Sunday, October 01, 2006

Conservative Party Conference

David Cameron has just made his first party conference speech as Conservative leader. I thought it was ok, the Vol-in-Law was less than impressed.

We've spent much of this rainy Sunday afternoon watching the conference, yet managed to miss the best speeches. That's the way of things...

1. Francis Maude, Conservative Party Chairman, spoke about the importance of change and championing the NHS. No, Francis - that is wrong. Championing the NHS is not a goal in itself. Improving the quality of and access to healthcare is what we want to champion. Championing the NHS as an institution for its own sake will simply lead to further producer capture of healthcare - and more money on administration. That's what Labour do.

2. David Davis, one-time contender for Conservative Party leadership and Shadow Home Secretary, gave an absolutely rousing speech on the principles of British conservatism. And although he didn't quote the Iron Lady's "liberty under law," he came as near as dammit. He also looked much more "leader-ly" than he ever did during the leadership campaign.

3. The new Prime Minister of Sweden, Yawn Bohring, of the centre-right "Moderate Party" gave his speech by video link. The Vol-in-Law was still glued to the screen, but the rain had stopped, so I dragged him out for a walk.

4. ...thus we missed William Hague, former leader of the Conservative Party and current Shadow Foreign Secretary and kick-ass speech giver and we also missed most of John McCain's speech.

5. John McCain, if I ever thought he was a presidential contender - after what I saw, I certainly don't think so now. He looked old and frail and rheumy and said things like "you'll see more of the future than I will." The Vol-in-Law discussed this and could only come to the conclusion that McCain must now know that he will never be President. If this is so, why did he cave to the Bushies on the torture bill?

6. David Cameron. OK, here's a liveblog version of the speech from one of the UK's liveliest and most enigmatic political bloggersk, Guido Fawkes. But here's our take:

Me: I liked it, I thought it was pretty good.
Vol-in-Law: It made my head hurt, I went kind of all fuzzy after a while like I was on pain killers
Me: The Social Responsibility thing is good
Vol-in-Law: Sounds like Marxist claptrap to me
Me: Yes, exactly - that's what it's supposed to sound like, but really it has the right core values, but it's just explained in a way that's palatable to my lefty co-workers and the BBC.
Vol-in-Law: Explain it to me then.
Me: Well, you see he's denouncing Margaret Thatcher's "there is no society*" speech, but without actually denying any of the principles. See, my lefty co-workers like the word social, but it's social without the socialism. Social responsibility wraps up four concepts - the four pillars of social responsibility - personal responsibility - we all know what that is, civic responsibility, which is personal responsibility but like volunteering and community work and so on; corporate responsibility; and bugger I forget the 4th pillar.

So you see it was a rousing speech, which sets the Conservative Party in a great position to go forward and win - I think. At least it will, if it doesn't turn off more libertarian type party activists like the Vol-in-Law.

Margaret Thatcher once claimed "There is no soceity, there are only individuals" which has been much lambasted and lampooned by the British hard left. What she meant was - individuals must take responsibility for their actions - not blame society. No person could join a political party and commit their life to public service as Margaret Thatcher did if she had not passionately believed in the importance of individual engagement and responsibilty to society.

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