Shadow Chancellor George Osborne will give a major speech to Policy Exchange later today in which he’ll attempt to revive the idea that Gordon Brown is a serious roadblock to reform. He will test the patience of some Tory supporters by welcoming the suggestion that the Tories are the true heirs to Blair when it comes to public service reform but he’ll also play hard politics by accusing Gordon Brown and Labour’s deputy leadership candidates of abandoning choice and private sector involvement in their approach to public sector reform.
Mr Osborne will say:
"This growing consensus between the current Prime Minister and the Conservative Party does not appear to include the next Prime Minister. And therein lies the political battle ahead, for Gordon Brown rejects the very idea that there should be alternative providers of taxpayer-funded public services… The difference now is that the people around Gordon Brown are also making the case against choice and diversity, and challenging key aspects of the Blair settlement."
In recent days we have seen Peter Hain talk about the limits to public service reform and Alan Johnson threaten the charitable status of private schools. During last night’s Newsnight debate amongst the deputy leadership candidates we saw Harriet Harman lead the ‘leftwards lurch’ with calls for an amnesty for illegal immigrants and more redistribution. She said:
“We are not just worried about where the bottom is in terms of poverty. We are worried about the gap with rich and poor. You can’t have proper equality of opportunity with a huge gap between rich and poor. Do we want to be a divided society where some people struggle and others spend £10,000 on a handbag?"
John Cruddas – who endorsed Ms Harman in the race should he not be successful – endorsed the idea of higher taxes “for the David Beckhams of this world."
ConservativeHome will be at the speech and will post a full report later today.