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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Fox urges Eastenders' Tory lesson
Alfie (Shane Richie) and Den (Leslie Grantham) in Eastenders
The Tories must realise the UK is largely urban, says Liam Fox
The Tories must realise Eastenders, not The Archers, is the dominating cultural influence, says frontbencher Liam Fox.

In a speech about Conservative values, Dr Fox is saying his party needs to take account of such urban influences in society to prosper.

He argues freedom must be at the heart of clear Tory "brand".

Dr Fox was speaking amid mounting speculation about contenders for the Tory leadership but has not declared he will be a candidate.

Urban culture

The newly appointed shadow foreign secretary is telling the Politeia think tank the Conservative Party is strongest when it matches its different traditions to the existing political landscape.

"So it is a prerequisite that we understand the nature of the society in which we live," he said.

We have done too little work in previous years establishing the Conservative brand
Liam Fox
Shadow foreign secretary
"Like it or not, and it is immaterial whether we like it or not, we live in a largely urban society.

"From Islington, to Inverness, the dominant cultural influences are far more Eastenders than the Archers.

"We need to understand and take account of these influences or we will find ourselves politically becalmed."


Dr Fox was until Tuesday party co-chairman and says the Tories should avoid snap judgements about their election campaign.

"This was one of the most professional, focused and disciplined campaigns in recent years," he says.

He argues voters were persuaded to sign up to the Conservative policy agenda but "were not yet willing to buy into us as a party".

"Despite the heroic work undertaken in the past 18 months by Michael Howard, we have done too little work in previous years establishing the Conservative brand - not just what we would do but why we would do it," he is saying.

Enabling framework?

Dr Fox says the first test the Conservatives must apply to every proposal is whether it increases or decreases the size of the state.

Government should be an "enabling framework", not an "entrapping web", he argues.

He underlines the importance of freedom coupled with encouraging personal responsibility, albeit with a "safety net" for the genuinely needy.

He concludes: "Freedom is not a slogan. Freedom is not just a means to an end. Freedom is our essence. Freedom is our core. Let freedom reign."

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