It is sometimes argued that the only thing Dave Cameron cares about is getting the Conservatives back into office. There is no doubt that he does genuinely believe that the Conservatives would do a better job than Labour and some people might think that was not too difficult.
I always thought that one of the keys to understanding Tony Blair was his religious beliefs, caught so effectively in Private Eye's 'Vicar of St. Albions' series which also featured characters such as 'Mr Prescott from the working man's club.' Blair still makes the occasional appearance as head of an ecumenical organisation called DAFT.
In my view Blair was the most devoutly religious prime minister we have had since Gladstone. Sensitive biographers like Antony Seldon, surely one of our outstanding chroniclers of modern British politics, picked up on this. Students were always more sceptical, but I think that some of his behaviour on Iraq could be seen as a misconceived moral crusade.
Dave Cameron is a doubting high church Anglican, but I think that some of the ideas he really cherishes stem from his beliefs. Whether they make good policy is another question.
As a general narrative, Dave emphasises the 'broken Britain' thesis. I would agree with him when he says that people should not expect government to sort out all their problems and that local communities should do more for themselves. However, that is easier in some communities than others and often a lot depends on one or two dedicated individuals with leadership qualities who aren't available everywhere. And if Britain is broken - and I am not sure that I like such negative messages - I am not sure that government can put it back together again (although its actions can have positive or negative effects).
More specifically, Dave wants to support marriage and stable families. In his own life, he has experienced challenges in his family which would test most people. I am not sure I would have coped as well as he has if I had experienced similar circumstances, particularly if I was in public life.
The Conservatives want to use the tax system to support marriage. Personally, I can't see a lot of difference between a long-term stable partnership in which two people are married and one in which they are not. To be fair, Dave's definition of marriage includes civil partnerships and I am quite sure that he is not pursuing any kind of anti-gay agenda.
Some research has now come out under the aegis of the authoritative Institute of Fiscal Studies which suggests that the proposal to introduce a married couple's tax allowance would not achieve the party's goal of reducing child poverty. When I looked at this more closely, I found out that the research had actually been carried out by Gingerbread, the one-parent charity. They are a very reputable organisation but, quite legitimately, they have a particular view about family policy. (If you want to look at the study go here: Gingerbread .
Paradoxically, the two Conservative policies I have most reservations about - the marriage tax proposals and the inheritance tax changes - are ones that I (or my estate) would benefit from.
Of course, one can never base a voting decision on particular policies. One has to look at a party's programme in the round, its leaders, its likely competence in office compared to its opponents - and, last but not least, its local candidate. One could vote for a candidate who one would thought would make a good addition to his party's ranks while still having reservations about that party's policies.
What concerns me about the marriage tax proposal is that runs counter to Dave's avowed commitment to modernity. The inheritance tax proposals seem to me to buying into a Daily Mail agenda when the real beneficiaries will not be middle Britain folks whose houses have become worth a lot of money. There may be a case for raising the threshhold, but not as far as £1 million.
Of course, given the state of the public finances, neither policy may be put into effect all that quickly. But symbolism in politics is very important.
Having been somewhat critical of the Conservatives, I must say that Labour strategy seems to be at sixes and sevens or perhaps, to put it more charitably, it is an attempt to appeal to everyone that it is unlikely to succeed. The core vote strategy appears to have gone out of the window for now and an attempt is being made to portray Labour as the party of aspiration and 'middle Britain' which doesn't seem to be very credible to be given that so many 'new' Labour policies have been ditched.
Indeed, Mandy now seems to have come out in favour of an interventionist industrial policy which is surely an abandonment of new Labour's creed as outlined after the election by guru Giddens. But that is for another day.