Is Fraser Nelson the "Sarah Palin" of the Tory party?

Or is that a little unfair on Palin?

The Indie's John Rentoul sees a Paline-style streak in the editor of the Spectator.


UPDATE: My colleague Daniel Trilling points me in the direction of an out-and-out Sarah Palin/Tea Party supporter over at the Speccie -- the one and only Melanie Phillips. Here's Mel's take:

The key point about Palin and the "Tea-Party" movement is the challenge these are flinging down represent to the political establishment, Republican as well as Democrat, conservative as well as liberal [sic]. What Palin articulates -- the reason for her appeal and for the strength of the "Tea-Party movement" -- is the "core" conservative agenda that not just Democrats but also Republicans to at least some extent appear to have lost sight of.

In Britain, that core conservative agenda of defending life, liberty and social order (which in turn offers the best chance of success in the pursuit of happiness) is scorned not just by Labour but by the "Red Tory"/Blue Labour "hopey-changey" Cameroons. "Core conservative" voters, currently scorned and abandoned by the Conservative Party, are in despair over the non-choice on offer to them at the forthcoming election.

Britain needs its own "Tea-Party" movement to challenge the whole dopey-changey thing here, too.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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David Cameron’s starter homes: poor policy, but good politics

David Cameron's electoral coalition of buy-to-let retirees and dual-earner couples remains intact: for now.

The only working age demographic to do better under the Coalition was dual-earner couples – without children. They were the main beneficiaries of the threshold raise – which may “take the poorest out of tax” in theory but in practice hands a sizeable tax cut to peope earning above average. They will reap the fruits of the government’s Help to Buy ISAs. And, not having children, they were insulated from cuts to child tax credits, reductions in public services, and the rising cost of childcare. (Childcare costs now mean a couple on average income, working full-time, find that the extra earnings from both remaining in work are wiped out by the costs of care)

And they were a vital part of the Conservatives’ electoral coalition. Voters who lived in new housing estates on the edges of seats like Amber Valley and throughout the Midlands overwhelmingly backed the Conservatives.

That’s the political backdrop to David Cameron’s announcement later today to change planning to unlock new housing units – what the government dubs “Starter Homes”. The government will redefine “affordable housing”  to up to £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 and under within it, while reducing the ability of councils to insist on certain types of buildings. He’ll describe it as part of the drive to make the next ten years “the turnaround decade”: years in which people will feel more in control of their lives, more affluent, and more successful.

The end result: a proliferation of one and two bedroom flats and homes, available to the highly-paid: and to that vital component of Cameron’s coalition: the dual-earner, childless couple, particularly in the Midlands, where the housing market is not yet in a state of crisis. (And it's not bad for that other pillar of the Conservative majority: well-heeled pensioners using buy-to-let as a pension plan.)

The policy may well be junk-rated but the politics has a triple A rating: along with affluent retirees, if the Conservatives can keep those dual-earner couples in the Tory column, they will remain in office for the forseeable future.

Just one problem, really: what happens if they decide they want room for kids? Cameron’s “turnaround decade” might end up in entirely the wrong sort of turnaround for Conservative prospects.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.