Obviously his fame didn't precede him! Or mine me!
UPDATE: For those who don't seem to get this, Michael meant it as a joke.
Anyway, onto matters of more importance. What do we need to hear from David Cameron in his speech today? We should remember that he will be speaking to two audiences - the party and the country. Let's take them in turn and identify what he needs to do to satisfy both audiences...
- Look and sound like a PM in waiting
- Rise above petty and spiteful personal attacks on Gordon Brown
- Give the country a clear sense of the direction of a Conservative Government along with some policy specifics
- Explain the depth of the clear blue water between Labour & Tories
- Reassurance that the strategy being followed is the right one
- Firm and strong denunciation of Labour's economic record
- Attack the opinion poll issue head on
- Attack Gordon Brown - not personally (avoid talking about bullying except for a joke or two)
- Deliver 5 easy to remember policy pledges for party workers to sell on the doorstep
One thing people need to remember about David Cameron. He's a weeble. He may wobble but won't fall down*. He's one of the most resilient politicians I have met. He's experienced several political and personal crises over the kast few years but has met each one head on, and bounced back stronger. My hope and expectation is that he will do the same this time.
I have no idea whether the Sunday Times poll showing a mere two point lead is accurate, but there is no point anyone pretending that the polls haven't narrowed. They clearly have. I am still rather at a loss to explain it to be honest, but I do believe it has something to do with a lack of clarity in the Tory message, which Labour has successfully attacked.
It is important to give a clear sense of direction. In 1979, people knew Margaret Thatcher would tame the unions, control inflation, stand up to the Russians and deal with Europe. The problem for Conservative activists here in Brighton is that they struggle to come up with four or five similar themes for the present day. If you say " Get the economy moving", "Stand up for the NHS", "Clean up Westminster," or "Get public borrowing under control", they are all worthy aspirations, but they are aspirations that both the other parties could equally claim as their own. So now may be the time to move from the general to the more specific, without actually announcing the whole election manifesto in advance.
It is untrue to say that the Conservatives are 'policy light'. There are plenty of individual, eye catching policies which resonate with the electorate. It's just that we seem to have lost sight of what they are. Here's a quick reminder of some of them...
- Introduction of border police and a cap on immigration
- A two year freeze on council tax
- Abolish ID cards and roll back the big brother state
- Reduce the number of MPs by 10% and cut the cost of politics
- Allow parents to create their own schools
- Restore the link between pensions and earnings
- Repatriate powers from Europe
- Stop Labour's NI rise which is a tax on jobs
- Cut business taxes to encourage new small business start-ups
- Gove householders more rights to defend themselves against burglars
- Abolition of Inheritance tax for everyone except millionaires
It would be ridiculous to pretend that a 2% poll lead is a good thing for the Conservatives, but it may well concentrate the minds of those who thought a Conservative victory was a dead cert. It will make it easier for the Tories to warn of what may happen if people don't use their vote to vote for change. One message which we may well hear more of over the next few weeks is that a stay at home vote is a vote for Gordon Brown. If you want change you have to vote for it.
ConservativeHome's Ten Point Plan is well worth reading.
* For those who are scratching their heads, this was a TV advert for a toy in the 1980s with the catchphrase "Weebles wobble but they won't fall down".