Not a great press day for the Conservative Party. The newspapers are full of stories about Ray Lewis. The Mail, notably, devotes its whole front page to a splash about the "wheels coming off" Boris’ Mayoralty. Completely OTT.
For the second time in a week we also have a newspaper worrying about the depth of the Cameron project. Earlier in the week it was The Times. Today the FT devotes a leader to David Cameron’s "big flaw"; "posturing". We can dismiss the section of the editorial that is dedicated to the EU (The FT being Britain’s most Europhile newspaper) but some of its other thoughts are more challenging:
"While the Brown government has taken firm decisions on a range of issues – such as the need to develop nuclear energy, the need to expand London’s Heathrow airport and the need to streamline planning laws – the Conservatives sit on the fence. This cannot go on. Mr Cameron is wary about nuclear power, but what would he replace it with? If he is not in favour of expanding Heathrow, which UK airports will he grow to meet capacity constraints? If he is against streamlining decisions for big infrastructure projects, how can he make the UK competitive? The voters deserve an answer."
The Conservative Party has done some hard thinking on UK competitiveness – this week’s report on tax simplification being a case in point but we do not yet have an economic policy that is up to the task of restoring the UK’s economic competitiveness. Much more important than the immediate slowdown – significant as that may be – is the longer-term uncompetitiveness created by more than a decade of tax, regulation, bureaucratisation and increased welfare dependency.
‘A growth agenda’ will be the subject of one of the five essays that we’ll be publishing in the week beginning 14th July as part of our ‘A Government worth having’ series. In that second week of the series we’ll be looking at other areas of policy reform that the Tory leadership has yet to adequately master. This coming week, however, we’ll be identifying five policy areas where Conservative policy is far from "posturing". The series starts on Monday with an article from Michael Gove on schools policy.