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.

"No policies need to be announced yet," writes The Telegraph columnist but this is the kind of manifesto Alice Thomson thinks will please the striving classes and Curtisland.