I am not attending the Conservative Party conference for the third year running. I foresaw disaster coming over the horizon in Manchester in 2009, which was proven correct in May 2010 when David Cameron jumped into bed with Nick Clegg and formed a Conservative-Liberal Democrats Coalition Government. Funnily enough, I have since become reluctant to part with £1000 to have to listen to vacuous Cabinet minister speeches in an expensive city like Birmingham. The fact the conference is even in Birmingham, not Bournemouth, sums up the contempt the Cameroon metropolitan-elite have for the ordinary party member.
Cameron had hoodwinked his Party in 2005 into believing he was “one of them” and he just needed to talk about hugging hoodies and spending quality time with huskies to make people like the Conservative Party again. All well and good when Blair had just won a massive third majority earlier in the year.
But then came the economic meltdown in 2008 – largely caused by Gordon Brown’s reckless public sector spending and encouragement of personal debt to prop up the economy – and all bets should have been off. Cameron should have immediately ditched the “sharing the proceeds of growth” ludicrous strategy and realised the country in 2008 was not the same country in 2005. The public had woken with the biggest hangover since the Great Depression of the 1930s and were very anxious indeed.
So, what did David Cameron and George Osborne do. They continued on with their “detoxification” of the Tory brand, banging on about non-existent anthropogenic climate change and something (which no one has ever understood) called the Big Society. Was it so much of a surprise we LOST the General Election in 2010?
The electorate were ready again for a centre-right Conservative Party on the side of strivers. On the side of the vast majority who rely on public services (i.e. they are not in Cameron’s Chipping Norton set who always go private) but still want to see efficiency in our NHS and competence in our teachers. But Cameron and his campaign “guru”, Steve Hilton, failed to spot what ordinary activists had seen years before. And the party hierarchy slept walk in to a fourth successive DEFEAT in 2010.
David Cameron could have done the decent thing and stopped, formed a Minority Government, and after a re-think of campaign strategy, gone to the country again in October 2010 with the policies the public were crying out for: economic reform (especially in the bloated public sector), a serious crackdown on unskilled immigration, welfare reform and a huge shake-up of education. I believe if Cameron had done this we would have had the working majority we needed come the Autumn of 2010.
But what did our illustrious leader do. He didn’t stop for a millisecond: Cameron could see the door of No.10, if only he dropped the rest of his principles. Which he duly did. And as dark fell on 7 May 2010, he slipped into Downing Street with his Eton schoolboy grin and met his only objective: to become Prime Minister.
Well, today the fightback begins in earnest to reclaim OUR Conservative Party. Conservative Home – backed by Lord Ashcroft’s money and his passion for a Conservative victory – launches a plan to win the first Conservative Majority since 1992. It feels like an Opposition campaign. Hmmm, perhaps it is?
There is something missing though: a real Conservative leader.
It pains me to say this but despite Conservative Home’s excellent campaign, the Conservative Party will be defeated in 2015. But then the groundwork for a successful Conservative Party will have been laid. We will just need a new Conservative Leader to take it to the electorate in 2020. That leader must come from the 2010 intake.
Who will it be?