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Sombre Tories

'The mood has been somewhat sombre as the first priority is to ensure stability in the banking and f

By Grant Shapps

This year’s conference has had a slightly different feel to it than those I have been to in recent years. To be precise there is a more serious atmosphere in and around the conference centre, not just on the main stage but in fringe events as well.

Usually conferences are a bubble, a miniature version of the Westminster village with political parties far more inward looking than at other times of the year. 2008 is distinctive with a lot more of time being spent studying events in America and working hard on policies that could help here at home.

The mood has been somewhat sombre as the first priority is to ensure stability in the banking and financial system. David Cameron has made it clear how vital it is that we leave political differences at the door. It is crucial that the political parties demonstrate maturity in tackling the current financial crisis.

As George Osborne left conference to have meetings with Alistair Darling, I was meeting developers from across the country to discuss the effects of the current economic situation on house-building.

The shocking truth is that completions of houses will almost certainly be under 100,000 this year and the consensus was that the situation would not improve next year either. With developers cutting back their activities and making redundancies, the knock on effects are obvious. It is vital that we set out coherent answers to these troubling times so the country can move forward. Meeting experts from all aspects of the housing industry and working with them on solutions to problems in their area is essential and conference has once again provided me with the perfect opportunities to discuss our policy progress.

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Last night I did get a brief chance to relax at a dinner with my Westminster staff, past and present. The enthusiasm of the guys who work with me and with other Conservative members of Parliament never fails to inspire and it was a great opportunity to take time out and listen to what their thoughts and concerns are. Their optimism for the future of the country stems from a real belief that we as a party are demonstrating real plans for change and they are hungry for the chance to implement those changes. It is up to us as Parliamentarians to ensure that complacency does not creep in.

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