Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cameron Must Come Up With Hard Policies

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's Tory saviour, Supercam, who has flown into Brum, needing a few hard policies in his pocket if he's to convince the public he's ready to govern. 

As top dogs and lapdogs lap it up at the conference jolly, don't expect much meat on the bone and Brown's attack-pack could be plotting to rain on the parade. 

For Cameron's Conservatives, the task isn't as easy as last year, when he wowed the crowds. Now voters and the Party faithful, buoyed up by the polls but now starting to slip, are looking for some meat to get their teeth into. 

There'll be something to try to grab a headline, a sound-bite and a nice picture but this is probably neither the time nor the place for a detailed manifesto. 

For too long, the Conservatives been happy to sit on the sidelines and watch the government self-destruct. Recently, they changed tactics, to expose the misleading spin of government announcements. That will continue - after all, it is a public service. 

But now the public will want to see evidence of a government-in-waiting. The Conservatives will have to come up with some hard-headed policies that will strike a chord with voters and let them know where they stand.

The slogan is: "Plan For Change", similar to Obama's campaign message but it's fraught with danger. Sure it rips the government even further but people are wary of change, it makes them feel uneasy and insecure. 

As Obama is finding out, it also begs the question - change to what? 

For the old guard, there'll be something on law and order, defence and school discipline. For the newbies, something to show the caring Conservative side, along with a fudge on green credentials and a move to wrong-foot LibDems over tax cuts. 

What is clear is that the economy must and will take centre stage. People will be looking for something more than knocking the government for the economic mess. They want evidence of a sound economic recovery plan and assurances to reign in the banks and the City and that will be down to Osborne tomorrow.

Cameron has already told the Shropshire Star he'll bring forward a “comprehensive plan” based on “good housekeeping” at the conference to help cure the economic ills.

Meanwhile, Brown and the selfish band of New Labour opportunists, who are a dab hand at spoilers, could try to scupper the Tories.

Last year Brown put the nation on tenterhooks with the election that never was and popped up in Iraq to announce a troop withdrawal that never was. He could try a cabinet reshuffle and another relaunch that never was. But more likely is a major economic or financial move, to steal the show.

The hardest task falls on Cameron on wednesday to try to pull it all together. He can't try the speaking without notes routine again, getting his wife to introduce him has been done before and, the economy aside, he won't want to be pinned down too much on detail. 

Most politicians prefer to speak with forked tongues - it gives them wriggle room for later on. The Conservatives are no different. Even if there isn't much meat on the bone, success will depend on whether voters in England like and, more importantly trust, what they see and hear.

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