Janet Daley, Leo McKinstry, the leader-writers at The Daily Mail and even Cameron-cheerleader Bruce Anderson stand up for the hard-pressed taxpayer this morning and share ConservativeHome's disappointment at the Tory policy on tax. But we promised to be optimistic this morning and here is a list of ten reminders why, despite the tactic of economic disarmament, a Cameron government is well worth having:
Support for the family. Strong families aren't just the road to social justice they are also the road to smaller government. Without stronger families Britain will struggle to overcome the challenges of crime, school failure and economic dependency. Conservative support for marriage, an end to the couple penalty and a range of other pro-family measures will all make significant contributions to the development of a more pro-family culture.
Compassionate, progressive conservatism. There are no big ideas that yet sum up David Cameron's compassionate conservatism but there are many hopeful signs (summarised here) and National Citizenship Service is a worthy attempt at a flagship. Paramount is the prominence that the Tory leader has given to Iain Duncan Smith's social justice efforts. IDS has proposed a range of measures (with many more to come) that will tackle the poverty that has defied Labour's heavy-handed remedies. Greg Clark is also working on very interesting ideas on the voluntary sector. The commitment to poverty at home is also beginning to be twinned with more passion for international justice. In the last week alone, David Cameron raised the tragedy of Darfur at PMQs and devoted a significant section of his Gateshead speech to international development. ConservativeHome's Agenda 2008 will be moving on to human rights issues later this week.
Chris Grayling's welfare reforms. In the first survey of Tory grassroots members after he announced a series of welfare reform measures - including compulsory reassessment of all incapacity benefit claimants and a time limit for claiming jobseekers' allowance - Chris Grayling's rating jumped in the monthly assessment of the shadow cabinet. Expect much more from Mr Grayling - particularly as the CSJ reports.
Michael Gove's new schools revolution. Freedoms for headteachers to expel disruptive pupils. Protection of special schools. Grammar streams. Expansion of academies. There were already many solid Tory policies on education but, as Fraser Nelson has noted, the policy of allowing parents to set up new schools - inspired by Sweden - is most encouraging.
Nick Herbert's rehabilitation revolution. Two weeks ago we welcomed Nick Herbert's prisons reform agenda. It wasn't just the familiar (and necessary) commitment to increase prison numbers. The policy also included a welcome emphasis on rehabilitation and compensation for victims. Key to the policy was a revolution in incentive structures within the prisons system so that the authorities are partly paid according to their success in reducing reoffending.
More direct democracy. Across the party there are a range of ideas that will rebalance power within Britain. There'll be more power for ordinary voters. The election of police chiefs - as part of a wider police reform agenda - and the ability to veto large council tax rises stand out. We also hope that the leadership might embrace the idea of giving voters the power to recall ethically questionable MPs. 27 of the 2005 intake of Conservative MPs suggested such a measure last month.
Jeremy Hunt's ending of the BBC monopoly. Unfortunately this isn't settled policy yet but it should be. Jeremy Hunt has proposed that the BBC shouldn't monopolise all of the licence fee's revenues. We hope it becomes Tory policy soon and we have similar hopes for the suggestion (said to be favoured by George Osborne) of moving public sector job advertising online. Both measures would curtail the taxpayers' unfair subsidy of left-liberal media.
A new generation of high quality MPs. The quality of the next generation of Conservative MPs is high. A Parliament with Harriett Baldwin, George Freeman, Robert Halfon, George Freeman, Margot James, Andrea Leadsom and Philippa Stroud as members (to invidiously name just a few) will be so much better than one with crowded Labour benches. ConservativeHome's own survey of candidates revealed that the new intake are Eurosceptic, hawkish and pragmatic on green issues.
A superior Cabinet. Risking sounding like a podium speaker at a Tory conference but David Davis rather than Jacqui Smith. William Hague replacing David Miliband. George Osborne instead of Alistair Darling. Liam Fox ousting two jobs Des Browne. The welcome prospect of a Conservative government cannot just be measured in terms of commitments already made. It must also be measured in terms of much wiser heads running the Whitehall machine and reacting to events yet unknown.
A well-prepared Government. One of the least discussed strengths of the Cameron project is the role that Francis Maude and Nick Boles are undertaking. Mr Maude isn't just shadowing Ed Miliband, more importantly he is responsible for ensuring that policy ideas are ready to be implemented properly and that shadow ministers are prepared for their roles in Government. We'll be writing more about this government-in-waiting issue in coming weeks but its importance in restoring competence cannot be understated.
12.45pm: Ten reasons for supporting Project Cameron (April 2006 version).