It’s time for an all-out attack on David Cameron….
David Cameron, up to this point has been without doubt the biggest electoral asset to both the Conservative Party and the government. Ed Miliband, conversely, has been an electoral liability to the Labour Party. In fact, the difference between the two, were there to be an election tomorrow may well make at least the difference between a minority Conservative government and Labour being at least the largest Party in a new Parliament. Personalities matter, especially when the differences between the two parties policy wise are relatively small.
Re-wind back to 1997 and you can see that Cameron has noticed this and learnt from Tony Blair that you need a Teflon quality in modern-day British politics. Early on several scandals wracked the Blair government (Cash for Peerages etc) and they were of a broadly similar nature to these ones. This is because at the beginning of an electoral cycle the money-men pile in to court the new regime. However, until Iraq, nothing really quite took the sheen off of Tony Blair’s image in the same way nothing seems to, at the moment, quite take the sheen of Cameron’s. Iraq was seen as such a fundamental breach of faith with the electorate that there was nowhere for Blair to hide and he made the rapid transition from asset to liability very quickly. We need to help Mr Cameron make the same journey.
Notice how later this afternoon, the coward Cameron is dispatching Francis Maude to do his dirty work and make a statement on what has been dubbed the ‘Cash for Cameron’ scandal. Meanwhile, he is doing he is keeping a low media profile, making speeches on dementia etc, all very worthy I agree but it is carefully crafted to keep him out of the firing line and appear statesman like and a little aloof from the fray. He is very good at this and thus far Labour’s response has been ineffective.
We need to emphasise the personal dimension to these scandals; Cameron won’t release his Downing Street dining-list because he doesn’t feel he should have too – his entire life has been marked by his own self-important sense of his own entitlement which, yes, is a direct result of his background. It is utterly right that Prime Ministers do have a right to a personal and private life. However, he does not have a right to do this at the expense of the taxpayer and exploit taxpayer-funded resources for Party political purposes. The solution is simple. All the gratis properties that the Prime Minister (and indeed the Chancellor) receive as a ‘perk of the job’ should be subject to the proper rental and property charges that the rest of society has levied upon it – to be deducted from the Ministerial salary. If this were the case, I would happily concede the point and the Cameron’s can use their London flat and Chequers as they please. Indeed, if they was serious about people ‘paying their way’ and Britain ‘earning its way to recovery’ then both Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne should be happy to comply with this demand.
This scandal is about the mentality and conduct of the Prime Minister in-office and not really about his policies (although they do reveal his staggering capacity to speak with a forked tounge). It has to make the dirt stick to Cameron personally because thus far this hasn’t happened and this is a huge electoral problem for Labour. This also presents Ed Miliband with a fantastic opportunity to shine as a Prime Minister in-waiting and show he has enough personal integrity for the nation to trust him with the highest office it can confer on a politician.