Our panel give their view on Cameron's bold pitch to the nationby Prospect Team / October 7, 2015 / Leave a comment
David Cameron’s speech to Conservative Party Conference today was relatively light on policy, but rhetorically it could hardly have been more significant. He proudly emphasised his record as a Tory moderniser (“You said our party wouldn’t change—we have,” he told his doubters). But more importantly he made an explicit pitch for centrist Labour voters disillusioned with Jeremy Corbyn, including a long, almost Miliband-ite segment in which he professed a desire to fix the fact that “Britain has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.” The speech’s biggest policy announcement—a change to planning laws allowing developers to build affordable homes to buy rather than rent—speaks to this one nation Toryism, though critics have warned that these homes will not be particularly affordable for many on lower incomes. He also reiterated his theme from earlier in the year about tackling not just terrorist activity, but the ideology which leads many of society’s least fortunate into it.
It is not hard to find evidence which contradicts David Cameron’s centrist presentation of his party. Cuts to tax credits announced in the budget which will hit poor working people have drawn anger not only from Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn but from the Sun newspaper. Home Secretary Theresa May’s speech yesterday was widely criticised—including by writers for the Telegraph and Spectator—for a perceived lurch to the right on immigration. Rules being introduced to curb the powers of Britain’s relatively tame unions are fodder for the Tory faithful. Even in this speech, Cameron dedicated plenty of time to that most reliably Conservative of topics; defence, and our mighty armed forces.
But if nothing else, Cameron has made a statement of intent: to turn the 2010s into the “turnaround decade” where Britain becomes more prosperous, more filled with opportunity for all and more socially cohesive. So what should we make of these intentions?