'Dog-whistle' style of politics attacked by Conservatives
Published 03/10/2007 | 12:02
David Cameron will try to turn the tables on Gordon Brown today by accusing him of resorting to the "dog-whistle" style of politics associated with right-wing political parties.
In arguably the most important speech of his career, the Tory leader will tell his party's Blackpool conference that the Prime Minister represents an "old politics" that is not working.
Mr Cameron will deny that he is cooling on green taxes, and will elevate the threat to the planet from climate change to that posed by terrorism. He will say that making Britain "safer and greener" will be one of the Tories' three key themes at the general election, which he will challenge Mr Brown to call immediately.
He will promise that a Conservative government would replace air passenger duty with a pollution tax on individual flights, with the money raised used to cut taxes for families.
Mr Cameron will reject Labour charges that his party is "lurching to the right" after raising issues such as immigration, law and order and Europe in recent weeks. "This is a new Conservative Party, with new priorities," he will say. "There's been a lot of talk about lurching. So let me make it clear – no lurch to the right, no lurch to the left. There's only one direction for me and that's forward to the future."
In effect, he will accuse Mr Brown of moving to the right at Labour's conference last week, when the party was accused of stealing Tory clothes and making populist statements on crime and immigration. At the 2005 election, Labour claimed the Tories had imported "dog-whistle" politics from Australia – sending a sharp message on sensitive issues which was heard only by those at whom it is aimed, as a dog whistle is inaudible to humans. Mr Cameron will try to draw together the policies announced in Blackpool this week into a coherent agenda, in the hope that a Tory lift in the opinion polls deters Mr Brown from calling a November election. Privately, senior Tories admit they would prefer a poll next year to give them time to set out their stall.
The Tory leader will claim that his party offers a clear, balanced programme of change for the long term, showing "optimism about what Britain can be, hope for the next generation".
Setting out his core beliefs, Mr Cameron will say the Government's first duty is to protect people against threats old and new. "That means terrorism and climate change as well as crime and national defence. We will change our country to make it safer and greener." He will also argue that Britain is going "in the wrong direction" towards a less responsible society. "We need to change," he will say.