David Cameron still fails to summon up the blood in his efforts to become Prime Minister. In his Marr interview this morning, the anticipatory excitement normally generated by a new beginning hardly registered on the political voltmeter.
Cameron is personable, plausible without being eloquent, but oddly lacking in the rousing qualities that drive great, transformative leaders. Those qualities can only come off the back of at least one stirring policy agenda.
In five months, he will have the opportunity to destroy two fractious national boils once and for all:
1. The matter of the NHS, long seen as a Labour fiefdom, but now a source of massive delinquency in the public finances.
2. The matter of Europe — an aching void largely of the party’s own making, thanks to Edward Heath and John Major, but now hitting a tipping point through the less-than legitimate Lisbon Treaty. Within the next Parliament a crescendo of Conservative opposition will hamstring the Government if it doesn’t act swiftly to head it off.
Yet, on these two issues Cameron repeatedly claims the policy is settled. I believe he is planting the seeds of his own downfall and the failure of the future Tory Government.
Without restraining and overhauling the NHS, the public finances have little chance of a swift reduction. Lacking a determined effort to reverse most of the Lisbon Treaty, the disaffection in his party will cripple him once the honeymoon period is over and the power transfers become much more tangible.
In the medium-to-long term, no other policy areas matter as much to the health of the new Government. During the coming crises, he will need to rally the troops and the nation behind his intentions. Simple managerialism, however competently portrayed, won’t do the trick.
The NHS, and the wider public service, needs to be tackled with vigour, which does not necessarily preclude improved services for most people, as I’ve been writing here for some weeks. Europe offers an easy hit to maintain popularity levels in the country, as well as in the party itself. Dodging both is not a realistic option, as David Cameron will soon discover as the Parliament progresses.
Currently, his big idea seems to be not to have one.
No sooner does Syntagma suggest a coup may be in order against the loathesome creature in Number 10, than one pops up a week later.
Admittedly we put forward Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, as our Young Lochinvar, but Geoff Hewitt and Patricia Hoon were what we got — (sic, in case you wondered). Ah well, best laid plans and all that.
But hold on, although this coup lite was easily put down by the tyrant of Downing Street, a couple of journos have suggested that this may have been the intention. Both Peter Oborne and Matthew Parris believe our two would-be LameDuckicides simply wanted to damage Gordon Brown.
If I understand the argument aright, Peter Mandelson — whose hand must have been in there somewhere — actually wants “old Labour” to lose badly at the General Election and for the Brownites to be expelled from the party with the fizzing contempt they deserve — the words Japanese knotweed spring to mind. Re-enter “New Labour”, the party of Ivanhoe, and the old battle for the centre ground can resume, perhaps under his nibs’s leadership.
I can’t help thinking that’s a bit fanciful, since NuLab has been totally trashed by the reputational collapse of Tony Blair. But, hey, Mandy creates his own reality, doesn’t he?
If he does, like a bad spell it all went wrong when he was sacked twice from the Cabinet. Let’s not assume these people have more magic than the rest of us. If Brown and Blair are anything to go by, they had set up their own downfalls at the outset.
Problem is, they took us with them.
Annoyment of the Week
A Gordon Brown Free Zone
In PMQs this week David Cameron allowed Gordon Brown off the hook on the public finances. He accused Brown of presiding over the worst budget deficit in our peacetime history — £200bn give or take ten billion here or there.
Brown countered, as usual, that the UK national debt, as a proportion of GDP, was less than in many comparable countries. The fact that the obscene deficit means that the national debt is rising much faster than our rivals’ got lost in the argument.
Debt is a dynamic quantity, Cameron might have said, and never more so than when in the hands of a hopelessly big spender, like Brown.
David Cameron never seems to nail the old fraud on this one.
I think we can all agree that last week’s Conservative Party poster campaign was hardly in the Thatcher/Saatchi league.
For a start, the message was weak and left the impression that the NHS would get more money however hopeless it is, while other services shrivel along with the health of the public finances.
I spent a little time thinking of a much better one, with a simple message of true genius:
“We can’t solve our problems with the mind that created them.”
(Bad picture of Gordon Brown)
You don’t have to be a genius to get rid of Gordon Brown.
Syntagma offers this to Tory high command absolutely free of charge. And, no, unlike some, I don’t want a safe seat.
We are entering a 20 to 30-year mini-ice age, according to dependable scientists.
Professor Anastasios Tsonis, head of the University of Wisconsin Atmospheric Sciences Group, says, “[The present freezing weather] isn’t just a blip. We can expect colder winters for quite a while”
He added, “I do not believe in catastrophe theories. Man-made warming is balanced by the natural cycles, and I do not trust the computer models which state that if CO2 reaches a particular level then temperatures and sea levels will rise by a given amount. These models cannot be trusted to predict the weather for a week, yet they are running them to give readings for 100 years.”
Tsonis said that when he published his work in the highly respected journal Geophysical Research Letters, he was deluged with “hate emails”. “People were accusing me of wanting to destroy the climate, yet all I’m interested in is the truth.”
Mind you, given the current state of our rapidly cooling climate, many will be inclined to say, bring back global warming, all is forgiven.
Swans on the frozen River Exe yesterday:
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