'We can see he looks like a winner, but what does he really believe?" "Isn't he just copying Blair?" "Is he actually a Conservative at all?" Daily Telegraph readers tempted to think that the Conservative Party leadership is distant from its grass roots should know that party members and activists ask me these questions – sometimes more robustly than I could repeat in a family newspaper – all the time. And my answers are clear.
Really? They have been very far from clear up until now, Davey.
What I really believe is that if we're going to make our country a better place to live – with a stronger economy, well-educated children and lower crime – everyone needs to understand that top-down central government is never going to do it on its own.
No, David; top-down central government is never going to do it at all.
Businesses, parents, and local communities must be given more responsibility. I believe in social responsibility, not state control.
As I have asked before, what if people don't want it? Are you going to make them have it?
Far from copying Tony Blair, I am learning from his many and serious mistakes. Instead of simply accepting the political consensus of the time, as Blair did, I am challenging it.
How? With your marvellous "hug a hoodie" campaign?
New Labour was all about coming to terms with Conservative victory in the battle of ideas. The modern Conservative Party is about replacing the failed New Labour experiment, not aping it.
Really. Okay, go on then; tell us about these new Conservatives.
Those who ask whether I am a Conservative need to know that the foundation stones of the alternative government that we're building are the ideas that should unite us all: the ideas that encouraged me as a young man to join the Conservative Party and work for Margaret Thatcher.
Those ideas are profound and enduring: freedom under the law, personal responsibility, sound money, strong defence and national sovereignty.
Right, we've had a good few paragraphs of flannel; can we get onto the concrete proposals now?
That is why, under my leadership, we have opposed ID cards and will replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights that better protects both our security and our freedom.
Why do we need a Bill Of Rights, exactly? In what way will it be different from the Human Rights Act, precisely?
It is why I have made the strongest commitment to supporting the family and marriage that any Conservative leader has made for a generation.
What commitment? You have part-published a report written by Duncan-Smith; I haven't heard any concrete policy deriving from that report yet.
It is why we are pledged to share the proceeds of economic growth between public services and lower taxes, thereby ensuring that over time the state takes a smaller share of national wealth.
Lower taxes? When? How much? What taxes (since the number of taxes that he can cut is partly controlled by the EU)?
Share the proceeds of growth? How much growth does there have to be before we see tax cuts rather than more money pissed into the public services? What if there is "not enough growth"?
What about tax simplification?What about that Flat Tax that you were so keen on? What about raising the Personal Tax Allowance to a decent level in order to take the poorest out of the tax system? Where are your actual policies, Dave? Where are these clear answers?
When I see Cameron's detailed policy, then I might rethink.
It is why we support the replacement of Britain's nuclear deterrent and have led the campaign for better conditions for Forces families.
OK, nuclear deterrent, good (although ensuring that we don't necessarily have to phone the Americans to get the launch codes might also be a sensible thing), but better conditions for our Forces? Is that the best that you can do? How about ensuring that they have decent equipment first; y'know, ensuring that they don't die for lack of cheap body armour, that sort of thing.
It is why we will restore Britain's opt-out from the European Social Chapter, and it is why we have announced our withdrawal from the federalist European People's Party.
As I pointed out before, Dave, the European Social Chapter no longer exists. Over to UKIP:
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said Mr Cameron's claims that a Tory government would 'restore Britain's opt out of the Social Chapter' was "spin worthy of Tony Blair himself"
"As Mr Cameron knows very well, Britain cannot just 'opt-out' of the Social Chapter because it's now part of the Treaty of Amsterdam and fully enshrined in EU law, which the Conservative party is fully committed to," said Mr Farage.
"If the Tories really do want to free up British businesses from draconian laws which the 'Social Chapter' put into place, then the only way to do so is to withdraw from the European Union."
The Social Chapter was part of a protocol of the Maastricht Treaty which was negotiated by John Major.
However, the opt-out was given away after the 1997 General Election.
Now the content of the articles are enshrined in the Treaty of Amsterdam, to be precise 136 - 145. This means they are now part of the Aquis Communautaire and to revoke these would require unanimity in the Council of Ministers, not just a decision by a national government.
EU Referendum has also spotted this lie, and points out the problem with Cameron's promise to withdraw from the EPP.
Then our Dave thinks that, because the British had an opt-out to the Social Chapter – which Blair gave up in 1997, he can go to the colleagues and ask for it back. Doesn’t he know about the ratchet effect – that surrender of powers is a one-way process? There is no provision in the Treaties for reinstating an opt-out. So what will he do when the colleagues say no?
As for getting out of the EPP, that is not until 2009 – which means you MEPs have another two years funding a group run by a French crook. Nice one Dave!
The pledge is, in any case, a stupid one to make. If the EPP is unsuitable for Conservatives now, then they should withdraw now. It may, in two years' time, actually be the most suitable grouping for the Tories to be in (unlikely, but you get the picture); in which case, leaving in two years would be fucking stupid, wouldn't it?
Our new Movement for European Reform is a pan-European campaign to promote a positive vision of an outward-looking Europe rather than an inward-looking EU obsessed with its own bureaucracy.
Yes, yes, yes; we have heard all of this before from assorted politicians; when will you learn that the EU is not reformable? Both Strange Stuff and EU Serf have discussed, at length and recently, why this should be.
We will continue to oppose an EU constitution that is about transferring power away from nation states and we will keep the pound as our currency.
Oh yeah? It's nice to know that you "will continue to oppose an EU constitution that is about transferring power away from nation states", but I take it that means that you don't rule out an EU Constitution of some sort? And Brown wants to keep the pound as our currency: what, precisely, are you offering, Davey-boy?
But these Conservative intellectual foundations are just the start. We must now apply them to the hopes and aspirations of people and families today, just as Mrs Thatcher applied Conservative principles to the challenges of the 1980s.
How about just fucking off and letting the families apply these principles themselves, you evil, statist cunt?
Commentators such as Tim Congdon seem to have forgotten much of what Mrs Thatcher said and did. It was Mrs Thatcher who launched the Scarman inquiry in 1981 in an attempt to understand the alienation of young black men. And it was Mrs Thatcher who launched modern environmental politics with her Royal Society speech in 1988.
The reduction of Thatcherism into a sort of laissez-faire libertarianism does not do justice to her record. She was animated by a vision of the good society – a vision obscured by decades of economic dirigisme and cultural relativism. The task she set herself was to restore not only personal liberty in economic matters, but also a sense of duty, respect and moral obligation in social matters.
Yup. That's why most people talk about the 80s in the same breath as "rampant greed". How about applying the invisible hand, Cameron?
I, too, am animated by a vision of the good society.
Oh, god. Dave, what if my vision of a "good society" is not the same as your vision of a "good society", eh? Are you going to force me to accept your vision? I suspect that the answer is, "yes".
To which I would reply, "no thanks". After all, I certainly do not share your vision of taxing the fuck out of people with "green taxes" based on fraudulent and misplaced science.
I can't be arsed fisking this anymore; when Cameron comes out with some half decent, concrete policies—rather than this woolly, ill-informed hogwash—then I shall have a proper look at them and assess them without bias.
Unfortunately, I'm still fucking waiting.
- Jim White returns next week.
As Timmy says, I can't fucking wait...