DAVID CAMERON'S pledge that he was not going to "lurch to the right" lasted less than 24 hours. Downing Street this morning deluged the media with right-wing ideas for regaining popular support among true blue Tories, including tax cuts in the upcoming Budget and a clampdown on Bulgarians and Romanians seeking health care and other benefits.
Priti Patel, a former Tory press officer, now a Conservative MP and member of the 1922 Committee, led the charge in the Daily Telegraph with an article calling for tax cuts in George Osborne's March Budget.
"If the Chancellor wants a big idea for the Budget, it's actually a simple one," she wrote. "Two words: cut taxes."
Osborne is under particular pressure to honour a Tory election pledge and offer a tax perk to couples who are married (it could also apply to married gay couples).
Tory MPs don't seem to realise that Osborne's cupboard is bare, and he's in hock up to his eyeballs. They are fixed in their belief that a Tory government that offers tax cuts will be able to win back support from those core voters who switched to UKIP in the Eastleigh by-election.
It's a form of voodoo economics last preached by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher.
The Daily Mail headline declared: 'Stop dithering and cut taxes: Top Tories demand change in direction as alarm grows over Cameron's faltering fightback'. No matter that 'Cameron's fightback' was only launched with an article in the Sunday Telegraph the day before. The Tories can't wait any longer.
Former minister Tim Loughton said the coalition needed to start "doing some of the things that people voted Conservative for at the last election. That's about reducing taxes rather than coming up with new taxes, it's about recognising families are having a tough time and recognising marriage and families in the tax system which we said we would do and haven't."
BBC political editor Nick Robinson reported that civil servants are struggling with the detail of the demand by Downing Street to stop the Bulgars and Romanies claiming a cushy bed from the British taxpayer before they formally enter the EU at the end of the year.
Robinson reckons that it could mean changing the entitlements we all enjoy in order to lock out the health and benefit tourists from eastern Europe because the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg is ready to strike out anything that smacks of special treatment against new EU entrants.
On top of all this, we have Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Home Secretary Theresa May competing with each other to see who can be first to take Britain out of the scope of the hated ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) and allow the government to expel terrorist suspects.
This is despite objections from the Tories' coalition partners.
Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Lib Dems, told the BBC the ECHR was a "benchmark of human rights around the world". He said the Justice Secretary was clearly taking "a very right-wing position" which pandered to "an obvious anti-Europeanism".
Grayling did mutter something about extra work being needed on the detail. "We've got a lot of work to do on the detail - [to] look at exactly how we best do that, how we deliver change."
It all smacks of a desperate, back-of-a-fag-packet attempt to assuage Tory nerves after the Eastleigh fiasco that if they can just be patient, everything will be all right. But voters have a right to ask what happened to Cameron's campaign to modernise the Tory party.
In the meantime, the only political leader who seems to be quite clear what he is doing is UKIP leader Nigel Farage, who is quickly looking like Cameron's nemesis. ·