Magazine article The Spectator

A Man Worthy to Be Prime Minister

Magazine article The Spectator

A Man Worthy to Be Prime Minister

Article excerpt

Ten years after New Labour came to power, it is remarkable that the unions can still hold us all to ransom. This issue of The Spectator has gone to press a day earlier than usual, to minimise the risk of disruption to our readers from the threatened postal strike. It is depressing that such precautions should still be necessary in 2007. So much for strong, Thatcher-esque leadership in No. 10. Those who ask why the country needs a fresh start need look no further than this petty display of Jurassic union power.

In Blackpool this week, David Cameron confounded those who said that he is incapable of leading the Tories into government.

The mountain which he still has to climb is there for all to see, and it will take more than a good seaside conference to reverse Gordon Brown's 11-point opinion poll lead last weekend. On the other hand, Labour has every reason to be rattled by the dramatic progress which the Conservatives have made in only a few days.

In this respect, necessity has been the mother of good politics. The Prime Minister's nurturing of election fever last week in Bournemouth left the Conservatives with no option but to compress into a few days a process of policy disclosure and strategic explanation that they had hoped to spread out over two more years. The result could have been disaster. In fact, it was as good as it could have been.

The Spectator has been supportive of Mr Cameron's 'brand decontamination' strategy but critical of some of the tactics that he has adopted. The grammar schools row was a fiasco, as was his infamous 'hug a hoodie' speech. But such objections have been more than outweighed by Michael Gove's promise of 'pioneer schools' on the Swedish model, George Osborne's unveiling of well-targeted proposals for tax cuts, David Davis's pledge of a New York-style 'zero tolerance' strategy towards crime, and - perhaps most striking of all - Mr Cameron's promise of 'radical welfare reform'.

The story of this week has been the broadening of the Conservative offer to the public. The greenery has not been dropped, but it is no longer the only tune the modernisers play. In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Cameron spoke of the Tories as 'the party of sensible green leadership' - words that were clearly carefully chosen. 'Social responsibility' remains central to his politics. But there was much more this week about opportunity - the foundation stones of Conservatism, such as lower taxes, personal freedom and deregulation - and security. …

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