Really big week coming up for Cameron's Conservative Party. On Friday John Redwood publishes his economic competitiveness policy review. It will be the basis for major debate in the Party. We always knew that this particular policy review would be based on clear, precise and powerful logic- being the way Redwood thinks. Its a debate about fundamental philosophy and about what we stand for. We also knew it would inevitably lead to mindless, knee jerk accusations that the Tories are 'tacking to the Right'. It seems that the BBC have started already and are lining up Labour spokespersons to run 'the Government rebuttal' even before the report is published. In fact, the BBC will probably give Labour criticism of the report more prominence that the report itself.
I'm looking forward to reading Redwood's conclusions - and I expect to agree with them. Leaks seem to be suggesting that the proposed scrapping of regulations on business will lead to savings of £14 billion per year by the end of one full term of Conservative government. The £14 billions is described as "a tax cut in all but name". This sounds pretty good stuff to me. But its no wonder the BBC are trying to undermine it, because Redwood is reported to be going after the licence fee, which he is reported to describe as a "poll tax". Not the best way to get the Beeb on side I'd have thought!
This is the area of policy that has always established me in my own mind as a Tory. I believe that, generally, the private sector usually does it better - and the State's role, where possible should be facilitate and regulate. It follows that, in principle, I support lower taxation and a smaller state. For example at the recent Assembly election, I was much taken by the Plaid proposals to cut business taxes - even if the Assembly didn't have the power to cut them! After 10 years of Labour, the State has become suffocatingly dominant, and taxation is too high. This week, this issue is going to dominate my party's thinking. I hope it will become an election issue if the Prime Minister goes for an early General Election. It is difficult territory for us - but I'm looking forward to walking on it.