Derek Simpson backs moderate to lead Unite
Leaked emails over Mike Hancock scandal
David Miliband tipped for top EU job
87% of MPs raking it in with second jobs
David Cameron exclusive interview
"Red Ed" negotiates a minefield
"Red" Ed's knife-edge win
Don't strike over cuts, says union boss
Harman blocks Gordon Brown's farewell honours
Child benefit for older kids faces axe
Ed Miliband edges ahead of bruv in Labour leadership race
Cold, blind panic at Tory HQ

IT’S that time of year. Leaves falling, nights drawing in—and cold, blind panic in Tory headquarters.

Tomorrow is about unveiling their economic masterplan. Today is about deciding what on earth it is.

And if you’re not convinced by the end of the Tory party conference in Birmingham this week, David Cameron is in trouble.


The Tories have had a year to prepare for this conference. But the world turned on its axis a couple of weeks ago.

In America, George W Bush has turned into the largest nationaliser since Lenin, with plans to buy up bad debt. In Britain, taxpayers have found themselves bailing out bankers. Bradford & Bingley may follow Northern Rock

All of a sudden, voters are asking: ‘what would the Tories do differently?’ And no one has the faintest idea. By “no one” I include a good chunk of the Shadow Cabinet. There’s a big vacuum where a policy should be.

The latest plan is an “office for budget responsibility” which would make sure Tory ministers don’t spend too much.

I always thought that was the Prime Minister’s job. A welcome gesture, perhaps, but hardly a revolution.
Cameron is facing a far greater test if he wants to rebut Gordon Brown’s charge that this is “no time for a novice”.

Hard questions need answered, like: would we be better off under the Tories? Would David Cameron take away less of your money?

You’d hope they’d have an analysis months ago. A sober, masterful plan waiting for takeoff.

The stories I hear are about indecision and wrangling. Should they whack bankers? Mention tax cuts?

Should he rise above party politics, or go nuclear on Brown? Should he try claiming “I told you so?”

Cam’s original plan was a solid but dull conference—and not to be seen enjoying himself too much.

Now Britain is looking over an economic cliff, he has to raise his game. To prove to us that he’s a PM in waiting.

When Gordon Brown says this is “no time for a novice” he has a point. It’s one Cameron and Osborne need to answer.

They need to do more than sing “Gordon is a Moron”—pretty much their main refrain for the last year or so, effective though it has been.

American presidential hopeful John McCain wants to FREEZE government spending. You can disagree, but at least it’s a policy.

So what would Cameron do? How would he make us better off? This is what we need to hear from him this week.

Can he imagine what it’s like for the millions worried about keeping their job, their car or their house?

Can he help? Also Cameron’s team are young. Their advisers are even younger. Can the novices really cut it?

Now and again you hear the cigar-chomping Ken Clarke on the radio and think: that’s what a Tory heavyweight sounds like.

We need a bit more of that. Not pyrotechnics. Not harebrained scheme to tax non-domiciles who’ll be long gone anyway.

For years the Tories have been in awe of Brown. Unable to break free of his big-government, big-spending ideas. It’s not rocket science. As Thatcher said, anyone who has run a household budget can run a government.

Cameron can cut taxes, or not. Spend more, or less. In other words: offer us a choice, or more of the same.

And if you hear waffling phrases like “over the cycle” then watch out. It’s politician-speak for “you’re shafted”.

Great leaders have radical plans, and make them simple. We’ll see this week if Cameron is in this league.

He has these next four days to persuade us our futures are safer with him. If not, then Clunking Fist Brown may regain ground.

Some time ago, a focus group was asked to compare leaders to vehicles. Brown was a tank, Cameron was a sports car.

When the economy is doing fine, you want to take the sports car out for a spin. In an economic war, you want a tank. And you certainly don’t want to be in a soft-top when the financial sky is falling in.

Just a month ago, the Tories were worried they’d look complacent. <NO>Now, yet again, the risk is that the Tories look vacuous.

It’s shocking that, three years on, Cameron still has to get across to the public what he’d do.

And that they’re rushing around trying to put together a policy for tomorrow—rather than having one ready.

I can tell you how great their schools policy is. But I’d feel better if I didn’t have to explain it to Tory MPs too.

Just a few weeks ago, the Tories were joking that they could reduce their conference to half an hour in the Dog & Duck.

The Tories are so, so lucky that Labour has decided to lay on a distraction by disembowelling itself on live television.

A few months ago, Cam summed up his message as “vote blue and get rid of this useless Prime Minister”.

Great, but then what? For three years, Cameron has had the luxury of not having being asked this question.

Now, after months avoiding scrutiny, the public want answers.



    Keeping one eye on the rest of the web
  Westminster blog spy