30 September 2007

Con Air

The Tories have descended on Blackpool in a rather odd position... a consistent lead over Labour that had developed a year ago, with David Cameron the golden boy of British politics, appears to have evaporated as they face up to Gordon Brown.

Have you ever had one of those days, where it feels like the entire universe is one giant conspiracy to drive you mad? That's been David Cameron's story since, well, since Gordon Brown became PM. Floods paralyse a hideously unprepared Britain, and he's lambasted for not being around. Then when 11 year-old Rhys Wynne is shot dead, and he appears in Liverpool, he's criticised for opportunism, when in reality, in both cases, all he could do is mumble something about how awful things are. When Northern Rock finds itself in trouble, and the UK sees its first run on a bank in anyone's lifetime, when you'd expect Labour's economic credibility to be blown completely out of the water, nothing happens. Northern Rock itself gets the flak and Labour get off completely. The Culture Secretary has his picture photoshopped into a picture publicisng his local hospital, and no one notices.

David Cameron, meanwhile, tries going Left, and horrifies people. Then he tries going Right, and horrifies everyone else and still has the first lot carping on about how he's no Thatcher, then just to underline the point, Thatcher herself pops up to have tea with Gordon Brown. And no one on either side seems to mind that!

Then there's the ongoing election speculation. In many ways, an election now would be the best thing for Cameron, despite the polls: it would galvanise the Tories, and focus minds. It would also force him to produce policies. If Brown waits, the Tories continue to argue, and squabble, questions will continue to arise over Cameron's leadership, the policies will still not be forthcoming: we might get the odd vague idea, but no specific, concrete, detailed policies. All Brown needs to do is come up with actual policies and he has an advantage. So Cameron will be stuck, with no policies and a continuing question raised both in and out of the Tory Party: what is David Cameron for?

Ironic: it's now believed that Labour are the favourites to win the next election, but for that election to come soon might be Cameron's only hope. And with expectations now lowered, all Cameron needs to do to keep the goodwill of the party is win a reasonable number of seats. I don't know about other figures within the Tory Party, but I'd place reasonable at 230-245: Michael Howard turned 166 under Hague into 198, so 230 would represent an identical increase, which would be the least Cameron could get away with. With boundary changes changing the notional number of Tory seats to around 210 (209 according to Martin Baxter), Cameron could draw satisfaction with 241. And given the Local Council By-Elections last week, which generated a 6.2% to the Tories, that's not that hard to imagine.

But just being there, and not being Gordon Brown, isn't going to do it. The problem is, until the Tories have a clear, definitive, tangible package that people can scrutinise, they're at the mercy of events, and Gordon Brown's decisions. Basically, voters need to be able to judge The Conservatives on something other than David Cameron's hairstyle.

Will we get any sign that the Party realises that this week?


Lord Higham-Johnson said...

It's also tied in with my post I think you just saw that Cameron and Brown are both serving the same EU ends.

Tehrefore the party political show is largely camouflage.

Jim said...

An excellent and thoughtful post.

Anonymous said...

Is Devolution an EU Diversion aimed at Dividing and Conquering Great Britain....

If so could you Blog and Email these links before we are All toast.


Note how none of this has ever appeared in the Press or on the News.

Europe Sold out for oil

Will said...

Anon - Devolution is nothing of the sort: the concept goes back to Gladstone, who predates the EU by about a lifetime. It was then a part of early Labour policy, again long before the EU, which sunk without trace until the 70s, and then the initiative came from Labour in Scotland and it can be argued that this revival had more to do with the rise of the SNP than anything else. After that, calls for Scottish devolution gained momentum and the EU had absolutely nothing to do with that.

And you might want to know that if you're looking for support for the continued survival of Great Britain, I'm not the best person to ask! :D

Still, you've published some addresses, and the ones that have made it past Blogger in full can be copied into the address bar by anyone who wants to take this further. Though I must say, I think your request that I "Blog and Email these links before we are All toast" is just a bit melodramatic.