Davis flops, Fox shines

TWO leadership contenders yesterday made impassioned pleas for the right wing vote of the Conservative Party, with Dr Liam Fox unashamedly appealing to patriotism and pride in the Union flag.

By Graham Dines

TWO leadership contenders yesterday made impassioned pleas for the right wing vote of the Conservative Party, with Dr Liam Fox unashamedly appealing to patriotism and pride in the Union flag.

Dr Fox's continual swipes at the politically correct brigade and the European Union earned him a sustained standing ovation in the afternoon - and in contrast, leadership favourite David Davis's conference reception in the morning session in Blackpool seemed muted and subdued.

Dr Fox, who is Shadow Foreign Secretary, said pride had to be re-established in what it meant to be British. “We have spent so long focussing on diversity that we have forgotten to focus on what we have in common - free speech, a fair rule of law, history, heritage, economic liberty, and democratic government.

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“There are two things I want to see put back into our politics - proportion and reality. When I suggested recently that all schools in Britain should fly the Union flag as a symbol of what unites us, I was told it was racist.

“By what possible stretch of the meaning of the word could even the most crazed member of the politically correct brigade regard flying your own flag above your own schools be racist.”

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To shouts of approval, Dr Fox declared: “This conference will never be ashamed of the Union flag.”

He said the EU was locked in the past and needed to break away from the “whole, outdated concept” of “ever closer union.” Dr Fox said the inevitable destination of ever closer union was union.

“The Conservative Party should never ever accept that Britain's destiny lies in a United States of Europe.”

Dr Fox reminded delegates that his father had been a teacher, his mother a housewife, and both grandfathers miners. “I went to the local comprehensive, I trained in medicine and worked in the NHS as a hospital doctor and a GP.

“None of these are reasons for me to become the next leader of the Conservative Party. We should elect leaders because of where they are going to, not where they have come from.”

And he ripped into the modernisers, declaring: “I am proud of how this party changed the face of our country and you don't set an agenda for the future by trashing your past.”

In the morning session, Mr Davis said he'd had “lots of useful advice from all sorts of people” about his leadership bid. “Some say turn left, some say veer right. If these pundits were driving cars, they'd be off the end of Blackpool pier by now.

“Let me make myself clear. I'm not going to blow with every gust of wind from whichever direction it comes, set policy to suit every cause, or junk my principles when they seem inconvenient.

“I've set a course. It's a course that can unite all sections of this party. And I also believe it's the right course for Britain.

“I want this party to reach parts of Britain that we haven't reached for far too long - Scotland and Wales, our great cities in the North.

“We need candidates from all backgrounds. More local campaigning. Policy making that is open to the world we live in.”

Mr Davis said: “Britain has moved on, and we must move with it.

“Labour has deeply damaged democracy in Britain. And one of our first duties will be to restore it. At home, we'll devolve power to local government and local communities.

“In Europe, we'll take back powers of self-government from Brussels to the British parliament - because the issue of Europe hasn't gone away, and it's not about to,” he said, at an obvious dig at the Europhile Ken Clarke.

“The drive to deeper integration never rests. So ask yourselves - if the Conservative Party doesn't speak up for Britain's interests, then who will?”

Mr Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said it was right that the Tories had fully supported the Government in the aftermath of the London bombings of July 7. But he criticised Labour's immigration and asylum policy that had made Britain a second home for people that other countries regarded as a deadly threat.

“Since July 7, Britain hasn't deported a single extremist. France has deported five.

“I don't often say this, but sometimes the French get it right. And if the French won't tolerate people who pose a danger to their country, why on earth should we.”

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