The Independent Live from the Conservative Conference - Live coverage - The Independent

The Independent Live from the Conservative Conference

Live blog from The Independent fringe: How do the Conservatives win the next election. With guest speakers Steve Richards, Michael Fallon, Ian Birrell and Anne McElvoy

  • 17.43 Welcome to The Independent fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference which is due to start in a few minutes
    9/30/2013 4:39:30 PM
  • We'll be hearing from the Energy Minister - and close ally of the Prime Minister - Michael Fallon along with Ian Birrell - who advised Mr Cameron in the run up to 2010. Steve Richards, chief political commentator at The Independent and Anne McElvoy of The Economist are also on the panel.
    9/30/2013 4:45:46 PM
  • 17.55 We're off. Ian Birrell warns that the Conservatives must revive its modernising agenda if it wants to win in 2015. He makes the point that there is a danger that if they go after the Ukip vote they will lose the centre ground.
    9/30/2013 4:53:49 PM
  • 18.00 Anne McElvoy says she think Ukip will peak at the European Elections. But warns that even at three or four per cent they present a threat to the Conservatives. It is worth pointing out that it has been decades since a Government in power has grown its share of the vote following a stint in power. That is the big challenge for the Conservatives
    9/30/2013 4:56:58 PM
  • 18.05 Now we're moving on to the roll of newspapers in 2015. Will they be as important they were in previous elections. Birrell says that they will still "frame the debate" but will be less important than they have been in the past. That is good news for Miliband who is clearly going to be attacked by the right wing press in a way that Blair and Brown never were
    9/30/2013 5:01:32 PM
  • 18.07 Michael Fallon has now arrived. Steve Richards asks him about Ed Miliband's pledge to freeze energy bills. He says Labour created the big six energy companies - there were 13 when Labour came to power. He admits there is not a truly competitive energy market and that it is "not entirely healthy". He wants to see a "little six" under the "big six".
    9/30/2013 5:06:24 PM
  • 18.12 Fallon says energy prices are "higher than he would like them to be". Interestingly he partly blames Labour's environmental commitments. So much for the Tories promise to be the greenest Government ever. He says the Government is looking at some of the "green taxes" now to try and reduce them. That includes obligations to fund on energy efficiency measures. Is this the end of the green deal?
    9/30/2013 5:10:50 PM
  • 18.16 Fallon says he is "seriously concerned" about the effect of Miliband's energy price freeze on investment decision by energy companies. He says the "great danger" of what Miliband has done is make Britain a less attractive destination for "mobile" international companies making investment decisions. I have to say he has a point: For more have a read of my Inside Whitehall column in The Independent tomorrow (shameless plug)
    9/30/2013 5:14:30 PM
  • 18.20 Fallon says he has to work with Vince Cable every day (and gets a laugh from the audience) Accuses him of meddling and interfering in the market - in a way in which can be damaging. But we have to work together, he adds.
    9/30/2013 5:18:59 PM
  • 18.24 We're now back onto the next election. McElvoy says the financial crisis has made the choices in 2015 "starker and more interesting". She points out that Ed Miliband is now happy to be described as a "socialist" which would have alarmed his predecessors and had opened up space for "new thinking" in the Labour party. She warns that the Tories will need to come up with new ideas as well. Birrell says Miliband is guilty of "fundamentally misreading" the financial crisis and drawing the wrong lessons from it. Fallon says there is a "new battle of ideas" and claims Labour has "lost its faith" in markets.
    9/30/2013 5:24:37 PM
  • 18.30 Fallon says that the markets did not fail in 2008. Governance failed in 2008
    9/30/2013 5:25:35 PM
  • 18.32 We're now onto Ukip - which Fallon dismisses as a "protest vote" that will take votes from all parties. Unequivocally says he is not into pacts with the Fargage.
    9/30/2013 5:27:22 PM
  • So how can the Tories win in 2015? the panel is asked. Competence and a record of competence says Birrell. Reaching outside the South East says McElvoy where the party does not feel comfortable. Fallon says they must prove they are ambitious for Britain.
    9/30/2013 5:30:17 PM
  • 18.35 A member of the audience from Barnet says the only issues on the doorstep are immigration, crime and welfare. That's what the party should concentrate on. But McElvoy says there is a danger if you go that way that's all people remember you for. She points out that the Tories lost in 2005 by pushing that agenda.
    9/30/2013 5:35:25 PM
  • 18.40 Fallon says there is a "metropolitan" view of immigration which is out of touch with the rest of the country. He thinks the debate has changed since 2005 and people want to see a tougher line on immigration. It is no accident that centre right parties are doing well internationally - points to recent Australian elections.
    9/30/2013 5:38:41 PM
  • 18.45 We're now onto boundary changes. Fallon says the Lib Dems "ratted on us". We gave them the AV referendum and they were going to give us boundary changes but they reneged on it, he says.
    9/30/2013 5:43:17 PM
  • 18.50 Interesting question about whether the Tories should go into the next election about protecting universal benefits for elderly people. Fallon says "universalism" cannot survive and the Tories will have to think very carefully about what they say about this at the next General Election.
    9/30/2013 5:45:47 PM
  • 18.55 Final questions before we wrap up. Should Cameron do the TV debates and how can the Tories win with declining membership? Fallon says Cameron should not take part in the debates if Farrage is included. It should only be the three main party leaders. On membership he says it is not a Tory only problem. And says it needs to look at other ways of getting to people,
    9/30/2013 5:53:07 PM
  • 19.02 Steve Richards asks Michael Fallon whether he could stomach another five years with Vince Cable. "I really hope not," he says. "Too many of them are of the left". And that's where it ends.
    9/30/2013 5:57:42 PM
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