Back in the mid-1990s the Labour leadership stole some of the Conservative’s clothes and gave us New Labour. Now it seems the Tories have snatched some back again and they are offering us Blue Labour.
At least that’s what it felt like down in Bournemouth this week at the Conservative Party conference. Compassionate Conservatism was the public face on display and social justice was one of the hot topics for debate. The party may be policy-lite but the leadership seems intent on moving to the left and the hardliners are very much on the back foot – or are they? What does the Conservative Party really stand for these days?
Shadow home affairs minister Edward Garnier told a Community Care and Barrow Cadbury Trust fringe meeting that sending more people to prison was most definitely not the way to reduce crime. Yet a couple of hours later his boss David Davis said exactly the opposite at another fringe event across town. And Davis even managed a dig at his own boss, David Cameron, for
the hug a hoodie speech earlier in the year.
So what are we to think? When you get a senior Conservative in the shape of Tim Loughton pledging to boost the status of social workers and slamming Labour for underrating them, maybe the only conclusion is that the world’s gone mad.