Sunday, April 30, 2006

Liam Fox Says Cameron Must Maintain "Broad Coalition"

Liam Fox today gave an interview to GMTV which was partly on his brief, but then veered onto Party strategy. I reprint the transcript below. He seems to be saying that David Cameron's priority must be to maintain a broad coalition within the Party and not to "tilt too much in one direction".

STEVE RICHARDS: It’s interesting isn’t it that that seems to be the case but as you have found in the past that a lot of defecting Labour people seem to be going over to the Lib Dems. And if these polls are right, and who knows they might all be wrong, but if they are right you are facing that same old problem that you’re not getting the disaffected support to your side.
LIAM FOX: Well we’ll see when the elections come this week what those results will bring and I dare say they’ll not bring good news for our beleaguered prime minister, and I think that he will have to take measures to try and stem the haemorrhaging Labour support. You're right though there are big questions for us as a party. We have made a start under David Cameron of trying to remove some of the negatives attached to the Conservative party but I think that there are a number of things that we have to remember. First of all that we avoid external coalitions in our politics by maintaining an internal coalition, and the Conservative party has long been a broad coalition and if the party is tilted too much in any one direction that makes us politically less stable and that makes us less attractive for the voters. And if you want to look to an example of where the party was at its best under a broad coalition you look at the Thatcher government when it came in 1979, a very broad coalition of the Conservative party, and we weakened that coalition at our own cost.
STEVE RICHARDS: And so you think that there is a risk of that happening, that tilting happening?
LIAM FOX: No I think that it simply has to be the fact that everyone in the caravan has to feel that they are part of the party and that they will get something out of that. And I think that we do have to deal with some of the issues that we haven’t dealt with in the past. On things like the environment. As you know I’m very keen on issues like mental health and domestic violence. We have seen this week a dreadful case in terms of domestic violence being over looked. We do have to have that social agenda which I think has been missing, alongside the tradition Conservative policies of wealth creation and of national security and of being tough of crime and so on. And its getting the balance right over the next few months that I think we need to do and I think that it is quite preposterous that people expect us to come out with detailed policy now. What I think is reasonable is for people to expect us to set out the intellectual architecture upon which our policy will be based and I think increasingly that is beginning to come forward.
STEVE RICHARDS: But what you are saying is that the balance isn’t in place yet?
LIAM FOX: No I think that this is a project that is still evolving and I think that David Cameron has made a very good start in that he set himself, as a politician in a mould that is of clearly very attractive to a lot of voters. He’s more popular now then the party is. The question now is can we repeat that exercise in showing to the electorate that the Conservative party is a broad coalition which deals with all those issues that the public is concerned about, on crime and discipline and so on, but that it is also able to bring into it this element of social agenda which I think has been missing. And if you look at issues, to go back to mental health. This is an issue that no party has been talking about in our country, a massive problem inflicting about one in three of our population with dreadful public services being provided to these people and we have to champion them. And I think that it is a great opportunity for the Conservative when the Labour party is frankly falling to bits having failed to deliver what it promised back in 1997.


John Prescott ate my hamster said...

So now we all lie awake at night not only worrying about icebergs but also mental health?
Oddly enough those are not issues that cause me, or I suspect most other voters, to lose sleep, however, the seeming lack of grip on reality displayed by the current Conservative party leadership most certainly does.

Gregor said...

I sincerely hope that after the policy reviews are completed that Cameron can really shout about a wide range of sound policies from accross the conservative political spectrum. I agree that a broad range is needed to keep the party happy as a whole.

The current superficialities cannot last long as the benefit of the doubt will I feel, soon become just plain doubt that he can do the job at all. I don't think it's a loss of grip on reality, it's a concerted effort to take out of the general public's collective mind the negative initial reaction that many people have for the conservative party, which is unwarranted, and is an essential task.

I just hope it happens before Labour implode completely and we are caught on the hop still babbling on about glaciers and recycling rates.

Bob Piper said...

Perhaps Liam is positioning himself in case next Thursday goes bad for the Tories?

Rigger Mortice said...

'The current superficialities cannot last long '

beautifully said gregor.

Pulsar said...

Have just been listening to someone called Damien Green and was strongly reminded of Denis Healey's quote about being "savaged by a dead sheep"
PS-given that - - - shags worked on a cruise liner how the hell are the bookies going to get at the correct figure?
Advert in Labour weakly would be a good start!

Richard said...

It would be nice - albeit unusual- to hear a shadow secretary of state for defence talk about defence.

Silly me!

Pulsar said...

Given the policy review that's a bit like expecting Blair to answer a question-on anything!