The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The First 100 Days
by James Chard

In a couple of days or so, young Mr Cameron will have lasted 100 days as leader of the Conservatives, an achievment of itself. He has been quite busy, but to what effect remains to be seen. This is my take on how our new leader ought to make an impact both within and without the party in his first 100 days:

1. Put Cowley Street on the market with the aim of moving to modern office facilities, quite possibly some distance from Westminster. A statement of intent regarding a modern, professional party organisation is required.

2. Announce plans radically to reform conference along the lines Francis Maude floated for the Tories - with two weekends of set-piece speeches, big announcements and mystery non-party guests in two provincial cities in September and a low profile, dry, policy-based session in the Spring.

3. Ditch the 50p rate for earnings greater than £100k and pledge to go into an election not proposing net tax increases for the first time in a long while. I am not violently anti-50p, and was happy to defend it last year but it is an idea whose time has passed and this simple move would be an important outward-looking statement that we are clearing the decks for a manifesto next time based on reform, rather than spending. Maybe at the same time we should propose taking X million out of tax using green taxes as per Mr Huhne, but maybe not within 100 days as we need to ensure this policy is cast-iron and able to withstand scrutiny.

4. State that the Euro is off the agenda for a generation, that Europe is excessively bureaucratic and that we will force through proposals to cap the EU budget. We need to ditch the image of being uncritical friends of the EU (which I think is an unfair image, but it is the image). This will be the sort of "Clause IV" headline-grabbing move we need to make to keep ourselves in the spotlight once the leadership election is done.
posted by Apollo Project @ 4:48 pm  
  • At 16 February, 2006 18:18, Blogger James said…

    How do we put Cowley Street on the market if we don't own it? Are we going to steal it from the Church Commissioners?

    Seriously, a move has been discussed many times in the past, and indeed we actually had a period in 2000/1 when we left the building, at one stage not intending to return. But the costs of moving are significant and not to be taken lightly.

    Finally, there is the issue of moving the party HQ away from Westminster and whether it would mean that the party would be less able to, to quote Baroness Maddock, "keep an eye on the Parliamentary Party." I certainly don't believe that is a strong reason for keeping the whole operation in Westminster, but I do see a case for an office within reach of the Palace.

  • At 16 February, 2006 18:31, Blogger Peter Pigeon said…

    James Graham makes a good point - I think the immediate issue might be "waht do we do when the lease runs out"? Still I admire the spirit of Smaes Chard's contributin to the debate.

  • At 17 February, 2006 12:25, Blogger Liam said…

    Thanks, James. I was not aware of the details of the lease on Cowley Street.

    However, whatever the procedure to do this is, I do think a clear statement of intent should be made. I have visited Cowley Street a couple of times and have been embarrassed by the unprofessional and borderline chaotic set up there. If Cowley Street were the head office of a company and a prospective customer or business partner visited, would they feel confident that they were dealing with a "serious" outfit? Unfortunately not. And sadly that atmosphere and approach does seep out to the approach of constituency organisations.

    I am a great admirer of the Baroness but the "keep an eye on the Parliamentary Party" point is not one of the strongest the old girl has ever made. Many of those based at Cowley Street are not primarily dealing with Parliamentary Party affairs. Additionally, modern communications are such that physical proximity is not what it used to be. By all means, let's have a couple of rooms and a nice backdrop for press conferences in reasonable proximity to Parliament, but let's not have the HQ there.

  • At 27 February, 2006 19:42, Blogger Edward said…

    Sounds like a programme for the Tories to me...why not join them!

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