It's the most straightforward dividing line the Tories could draw: "Tories good, Labour bad". But it's still striking to see it deployed quite so bluntly as in George Osborne's Telegraph article
this morning. His point is that four more years of Labour will lead us to ruin, whereas a Conservative government would pull us out of the mire. Here are some snippets:
"Down the path of least resistance lie economic decline, higher interest rates, high unemployment, and more social breakdown. This is the path down which a cynical and exhausted Labour Government tempts us. But there is another path that leads to lasting recovery, rising prosperity, social responsibility and a new way of doing things.
If Labour get in again, that won't happen. If Britain follows Greece, the interest bill on a £150,000 mortgage could go up by more than £200 a month. The cost of credit for businesses would go up, too, and more jobs would be lost. And we'd be paying billions more in taxes each year just to service the national debt.
What's the alternative? A Tory government would follow the advice of the Bank Governor, business organisations and the OECD by acting to eliminate much of the structural deficit in the next Parliament. Labour claim this would damage the economy (they are ones to talk), but, as Goldman Sachs economists have pointed out, "this is questionable on both theoretical and empirical grounds."
This argument deflects the charge that the Tories are all doom 'n' gloom on the economy. It wraps up an attack on Labour's economic record, while also looking forward to sunnier times of growth and prosperity under the alternative. The problem with that, of course, comes if a Tory government doesn't fix the fiscal mess in double-quick speed. But, if that happens, a dividing line that George Osborne set out on 21 December, 2009, will be the least of their worries.