The opinion polls, Mr Blair's woes and the rantings of the Hefferlump aside, today has still been a good news day for the Conservatives. Dave Cameron has the banner headline in the Observer proclaiming a change in policy on Africa, whilst Shadow Chancellor George Osbourne starts to play out Tory tax plans in the Telegraph. What with the Sunday Times leading on the huge majority now in favour of cutting tax, Labour must be wondering what happened to their news management.
By far the most interesting of these is Osbourne's tax ideas. I have to say that under Howard, IDS or Hague there would have been a scramble to talk about death duties or council tax and in the talk about scrapping stamp duty on shares, Osbourne may have a few people thinking "what?!?". It is good that he has not jumped on the bandwagon (his comforting words on the inheritance tax were enough) this time - and his comments yesterday tell us a lot about the complex word of Cameron politics.
Osbourne, who represents the ultra-wealthy Tatton seat in Cheshire, said he will make the repair of Britain's pension system a top priority - perhaps more so than cutting inheritance tax or reducing tax per say. It becomes more birlliant the more you think about it. Firstly it helps business but secondly it helps a massive potential Tory constituency - those middle aged people now considering their retirement. Pensions is a big issue on the doorstep and I hope that Dave and George will be bold on this. But most impressive about this is the implication of blame. If George had to fix this problem, who caused it? Unlike most other government woes, the blame lies firmly at the feet of Chancellor Gordon Brown. Brown's first tax was a raid on pension funds in 1997 and the industry hasn't quite recovered since. By making this a high profile, Osbourne can rightly point the finger directly at Prime Minister Brown come the next general election.
UPDATE: This is sitting nicely along the mooted new housing policy from last week. Things are interesting in the Conservative Party again!