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Does class matter in politics?

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borisThree big speeches have been delivered at the Conservative Party conference so far — by party leader David Cameron, the mayor of London and national bumbler, Boris Johnson, and the party’s spokesman on the economy, George Osborne.

What do all three men have in common apart from their membership of the Conservative Party? They were all educated at elite public schools (Johnson and Cameron at Eton and Osborne at St Paul’s) and all went to Oxford, where they were members of the same dining and social set, the secretive and selective Bullingdon Club.

They have all tried to play down their wealth and upbringing — Johnson has even made an appearance on Britain’s favourite soap opera EastEnders — but there is no erasing the fact that Osborne is an Irish baronet, Cameron is a direct descendant of King William IV and Johnson also has a sprinkling of royal ancestry, even if he has described himself as a “one-man melting pot”.

Opponents have pointed to the wealth and clique of the Conservative leadership to suggest the party is out of touch with ordinary, working-class Britain and unfit to govern. What do you think? Does class really matter when it comes to running the country?

Live blog: Conservative Party conference

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daveThe Conservatives will get a chance to show they are ready for office at their annual conference in Manchester. After 12 years in opposition, the party could be on the verge of returning to power in an election due by next June.

Conservative leader David Cameron has said they will set out plans this week for reducing the country’s gaping budget deficit and unveil a “massive” programme to cut unemployment.

Will the Sun win the election for the Conservatives?

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murdoch_newThe Sun trumpeted “It’s the Sun Wot Won It” after the Conservatives won the 1992 general election following the newspaper’s polling day headline “If Kinnock wins today, will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”.

Five years later, Britain’s top-selling daily newspaper switched sides and backed Tony Blair and Labour at the next general election, remaining loyal to the centre-left party at the 2001 and 2005 elections.

UK unions fear future with the “enemy”

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cameronAfter more than a decade of railing against a Labour government that they feel has betrayed their shared socialist roots, British trade unions are now starting to fear what a future with a Conservative government will be like.

“They’re going to come after us like rabid dogs,” said Brian Caton, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association said — dubbing the Conservatives “the enemy”.

Do you love the NHS?

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The National Health Service (NHS) has endured a barrage of criticism from opponents of Barack Obama’s plans to push through a healthcare bill that would rein in costs, place constraints on insurance companies and expand health cover to 46 million uninsured Americans.

Stateside critics of the U.S. President’s plans — including former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin — have branded the NHS “evil and Orwellian” and said it allowed “death panels” to decide levels of care for the elderly. They see it as an overly bureaucratic, “socialised” system of healthcare and the proposals have prompted angry scenes at town halls across America.

Is 82 days a fair holiday for MPs?

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown is gearing up for his holidays, which he is expected to take mainly in his Kircaldy constituency and the Lake District.

Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg are travelling overseas for their summer breaks.

Expenses row saps Brown’s authority

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It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Gordon Brown setting out a plan to overhaul MPs’ unpopular allowances and announcing it on YouTube too.

A week later the plan has unravelled in the face of opposition protest and internal Labour party misgivings. The upshot is more bad press and the feeling that Brown’s authority has been further undermined.

from The Great Debate UK:

Put your questions to David Cameron

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(UPDATED Dec 18 - This post is now closed for questions)

Conservative Party leader David Cameron will be speaking on the economy and the credit crunch at Thomson Reuters' Canary Wharf office on Monday, followed by a question and answer session.

The Tory leader has argued that two main problems face Britain at present – a recession coupled with a record level of government debt, and that the government is trying to tackle one while ignoring the other.

Brown’s see-saw poll recovery

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A ComRes/Independent poll this week says Gordon Brown has staged a stunning political recovery and that the Labour party is now just one point behind David Cameron and the Conservatives.

Yet only four days ago an ICM/Guardian survey said Conservative popularity had returned to its summer peak with 45 percent of voter support and a lead of 15 points.

A profound shift in party politics

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David Cameron’s decision to ditch a major Conservative pledge to match Labour spending plans pound for pound was hailed by commentators as an important step in the politics of the recession, opening up a clear gulf between the two main parties’ economic policies but exposing the Tories to considerable risk.

Labour is expected to cut taxes, accelerate public spending and announce more borrowing in Monday’s pre-budget report. Now their supporters can revive the spectre of “Tory cuts” to funding for schools and hospitals which helped the Conservatives lose the last two elections.

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