23 August 2009

Cameron’s silly season

There are two must read comment pieces in the Indy  One by John Rentoul (see later post) and the other by Alan Watkins.  Both are in some ways linked.

Watkins makes some valid points on the performance of Our Dave.  Take this pertinent observation on Cameron’s comments on Lockerbie:

Silly the season may be, but at times Mr Cameron does seem to be a rather silly man. Does Mr Cameron really know anything about the Lockerbie bombing? Certainly the Scottish legal system does not appear in a very flattering light. I am speaking of the original trial, or the bits I read, rather than of the hurried events of last week. I do not know whether the supposed bomber should have been in prison or returned to his country.

Mr Cameron is supremely confident: he should have been kept in jail. I do not want to accuse Mr Cameron of obediently following the Washington line, though he usually does. Rather it is that a responsible leader of the Opposition should not allow himself to be mixed up in a quasi-judicial decision, unless the evidence or the merits of the case are extremely clear. Here, both the evidence and the merits are buried somewhere yet to be disclosed or to be revealed.

Precisely, and it was most odd for Cameron to speak out as pointed out here.  The relationship between the UK, the US and Libya is complex.  As far as trade deals go, it becomes a very convoluted and murky story. (The Great Man-Made River Project is one example.  A Google search with the word sanctions added reveals much).  Dave and others would be better advised to leave well alone.

What niggles away at Watkins is the fact that Cameron has not sealed the deal with the electorate, even though Brown will not recover:

Now, I am not proposing any phoenix-from-the-ashes act on the part of Mr Gordon Brown such as Sir John performed in 1992. Things have gone too far for that. It is rather that Mr Cameron is incapable of creating the same enthusiasm among his following as Wilson, Mr Blair and even Lord Kinnock (unsuccessful though he was) created in theirs.

There is one further point.  Take Cameron out of the equation, and as August has demonstrated, the Tory brand is rather exposed.  Is it the case that Cameron has clicked with the public but his party has not?  In our system of government, one plays on the other.

Cameron can do it, but the team under him is the worry, hence Mandelson’s focus on Osborne.  Mandy knows that if Osborne cracks, the Tories are very exposed.

Although the Tories are riding high in the polls, is their lead that solid?  Is there still time for Labour, not Brown, to retrieve the situation?  There just maybe, and the opportunity is well worth taking, but another post is needed for this little discussion.

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  1. In general, I agree with your analysis of Cameron - I think he has done a better PR job on himself since becoming leader than on his party. That is why, if Labour is to have a shot at the next election, their strategy will have to consist in painting DC as on the fringes of his own party - the only real progressive among a rump of unreformed right-wingers.

    On Cameron's response to Lockerbie, I disagree with Watkins, and you. The decision to release Megrahi had political and diplomatic ramifications - it's perfectly appropriate that he should speak to the subject. And, in fact, I agree with what he said too. Either you think the conviction is unsafe, in which case you ought to challenge it through the courts, or you let it stand, in which case he should have been treated a guilty man, and left in prison. In fact, as I said in response to a commentator on my blog, if the concern was to ensure that he got to say his goodbyes, Megrahi's family could have been flown over for a final prison visit.

  2. Addendum:

    Subrosa, commenting on my blog, has just kindly given me this extra info, which bears on my remarks above:

    "Didn't you know that Megrahi's wife and children have been living in rather a plush house on the outskirts of Glasgow for the past several years? By all accounts they had more or less open access to Megrahi, especially since his illness was diagnosed.

    I still can't discover who paid for it all.

    Of course they're now back in Libya."

    I didn't know this. Now that I do, I understand the reasons for the release even less.

  3. I didn't know this either. Agreed, This does put a new dimension on the affair.