James Forsyth

Are the Tories doing well enough?

Are the Tories doing well enough?
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Even David Cameron’s most enthusiastic backers in the 2005 leadership contest might have thought it unrealistic to imagine that after a little over two years in the job he would have opened up a nine point lead over Labour. But despite having done this, Cameron is still plagued by the question of whether the Tories should be further ahead.

Certainly, the Tories haven’t batted Labour out of the game and they are doing nowhere near as well as Tony Blair was in the mid-1990s. However, as Andrew Rawnsley reminds us in The Observer this morning, that was an exceptional time. Rawnsley, though, thinks that the Tories can not become the government in waiting until they give the electorate a firmer idea of what they would do once they are in power. To put it another way, they have won permission to be heard and now they need to say something.

This criticism isn’t totally fair. There are some impressive Tory policies; notably on education. But it is hard to say how Britain would be different after a term of Cameron government. The tactical need now is for some more boldness. The old caricatures of conservatism have been largely slain by the whole decontamination process—Tory high command must be encouraged by how little damage the Conway affair appears to have done to the party’s standing—and the Tories can not speak out without fear of being shouted down. This does not mean that it is time to return to the old tunes. But the Cameroons should be unafraid of being true to their instincts as they have been on education to good effect.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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