Back in July 2003, Bruce Anderson wrote a piece on David Cameron for The Spectator. Its tone was summed up by its headline — “My hero” — and that tone has suffused through much of Bruce’s writing about the Tory leader since. Which is why his piece for the FT today is striking by virtue of its differentness. Its headline is that, “Cameron is losing touch with core Tories.” Its argument is that the Tory party is ignoring the hopes, fears and aspirations of the white middle classes.
Admittedly, Bruce doesn’t put all this down to Cameron. On his account, there are demographic factors at play — not least that the growth of the middle classes, who are now “more numerous and more prosperous than ever before,” has also made them more insecure. But it will certainly aggravate fears that Ed Miliband is on to something when he talks about the “squeezed middle.” In a snappy piece of reportage for the Times (£) this week, Michael Savage outlined how these fears have now spread as far as Cabinet. “We should not be conceding this as Labour ground,” is how one of his sources put it. “We need to be coming up with messages of our own to offer hope to these families.”
And too right too. But there are a couple of external factors that might help the Tories. First, even if Labour does have a strong message on the “squeezed middle” (or whatever), it is one that is constrained by both the absence of specific policies and their confused overall position on the public finances.