Highclere Conservatives held their traditional "Bangers and Mash" Christmas Lunch in East Woodhay Village Hall. John Izett, Branch Chairman, presided, and the event was attended by local Councillor Michael Ross, the former MP for North West Hants, Sir David Mitchell, and the sitting MP Sir George Young and his wife Aurelia.
Speaking at the event, Sir George said that the terms of trade at Westminster had changed, since the Conservatives had elected a new Leader.
"We have had three outstanding performances at PMQ’s by Michael Howard; a quality response to the Queens Speech; and a broadening of the base on which the front bench is constructed.
People are taking the Conservative Party seriously again.
A month ago, our Leader was the least secure of the three main parties. Now we have the most secure Leader.
A month ago, we were a divided party – now that label is attached to the Labour Party.
A month ago, no commentator thought we had a chance of winning the next Election. Now they won’t rule it out.
At Westminster, the situation is very fluid. It is difficult to say whether the Government is just going through another sticky patch, or whether it is more serious and potentially terminal.
The PM is certainly testing to destruction the concept that “we are at our best when we are at our boldest”.
Many of the bold decisions are looking very dodgy. The war in Iraq has not produced the "Falklands bounce" he must have hoped for. The decision not to have a referendum on the EU constitution just looks perverse. A restored Stormont looks less likely with the DUP on top. Bold decisions on Foundation hospitals and top-up fees have either been watered down or threaten to bring down the PM.
It reminds of the opening of an opera. Things are going well with the peasant dancing after the harvest has been brought in; and then the lights dim and there is a distant roll of thunder. A wicked stepmother, Mephistopheles, three witches or a black swan appear - and we know that there is trouble ahead.
The PM is beginning to look tired and less trustworthy. One is aware of his Political mortality.
Labour have never liked Blair. Many suspected he was really a Tory, but they tolerated him so long as he was electorally popular. If he is neither popular, nor a socialist, what is his value to them?
He reminds me of Margaret Thatcher and the Poll Tax. Both Prime Ministers had three figure majorities and had won two or three elections. Both were major figures on the International Stage. And then they were brought low by domestic issues.
We must use our changing fortunes to rebuild our party, which has hollowed out over the decades. We must rebuild our membership by getting back those we have lost since 1992 and attract new people.We must refresh our policy locker by identifying Conservative themes and then fleshing them out.
The tide is turning; we must be ready to ride on its back."