Too often the debate about the future direction of the Tory party is polarised between those who want to ‘modernise’ and those who want to ‘go right’. But there’s another problem, these labels now obscure as much as they reveal.

In the next few days in Birmingham, the Tories have two important tasks: to show that they understand the squeeze on people’s living standards and are doing something about it and that they have a proper growth strategy.

Some Cameron aides have long argued that the Prime Minister with his personal wealth can’t talk about the cost of living. But as Mitt Romney, a far less able political communicator than Cameron, demonstrated in the US presidential debate this week, being well-off need be no bar to a politician communicating his personal commitment to economic growth.

The Tories do also need to respond to Ed Miliband, to show that this is not a government of the rich by the rich for the rich. As Neil O’Brien writes today, ‘Polls show the answer to the “party of the rich” label is not to whack the rich but to focus ruthlessly on driving down unemployment, helping people earn more, and cutting the cost of living.’

Tags: Conservative conference 2012, Cost of living, David Cameron, Modernisation