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Daily View: What should Cameron's message be?

Clare Spencer | 09:26 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

David Cameron

Ahead of Prime Minister David Cameron's speech to the Tory party conference, commentators suggest what they think should be in it.

Daniel Finkelstein suggests in the Times that David Cameron should drop his Big Society concept:

"Most people see the Big Society policy that you can be the leader as suggesting that they will be asked to put in even more. Not just pay taxes, but run their local swimming pool. I've got a job, they say, how would I find time? I am going to put you in charge, says Mr Cameron. Hang on, reply the voters, the point is that we put you in charge...
"Mr Cameron has moved back and forth between offering to provide leadership and offering to hand over leadership, even though, politically, the latter offer will never work. When he speaks today, the Prime Minister should try to resolve this tension. The best way would be to pick leadership over the Big Society. Bet he doesn't though."

In the Spectator Philip Blond goes one further and says Big Society has already died - something he thinks is a shame. Now, he says, the focus should be on tackling the excesses of those at the top:

"Unless we rein in the rapacious elite at the top, we cannot tackle criminal dysfunction at the bottom. We need a new form of social conservation and a properly distributive economics. We need, in short, Red Toryism.
"If David Cameron is to fulfil his considerable promise, he has to assume the mantle of leadership and offer clear intellectual direction. He governs through friends, but he needs to lead through followers. To attract supporters for a political project, a strong central and conceptual leadership is required, one that ensures that everything that is done is carried out in the name of an overarching vision."

The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland says the only thing people will be listening out for in David Cameron's speech is his thoughts on the economy:

"Those Tory professionals paid to be anxious fear they could lose either way. If Britain plunges into a double-dip recession, with the gloom persisting till 2015, the governing parties will be punished. But if things are righted, the Tories could also lose out: some strategists fear the voters will inflict on David Cameron the fate they meted out to Winston Churchill in 1945 - thank him for his work in fending off disaster then turn to Labour to perform the sunnier work of renewing society...
"As a result Cameron will surely use his speech on Wednesday to insist that he regards deficit-cutting as a means, not an end in itself; that Tories do not suffer from debt monomania and this government will yet have a second act not fixated on the nation's balance sheet. That will mean that, at some point, he will have to declare victory in his war against economic crisis, but when? His electoral planners need it to happen before 2015, yet some colleagues warn it might take a decade."

In the Telegraph, the one question on Tory Lord Tebbit's mind is what Mr Cameron will say about Europe:

"Now it is up to the Prime Minister to describe a European policy that is neither abject surrender nor ineffectual pleading for the return of our right to govern ourselves."
According to the Daily Mail's Sandra Parsons, the most important task in Mr Cameron's speech is to "woo back women":
"The Conservatives might like to consider that women are fearful for our own and our children's futures - and we don't see politicians helping. So what I profoundly hope is that David Cameron does not try to fob us off today with a long list of his future ambitions. What he should do instead is give us a metaphorical hug and show that he's listened to what we have to say."

Based on the conference so far, one thing the Financial Times' Jim Pickard predicts he won't hear in speech is any Lib Dem bashing:

"Now at the Tory event in Manchester there is the reverse; a mood of benevolent (if slightly patronising) friendliness is emanating from senior Conservatives towards their allies. There is the occasional dig; George Osborne pointed out that the Liberals, in the late 19th century, opposed attempts to stop people sending children up chimneys. But otherwise it is all bonhomie, and references to 'Nick' and 'Vince' and so on."

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