Hampshire and Isle of Wight Conservatives met at Meonstoke Village Hall for an area rally, in advance of the elections due in June. The programme was chaired by Ione Ashford, Deputy Chairman, Membership, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Area.
The Keynote address was given by David Willetts MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
He outlined the work being done by David James in identifying areas for savings in the overheads of Government, freeing up money to bring down the burden of taxation in Michael Howard's first Government. He said that Oliver Letwin would be saying more on this subject in the near future. It would be the objective of a Conservative Government first to restrain the upward growth in taxation, and then to bring it down.
He said he hoped the Party could work up policies on the environment, not least to increase the Party's appeal to younger voters.
He criticised the complex tax and benefit regime introduced by Gordon Brown, which led to low take-up of entitlement, and to expensive pulic provision of child care. He hoped more could be done to promote more cost-effective private and voluntary provision. He re-affirmed the Party's commitment to deregulation, and to find ways of complementing public provision of services with private contributions to improve the variety of services available and enable more people to be helped by the NHS.
In the afternoon, Roy Perry MEP and Steve Brine, the Area Campaign Director spoke about the European Elections and the programme ended with Question Time with Desmond Swayne, Julian Lewis and Andrew Turner.
"This was a very successful day, with an enormous improvement in morale over the past three months. As David Willetts said, you can now talk about the next Conservative Government - and people listen to you."