Naturally we’re disappointed, but we’ll fully support David Cameron as our new leader. Loyalty is right and proper, and unless we can manage it, our party will never return to government. DC has won fair and square, and while we may challenge his policies, we will support the man.
So congratulations to him, and commiserations to DD.
Now we must move on. There's a mountain to climb, but if we are bold and work together, then whatever the doomsters say, we really can win in 2009. Or more likely, 2010, as disintegrating Labour clings on to the bitter end.
But it wouldn't be right if we losers didn't reflect on what we can learn from defeat. First, even in the telly age leaders just have to make good platform speeches. Right at the start we recognised this was a potential issue for DD, but set against his strengths we didn’t think it would be a showstopper. And without DC’s noteless tour de force it might not have been.
Second, excellent media relationships are not some optional bolt-on extra, but the very essence of modern campaigning. DC got a huge boost from that egregious Newsnight focus group, and the media spin on subsequent Conference speeches. But while we can complain about the Old Chums Connection, in reality it’s like complaining about the weather. You just have to deal with it- which DC has.
So we’ve learned- or perhaps more accurately, fully understood- that presentation and media management are absolutely vital. Let’s all hope that the skills which have been so effectively deployed in our leadership campaign can now be used to return the party to power.
We’ve also encountered something rather less comfortable. It’s whether Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral politics are at all suited to serious policy debate.
Because beyond a few totemic issues like Europe, it really does look as if all parties must crowd onto that sacred centre ground, all laying claim to the same current consensus. They can follow the consensus, but it’s unrealistic to expect them to lead. Which means that real policy change must be pursued outside the formal electoral arena.
We strongly believe in the Davis vision of “Opportunity Britain”- his agenda for boosting prosperity through lower taxes and deregulation, and tackling Britain’s social problems through radical public service reform and localism. He summarised it as using “traditional right-wing tools to achieve traditional left-wing objectives”. Despite our defeat, we will do what we can to see that agenda adopted by our new leader.
So good luck to David Cameron and his new team, and we hope to hear from you all at Burning Our Money (now with added blue Tory rosette!).