David Cameron has got the ball rolling, even before the conference has started by pledging two policies in the national press. And I like them both. The first is to abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes worth under £250,000. This will be good news to a lot of young couples hoping to get started on the property ladder. It's bad enough that house prices are still rising and people are having to get massive mortgages, without Gordon Brown mugging them for more tax.
The second policy to be announced goes some way to address the imbalance between the amount of benefits received by single parents and married couples. Frank Field, who served as Minister for Welfare Reform, said that a single mother working 16 hours a week, after tax credits, gains a total income of £487 a week. However, a two-parent family earning the minimum wage has to work 116 hours to gain the same income because the tax credits system does not make allowance for the second adult. Frank said that this discrimination helped to explain why children in working two-parent families now made up the single most important group of poor children. David intends to increase tax credits to married couples in an attempt to make the system less biased against them. This will cost £3bn which Cameron intends to recover by cracking down on fraudulent incapacity benefit claims (there are 2.7m people claiming it at the moment! and that's why Brown can say unemployment is down with a straight face as he doesn't count them).
David said that the party was ready to fight an autumn election and that Brown had "got himself into a position where he either bottles it or he has given us a hell of a lot of notice of his intentions".
I can't wait for the conference to start, no matter what happens, it's going to get interesting. I understand that William Hague is doing the opening speech - good choice.