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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Conservative Party Conference Blog: Day 2

by Chris Fletcher, Deputy Chief Exec.

“When I’m 66”

On a day which saw some firm policy announcements being made at last, not everyone will be feeling particularly happy - perhaps a reflection on a very grey and murky day weather wise too? There were some headlines around retirement age increases. To be totally honest, I’ve had it in my mind for some time that I’ll probably be working way past this age unfortunately, so some of the other announcements were of more interest.

The Chamber had Oliver Letwin MP meeting a group of members first thing in the morning and some of the ideas he said would be policy were later confirmed by Shadow Business Minister, Ken Clarke. One key issue that got the support of our members in the meeting was around making sure a Conservative government would step back from business and give it more room to grow and expand. A key point made concerning legislation was that rather than over-legislate to cover cracks up in existing legislation at the very least firmer efforts should be made to enforce existing rules on those that flout them. A very familiar issue that many members tell us about.

Mr Letwin was also not ducking any issues about the economy, again confirmed by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne. Put plainly, the Conservatives plan to control public spending and will have some unpopular decisions to make and announce before an election. Being realistic about this though so will any party that plans on taking the country forward for the next 5 years.

Angie and I met up with some Chamber colleagues in the early evening for a meeting with Bob Neill MP the Shadow local government minister to discuss the emerging activity around city regions and their future. In a wide ranging discussion we also touched on the Conservative proposals to help local authorities to encourage local business growth and investment whilst simultaneously putting some new measures in around local retention (not increases) of business rates. All seemed to make sense and all had been raised at our earlier meeting with Oliver Letwin.

So, it seems, the pre election build up has started in earnest. Things seemed slightly busier and more business-like today perhaps building up for an eagerly awaited speech by David Cameron on Thursday?

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