Welfare: new blue Cameron seeks to out-Thatcher Maggie
Revelation of 'Let Down by Dave' bloc sees David Cameron abandoning compassionate Conservatism
DAVID CAMERON will be delighted with today's Independent which accuses him of bringing back the 'nasty party' with his widely trailed plans for a crackdown on welfare benefits. He is attempting to win back disgruntled Tory voters - the so-called 'Let Down by Daves' – and 'nasty' is exactly what they want him to be when it comes to benefit scroungers.
Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, appearing on the Today programme this morning, denied Cameron was trying to distance the Tories from the Lib Dems. "No - I don't think so,” he said. "I have discussed this with him at length." IDS claimed the coalition had simply reached a point where they “needed to look at areas such as the amount of money that out-of-work people with large families get..."
The Mole doesn't buy this, and nor does Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor. He tweeted five reasons why Cameron is raising this now: 1, it's popular - 74 per cent of voters in a poll for Prospect magazine, including 59 per cent of Labour voters, think benefits are too high; 2, it cheers up Tories; 3, it differentiates Tories from Lib Dems; 4, it's tricky for Labour leader Ed Miliband - note Liam Byrne, Labour welfare spokesman, also appearing on the Today programme, didn't oppose any of the proposals; and 5, Cameron is desperate to restore the support of the Tory press.
The Mole shares Robinson's analysis. Camo took power promising to be the true heir to Blair. Now he sees the need to grab the blonde wig and the big handbag to pose as the new Margaret Thatcher because recent polling has shown a haemorrhaging of support among his core Tory voters.
Some are ready to vote for UKIP, but there's a bunch of floating voters who feel that having given Dave a chance at the last election, he has let them down. The omnishambles of the Budget - the pasty tax, the charity tax, the attack on pensioners etc etc – tells them he lacks any clear direction.
Stan Greenberg, the US pollster hired to advise Labour leader Ed Miliband, has discovered that this new group of disgruntled voters are ready to switch from the Tories directly to Labour. Greenberg labels them the LDDs - the 'Let Down by Daves'.
So Cameron has done another U-turn, away from "compassionate Conservatism" towards true blue Thatcherism. Cameron gave the game away when he floated his ideas for cutting housing benefit from 380,000 under-25s and restricting child benefit to the first three children in a family in the Mail on Sunday.
Buried away in his interview was a telling quote: "We have delivered a referendum lock on Europe, capping welfare, free schools, quadrupled council-house discounts in London - far beyond anything Margaret Thatcher or John Major delivered."
The Mole believes this is the clue to Cameron's latest change of course. Cameron is trying to out-Thatcher Maggie.
Michael Gove's plans last week for bringing back O-Levels turn out to be all part of the same strategy. Matthew d'Ancona in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph revealed Cameron had known for weeks what Gove was about to do - even though he never tipped off his Lib Dem deputy, Nick Clegg.
Leftie commentator Owen Jones wonders in today's Independent whether Cameron is trying to make all young people hate the Tories. The answer is - if they vote Labour, yes. The truth is few of them bother to vote anyway.
Cameron's spinners have also been keen to stress that Dave's crackdown on benefits does not extend to freebies for pensioners, such as free bus and Tube passes and winter fuel allowances. That's because, unlike the 'work-shy' young, the zimmer frame brigade do actually vote.
None of this actually matters a damn, of course, in the short term. Cameron knows he can't get any of this bold Thatcherite agenda past Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems this side of a general election, so it is all "nudge" politics for after the next election. And that is three years off... unless Cameron doesn't believe he can keep the coalition together until 2015. ·