Back to Basics

The history of the last ten years of Conservative leadership has tended to generate regular doses of deja-vu. The fresh new leader usually starts with an attempt to cleanse the party of its right-wing past and return it to the centre ground of politics. Some gimics, or eye-catching policies, have usually been produced in order to persuade the media of the party's change. Then, after a couple of years, but it can be quicker, a combination of Labour's immutable possession of the centre-right political ground, and the ever louder wails of right-wing Tory grassroots and media commentators, force a gradual U-turn upon the new leader. Eventually, he (no she has dared to apply for the role since the departure of the only She who ever mattered to the Tories) heads into an election on that favourite duality of old-style Tory politics - lower taxes; lower immigration.

Alongside the above events, there is also normally a bit of matricidal fantasy, as the leader seeks to first ignore, and perhaps even exorcise, the elongated shadow of She Who Must Not Be Forgotten, and then, inevitably, ends up being swallowed by it. The latter process is quite often accompanied by the Labour leader of the day telling everyone how much he admires the Iron.....well, you know who.

So here we are again. By Day 2 of Cameron's possible pre-election conference, two years into his leadership, we have a re-affirmation of the virtues of the Maggie (courtesy of Hague), and the commitment to lower taxes (Osborne) that may or may not add up. And, of course, we started with a burst of 'we can cut immigration better than you'. Welcome to the New Tories. Again.


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