Many are speculating about the genesis of the explosive Liam Fox letter on the front of today’s Times, a great scoop for deputy political editor Sam Coates. (In it the defence secretary argues against enshrining greater aid commitments in law.) Was it Fox himself, posturing as the champion of the Tory right wing? It wouldn’t be the first time one of his letters has ended up in the public arena. You have to wonder why he put his concerns in writing. But this seems too obvious.
Was it the ambitious development secretary Andrew Mitchell, angling for a bigger job? Or even Alan Duncan, ditto?
Who knows. All I would point out is that we’ve seen several initiatives this week that put David Cameron in a more centrist, cuddly light; greater paternity leave, Lords reform, reassurances on the NHS and of course the tougher carbon targets.
All of these help to dilute some of Cameron’s more stridently rightwing mood music from the spring, when he made a surprisingly tough speech on immigration (just before the local elections) and gave an edict that economic growth should trump almost anything else.
And now the public has been reminded of his heartfelt desire to give more aid to developing countries, with a promise to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid – a key part of the Tory decontamination strategy. It’s convenient for Cameron, whether intended or not.
UPDATE: I knew I’d read something similar this week – it’s this piece by Paul Waugh talking about David Cameron’s attempts to seem “kinder, gentler“.