David Cameron urged to use party conference to reassure on spending cuts

Prime Minister David Cameron must use the Conservative Party Conference next week to reassure his party and the public that the spending cuts will work, say public affairs heavyweights in the latest PRWeek podcast.

Conference talk: Peter Bingle and Jo-ann Robertson
Conference talk: Peter Bingle and Jo-ann Robertson

Jo-ann Robertson, MD of public affairs and corporate comms at Ketchum Pleon, and Peter Bingle, chairman at Bell Pottinger Public Affairs, took time out from the party conference season to discuss how Cameron should tackle his challenges.

Robertson commented: ‘I think the PM has become fantastic at dealing with the party conference season and that he basically won the Conservative leadership through really showing how to use party conferences to talk to his members – but also go beyond that and reach the public.

‘I do think he has a problem as the right wing gets more frustrated by the concessions he keeps giving to the Liberals but I still think they will remain in check and that the conference will be quite low key.’

Both Robertson and Bingle advised the Liberal Democrats to turn down their ‘animosity’ towards the Conservatives.

Bingle said: ‘What I found very interesting in Birmingham [the Liberal Democrat conference] was the strength of the animosity among party officials towards the Tory party. It will be very interesting in Manchester to see whether it’s payback time for the Tories in terms of what they say about the Lib Dems.

‘Even their slogan at the conference was In Government, On Your Side, which suggested that the Tory ministers weren’t on your side. This is crazy politics by the Lib Dems.’   

Robertson added that the Liberal Democrats' conference ‘narrative’ was going to lead to a Conservative ‘backlash’.

‘The Liberals have developed this narrative over this past week saying that the Tories are still the nasty party, they’re evil, but they’re not as evil as they would have been if we’d let them go into Government themselves.

‘How long can they maintain that narrative without the Conservative backbenchers really having a massive backlash and saying to David Cameron that it’s time you stood up and really told them that it’s not acceptable to behave that way in coalition?’

Bingle added: ‘The PM has a problem in that he has a right wing that are unhappy, he has activists who hate Liberal Democrats just as the Liberal Democrats hate most Tories.

‘So, the Tory conference will have to be about reassurance, saying that the spending cuts will work, we’re a different type of Tory party, hang on in with us as we are on your side.’

To watch the podcast click here

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