So what can the Tories do for me?

Cole Moreton asks what the new, improved Tories have to offer this time round

The Conservatives are confident again under David Cameron, but, really, why should the rest of us care? The biggest force at the next election will be all those people who are totally fed up with politics. We're concerned about issues, but remain unconvinced that any politician has the answers. So as the chipper Tories hold their conference this week, we are entitled to ask: who on earth are you, and what can you do for me?

The leader

Young Dave is as smooth as Gordon is scowly. He's down to earth (for an Old Etonian). He's good looking (if a little jowly). He's full of promise (the only thing an opposition leader can be). He cares about the environment (and flew to Norway in a private jet for a photo opportunity to prove it). He does the washing-up (when the webcam is on). He's almost believable as the still-fresh new face of the former Nasty Party. There's only one problem...

The members

They're not nearly as modern or liberal as Dave in the shires, and they're proud of it. They like his rebooting of their tired old party, but still distrust him a bit too. The membership of about 290,000 includes some very rich donors – but the party that claims economic competence is £12m in debt.

The theme song

No question: it should be "The Eton Rifles" by the Jam. Dave told Radio 4 it was his favourite song, since he was a member of the army corps at that public school. Paul Weller, who wrote it as a scathing riposte to Eton boys who jeered right-to-work marchers, was incensed: "Which part of it didn't he get? It wasn't intended as a fucking jolly drinking song for the cadet corps."

The promises

The sun will shine every day. Well, maybe not quite, but opposition parties can promise the earth. Here are some of the more realistic ways in which the Tories say they'll make a difference to you:

Money

Good news for the comfortable middle classes. You won't pay inheritance tax on what Mum and Dad leave you if it's worth less than a million. Smug marrieds will get smugger, with increased tax breaks. First-time buyers won't have to pay stamp duty on houses costing less than £250,000.

Hospitals

The health service will be managed by an independent panel, just as the interest rate is now. District hospitals will be protected... although quite how that can be if the panel wants to close them is unclear. Beyond that, the gush of money will slow. They will honour Labour's spending pledges only until 2011.

Schools

The same goes for education, although charities, do-gooders and parents will be given state money to open new schools.

Society

Fewer foreigners will be let in. We want only those with the right skills, apparently. The exact threshold is unclear. Identity cards will be scrapped. More prisons will be built.

Transport

Green taxes, better trains – the usual promises. We'll see what happens when big business kicks in.

The non-joke

Boris Johnson. Nothing funny about him any more. Not for Dave, anyway, as he tries to cope with BoJo's growing power base as Mayor of London. Cameron has talked endlessly of our "broken society". Boris says boldly that this is "piffle".

The joke

Sky newsreader Julie Etchingham's gaffe. Dave was talking about the impact of immigration and said: "Here our policy should be obvious..." Not realising her microphone was on, the presenter jokingly broke in with: "Extermination."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power