Wednesday, 19 November 2008


My fellow Conservatives, what I am about to say to you today should come as no surprise. When I first became leader, and I began to talk about the importance of climate change, and how there was such a thing as society, and how we would not tolerate racial discrimination, you looked on me with suspicion.

But you also saw that for the first time I was beginning to attract a new kind of person to the Conservative Party. The kind of person who isn’t yet eligible for a bus pass. The kind of person who doesn’t necessarily look as though he might send letters in green biro to the Daily Mail.

You remained suspicious, but as Labour became less popular, and we started to build a lead over them in local and bye-elections, you stopped minding so much. Even your Chief Flag Bearer Lord Tebbit cooled his criticisms.

And for a while, it meant that I didn’t need to challenge you any more. It looked as though we were so clearly on course for an election victory that I might have been able to become Prime Minister without having to create a ‘Clause Four’ moment. My Bullingdon buds George and Boris were proving a hit with the neutrals, and Gordon Brown seemed to be taking popularity lessons from my predecessors Howard and Duncan Smith.

Well, as we all know the landscape has changed. Labour, and Brown, are being given another chance. There’s no point repeating the truth, that Brown’s personal promotion of unfettered city greed did so much to get us here in the first place. After all, to reiterate these facts only serves to remind people that these now utterly discredited policies were pioneered by Margaret Thatcher, Nigel Lawson and Ken Clarke.

So how should we respond to this new situation? The easiest thing would be for me to revert to type. To call for spending cuts as the only way to help reduce taxes. To show up Labour as the party of tax and spend. To create a climate of fear about the pound, and the economy. Hague, Howard, IDS, they all began with good intentions, each one soon returned to fear, racism, self-interest, the 80s siren calls that still played well to the dwindling minority of loyal grass roots voters.

But I’ve gone too far for that. I’ve moved our party too far into the 21st century to allow us to return to the 19th. I believe that to take on Labour, instead of trying to argue with them, we show the people that there are alternative ways of saving our economy. So that is why today, I am reviving one of the few policies that Margaret Thatcher advocated but which she failed to see through.

From today, I shall argue that Britain must, as soon as is humanly possible, sign up to the Euro.

The pound has been in more or less terminal decline for half a century, and frankly we should have joined at Margaret’s first attempt. Now we have to accept that, for better or for worse, in today’s global economy, global solutions are required. This is what Gordon Brown never tires of repeating, but he remains convinced that he alone knows what those solutions are.

Margaret, for all her hectoring aginst Europe, was a pragmatist at heart. She also signed us up to the Channel Tunnel, a move that has brought us closer to Europe physically and emotionally.

Yes, Margaret knew how to tickle the tummies of our grass roots supporters when it came to bashing Jean Foreigner, but deep down she was the most Europe-friendly Prime Minister Britain has ever had – and she did it because for her winning elections was ultimately far more important than taking a stand for Britain.

Europe is our future. At times they may seem bureaucratic and over-zealous in their regulations, but generally we are grateful for their directives on work, human rights, the lives we lead and the food we consume. To quote from one of my all-time heroes,
“He said ‘d’you want it pasteurised cos pasteurised is best?’
She said ‘Ernie I’ll be happy if it comes up to me chest.’”

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