The Dissenter's Voice

The ocassional comments, opinions, rambling and rants of a liberal dissenter in New Labour's Britain

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What on earth are the Tories up to?

We all know that David Cameron has been trying to copy pages from the Blair text book, trying to pull his party to the centre in order to build a coalition of support wide enough to win power. A key part of that is getting endorsements from unlikely people who would previously have been expected to run a mile from the Tory embrace. That I assume can be the only logic behind the Conservatives approach to the LibDems to support Greg Dyke as an independent candidate for Mayor of London. The affair rasies serious questions about Cameron's judgement and indeed undermines his ability to deliver his wider project.

The idea of a joint LibDem-Tory candidate was nothing more than an ill thought through school boy wheeze. It exposes the shallowness of Cameron's internal party changes and clumsiness of some of his actics. It seemed to be based on the model of Martin Bell's successful campaign against Neil Hamilton in 1997, when both Labour & the LibDems withdrew to allow him a clear run against the Tories. However those were very special circumstances and they took place after several years of evolving co-operation between the party leaderships. This latest proposal came out of the blue, with no preparation or it seems assesment of the likely reaction. Reaction from the Lib Dems and inside the Tory party.

What I found perhaps most surprising is that this idea was raised by Cameron himself directly to Ming Campbell. Surely, something as a sensitive and potentially damaging should have been discretely raised by the back room boys, allowing plausible deniability if things went awry. The amateurishness of this episode, followintg on from George Osbourne's crass attempt to bribe David Laws into defection with the offer of a Shadow Cabinet place shows that unlike Blair, who was surrounded by some of the sharpest political brains for a generation such as Peter Mandelson & Alistair Campbell, Cameron's inner circle lack a sure political touch.

So far Cameron has had a pretty easy ride as Tory leader, the media have been largely sympathetic, however this may prove to be something of a turning point, when they start to take a second look and begin to ask harder questions about him. The long run-up to the next election may reveal that the boy wonder isn't quite so wonderful after all.


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