Ad campaign shows party's harder edge

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Indy Politics

On the eve of the most important speech of Iain Duncan Smith's political life, clues to his determin-ation to fight on could be seen last night when Conservatives screened their most aggressive party political broadcast in years.

"You lied ... you just don't get it do you? You're too busy to bother with my problems, aren't you? You said you had no plans to increase income tax at all. But you lied, yes you did ... Labour isn't working again," it says, capitalising on Tony Blair's loss of trust among voters.

It is indicative of at least one of the two initiat-ives that have been prais-ed in Blackpool. First is the younger, more modern image projected by the conference. Second is the weighty policy.

Shadow Cabinet minist-ers take the applause, but credit lies in large part with two little-known figures in Conservative Central Office - Greg Clark, the Tories' policy unit director, and Paul Baverstock, the director of strategic communications.

"Choice for communit-ies, choice for citizens, a state that does less," are the main ideas Mr Clark described at a fringe meeting.

Mr Clark, 36, is a former BBC policy expert and political adviser to Ian Lang, president of the Board of Trade under former Prime Minister John Major.

Drawing heavily for inspiration from The Right Approach, the 1976 booklet published by Baroness Thatcher, Mr Clark has developed the Tories' "big idea": smaller government through decentralisation.

Mr Baverstock, also 36, introduced the broadcast as the "starting point for a sustained campaign. It's a nice piece of political knockabout."