David Cameron and George Osborne addressed Tory MPs this evening. The meeting was to update the Tory parliamentary party on the economy and its place in the party’s election strategy. Cameron told them that whatever the question was, the answer was that you can only have it with a strong economy and urged them to repeat this message as much as possible. He said, ‘Boring is good’.
Addressing the assembled MPs, Osborne emphasised that the economy was the heart of this debate. He argued that this was first time since 1992 that Labour and the Tories had gone into an election with different spending planes.
Most of the questions were fairly loyalist. The only bit of dissent seems to have come when Graham Stuart, chairman of the Education Select Committee, pushed for more generous funding for countryside constituencies. I’m told Cameron was riled by the question, arguing that the government had done a lot for rural areas. He also warned that the Tories couldn’t go into the next election warning the towns and cities that they would have to take even more cuts to fund extra spending in rural areas.
I understand that Cameron told the meeting that the election will be fought in the new towns and suburbs, think of places like Luton, Bedford and Norwich. While Osborne urged MPs to tell him how to tailor the long term economic plan to their regions. He will, I understand, shortly unveil the Tories long term economic plan for the south west, a crucial Tory / Liberal Democrat electoral battleground.