Most readers of the Journal will never go to a party conference in their lives.
Take it from me, you don’t know how lucky you are. Normally these meetings are predictable, pointless and dull. But, once or twice a decade a party conference reveals something extraordinary and exciting about the direction of British politics. The last time this happened in the Conservative Party was in 2005, when David Cameron spoke as a young, and almost unknown, candidate for the leadership of the party. He wowed the party rank and file with his pitch to change the party so that it would earn the right to return to power and be given the chance to change our country.
Ten years on, he has just done it again. In his first conference speech since winning re-election at the head of a majority government, the Prime Minister spoke with all the urgency and passion of someone who knows he will not fight another election as party leader, who has less than five years left to improve his country and make his mark.
He dedicated the time he has left in Number 10 to fundamental social reform: giving young people the chance to own their own home, reforming prisons so that criminals make good use of their time behind bars and are less likely to re-offend, delivering real equality so that women are paid as much as men, and people from ethnic minorities, the gay and the disabled are a given a fair shot at the opportunities that Britain has to offer.
I have known the Prime Minister for 30 years – and worked with him and for him for nearly 15. He has never given a better speech, or one that was truer to himself, or more revealing of his fundamental priorities and beliefs. He painted a picture of a modern country, which is proud of its traditions and celebrates its past. Of an ambitious country which is enterprising, hard-working and compassionate towards those in need. Of a confident country which will not shrink from a fight, which stands up for freedom and keeps its promises to the poorest people in the world. In the recent election, millions of people didn’t vote Conservative. But I believe that many of them would find much to reassure them, and hopefully some things to inspire them, in the words of their Prime Minister.
Now it is my job, as a minister and your Member of Parliament, to help him turn his vision into reality.