OCTOBER 2nd 2006
The main task of this Conservative Party Conference is to find out what its members actually think. David Cameron will take a lead, but the party is extremely divided on how their aims (which are not that different from that of the average member of the UK public) are to be achieved. To make progress in areas that they believe the present government has got bogged down can only be done by the use of sticks, carrots or the removal of either or both. They will have to make up their minds. When that is all done, the leadership can think about preparing a programme and later a manifesto for the next general election.

Meantime the party's job is intelligent opposition - the holding to account of the government. In the last war (WWII) it was decide there should be no 'opposition' party, there was just a 'war government'. The present situation is different. There is no declared war between nations that call for this state of affairs in the UK.

Domestic policy has some puzzles fro them already, on the freedom front.

For years, the Tory party has fought elections on a policy of tax cuts. They were always wrong. What was needed was rational taxation. Now, with impeccable faulty timing, Cameron, a lovely man who is brighter than most of his colleagues, has decided not to talk about tax cuts, just at the moment when even the Liberals realise that income tax thresholds must be lifted and certain other taxes reduced. This should be promised up front, but maybe not yet.  Stability is vital of course and the government's tax take will have to cover its spending. This is not rocket science - there is a huge pool of spending in the economy, some of it black, much of it untaxed, all of it voluntary rather than subsistence or essential, which can be tapped easily. But Cameron has to steer clear of obviously adopting economic policies that have been suggested by the Liberals!!

The EU has at last surfaced in the conference discussions and I am relieved to hear William Hague, the much loved senior member of Cameron's shadow cabinet, say loudly and clearly that as long as he and his fellow cabinet members are in charge there is no possibility whatsovever of the party looking at a policy for Britain withdrawing from the European Union, No doubt that will not stop Norm Tebbit, whose horizons probably stop around the borders of Chingford, from continuing to burble on in his inimitable manner. Most people with a working brain realise that the EU is essential to any attempt to negotiate the wide international agreements required to combat global warming, and that the without the Euro currency there would be far more chaos than there is now in the currency markets, at terrible cost to all average citizens and even more profit to the crooks who are still making a killing.