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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 15:45 GMT
What will Cameron do now?
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

David Cameron has been described, in policy terms at least, as a blank canvas.

David Cameron
Cameron promises new direction
His critics, and even a number of his supporters, point out that he has defiantly refused to map out a clear set of policies for the new Tory party.

The opponent claims that is a weakness, showing he believes in little and is driven by no coherent ideology but simply the mantra of being "modern and radical" - it is the "Tony Blair-lite" label.

The supporters dismiss that, insisting it would be bonkers to come up with a manifesto this far away from a general election, and they claim he has a very distinctive vision for the future of the party and the country.

Lower taxes?

So where exactly will David Cameron take the Tory party between now and the next general election and, if he wins, where will he lead the country?

There have been a few hints during the leadership campaign.

On taxation, he has insisted he "believes in lower taxes", but only pledged to balance the money raised through growth between public spending and tax cuts.

He has also hinted that he might want to take poorer people out of taxation by raising the income tax thresholds.

On health, he has suggested he would like to see even greater involvement of the private sector in the NHS. But has combined this with a pledge to create a world-beating, public system.

Top-up fees

With education he has also welcomed much of the direction of Labour policy, particularly where it offers greater freedom for individual schools to run themselves.

Along with that readiness to accept some Labour policies, he has claimed it was wrong for the Tories to oppose top-up fees which, he says, are here to stay.

He was also ahead of the game in pressing for the use of synthetic phonics.

Part of his pitch for the leadership was to transform the look and appeal of the party with a more inclusive approach.

But, while he is ready to support a variety of lifestyles, including gay partnerships, he still believes the family is the best unit.

He would try to use the tax system to help the traditional family.

Symbolic move

He has ridiculed the government's lack of control over immigration and suggested the introduction of border controls.

On the EU, whilst not as fiercely Eurosceptic as some in the party, he has ruled out joining the single currency or signing up to a constitution.

But, in a move seen as an attempt to appeal to the right, he has pledged to pull his party out of the European People's Party in Brussels.

On law and order, he has pledged to build more jails and create directly elected police commissioners.

But, controversially, he has suggested a review of drugs policy with the downgrading of ecstasy.

None of this, as yet, adds up to a clear programme and, now he has been elected, it is probably sensible to wait and see exactly what he follows through on.

But what many are waiting for most eagerly is his "Clause Four" moment - equivalent to Tony Blair's decision to abandon the key old Labour section of the party's constitution.

That was a largely symbolic move, but firmly drew the line between Old and New Labour.

It is hard to see precisely what Mr Cameron might chose for his moment, but many of his supporters insist that is another leaf he should take from Tony Blair's book.




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