In some respects, Theresa May has delivered an effective speech
on unemployment and the benefits system today. It touches on all the tragic indicators - the 6 million people on out-of-work benefits, the high levels of youth worklessness, the shocking consequences of welfare ghettoes etc. - and re-states, in no uncertain terms, the Tories' commitment to welfare reform. She even partially responds to those critics who thought she'd been drafted into the shadow welfare role to be "softer" on single mums than Labour, by instead attacking the state for encouraging lone parents "not to bother trying to work until their youngest child was sixteen".
But perhaps the most crucial passage is where May admits that "the [economic] context has changed from when David Freud wrote his paper on reforming welfare". I've blogged on a few occasions (say, here and here) that the Tories need to get Freud, their welfare adviser, to update his original review for the new, darker economic landscape. May didn't have anything else to say on the matter, but at least it's a sign that the Tories see the need for a rethink. What chance we get Freud 2.0 in the next few months?