Jo Johnson is now in situ, Christopher Lockwood has started his two-year sabbatical from the Economist and David Cameron’s new policy unit is in in place and ready to go producing ideas of how to win the 2015 election. But word is that they’re not entirely overflowing with ideas, and believe it will be tough to improve on the inherited agenda. This is true to an extent, as the Coalition Agreement was pretty radical. Then, ministers wanted to achieve a Moore’s Law-style expansion of Free Schools, elimination of the deficit and reconstruction of a dysfunctional welfare state. Any one of those three would have been more than Labour achieved in 13 years .
I always thought that, instead of the Queen’s Speech, they should give a progress report on that original agenda. But George Osborne has suspended deficit reduction for two years, and now envisages entering the 2015 election with the highest deficit in the Western world. Welfare reform is in trouble (as Isabel Hardman writes in this week’s magazine) and the even free schools agenda is not progressing as fast as originally hoped. It’s not entirely clear what Cameron will have to boast about in 2015. To anyone who does not want to live through a five-year-long Ed Miliband learning curve, this is a deeply worrying prospect. These guys really do need help.
As James Forsyth tells us today, the new No10 Policy Unit will meet for the first time next week. So here’s a question: what should it focus on? What ideas could capture the imagination of a 2015 electorate? The winner will receive a bottle of Spectator gin (below). And the unending thanks of a grateful nation.