January 15, 2009

"The Manifesto is written", Conservative Party Chairman tells Warwick students

Caroline Spelman MP speaking to Warwick Conservatives says party is “on war footing at all times” and that universities should offer more vocational schemes to help students

The Chairman of the Conservative Party, Caroline Spelman MP, has told students at a Warwick Conservatives event that she doubts that there will be a General Election this year.

However, if the “polls tighten” and government does go to the country, she expects that Chancellor Alistair Darling will use March budget to cut income tax and then hold the election on June 4th, coinciding with local and European elections.

Ms Spelman, who has been dogged by questions regarding expenses eleven years ago, also sought to quash rumours regarding cabinet reshuffle speculation.

At the talk which took place on in the Ramphal building on Thursday evening, she claimed that rumours indicating that she would swap places with Jeremy Hunt as Shadow Culture Secretary as “a little bit of mischief… as many of you know [Newsnight journalist] Michael Crick and I are at loggerheads”.

She said that it was the right of the party leader to pick who was in cabinet, but that nothing can happen until her position was resolved.

The Conservative Chairman argued that the “the [next general] election will undoubtedly be fought on the economy”, but that the NHS, for which the Conservatives has been “quite hard territory”, is an issue which the party is keen to be heard on.

“On the economy there is now a huge difference between the parties”, she said.

Speaking on the issue of students seeking jobs after university, Ms Spelman admitted that when she graduated during the recession of 1980 that she did not have a job, despite her university claiming that “everybody gets a job”.

She said: “We want to encourage the Higher Education sector to offer more vocational schemes to enhance your chances of getting a job”.

“Jobs for you are going to depend on organisations, public and private, having the courage to recruit”.

Ms Spelman, who is MP for the nearby constituency of Meriden, encouraged students to join the Conservatives to avoid the Government’s “burden of debt” that will encumber their generation.

Seeking support, she said: “Students tend to be anti-establishment… and you regard Labour as the establishment”.

Sam Shirley

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