Of the Conservative Policy Groups one of the big boys was always going to be John Redwood's Economic Competitiveness operation. John Redwood has a reputation for fierce intelligence and clarity of thought on the economy. He is also a man of the Right, and putting him in charge of the Group was a very strong marker on David Cameron's policy direction on economic issues. The Policy Group is due to report this week, and the advance publicity is that it is going to be radical and hard-hitting, proposing systematic deregulation for financial services, employment law and even into areas like the BBC. In particular there seems to be a focus on retrieving powers lost to Brussels under Labour, starting with the infamous opt-out to the Social Chapter which Tony Blair gave up as one of his first acts in 1997.
There is no doubt that this report will explode the thesis that all parties in Britain are the same and it will represent a very sharp division between Conservatives and Labour if even a fraction of it becomes Conservative policy. This seems likely, as both public and private indications are that David Cameron will endorse the Policy Group's main findings. As the bottom line is estimated at a £14 billion pound boost for the British economy this is probably a good thing.