end to soundbites. He’s going to go around the world with businessmen apparently. No businesswomen, mind. A junket for the boys. George Osborne is going to save the country.
In summary it was all guff. We’ve heard it all before. We’ve seen him speaking without notes before. It’s all codswallop. But I did listen to all of it and my notes are here to prove it:
I am listening very carefully to Cameron’s speech to find some indication of what many people are looking for – some sign of what the Conservatives stand for. Indeed, a policy or twain. (Any suggestions of a policy or twain are asterisked below)
He’s going to fight. Excellent. But not a policy.
He’s proud of his team. Brilliant. But not a policy.
He singles out George Osborne for praise. Crikey! Wouldn’t it be better to draw a discreet veil over Osborne?
Then we get the rest listed. Great. But not a policy.
Afghanistan. Lots of visits to troops. Very professional. We salute you. We will equip you properly ***SNIFF OF A POLICY ALERT*** Except notice that there is no commitment to spend x more on defence. He just gives a bland promise with no specifics.
Country is in a complete mess. We have to turn it around. Social problems. Top down bossy I know best approach from Labour. Dividied, dysfunctional Lavour. We will not let you down. Very specific – not.
People want to know what we stand for.
Modernised party. Saving community hospitals, maternity units etc. We are the party of the National Health Service. Except they aren’t.
Vote Blue go green. We are the new environmental party in Britain. (Except they’ve no ditched the environment from their top ten list.)
Women. Black. Minority candidates etc.
Sayeeda Warsi apparently destroyed Nick Griffin on Question Time single handedly. I see.
We are with you. We are like you. Of course you are David. Not.
Get the country going. The Ex-Lax policy.
Conservative values. Aspiration. We aren’t going to get a recovery from the government. Enterprise.
A responsible society. Good society. Help those who want to do the right thing.
Something about a bloke in Kent wanting to move in with his girfriend.
Change. Giving people power and control over their lives.
School, hospital, government. People power not state power.
Aspiration and responsibility for all. Giving people power and control over their lives.
Now he promises specific policies.
Economy. He lays into Gordon Brown. The big argument is over the deficit. He says. Nothing about jobs or people making ends meet. The deficit is the priority he says. Not unemployment, not jobs, not mortgages, not housing, not having enough money to buy food. It’s the deficit, stupid. Huh? ***BIG POLICY***
Get the economy moving. ***POLICY ALERT*** Cut main rate of corporation tax, cut the small business rate of corporation tax and scrap national insurance on new business setting up on the first ten jobs they create. He wants to fly a lot with businessmen. Yes, that’s what he said: “businessmen”. Sorry ladies.
Broken society. Family breakdown. Teenage pregnancies. Million violent crimes a year. Hundred knife crimes a day (Check these figures – Ed). A child starving to death in Birmingham.
Big changes to society. A family friendly manifesto. ***POLICY ALERT*** Recognise marriage in the tax system. Support couples in the benefit system. The right to flexibility for everyone with children up to eighteen. Army of health visitors to help mum and dad when the new child arrives. ***THAT’S FOUR VAGUE ONES***
Change the culture. Have a word with retailers and television companies about risque clothes for children and unpleasant messages for children. Tell retailers and bars: stop selling alcohol to the under-age. NO POLICIES THERE, YOU NOTICE.
National Health Service. Stafford hospital. A lot to do to improve it. Get rid of the targets culture. Judge by results. (That’s a target isn’t it?). I love the NHS. I will stand up and protect it. NOT A POLICY THOUGH.
School and education. Radical programme for reforming education. So many parents can’t get a good school for their child. Untapped talent due to not having great schools in all areas. Ask churches and voluntary bodies to set up schools. ***POLICY*** Uniform. Discipline. Children who stand up when an adult walks into the room.
The history curriculum. 11-13 year olds. Only two historical figures mentioned. Wilberforce and Equiano. No mention of Churchill, Nightingale etc.
Welfare system. Compassionate Conservatives. If you cannot work you deserve to be supported. Help those who can work. Train you. But if you can work, you are offered work and you don’t chose to work, you can’t go on claiming benefits as before. (Does this really happen? – Ed) ***SNIFF OF A POLICY***
Pensioners. From 2016 move retirement age to a year later. ***POLICY – WHICH I THINK LABOUR ALSO STATE*** Link pension back to earnings. That’s a promise. ***POLICY – BUT WHEN?***
Changes in politics. We acted first. Get MPs to pay back money. Put claims on the internet. Perks and benefits have got to go. But just dealing with expenses won’t solve the problem. Bloated bureaucracy at the top. Radical plan to deal with all of these problems. ***POLICY ALERT*** Cut the size of House of Commons. Freeze ministers pay having cut it by 5%. Cut a third of Whitehall bureaucracy. Regions. Bureaucracy. The whole lot is going. ***FOUR POLICIES***
Scrap housing targets. Local areas to decide what to build and where to build it (except that won’t be done by the regions because he’s getting rid of those!) ***POLICY***
Energy. If you generate some of your own energy you will be paid for it. ***POLICY – except doesn’t that already happen?***
Me. I am confident I have what it takes. That is what we badly need to hear. It isn’t though is it? We all know you’re confident mate.
A sense of urgency. We are in a deep hole. The deficit. (Again) Roll up our sleeves. Frankness. People are fed up with soft soaping, soundbites. People know that the actions we need to take to tackle the deficit will be tough. Energy crisis looming. Invest in extra capacity. Immigration. Too high for too long. I will cut it. Radicalism. Radical from day one. Education. Welfare. Hand up – not hand out. Inspire. Lots of codswallop like that.
He ended with a pep talk for the Tories. Get out there and win it for Britain!
Then: Brian Ferry’s “Let’s stick together”. Yeeeeeuuuuuss.