James Forsyth

Not being Labour is enough to win, but not enough to solve this crisis

Not being Labour is enough to win, but not enough to solve this crisis
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Last night a Tory candidate was telling me what her message to voters was on the doorstep. It was a very cogent critique of Labour. But when I asked her what her positive message was, I just got the same answer back with a slightly different top on it. Her inability to set out a positive message illustrated a problem that is bedevilling the Tories at the moment: they do not have enough of a vision for the country.

To be sure, Labour’s manifold failings mean that the Tories will almost certainly win the next election. But the recession and the anti-politics mood in the country, Labour’s internal polling shows that it is the expenses scandals which have done most to drive voters away, mean that the Tories won’t have a honeymoon. There’s a real danger that the size of the crisis and the sour public mood mean that the Tories end up drifting once they get into government.

Where the Tories have been prepared to be bold they have good policies look at education, energy and their plan to do to fiscal policy via the office of budget responsibility what Bank of England independence did to monetary policy. But too often the Tories just want to offer a critique of Labour policy or talk about first principles not actual policy.

Being bold doesn’t mean you have to enter every fight Labour tries to goad you into, I still think the leadership is right to try and swerve the 50p tax debate. But it does mean that the Tories should begin to offer a clearer vision for where they would take the country.  Voters should be able to visualise what Britain would look like after four years of Tory government. At the moment, they cannot.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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