At the ICC:
The government is determined to cut a further £10bn from the benefits budget to fight the deficit, Chancellor George Osborne has told the Tory conference. One idea he suggested was limiting the number of children in a family that should be supported on benefits. Mr Osborne said the better-off would have to pay more in taxes, but the budget could not be balanced "on the wallets of the rich".
He ruled out a levy on high-value properties sought by Lib Dems. Mr Osborne also unveiled a plan to allow workers to be given shares in the firm they work for in return for dropping their unfair dismissal rights. He said there would be no capital gains tax on the profits from the shares, so it would be "owners, workers and the taxman all in it together".
Mr Osborne's speech comes with the UK economy in recession, hitting the government's tax takings and its plans to reduce the deficit (the difference between the amount spent by government and the amount it receives from tax etc). In his speech in Birmingham, the chancellor made clear he was not planning to change course and said a further £16bn of savings must be found by 2015/16 to meet his target of balancing the budget within five years. This, he said, would include cutting £10bn more from the welfare bill by 2016-17, on top of the £18bn announced in 2010. Mr Osborne said: "Let the message from this conference be clear: we will finish the job we have started."
He told party members that "the economy is healing" but added that "healing is taking longer than we hoped, because the damage was greater than we feared". Mr Osborne spelt out ideas for cutting the welfare bill, such as limiting housing benefit for the under-25s, so that young people without a job have to live at home; possible further curbs on child tax credits; and allowing benefit increases to be lower than the rate of inflation.
In other word, they want more
workers co-operatives, more John Lewis Partnerships...
Mr Miliband grabbed headlines last week by saying he had sought inspiration from Tory Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli for his new slogan. Disraeli was associated with a moderate "one nation" brand of Conservatism. But Mr Miliband's claim was mocked by the foreign secretary as the Tories gathered for their annual conference.
Speaking from the Birmingham conference stage, Mr Hague, a best-selling author of political histories, was cheered by activists as he attacked the Labour leader: "Last week he made claim to be Disraeli.
"We know a little more about Benjamin Disraeli, a great Conservative Prime Minister, than he does. Disraeli was defined by changing his party for the late 19th century while Ed Miliband will be defined by refusing to change his party for the 21st century. Disraeli believed in fiscal discipline, in self-reliance, in building on historic strengths, in this country paying its way and in taxes being kept down. He was no deficit spender, but was careful to budget for a surplus. To borrow a turn of phrase, we were led by Disraeli, our predecessors knew Disraeli, Disraeli's beliefs were Conservative through and through, and, Ed Miliband, you are no Disraeli."
In 1872, Disraeli spoke out in favour of helping "the condition of working men", of government intervention to do so and of taking action - controversial at the time - to heal the divide between rich and poor.
His brand of Toryism became known as "One Nation".
Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to use his keynote conference speech on Wednesday to mount a sustained attack on Mr Miliband's Labour Party, although it is not known if he will directly address the opposition leader's attempt to cast himself as the new Disraeli.
Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps has, meanwhile, attempted to fire up activists by telling them "the election starts here".
A countdown clock, which also hangs on the wall of Conservative campaign headquarters, appeared behind him, spelling out that it is 942 days until the next election
, expected in 2015.
Mr Shapps said the Conservatives had to get better at talking up what they have achieved.
"Why are we the shy Tories?" he asked. "We have got to get out there and tell them," he said. "Let's get out there and fight our corner."
Mr Shapps pointed to his own experience in the 2005 election in Welwyn Hatfield, where he turned a 5,000 Labour majority into a 17,000 Conservative one, to emphasise that there should be very few places that Tories regard as no-go areas.
edited 8th Oct '12 5:19:45 AM by Greenmantle