Last Thursday, in my new(ish) column in the North West Enquirer, I made the following observation about the changing terms of the political debate.
"Other concerns are slowly coming to the fore.....most fundamentally of all, perhaps, the rise of the so-called “happiness” agenda – the idea that the first duty of governments should be to promote the emotional well-being of their citizens, even if this is at the expense of economic growth."
Yesterday Tory leader David Cameron, who may very well read the Enquirer since he has already featured in a front-page story and interview, said the following in a keynote speech.
"It's time we admitted that there's more to life than money, and it's time we focused not just on GDP, but on GWB - general well-being. Improving our society's sense of well-being is, I believe, the central political challenge of our times."
Seriously, I think Cameron's attempt to claim the "happiness agenda" is a potentially incredibly significant development in terms of the political battles of the next few years.
His reference yesterday to there being more to life than the "Protestant Work Ethic" is a direct dig at his likely election opponent Gordon Brown who the Tories see as obsessed with work and regulation whereas they want to be identified with wellbeing and relaxation.
In my Enquirer column, I also made the prediction that, as we enter the twilight of the Blair era, the party which best manages to tap into this changing public agenda will be the one that ultimately emerges as the dominant force of the next decade or so.
Well so far, it's 1-0 to Mr Cameron.