Sunday, July 17, 2005

'Modernisers' Exposed

We've already admitted our mistake in initially missing the upside in Michael Howard's protracted leadership contest. Not least the chance to have a good hard look at the so-called 'moderniser' agenda.

For example, today's Observer carries an interview with George Osborne. It nicely exposes some of the key elements in moderniser thinking.

On public services, Osborne 'believes the Tories' best hope is to present themselves as Blairites par excellence, promising to take Labour's tentative experiments with private sector provision, and pursue them much further.'

He reckons that 'Gordon Brown is a much, much, much easier opponent than Tony Blair.' The theory is that Brown is an unreconstructed command and control socialist, who will vacate Tony's Third Way territory, leaving it for us to grab.

So that really is what it comes down to.

Blue Labour. As practised by such distinguished Blurites as Byers, Milburn, Mandelson, Jowell, etc.

Hardly surprising then, that Howard himself is reported by the Sunday Telegraph to be back-peddling furiously on his previous (presumed) support for David Cameron. Whatever we may think of his election campaign, there's no doubting Howard's True Blue Tory credentials, and he must be appalled at some of the guff currently being spouted by the Notting Hill branch of Moderns.

Of course, his peddling is also being fuelled by Cameron's unforgivable disloyalty:

'The Tory leader is said to be dismayed by Mr Cameron's recent criticism of party strategy and his attack on the policy of scrapping university tuition fees. Mr Howard was said to be "furious" with Mr Cameron's suggestion that the party had been criticising Labour for the sake of it.'

Unfortunately, Howard isn't going so far as to endorse our man- he reportedly prefers the Doc- but he's obviously had his mind concentrated wonderfully.

As we all have.
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