Phew! I've just returned from Conservative Party Conference and what a conference it was. There was such a positive atmosphere everywhere: in the conference hall, at the fringe meetings and at all the informal gatherings in and around the conference venue in Manchester. There's a real sense that we have the the right Leader, the right team, the right policies, and the support of the British people to form the next government, whenever Porky Pie Man has the nerve to call a election.
Highlights for me were a panel discussion on the first 100 days of a Conservative government and a meeting of Salford Conservatives, where we swapped ideas on campaign methods and strategies.
I couldn't stay for David Cameron's closing speech but I've just watched it on the telly. The big themes were the economy and the Conservatives' natural mistrust of big government.
Next year, Gordon Brown will need to spend more servicing the public debt than on schools. Rather than being in denial about this huge mess, we've announced policies to do what's necessary to start getting that debt down.
David Cameron also pointed out that a single mother with two children earning £150 a week has an effective tax rate of 96% for every additional pound she earns, due to loss of benefits and additional taxation. Don't be under any illusions - despite the minimum wage (which we're committed to keeping), Labour fails the poorest in our society. We will ensure that you keep more of the money you earn.
David's speech had a similar theme to the late Ronald Reagan's famous quote, 'Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem.' This is a longstanding Conservative philosophy - big government undermines responsibility and delivers less than just trusting people to get on with it. We will work to give power and responsibility back to where it belongs - you. I look forward to working with our excellent Parliamentary candidate, Deirdre Alden, to deliver the change that people want and expect.