Shadow Chancellor George Osborne was in fighting mood yesterday when he delivered his speech to the Conservative conference and pledged to take on - his own party.

Political Editor Jonathan Walker was there.

"We will not back down," declared George Osborne. "We will not be pushed or pulled. We will stick to our principles - we will do what's right!"

His target was not Gordon Brown or Tony Blair, but a far more insidious enemy - his own party.

Mr Osborne was talking about Tory grandees who want him to promise to cut taxes if the party wins the next election.

With the staunch support of his leader, David Cameron, the shadow Chancellor has refused to do any such thing.

It might look like an almighty row, but in reality it's the perfect opportunity for Messrs Cameron and Osborne to get their message across.

This was Cameron's Clause Four moment. At least, that's how he'd like you to see it.

Back in 1995, a youthful Blair convinced the world Labour had changed by forcing his party to ditch Clause Four of its constitution, which committed it to nationalising everything. It made no difference to Labour policy. There was never any chance of a Labour government taking over Britain's factories.

But perhaps there was a chance that as long as they even talked about it, the average voter would think they were a bunch of extremist nutters who couldn't be trusted to run the economy.

And abolishing Clause Four provided Mr Blair with a chance to show he was sincere.

You might have wondered if this nice young man, who seemed to different to previous Labour leaders, was all he appeared.

Might it be a cunning trick designed to lull is into a false sense of security, before he revealed his true colours and invited the unions round for beer and sandwiches as Sterling crumbled?

By taking on the Labour old guard in a very public battle - and winning - Mr Blair proved he meant what he said. Whatever exactly he stood for, it had nothing to do with inflicting a Soviet-style economy on the UK.

So the fact that there were one or two Labour die-hards willing to fight him over Clause Four actually helped Tony Blair out.

In a similar way, the likes of Normal Tebbit and Edward Leigh, high-profile Conservatives who have been demanding firm promises of tax cuts, have done David Cameron and George Osborne a favour.

What Mr Osborne actually said - that economic stability is more important than tax cuts - is really a statement of the obvious.

But there may be some voters who fear a Conservative government would cut spending on vital services such as health and education, in order to reduce taxation.

The current row in the Conservative Party has given the shadow Chancellor the opportunity to spell out, in a high-profile debate, his promise to do nothing of the sort.

The fact that he is seen to be defying one or two of the Tory old-guard in the process is a bonus.

It allows the Conservatives to claim that they are sincere when they say they have changed and abandoned the Tebbit approach to politics.

And the inevitable victory of Mr Osborne and Mr Cameron over their opponents within the public helps them to look tough, which is always good for a politician.

Mr Osborne made no attempt to hide the importance of the battle over tax to Conservative election prospects. He made a virtue of it, telling delegates: "We must win the argument on the economy. We will never do that if people believe our tax policy comes at the expense of their public services."

It is too much to imagine Lord Tebbit and Mr Leigh are part of a plot hatched up by Cameron and Osborne. But they couldn't be helping the party leadership much more if they were.