David Cameron has decided that social justice will be his key legacy theme as Prime Minister, with his autumn conference speech and most of the announcements so far this year focusing on an ‘all-out assault on poverty’. At times, this has appeared a little vague, while other announcements, like the plan for Muslim women to learn English, have been a little confused. But Cameron has clearly decided that the Conservatives must tackle injustices in society, not just because it is right for the country, but also because it is right for the party, which is still seen by too many voters as for the rich.
I understand that a private group of Tory MPs has formed to try to help develop a stronger social justice agenda in their party which might help the Prime Minister – and whoever succeeds him – develop a proper Tory plan for tackling poverty. Its members describe the group as a ‘compassionate Conservative caucus’, and it includes an interesting bunch of members, including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Alistair Burt, David Burrowes, Stephen Crabb, Ruth Davidson, and Nadhim Zahawi. Number 10 officials also attended the group’s first meeting, which took place yesterday afternoon in Parliament, and included a talk from Bill Gates on tackling global health inequalities.
We are unlikely to hear much from the group itself in public, but we can expect its work to make its way into speeches and policies from the Prime Minister. And we might also expect its work to inform at least one, if not two, future Conservative leadership contenders.