Cameron's first 100 days

Preparing for Power - Starting Out & Europe: In the last of our series, Andrew Grice, Political Editor, examines how the Tories plan to hit the ground running after winning an election and whether divisions over Europe will return to haunt the party

Tony Blair has become an unwitting model for a Tory government – but only in how NOT to act on coming to power. David Cameron admires the New Labour election machine, but is convinced that the party did not prepare enough for what it would actually do when elected in 1997. He is determined not to make the same mistake, and has set up an implementation unit headed by Francis Maude, a Shadow Cabinet member and former party chairman, and Nicholas Boles, the former director of the Policy Exchange think-tank.

"Blair's biggest failure was his first term," Mr Maude told The Independent yesterday. "By the middle of the second term, he knew what he wanted to achieve and had a pretty good idea how to achieve it. But his authority was diminished, there was Iraq, and Gordon Brown was obstructing his public service reforms. We are not interested in winning for the sake of it. We have a vision of how Britain can be. It will take a ling time to deliver it, so we had better start from day one."

So what would Mr Cameron's first 100 days be like? One close ally gave a candid answer: "The scope to be hugely different on the economy will be limited, so the fireworks will be on the social agenda."

The two centrepieces of the first Queen's Speech are likely to be education and welfare. The first may be easier to achieve than the second. An Education Bill would allow parents, philanthropists, charities and other groups to set up new state schools.

A Welfare Reform Bill would use private firms to get the unemployed, sick and disabled into work on a payment-by-results basis. But its scope may be more limited than the Conservatives originally planned, since James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will bring in a Bill containing similar ideas in the parliamentary session starting in December.

The first 100 days would see George Osborne's first Budget. The Queen's Speech could also include an NHS Bill to set up an independent board to reduce ministers' day-to-day control; an Immigration Bill to set a limit on the number of migrants from outside the EU; and a Prisons and Rehabilitation Bill under which state-run prisons would also be responsible for inmates after their release.

How would Mr Cameron run his government? "The Blair-Brown style is all about central control," said Mr Maude. "There would be a return to something much more like more conventional cabinet government, with a strong prime minister showing leadership and direction at the top." He added: "To have a strong centre, you don't need a prime minister's department. What you need is a strong prime minister who sets direction clearly. David Cameron will be more trusting of his colleagues, with their departments being held accountable but not constantly being second-guessed and interfered with."

Formal contacts between the Opposition and the Civil Service will begin next January. Whitehall is studying the speeches and statements of Conservative frontbenchers more closely as the prospect of a Cameron government grows. Some officials may welcome a change.

"The Civil Service is extremely demoralised and fed up. It is not being treated with respect," said Mr Maude. "Civil servants don't mind if their advice is not taken – decisions are up to ministers. But there is real resentment that advice is not being sought."

But preparations, however extensive, only get you so far. Mr Maude, a former minister, said: "In my experience, 75 per cent of what you do in government is not implementing your programme but dealing with events."

Europe – the issue that won't disappear

While David Cameron has talked up the environment, poverty and health as part of his rebranding of the Conservatives, more traditional Tory issues have been relegated further down the agenda – notably Europe.

Its ability to split the Tories was painfully illustrated during the Thatcher and Major governments. Today the party's centre of gravity is Eurosceptic, with Europhiles such as Kenneth Clarke reduced to a rump. That has made Europe less of a headache in opposition; but senior party figures admit it could become one in government, when tricky decisions could no longer be fudged.

Mr Cameron has tossed a few bones to his Eurosceptic MPs, who think he is "one of us". It is no coincidence that the two most Eurosceptic members of the Shadow Cabinet, William Hague and Liam Fox, hold the jobs – on foreign affairs and defence respectively – that place them on the front line of relations with the rest of Europe.

Yet the Europhobes might be disappointed if Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister. He could have an early decision to make on the Treaty of Lisbon, designed to streamline EU decision-making, which the Tories oppose because it would increase majority voting. The party has promised to call a referendum if the treaty has not been ratified by all the other 26 EU states when it takes office. The process has been delayed by Ireland's "no" vote in a referendum. A similar rejection by Britain could plunge our relations with the EU into chaos.

If the treaty has been approved, the Tories have said they would not "let the matter rest", but refuse to spell out precisely what they would do. They might try to win back control of some powers handed to the EU under Lisbon, but would almost certainly be given short shrift by other EU members.

Similarly, the Tories would find it very difficult – if not impossible – to implement their pledge to withdraw from the EU's social chapter of workers' rights. Eurosceptics would then demand a renegotiation of Britain's membership, but Mr Cameron is unlikely to want the early years of his government overshadowed by trench warfare with the EU. On relations with the US, meanwhile, Mr Cameron has had a pop at the unilateralism of the current White House, but his approach would essentially be the same as Gordon Brown's.

Unanswered questions

* Could the Tories' blueprint for government be blown off course by the state of the economy they inherit from Gordon Brown?

* Has the Tory plan to put welfare at the heart of their first Queen's Speech been wrecked by Labour's decision to bring in very similar proposals?

* How would a Tory government try to change Britain's commitments under the Treaty of Lisbon if the treaty has already been approved by all 27 EU member states?

* Would the Tories try to renegotiate EU membership if the other nations refuse to let it withdraw from the social chapter?

Face to watch: Nicholas Boles

A key moderniser who heads the implementation unit drawing up the blueprint for the early months of a Cameron government. Set up by the Policy Exchange think-tank in 2002, road-testing some of the ideas taken up by David Cameron. Selected to fight Grantham, Margaret Thatcher's home town, at next election. Could rise swiftly up the ministerial ladder.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Facilities Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Facilities Manager is required to join the m...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Mobile - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Consultant - Unified - OTE £35,000

£14000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent telecoms compa...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Sales Consultant - Furniture

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a besp...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum