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Britain's Cameron – prime minister-in-waiting?

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Nevertheless, Cameron's choice of Manchester -- in the Labour heartland of northern England -- for his party conference has underscored the dominant political narrative of a busted Labour government led by a tired Gordon Brown.

Powerful voices have joined the Cameron bandwagon. Rupert Murdoch last week switched the allegiance of his 3 million-circulation tabloid, The Sun, to the Conservatives. Yet there are still obstacles blocking Cameron's path to No.10 Downing Street.

Popular by default?

A Populus poll commissioned by The Times newspaper ahead of the Manchester conference found that, while Cameron is personally popular, the Conservatives are doing well more because of Labour's unpopularity than their own pulling power.

The data are a reminder of the work to be done to banish the "nasty party" tag foisted on the Tory governments of the 1980s and '90s, positioning them as the enemy of the downtrodden and the public services they rely on. Now, Cameron is trying to project an image of modern, compassionate Conservatives.

Suspicions also remain over the posh backgrounds of Cameron and his cohorts. Both he and right-hand man George Osborne attended Eton (a top fee-paying school) and are Oxford University alumni. The pair this week sought to distance themselves from embarrassing details about their membership in an elitist drinking club at Oxford.

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