The growing phenomenon of `Red Tories'

THE remarkable warming in relations between the Conservative Party and Fleet Street has intensified since the start of the New Year and it could lead to David Cameron being endorsed by all four Murdoch titles and given a fair wind by The Guardian and The Independent at the General Election.

Graham Dines

THE remarkable warming in relations between the Conservative Party and Fleet Street has intensified since the start of the New Year and it could lead to David Cameron being endorsed by all four Murdoch titles and given a fair wind by The Guardian and The Independent at the General Election.

The tone of op-eds - opinion pieces by leading editorial writers - is certainly more enthusiastic for the Tories. This comes from a collective recognition that Labour seems to have run out of steam and that Gordon Brown's continued state of denial about his part in the economic downturn is simply no longer sustainable.

The Guardian yesterday was intrigued by Cameron's growing acceptance of Red Toryism, as espoused by Phillip Blond who until recently was a theology lecturer at the University of Cumbria and who is writing a book on Thomas Aquinas.


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His vision of progressive Conservatism peppered Cameron's speech to the annual economic shindig in Davos. It's probably stretching it to say it's a lurch back to One Nation Conservatism, mainly because the Tories are still hell bent on opposing European federalism.

Yet Cameron appears to be inclined to take a more left-wing path - taking the lead on clamping down on the obscene culture of mega bonuses in the City of London as Labour thrashes around and refuses to take decisive action.

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In her column yesterday in The Guardian, Madeleine Bunting wrote: “Those who are feeling bewildered, buffeted and bossed about by powerful elites could find the central themes of red Toryism very seductive. If Cameron handles it carefully, he could use it to swell the ranks of Tory voters handsomely.”

The Conservatives have deliberately gone out of their way to court Labour's traditional allies in Fleet Street, giving them exclusive previews on Tory policy initiatives and accepting invitations to get their message across.

It should be remembered that the Conservatives were the most successful political party in the world in the 20th century because of the phenomenon of “working class Tories” - mainly elderly people with barely two halfpennies to rub together who loyally trooped to the ballot boxes to support Baldwin, Churchill, Macmillan and Thatcher.

Labour's 1997 landslide was achieved because the perpetually dispossessed John Major to back Tony Blair. The wheel is turning the full circle.

Pensioners and those on fixed incomes are once again backing the Tories. These are people who were insulted by Brown's 75p rise in old age pensions and the abolition of the 10p starting rate of tax, the impact of which was not foreseen by the Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown also has forfeited the support of people who rely on their savings for income - with interest rates hovering about 0%, it has put more and more elderly people in penury.

The gamble of reducing VAT from 17.5% to 15% to kick start the economy has been the failure that many of us warned it would be. And don't forget that it will revert to 17.5% next January, just months before the expected date of the election.

With unemployment rising, food and petrol prices climbing once more, and bankers' bonuses reaching mega figures, it's not looking good for Gordon Brown.

And with Fleet Street in tow, Cameron may well now be unstoppable.

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