Account Executive, Liz Carey reviews the Prime Minister’s speech to conference yesterday

After this party conference, it is clear David Cameron and the Conservatives can see the gap in the market for votes. As they see it there is an army of the alienated centre left who feel disgruntled by Jeremy Corbyn and disenfranchised by internal feuding within Labour. Cameron’s speech was firmly aimed at this audience.

For the first time since winning the Tory leadership 10 years ago, Cameron made a speech well and truly focused to the centre-ground at yesterdays party conference. His strong social policy focus, the softened tone on immigration (when compared to that of Theresa May) and the ‘sympathetic’ approach to making work pay represent what was clearly written for a wider audience, designed to appeal to the disillusioned centrists across the country. There was some red meat for the right wing of the party, but this speech was firmly aimed at the centre ground.

His announcements included:

  • A promise to end discrimination and “finish the fight for real equality”, this included a crackdown on racially motivated police stop and searches
  • He said he would not “duck” a fight over EU reform ahead of the UK’s membership referendum, saying he had “no romantic attachment to the European Union and its institutions”
  • Vowed to tackle “big social problems” caused by faith schools, such as racial segregation and radicalisation
  • Condemned “passive tolerance” of female genital mutilation and forced marriages
  • Reform of prison services to rehabilitate offenders, also greater scrutiny of child social care by subjecting the care service to similar checks and balances seen as seen in schools
  • The making work pay pledge, in line with the living wage increase and reduction of welfare dependency
  • Greater prospects of home ownership for “generation rent”

The party of home ownership

So what did we learn on the planning front? In this case Cameron stuck to the true blue agenda, positioning the party as the one of home-ownership. Hardly refreshing, given the roll out of right to buy already taking place. He has pledged further affordable housing, replacing affordable rents.

This pledge to ‘turn generation rent into generation buy’ included promises to build 200,000 new homes by 2020 by overhauling planning laws on affordable housing to include low cost, starter homes for first time buyers. Current local policy stipulates a percentage of any development must be given to affordable rented units, with levels set by local authorities. Cameron’s changes will see these turned into Starter Homes for sale, giving ‘generation rent’ a foothold in the housing market. In turn,  by relaxing this rules on developers and allowing them more profit, he claims they will build more low cost homes for sale.

While, many aspiring home owners may welcome this move, there is still the underlying issue that the number of homes being built does not meet demand. This tweak will not change that.