Now is the time for Tories to shine

The current financial crisis and the Government's poor showing in the polls mean that if the Conservative Party is to take advantage, it really needs to step up to the mark now.

The Conservative Party deserves some sympathy at the moment, says Simon Heffer in The Daily Telegraph. If our government is only a "spectator at this circus", the Tories "cannot even get inside the big top". For all Cameron's grave-sounding speeches, their conference has been rendered "irrelevant" by events in Washington. Yet a "reliable and well-informed" opposition could make a useful contribution. It could, for example, say that to restore the soundness of our economy we must slash borrowing and rein in spending, and make structural reforms that would stimulate the productive sectors of our economy. Unfortunately, because "nobody with any seniority in the Conservative Party has the experience to undertake such a task", none of this is being said.

That's not fair, said Janet Daley, also in The Daily Telegraph. Cameron has "stated unequivocally" that the nationalisation of institutions as the only alternative to "failures of judgment and incompetence in private finance" is both "wrong and dangerous". Politicans are no less fallible than bankers, but "when they screw up they take the wealth of the entire tax-paying nation down with them". Cameron knows this, hence his plan to allow the independent Bank of England to take responsibility for restructuring failing banks as an alternative to nationalisation, which puts them under the direct control of government. We should be "profoundly grateful" that he is holding firm in spite of the "giddy anti-capitalist barrage": he seems to have a "clear grasp of the difference between failure of the market system and the perversion of it through human error".

The Tory stance is "frankly frightening", said Polly Toynbee in The Guardian. If ever there was a need for Labour and its belief in strong government, now is the time. Osborne's "backwoods Republican view" leave it to the market, let the banks crash is more right-wing even than Bush, who has been scared into Government rescue. By the end of his conference speech in which he talked of cutting borrowing and council spending and squeezing central government the prospect of Tory government looked distinctly "grimmer". Osborne's tone smacks of 1981, when Thatcher "cut into a recession, turning a downturn into a social calamity".

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That's not true, said Rachel Sylvester in The Times. Cameron has made it clear that state intervention is needed to stop the City getting out of control and said he was delighted to see short-selling temporarily banned. Author Jesse Norman told Sylvester that recent events have shaken the political "kaleidoscope" and the Tories are repositioning themselves, aiming for a new political economy somewhere between Thatcher and Brown. "The question isn't 'What's the cure for capitalism?', it's 'What kind of capitalism do we want?'" Cameron has to acknowledge the new economic context, said Matthew d'Ancona in The Sunday Telegraph, but he mustn't obliterate his modernising message. Conferences are crucial to politician's fortunes Brown's success at the Labour Party conference has eaten into the Tories' poll lead and Cameron must not lose this chance to make voters see what a good prime minister he would make.

Emily Hohler

Emily has worked as a journalist for more than thirty years and was formerly Assistant Editor of MoneyWeek, which she helped launch in 2000. Prior to this, she was Deputy Features Editor of The Times and a Commissioning Editor for The Independent on Sunday and The Daily Telegraph. She has written for most of the national newspapers including The Times, the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, The Evening Standard and The Daily Mail, She interviewed celebrities weekly for The Sunday Telegraph and wrote a regular column for The Evening Standard. As Political Editor of MoneyWeek, Emily has covered subjects from Brexit to the Gaza war.

Aside from her writing, Emily trained as Nutritional Therapist following her son's diagnosis with Type 1 diabetes in 2011 and now works as a practitioner for Nature Doc, offering one-to-one consultations and running workshops in Oxfordshire.