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Woodward Memo Labour Aug 2011

Woodward Memo Labour Aug 2011

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Published by DigitalPolitico

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Published by: DigitalPolitico on Aug 31, 2011
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1. Following discussion we’ve had over the summer, I thought it might be useful toset out some thoughts about what appears to be a sharp shift to the right fromCameron and the challenge that presents us as an opposition.Like First World War generals, we must avoid making all our preparations for the lastbattle rather than the next. Indeed, the very terrain on which we will fight is changing.At the last election we faced a Conservative party (and a Conservative leader in DavidCameron) whose strategic goal was to decontaminate their brand, intending to presentthemselves as reformed, modern, centrist and pragmatic.Re-positioning on issues like the NHS and the environment was used as evidence of the emergence of a “compassionate Conservatism” - a phrase first used by George WBush prior to his election as president.Cameron was effective in promoting a perception his Party had changed. The mediareadily and willfully for the most part embraced the illusion. The press, which hadbeen successfully courted, helped him make the case to the public that his Party hadchanged and was becoming more progressive.However, the public never fully bought the new brand or accepted that the Tories hadchanged. This is best evidenced by Cameron’s failure, in spite of so much else goinghis way, to secure an overall majority.Of course, in discussing how we frame our message on the Conservatives, it isimportant that anything we say is credible. We should not ignore there has beenlimited change on issues such as their attitude to gay rights and an attempt to embraceother aspects of a progressive social liberal agenda.But here is the paradox:Whilst the Tories made changes before the election - intended to convince the publicthey were compassionate - since the election (and especially in the last few months )the Tories have taken major strides back towards their ideological roots. Buffeted byevents, there is a growing incoherence between “liberal Conservatism” and theincreasingly shrill language the Tories are using as they vacate the centreground.1.) Analysis of Tory Party policy, carried out over the summer , convincinglydemonstrates the Conservatives are shifting to a distinctly right-wing strategy in boththeir chosen focus on issues and their solutions.The lurch in issue focus is especially marked when comparing pre-election-Cameronwith post-election-Cameron.Cameron’s early top issue identifiers were:a) NHS,
b) family,c) environment.Post-election they are:a)
immigration.We should be in no doubt that the issue focus of the government and the issue-focuson which they are trying to shape the forthcoming is being shifted significantly to theright of the political spectrum.Indeed, across the board the party’s policy analysis shows that policy direction hasalso moved rapidly rightwards:a) A deficit reduction programme which they describe as tough, painful medicineb) Micro-economic strategy based less on investment and more on de-regulationc) Welfare cuts which go way beyond “back to work” reform and hit working familiesd) immigration capping2) The shift to the right and the abandonment of a centrist strategy is seen in theirsecond order policy choices as well.i) An increasingly aggressive and confrontational attitude towards public sectorworkers on pensions and pay.ii) The NHS plan and the extent to which their reforms rely on competition and aninternal marketiii) The dramatic rise in tuition fees and the pursuit of a free market in educationDespite failing to win the last election and being forced into a coalition with the LibDems, Conservative policy and political strategy in government is markedly to theright of where it was in opposition.3) The Conservative response to major events is further evidence of aright-wing drift.-
Their answer to slow growth is talk of scrapping employment rights

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