I’ve written an article for Comment is free arguing that David Cameron is not ‘lurching to the right’. I argue that the issues of Europe, tax, crime and immigration cannot be crudely characterised as right-wing issues. I also say that David Cameron’s approach to these issues is very different to that pursued by Michael Howard in 2005. Read my words here.
My own view is that David Cameron’s rebalancing of his pitch is very welcome. We still need to see more policy beef but we are seeing the leadership embrace one of the core themes of ConservativeHome’s manifesto; ‘the politics of and’. I’ve got to be happy at that!
I still wish we had not waited until now to fully do so, however. If the ‘And theory of Conservatism’ had been vigorously pursued by David Cameron from day one – mixing modernising and familiar themes from the off – we would not now have the ‘lurch to the right’ headlines and the criticism from people like Melanie Phillips in today’s Mail. It’s also true, as Michael Portillo wrote in yesterday’s Sunday Times that core-vote-talk would have been more credible when the Conservative leader was at the height of his powers: "Had Cameron, a few months back, when he was 10 points ahead in the polls, adopted the tough tone on immigration that he used last week, he might have looked more like a man playing an ace (although I doubt it). But raising it now that he, too, is trailing, just looks like Tory despair once more." I don’t fully agree with Portillo that it’s wrong to rebalance the project now but his point has validity.
Nick Wood, former press adviser to William Hague and IDS, begins a new weekly column for ConservativeHome today. In his first column Nick analyses the media’s coverage of the recent change in Conservative tactics.