The road is long, but we've found it.
I am now much more pragmatic about and resolved to the fact the Tories won't return overnight. We saw a poll in the Times putting the Party on 28%, with the SocialLiberalDemocrats just 3% behind and Labour way out on 35%. Kilroy told us we were dead. After the dreadful Hartlepool result and the UKIP teacup storm over the weekend I was a little down and worried. Then I came out of shock at the knifing of Margaret Thatcher. The Party has finally realised it has to work and we have no right to be at the fore-front of politics. There is no quick fix, only the work offered us by Michael Howard. I put the opinion polls in perspective, as the Conservatives were the only ones still to have their conference 'bounce'. I realised we wouldn't die, but may become also-rans. I rediscovered my desire to actually stand up and make a difference rather than watching from the sidelines. I remembered why I was a member of a political party.
I have been delighted by the Conservative Party conference. I really do think it is the best I have seen in my (albeit few) years. I have been reminded what once made the Tory Party so great and why it can never really die. The Party has shown a renewed purpose and energy, a renewed focus on what the problems actually are - notably voter trust - and has outlined how it will tackle them in a believable way (as opposed to the LibDems who just repeat how bad the problem is and seem to point their fingers). We are coming up with sensible policies and aspirations for Government; I have long said that Howard's actions as Shadow Chancellor on tax were most sensible. We will always be lower tax than Labour and the LibDems, but it is possible we may not be able to keep everything low while we are overcoming serious structural changes. What is more we are sounding confident again and not apologising, while not pretending that the country must love us right away.
It is a long hard road back to Government, but if we keep going the way we have been this week we can finally see it unwind ahead of us. We must, however, hold our course and not be put off by snake oil traders along the way who promise they have the cure-all which can send us straight back to Downing Street. It will not be easy and will require much more work and fight. Two things which you cannot substitute. We have to show that we are not Conservatives because we wish to be vindictive. We have to show we are Conservatives because we genuinely our policies will help everyone: not holding back and constraining the luckiest in our society while trying to provide a solution to the plight of many people in the country. I finally believe we are doing this coherently. There is still a long way to go. It can be done though, if we really care.