There was a time when August was a quiet political month. No longer. If today is your first day back at the computer here’s the ten most important (mainly Tory) stories you missed from the last few weeks…
The Tories maintain their large opinion poll lead. The month began with a Conservative lead of 19.0% in the ConHome poll of polls. It ended with a lead of 18.6%.
Boris Johnson enjoyed lots of attention. He endorsed Barack Obama, celebrated 100 days as Mayor, lost another Deputy Mayor, received the Olympic flag from Beijing, claimed the Brits had invented ping-pong, unveiled a climate change strategy for London and fanned speculation that he wanted to be PM. A new narrative is clearly underway: Boris V Cameron is going to be the media’s device to undermine DC.
Michael Gove attacked the hedonism of lads’ magazines like Zoo and Nuts. This socially-responsible Conservatism was followed up by Iain Duncan Smith and Ed Vaizey who suggested that Batman, The Dark Knight should have carried a stricter cinema classification and Andrew Lansley launching an inquiry into obesity. A ConservativeHome survey found that Tory members were much less laissez-faire on these ‘nudging’ initiatives than those who leave comments on blogs.
David Cameron took a tough line against Russia over Georgia. A telephone call with John McCain helped produce a very assertive Conservative position – overturning an even-handed immediate reaction from a very cautious William Hague. Mr Cameron’s active stance contrasted hugely with the absence from the world stage of the feuding Brown and Miliband.
David Cameron’s tour of northern marginals was overshadowed by a Policy Exchange report that the media reported as a call to ‘abandon the north’. The report was unfairly reported but it highlighted the dangerous strategy that had seen PX get too close to Team Cameron.
Lord (Sandy) Bruce-Lockhart died. One of the gentlemen on Conservative politics – a leader in local government and of compassionate conservatism – lost his battle with cancer. Tributes poured in and in.
Caroline Spelman lost the confidence of Conservative Party members. A ConservativeHome survey found more members dissatisfied with the Tory Chairman than satisfied. An unfair briefing campaign against Eric Pickles suggested that Team Cameron may be thinking of Chris Grayling as her likelier successor.
George Osborne claimed that the Conservatives are now the party of fairness. Mr Osborne is formally the Shadow Chancellor but he most enjoys his role as the strategic brain behind Project Cameron. His ‘fairness’ speech sought to knock Labour off its most sacred turf.
The biggest story came at the very end of the month when Alistair Darling spoke of the worst economic crisis for sixty years. Yes, sixty years! Watch him here. Charlie Elphicke decided that Darling must go for unforgivably talking the UK economy down. Is Tory economic policy up to the increasing challenge of restoring the competitiveness of UK plc? ConHome surveyed the good, the bad and the ugly of the frontbench’s thinking.