UK Politics

Who won the battle of values?

  • 10 October 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
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This conference season has scarcely featured a significant new policy. It has, though, revealed some important new political positioning.

The Liberal Democrats branded themselves as one of what were now three - and not two - parties of government. Nick Clegg insisted they could be trusted more with the economy than Labour and more with society than the Conservatives.

Labour made the boldest move - with Ed Miliband's snatching of the old Tory slogan of One Nation and his claim to be the only leader capable of holding the country together as it confronted its problems.

David Cameron offered his response, presenting himself as a leader wrestling to head off national decline, frank about the scale of the challenge and willing to admit that confronting it was taking longer and proving harder than he'd promised. It's a candour which, the pollsters tell him, many voters like.

It was striking, however, that his speech contained a mention of neither his coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats (attack or praise), nor their leader and his own deputy, Nick Clegg, nor even a reference to the coalition itself.

Also striking was an altogether more personal choice - to stop sounding like the man from Notting Hill - modern, liberal and metropolitan - and instead to highlight the values of a boy from Berkshire who believes in hard work, aspiration and in spreading the privilege which his upbringing gave him.

Where Mr Miliband drew his inspiration from Benjamin Disraeli, Mr Cameron seemed to draw his from Harold Macmillan.