This week I am at the Tory conference in Manchester. There seems to be a bounce in peopleâ€™s steps here although no-one thinks that there isnâ€™t a lot of hard work to do to win a general election whenever it comes. The first session today started off with Eric Pickles and ended up with Boris Johnson. The book end comedy acts sandwiched a detailed laying out of the basis of the manifesto from Oliver Letwin and a briefing from Francis Maude on preparations for government. Maude made much of the point that it is not arrogant to prepare for office but the opposite. Nothing could be more arrogant than failing to prepare for office. Tony Blair himself lamented that his government wasted many opportunities being unprepared for government in 1997.
It is wrong of me to write Boris off as a comedy act although he did manage to be very funny. He also managed to remind me why I am a Conservative. See his speech in full here. Well worth a viewing. Above all Boris is a deadly serious politician who is prepared to raise hard issues such as this much needed defence of the City:
But never forget all you bankerbashers that the leper colony of the City of London produces 9 per cent of UK GDP, 13 per cent of value-added and taxes that pay for roads and schools and hospitals …
He also used the speech to plead again for protection for Crossrailâ€™s funding. The quote below starts at 10:45 into the segment. When you hear Boris say Crossrail you can hear a little cheer â€“ that was me!
Get rid of the nonsense, but donâ€™t chop the investments essential to the UK economy
Cut the baby-sitting monitors, but donâ€™t cut Crossrail
Cut the baby-sitting monitor human resources department,
but donâ€™t cut the tube upgrades
Cut the baby-sitting monitor equal opportunities action day
but donâ€™t cut the great projects and investments that will deliver jobs and growth now and make London more attractive for generations to come.