Alice Thomson, in this morning’s Telegraph, is pretty sure that the Tories are making progress:
"The fact that Irvine Welsh says he is now a Cameroon shows how far the Tory leader has come in re-positioning his party. Welsh, you may recall, was the man who wrote Trainspotting – one of the most devastating attacks on Thatcherism. So, Mr Cameron’s touchy-feely politics are working. His party is no longer seen as the enemy of single/working mothers, immigrants and the young. When he talks about Middle England, he makes it sound like a group that he knows and likes rather than something out of Tolkein. He seems sincere – which is why Labour’s attempts to brand him first as a chameleon and now as a dodgy estate agent have backfired."
Where Mr Cameron is vulnerable, Ms Thomson thinks, is in a lack of policy – particularly thought-out policy. She suggests a number of ideas that will appeal to Essex and Notting Hill (as she puts it). I summarise:
- A simplified tax and benefits system with "Mr Brown’s patronising and inefficient tax credits" scrapped;
- "A transferable tax allowance to help one-earner couples with children so that mothers have a greater choice about whether to return to the workplace";
- Secondary school selection by academic, sporting, dramatic and linguistic talent;
- No more mainstreaming of special needs children;
- Accept the need for nuclear power;
- Tougher regulation of the privatised utilities and (gulp) renationalisation of the railways;
- Scrapping of the taxpayers’ subsidy for Scotland;
- Sheltered communities for vulnerable adults because ‘care in the community’ has failed.