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Growth, schools and welfare – the Autumn offensive

Team Cameron is busy planning an Autumn onslaught on education, welfare and the spirit of business designed to put fire in the bellies of the Tories.

Key advisors are working up ideas to provide the PM with a programme of issues on which to focus in the run-up to Christmas.

I’d expect to see the PM return to economic growth as a constant theme – backed by Cabinet ministers led by Chancellor George Osborne.

Orders have gone out to champion the spirit of enterprise.

There’s a mood to get the Premier and his top team touring the country to see for themselves how industry is responding to the challenge.

Huge efforts are being made in numbers 10 and 11 – and beyond – to coordinate a big push on growth, led by the PM’s Permanent Secretary Jeremy Heywood.

There is a debate raging about taxation and what steps can or should be taken to trigger the growth needed to reduce the deficit.

LibDems are absolutely adamant the Chancellor doesn’t slash the 50p rate of income tax without there being a boost of the lowest paid.

But some at the top of government are already clear – the numbers show the 50p band makes virtually nothing for the Revenue and Customs and must go.

They are being backed by the old guard – ex Chancellor Norman Lamont wrote in the Sunday Telegraph – who want a tax cut programme.

Michael Gove, increasingly impressive at education, has set his sights on sorting out school discipline. Expect more noise and activity here, backed by the PM who is firmly behind the plan.

The PM is determined to celebrate excellence in education. He believes it is the nation’s future.

Time will be spent enforcing behavioural standards and giving the teacher the power to control the classroom – not the other way round.

Mr Cameron and Mr Gove want education to be seen as a flagship of British life.

There is a feeling that non-existent discipline in the classroom is to blame for one third of primary school leavers being unable to read, write or do basic maths.

IDS and Chris Grayling are riding high in the Premier’s opinion and their welfare reform measures are popular amongst voters, according to Downing Street polling.

These two ministers have more up their sleeve for the Autumn and Mr Cameron is sure to support their work.

He believes the government is doing exactly the right thing on benefit reform.

Of course, the PM’s party conference speech will set the tone for the next few months.

Work has already begun on its shape.  I’m told the Conservative conference will look and feel dramatically different from previous years.

New designers and advisers have been hired to give it an ultra modern feel, with a nod to new technology.

The PM has a huge programme of travel ahead of him with the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Perth, Western Australia in October.

The Rugby World Cup is on in New Zealand at the same time.

There will be a short trip to Russia in September, too.

More trips to far flung territories are in the pipeline, too.

Mr Cameron is focusing hard over the next four months to put together a crystal clear agenda for change in a way that most Tories will welcome.

There will be problems all along the route.

The fallout of his relationship with Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks will rumble on and new intake Tories are still desperate for a referendum to pull Britain out of the EU.

But figures like Andrew Cooper are now in charge of pushing a more strategic agenda up until Christmas – making the weather instead of reacting to it.

Written By

George Pascoe-Watson