Tuesday 8 December 2009

Why Cameron probably won't clarify what he stands for

We have just passed the fourth anniversary of David Cameron's leadership of the Conservative Party.

The Times leader writers suggest that a central enigma remains, in a leader likely to generate some ripples at Westminster.

Clearly David Cameron is not making a convincing case. The central charge against him is that, while he is approachable and likeable, his aims and values as a future prime minister of this country are still unclear. David Cameron has yet to answer a basic question: what does he stand for?

The Times notes that Cameron has been effective in benefitting from Labour's unpopularity, but does not seem to have a clear governing strategy.

Yet there is an important reason for the ambiguity too.

Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome, writes that he agrees with the editorial, from the perspective of the party's activist right - "He is neglecting the base of the Conservative Party".

Whereas, The Times rather implies there has been a bit too much of that - "He has been fond lately of set-piece speeches of dubious intellectual and strategic wisdom on the iniquity of the big state and health and safety legislation" - and implies it would rather find out whether there is a substantive modernisation agenda for government beyond the successful brand decontamination strategy.

The so far limited tightening of the polls will see calls for Cameron to return to the modernising outreach agenda, and calls for him to connect better to his core support.

One can not easily fulfil both of these demands.

It may prove a more effective political than governing strategy, but Cameron may continue to think that the ambiguity has served him well.

So I would be surprised if there was more clarity and less ambiguity about what David Cameron stands for in the next six months - though the government might best, through its own policy agenda, present tests which may sometimes require a choice to be made.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cameron has not defeated his party like Blair did in 1994. Instead he is stradling two horses heading different directions.

Tim Montgomerie and the traditional conservatives really have very little in common with Philip Blond and the more centrist modernisers. Cameron knows he can't decide between the two and while that is all very well in opposition when in government he will face competing interests. I predict conflict ahead.