Why I'm backing David Cameron
By Bernard Jenkin MP for Essex NorthWHEN BBC commentators and editors come up to you in the street at Westminster and say: “Hey, this looks interesting!” then you really know something is changing in British Politics.
By Bernard Jenkin
MP for Essex North
WHEN BBC commentators and editors come up to you in the street at Westminster and say: “Hey, this looks interesting!” then you really know something is changing in British Politics. This is about the arrival of David Cameron on the national stage.
The Conservatives have the first opportunity in a generation to elect a leader with real, personal appeal. BBC Newsnight ran a “focus group” on all the then leadership candidates earlier this year, showing to a group of Conservatives and floating voters, photographs and extracts of speeches and interviews of each of the candidates. At the start, hardly anyone knew who David Cameron was. By the end, nearly everyone voted for David Cameron.
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David Cameron can win support from the ex- Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP voters we need to win the next general election. He has particular appeal to women voters and the young. Opinion polls have confirmed this again and again. David Cameron stormed the Party Conference. Since then, he's showed how he can take the heat from the media.
But is he too young with too little experience? I arranged to meet him with three other colleagues. We were all keen to establish that David Cameron's views are underpinned by real Conservative principle. We found a determined and charming young man, utterly undaunted by the challenges he is taking on.
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In all our discussions, David demonstrated an exceptional coolness and grasp of the real challenges facing the nation. He believes in the importance of low tax, but not in rash promises. He believes in national sovereignty.
He believes in the family, personal responsibility and public services that support the least fortunate in society. The real difference between David Cameron and Tony Blair is that Tony only pretends to be a Conservative; David really is a Conservative.
True, David Cameron is young - only four years in Parliament - but can the Conservative Party afford to wait another four years before we elect a real winner as Leader? Change is in the air of British politics now. You can see Mr Blair's authority and influence ebbing away.
After eight years in office, Labour has reformed, regulated and taxed but achieved remarkably little. Gordon Brown would be a step back, not forward. The Conservatives cannot leave it to the Liberal Democrats to fill the gap. David Cameron will present the Conservative Party as a step forward that Britain is looking for.
The Hon Bernard Jenkin was MP for Colchester North from 1992 until 1997, since when he has been MP for Essex North.