Saturday, October 29, 2005

Speaking For Britain

"When people start to think of this as not a Big Brother phone-in, but actually a choice about who should be the next Prime Minister, they will start to make a judgment on the serious issues. The question we are putting to the Tory Party is: What sort of country do you want in four or 10 years' time? I happen to think that will favour me."

So said DD yesterday. He used a major speech and a series of interviews to reiterate some of his key propositions. He again stressed his intention to help the victims of state failure:

"...the people on council estates who get robbed twice as many times as people elsewhere; people in the inner cities who get poor quality education; poorer people who get the worst health outcomes.

The problem we have to overcome is that a lot of these people see us as not interested in them or their lives. We have to show we are concerned about people at the bottom of the pile."

And he zoned in on Browns' pension tax grab: "...one of the great scandals of the last decade. We have to look how to put that right." Which of course, his "Growth Rule" would enable him to do.

Davis is spelling out the policy agenda that Britain needs: how we Tories will clear up the mess after thirteen years of New Labour misrule, using traditional Conservative tools to tackle both our economic and social issues.

But there's no doubt it's an uphill battle. As today's DT/YouGov poll reiterates, DD is some way behind DC in the leadership stakes. Among Tory voters, they reckon he's on 16% against DC's 56%.

Yet the poll also shows that among voters as a whole, neither candidate has really grabbed the imagination. Anthony King comments:

'YouGov's findings make it clear neither Tory leadership contender has so far acquired a clearly defined image in voters' minds. Opinions about both men, where they exist at all, tend to be lightly formed. Unexpected events could easily change people's minds.

YouGov's findings are also a reminder of the size of the electoral challenge that will face whichever candidate wins the leadership contest. Many Conservatives have the feeling at the moment that things are moving their way but YouGov still finds no evidence that in the country at large - as distinct from inside the Westminster village - things are moving at all.'

The plain fact remains: to win next time we're going to need much more than an agreeable telegenic sparkle. Sorry, but the electorate just ain't that dumb. No matter how uncomfortable it feels- and it does- we need to win some policy arguments. We need to speak for Britain.

As Davis said yesterday:

"We must recognise that controversy is our friend, not our enemy. If you stand up again and again for what you think, people begin to realise that you really mean it."
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