Cameron and Osborne have been doing the rounds in the first days of Tory Conference seemingly firefighting on the issue of tax.
With the dynamics of Tory Party Conference, Cameron isn’t going to face an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the blue rinses.
He will be attacked Tebbit and a bunch of baby-eating bastards for being a crypto-socialist though. This, in the words of 1066 and all that, is a good thing for Cameron.
It’s a good thing for those Tories in two ways. Most obviously it means that Cameron gets to look a strong leader who is willing to take on the least electable parts of his party and not back down.
Secondly, it means that he very publicly gets to fight his party and win on an unpopular issue. Cutting taxes is just not an election winner. It was all very well against the weakened Labour Party of the 80s, but when there’s a strong defender of public spending, it gets very hard to defend NHS or education cuts for reckless tax cuts. The line of “we’ll cut taxes only when it’s responsible to do so” is a much better one for them.
It’s not quite the big set-piece show down of Clause 4 for Labour but it’s a step forward towards building trust with the electorate for Cameron. It’s passe to say that the Labour Party must take him seriously, as that’s blatently obvious now.
What it does show, however, is that every part of the Labour Party’s strategy must be in tip-top shape before the next election. We need the right policies and a party machine that can take on and beat the Tories.
More seats will be marginal next time around, which really brings the party into play a lot more than in the past. While the party manifesto has to be an election winning one, not just an activist pleasing one, the party has to start taking its members more seriously. It must trust their ability to listen to the public and help put in place a vote-winning mainstream set of policies for the next election.