In Depth

Cameron's 'assault on poverty' seen as swoop on Labour turf

Prime Minister accused of 'talking left and walking right' in address to Tory Party Conference

Prime Minister David Cameron has promised "an all-out assault on poverty" in his address to the Conservative Party Conference, prompting some to question whether he had been replaced by a "left-wing lookalike".

Speaking in Manchester yesterday, he positioned the Tories as the party for those who "work hard, want to get on and want more money at the end of the month" and said he wanted to tackle "deep social problems" and boost social mobility.

His vision of "compassionate conservatism" is described as a "bold raid on Labour territory", by The Times. From the issues of children in care and social mobility to prison reform and racial equality, there was not much in his speech that a moderate Labour leader could not have delivered, says the newspaper.

"Was that David Cameron, or some left-wing lookalike?" asks Donald Macintyre in his political sketch for The Independent.

"He has set himself, not least on equality, the highest of bars by which to be judged in five years' time," says Macintyre. "Yet if political messages mean anything, some in mainstream Labour will be worried."

The Daily Telegraph rejects the idea that it was a "pseudo-Left speech", insisting it was one "rooted in a very Conservative idea that equality of opportunity is meaningless if people are denied it because of their background".

The newspaper holds up the PM as a "conquering hero" who is "determined to conduct a crusade of social reform to eradicate the privation that Labour always promises to end but never has".

However, a report by the Resolution Foundation appears to contradict the prime minister's vow to devote the remaining five years of his premiership to social reform and real equality, says The Guardian.

The findings suggest that the government's planned welfare cuts will lead to an increase of 200,000 working households living in poverty by 2020.

"Wherever he imagines the common ground or centre ground to be, he has no compass nor any intention of going there," says the newspaper's Polly Toynbee.

"The disconnect, the cognitive dissonance, between the words in his speech and his actions past and planned made for a dizzying acrobatic performance.

"Talk left, walk right. Listen to what he says, don't look down at what he does."

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