Day 2 – 3
**Good ripples of confidence following the Tory Leader’s speech**
This morning gliding in smooth lines against the vast expanse of the sea, Bournemouth seagulls reflect the mood of the day: Michael Howard is soaring like an eagle.
Trust is at the centre of the General Election planning strategy. The Daily Telegraph debate went ahead with gusto as questions flowed from the floor – keeping an eye on regulation, taxation and immigration. Liam Fox highlighted some of our mistakes in the 1997 election. The debate swung to foxes and one voice popped up like a cuckoo in support of the fox, but it was a lone one. Bill Deedes was the acknowledged hero of the day as he arrived in an ambulance from his hospital bed where he is nursing a broken leg. Boris Johnson, who chaired the event, urged members of the panel to “get some Deedesian concision in replies” to questions. Vicki Woods spoke in favour of re-capturing the old vote – as well as re-capturing the young (Why not the whole caboodle, I asked myself?) and made some sensible points about getting more good-lookers in the shape of 30something ladies as potential MPs (a shade of the Blair babe idea?) that could do wonders in making people wake up to politics again. Alice Thomson and Matthew D’Ancona were upbeat about Tories’ hopes for the future and their “pluck and fortitude”.
Michael Howard succeeded in regaining the trust of the people by going back to his roots in a moving reference to his immigrant family origins. He said that while Blair courted a date with destiny most people are looking for a date with the dentist!
The feeling of international community is abroad here. Oodles of Chinese were mingling in the Reception hosted by the Chinese Ambassador and the Conservative Chinese Group. The event was graced with the presence of the stunning Sandra Howard. There was also a breakfast hosted by the BBC World Service reminding us of the value of global communications. At current ratings of 180 million global listeners per week the World Service (news and online) is the largest international broadcaster in the world. Surely they deserve generous financial support from the FCO? Alas, it seems that their future is under threat owing to government cutbacks.
The thunder of a Redwood and Hannan meeting now beckons …