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By Peter Hoskin
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What can I say? Perhaps I just see everything
in five bullet points. There was my
five-point guide
to William Hague’s interview with the Evening Standard on
Friday, and now there’s this, below, the five quick points that I’ve taken from
David Cameron’s article
for the Mail on Sunday
today. Here you go:

The vision thing. The main
purpose of the article, I think, is to hit back at those who think Mr Cameron
is more mouse than man, pussyfooting around (so to speak) when it comes to our
economic recovery. He uses words like “fighting” and phrases like “frankly, I’m
frustrated” to describe what the government has achieved and what it is hoping
to achieve. Most of this “vision” he sets out is both familiar and broad. He
talks of tackling welfare dependency, of encouraging a dynamic private sector
and of entrenching social mobility. But there is something slightly new and
specific: much as ConservativeHome did yesterday,
the Prime Minister dwells on the building of new houses. “A key part of
recovery is building the houses our people need,” he writes, “but a familiar
cry goes up: ‘Yes, we want more housing; but no to every development — and not
in my back yard.’” And then he adds: “The nations we’re competing against don’t
stand for this kind of paralysis and neither must we.” What’s clear is that Mr
Cameron is preparing for a struggle, perhaps with his own party, over housing
policy. We shall hear more about this on Thursday, but already it looks as
though the loosening
of green belt restrictions
will prove controversial.


No longer the last lot’s fault. Or, rather, New Labour is still partially to blame — but,
strikingly, Mr Cameron doesn’t mention it here. I doubt this is an accident.
Many in government are aware that, halfway through this Parliament, they’re entering
a new period in which blaming the last lot is less persuasive to voters. This
article typifies how they might go about highlighting what the Coalition has
already achieved and what they still intend to achieve.

The Olympics as a Conservative message. Before Mr Cameron went off on his summer holiday, he
tried to capture
some of the Olympic gold dust
for himself and his government. And he’s
still at it now that he’s back, although now the message is more explicitly
conservative:

“But Britain’s Olympians and Paralympians have taught us
another lesson: graft equals success. You don’t get to the podium without
making huge sacrifices and really wanting to win. That lesson can be applied to
our country. It will be a hard road to success – but that’s the road we must
take.”

It’s worth noting that Matthew d’Ancona recommended
this as “the
lesson of the Games”
for Mr Cameron, a few weeks ago. I also argued for a
similar attitude towards deficit reduction in a recent
article for the Times (£)
.

Claiming credit for the collapse of Lords reform. One of the most intriguing lines in the article is Mr
Cameron’s claim that “I wasn’t prepared to allow the debate on House of Lords
reform to crowd out the parliamentary timetable.” If you remember, the story
used to be that Cameron was trying his best, for Coalition relations, to bring
Tory backbenchers around to some form of Lords reform. Now he’s trying to make
a virtue out of the policy’s demise.

Cameron’s fiscal concerns. Given his article
for the Daily Telegraph
on Friday, I suspect my old boss Fraser Nelson is
itching to highlight Mr Cameron’s claim that “countries across Europe have
found there’s a tipping point where piling on more debt isn’t just
counter-productive, it is lethal” — and when the British government is adding
£600 billion to the debt over this Parliament, too. As for me, I’m one of those
people who think the government couldn’t be doing much more on the debt front;
in terms of manoeuvrability, the public finances are more an oil tanker than a synchronised
swimmer. But this gap between that the government is doing and what the public
may think they are doing is still, as the CPS has recently argued, a problem
for the Prime Minister. I'll have more to say on this shortly.

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