Wednesday 27 October 2010

Cameron's lack of (electoral) self-confidence

To the unfamiliar anti-Fabian surroundings of the Institute of Economic Affairs last night for the launch of "The British General Election of 2010" by Dennis Kavanagh and Philip Cowley, the latest in the unparalleled series formerly known as the Nuffield election studies.

I've blogged for the New Statesman about the "election inquest" launch panel, in particular the election guessing game played by the Cameron inner circle on election morning - "Cameron's team sat round Steve Hilton's kitchen table in Oxfordshire and made their predictions; most were for the Conservatives being the largest party but without a majority".

Neither Cameron nor Osborne thought the Tories had done enough to win outright - and Andrew Cooper of Populus last night said that Cameron was primarily worried about whether he had secured the 300 seats which would probably get him into Number 10. Is it true that Osborne was closest to the real result? Our challenge now to the insider commentators and bloggers of the right is to compile - six months on - the league table of that predictions guessing game. Perhaps Tim Montgomerie (whose ConservativeHome post-election inquest is taken very seriously in the book), Daniel Finkelstein, Benedict Brogan, Iain Dale or James Forsyth might prove best placed to flesh out the betting, and reveal whether anybody in the top Tory team did think they had done enough to win a majority

The book also reveals that the persistent "perception that they would, in a crunch, stick up for rich and privileged people" kept David Cameron awake at night. Coalition was therefore grasped as an opportunity to push forward a brand decontamination strategy which stalled a couple of years in.

That is another reason why the "fairness" debate over the regressive budget and CSR could have important long-term consequences.

Even on a magpie-like skim-read over the last week, it's clear that the book could keep this blog in copy for weeks. It is clearly the only thing the political anorak in your life could want for Christmas. (I should declare some bias in favour of the book, having been involved in publishing the 1997 edition, about which I've blogged previously, but it is a view pretty universally acknowledged among the political classes).

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