David Cameron’s speech didn’t fail to prove he is among some of the most impressive leaders (or at least speakers) that the Conservative Party has had, but I believe he and his Party isn’t doing enough to retain the voters that matter most. After all, British politics is all about the centre ground and who is able to most effectively hold it. While conferences seem less and less relevant, and even boring according to some delegates (Sara Price of communications consultancy Pagefield being one of them), they still serve as a reasonably effective way to depict your party as one that is ready for the challenge of government or of opposition. Before the general election, the Conservatives seemed fresh and a good alternative to Gordon Brown, but they are starting to reveal their true colours.
Mr Cameron’s apologies for his two sexist jibes to Labour frontbencher Angela Eagle for asking her to ‘calm down dear’ in front of the House of Commons, and also for insinuating that anti-abortion campaigner Nadine Dorries was sexually frustrated was a good move – similar to Liam Fox’s detailed admissions of meetings with old buddy Adam Werrity. However it merely serves to show how out of touch the Conservatives still are with the people that matter most. The picture of Mr Cameron patronising Angela Eagle and George Osborne laughing as if he had just seen the school nerd get a wedgie was PR gold dust for Labour. I laughed just looking at a still of Osborne’s reaction.
I have a personal passion for the preservation of the environment and the drive to cut emissions. I believe strongly that the Government has a large role to play in encouraging people to recycle and convince the public that ‘going green’ will have lasting benefits. The UK has the potential to be the global leader in the development of sustainable energy generation technology, and I believe we are passing up this opportunity.
Mr Cameron didn’t mention climate change once in his speech at the Conservative conference last week. He mentioned the word ‘green’ just twice. This, coupled with Osborne’s statement that they would not lead the way in sustainable energy generation in Europe, and you have a blatant and traditional sway towards the big hitters – the carbon heavy industries. While this is helpful for the recovery, the Government needs to do more to push an environmental agenda, particularly when it was part of their election strategy in their push for No. 10. What happened to the Green Tories? Broken promises?
It isn’t even necessary to ‘shed the Old Tory skin’; to be honest sometimes it can be amusing and good for the party image. Boris Johnson playing tennis with kids at newly opened sports centres was a great PR show – but more important than this is the fact that he has actually done a lot for London and continues to lobby his party to stop cuts to transport and communities inside London. Also great PR. Maybe David Cameron could take a note out of his book. Mr Osborne definitely should.
To finish with: one of the funniest things at the conference: Theresa May revealing that immigration was so out of control that – and she’s not joking – a Bolivian immigrant was able to remain in the UK because he owned a pet cat. Crumbs!
The smooth talking David Cameron who didn’t win the election is holding his ground, but the true colours of the Conservative Party are hard to hide. Old habits die hard, and holding the centre ground will be hard if the party continues to ignore the people who turned their backs on Labour.