Congratulations to David Cameron on his party conference speech. His best yet. Solidly right-wing, it could have been delivered by Margaret Thatcher. I loved the bits on marriage, sound money, strong defence and respect for the law. Some of his lines on political correctness and the nanny state were really stunning. Gut Conservative stuff.
This is not meant to carp, but there are areas where we need to develop our policies a bit. First, our leading politicians, Labour and Conservative, talk too much about themselves. Statesmanship is about ideas, not celebrity.
Second, Heathrow is one of our greatest international business assets. We do need a new fast railway line, but we need also to allow Heathrow to remain the biggest international airport in the world. International travellers won’t want to take even a high-speed railway to a regional airport for their interconnections.
Next, top marks to Michael Gove for our new education policy of widening school provision. The reasons why independent schools work is because they are allowed to do what they want. Heads in the state sector must be given the same freedoms, to hire and fire, and also to choose what pupils they want in their own schools. In fact, if heads were given such freedoms, most schools in the state sector would change little in the academic range of their pupils, but they would evolve immeasurably for the better.
Then, we need to be sharper on the NHS. It is not a religion. Most of us pay thousands of pounds in tax for it during our lives and then have no rights when we get ill. For a start, people must be allowed to top up their NHS provision if a drug is withheld because of cost.
Both in education and health we need to end the rigid divide between state and private. Which is why we need education vouchers and tax relief for private health insurance.