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On my way to Manchester for the RSA event at the Conservative Party Conference.  The Conservatives have made an impressive start to the week; party strategists knew their key vulnerability was the charge of lack of substance to Tory plans.  With their welfare to work plan and pensions reform, they have effectively buried this weakness, whilst also looking more credible than Labour in relation to reining in public spending. 

Meanwhile, Labour's plans to impose a pay freeze on well paid public servants look more like a political ploy which is, incidentally, highly centralising in its implications.

On pensions, I hope we can persuade the Conservatives to link the raising of the retirement age to the reforms set out in our Tomorrow's Investor report.  The new Pensions Policy Framework, set to be introduced in 2012, is basically right but without the reforms proposed by the RSA, the package will not work and could even be counter-productive.

PS: One of the blog posts I most enjoyed writing was - strangely enough - when West Brom lost in the play-offs.  Having written yesterday about how I wish we used football to instil good character as well as physical fitness, it was great last night to see another example of football at its best.  When Richard Dunne scored for Aston Villa against his old club, Manchester City, not only did the Villa fans celebrate, but also the City fans cheered the achievements of their former hero.  It was a rare moment of generosity.  We West Brom fans like to think of ourselves as the best in the country, with our capacity for humour and self-deprecation, but as far as I'm concerned, Manchester City take the crown - for the time being at least.

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