'We are back in the centre ground of British politics," declared the Conservative leader, David Cameron, at his party's conference in Bournemouth last week. "A stable economy. Fighting crime. Backing the NHS and our state schools. Childcare and flexible working. Improving our environment and quality of life. Those are people's priorities - those are our priorities today."
Note to the red-faced man in the pinstripe suit and golf club tie: Not tax cuts. Not capital punishment. And not privatisation of health care. Memo to the lady with the blue rinse hairdo and the Edna Everage specs: Not repatriation of immigrants. And not withdrawal from the EU.
"The old policies," Cameron declared, "are not coming back." Instead, he pointedly used phrases like "social responsibility", "collective will", "social solidarity", "binding targets for carbon reduction" (he even name-checked Al Gore) and "civil [including gay] partnerships".
Niall Ferguson in the Sunday Telegraph 10/7/2006 argues that the new British Tory leader represents an old trend in British politics, that of liberal conservatism.