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The public believe that the "progressive" mantle has been ceded by Labour to the Conservatives (and Lib Dems)

Before Alan Duncan and Daniel Hannan dominated the political news in the second half of last week, there was that spat going on between George Osborne and Lord Mandelson as to which party was the most progressive in British politics today.

The shadow chancellor argued in a speech to Demos that it was the Conservatives, whilst Mandelson vehemently disgareed in a pretty personal attack on George Osborne.

Picture 11 The public have now have their say - in a PoliticsHome poll - and their verdict is that Labour is the least progressive party, with only 12% agreeing that Mandelson et al are the most progressive force in British politics. 22% identify the Conservatives as the most progressive - the same number who assign that label to the Liberal Democrats.

As to what the term progressive actually means, "reforming", "modernising" and "enterprising" were the three most popular adjectives chosen by the nearly 1,200 people polled last week.

Full details here.

Meanwhile, the Observer reports this morning that Tory insiders as believing that the party's "push for government" is being run by true "progressives":

"A batch of young advisers who are light years from the Thatcherite tradition is gathering round. Jonty Olliff-Cooper, 26, a former policy adviser to the party, now works at the thinktank Demos, running a programme called progressive conservatism that was launched by Cameron in January. He said he could list 50 people working with or close to the party's leadership who were true reformists.

"He described a new group of twentysomething advisers who were, in effect, the new Notting Hill Set. And there were many more "young and fashionable" people working on the periphery of the party. "People like Hannan exist within the party, but the people actually pulling the strings have really interesting and progressive ideas," Olliff-Cooper said. "They are people who are conservative in that they want to lower taxes and reduce the size of the state, but they don't want to leave people without support."

"He said he would not describe himself as rightwing but as progressive. He studied history at Oxford and went on to work as a management consultant, teacher and then civil servant. He ended up in the prime minister's strategy unit, working on public service reform and was about to move to the Foreign Office when he got a call from Conservative HQ. "I asked a friend working with George Osborne, and she said, 'Really, they have changed – take a look'."

"Olliff-Cooper, who had never voted Conservative, was offered a job as a policy adviser. He is now in the process of setting up a new group to be called Bright Blue or Right On made up of Conservatives in their 20s who want to promote the progressive agenda internally and externally. Others include Rohan Silva, also in his 20s, who came from the treasury to work for Osborne. Then there is Sam Coates , formerly the deputy editor of Conservative Home, who is now a speechwriter for Cameron. Also on the programme at Demos is Max Wind-Cowie, who is gay, went to a comprehensive school in Cumbria, and whose background is in charities and social enterprise."

Jonathan Isaby

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