The biz club held an additional IPL in the Lake Isle on 6th July 2012. This was at the special request of the members who wanted to discuss “Is the coalition working?” Attending the luncheon were as ever a number of new faces and special guest Roger Helmer MEP.
Roger Helmer spoke to the assembled diners about why he left the Conservative Party in March to become a member of UKIP.
Roger felt that the true conservative values he believed in were not being mirrored by the party and that in particular really critical issues such as Europe and Climate/energy did not have priority. He felt when David Cameron negated on the promise for a referendum on the Lisbon treaty that he had shown how the party did not truly believe in the Eurosceptic position they had portrayed during the election. As such he explained that he truly felt that the Conservative Party were not committed to the true conservative values he believed in.
Geoffrey Pointon opened the debate stating ‘that the coalition is like a marriage of convenience and that the child born of that marriage is now merrily skipping in the back yard playing. The reason for the marriage is no longer valid now the child is here.’ He felt that the two sides of the coalition were like that sparring couple who can’t see the reason for the marriage and were trying to win the battle between themselves. He sited that ‘the current position regarding the boundary changes/House of Lords reform showed exactly the true position of the two sides. He added that the party needed a strong leader who believed in traditional true conservative values and would give the party real direction.’
Harry Westropp asked ‘What action can we take? We can’t all move to UKIP so if we stay in the party then we need to get the message through to central office that grass roots conservatives are disenchanted with the status quo but he felt that they don’t seem to be listening.’
This point was then debated briefly. Most were in agreement that conservative central office does not seem to be interested in the view of the majority of the party members regarding the coalition and the direction that David Cameron is steering the party.
Geoffrey Pointon asked ‘is anyone in favour of the coalition?’
Les Breathwick said ‘if you look at it from the perspective of the two parties then it is working for them. They are in power and retaining their grip on the power structure of the country. It works for the politicians but not for the people.’ He added that ‘he agreed with every word that Roger Helmer said in his speech and after many years as a member of the Conservative Party, had reached the point where he wondered whether further money spent on maintaining that membership would be totally wasted.’
Helen Harrision said ‘most grass roots conservatives are members of the party but most voters are not members of the party. The general public who are not members of a party and do not have such strong views may actually be very happy with the coalition.’
Frank Simms said ‘we need to consider where we are financially. The Bank of England financial independence is why we are in this problem as they didn’t say hold on. Now we have very low interest rates but you can’t keep rates low and again we are seeing more quantitative easing announced this week. The coalition is controlled by the debt burden they inherited which is greater than Greece’s. Finances will control politics for a long while.’
Harry Westropp added ‘that the leader of the country needs to be respected by the people whether or not they love or hate them they must feel they can respect them. David Cameron does not command that kind of respect – we need a bigger figure to lead us.’
Phillip King added ‘that local government talk about making cuts but in reality central government still dictates it. Not enough cuts are being made by government itself to trim the fat. We need to have a majority party elected and feel we should have a general election. At this point in time David Cameron will not accept this as Labour are too far ahead and he will not be re-elected.’
Carl Islam concurred ‘‘the question of whether the coalition is working or not, is academic. It is a power-sharing joint-venture. Like any commercial joint-venture it is inevitable that the more powerful partner will eventually devour the weaker one. That is the law of the jungle.’ ’However we need to ensure that we have put the ‘blue’ back in the party before the coalition crumbles. We need someone with character – we need Boris.’
James Lee asked ‘what would the conservative party be doing different if it was in government on its own?’
This point was briefly considered.
Geoffrey Pointon clarified ‘in reality they shouldn’t be together. The partnership has no future and will not do a thing right for the country whilst they are point scoring off each other. We need someone to lead the conservative party who has a clear direction for it in mind.’
Carl Islam agreed ‘we need to be seen as blue before it is too late.’
Fuad Hamzeh asked ‘shouldn’t we let it run its course.’
Phillip King responded ‘we need to make sure we have clearly defined the values we stand for. If we wait till 2015 then it may be too late.’
It was noted that although the press report that the government is cutting spending that in reality government spending increases year on year and that cutting the deficit which they have been doing is very different to cutting spending. The pound only looks attractive to markets because the euro is in such a poor place. All felt that central office really needs to listen before it was too late and that at the moment Boris Johnson was muting ideas that most true conservatives could believe in.
The final thought was that ‘good leadership inspires followship’ and that currently no-one in the room really believed that David Cameron could inspire this quality.