We'll Build Slowly but Surely, Says Cameron; as the Conservatives Meet for Their Annual Conference in Bournemouth, Political Editor Jonathan Walker Examines David Cameron's Performance So Far

The Birmingham Post (England), October 2, 2006 | Go to article overview

We'll Build Slowly but Surely, Says Cameron; as the Conservatives Meet for Their Annual Conference in Bournemouth, Political Editor Jonathan Walker Examines David Cameron's Performance So Far


Byline: Jonathan Walker

Midland MPs Andrew Mitchell and Caroline Spelman will head off to a disused church this afternoon, armed with paintbrushes.

While Conservatives debate the issues of the day at the party's annual conference in Bournemouth, the pair will be busy turning St Mary's Church into a community centre.

The DIY expedition sums up perfectly David Cameron's reborn party.

From one perspective, the Tories have finally rediscovered their roots as a party which believes in helping others.

Hence, the entire shadow Cabinet, including shadow Local Government Secretary Mrs Spelman (Meriden) and shadow International Development Secretary Mr Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield), are to help create a new community centre during their stay in Bournemouth.

But from the point of view of Mr Cameron's critics, he's offering the same old thing with a fresh lick of paint.

This is the line of attack Labour used at last week's conference in Manchester. Ministers claimed that Mr Cameron lacked substance.

The Conservative leader tackled this claim in his introductory speech to the conference yesterday.

Getting the party ready for Government was like building a house, he said. First, you needed to "prepare the ground", then to lay the foundations and only then to build the house, "brick by brick".

But he also seemed to suggest that we shouldn't hold our breath waiting for a firm policy agenda.

The next stage would be "not pulling policies out of a hat... but explaining the idea which defines the sort of Britain we want to see".

The bad news for Labour is that the strategy seems to be working.

Although a poll over the weekend showed the two parties on level pegging, the trend in recent months is to show the Tories firmly ahead.

The party has also remained broadly united behind Mr Cameron, in contrast to the splits within Labour.

A few signs of disunity did emerge over the weekend. Elder statesman Lord Norman Tebbit attacked the leadership for failing to promise tax cuts over the weekend. …

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