If the next election is simply a referendum on the government’s performance, I doubt that the Tories will win. But if it is a choice about which party you want to govern Britain, then they are in with a chance. So, today we’ve seen a determined attempt to draw contrasts with Labour. Notice how quick David Cameron was to turn to the question of what Labour would do on Marr.

The most detailed attempted takedown, though, came in William Hague’s speech. He ran through his holy trinity of coalition reforms—economic, education and welfare. Then, said:

“they are all opposed by a Labour Party that in its addiction to borrowing, belief in higher taxes, domination by unions, and hostility to public service reform has shown no visible sign of noticing that while they were ruining this country the world had changed around them. Theirs is a party that would carry on in the same high spending, over-regulating, top-heavy journey to national bankruptcy where Gordon Brown left off.”

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This will be the Tory case against Labour between now and the next election: the world’s changed but Labour hasn’t. They’ll try and paint Ed Miliband’s Labour party as simply the continuation of Gordon Brown’s premiership while saying they are the party prepared to take the tough decisions.

I suspect that this will be effective in chipping away at Labour’s lead. But to deliver a majority, it will have to be combined with a message about what better future the Tories are trying to foster.

Tags: Conservative conference 2012, David Cameron, Labour, Tory conference, UK politics, William Hague