02 February 2010

Message to Cameron. When you're in hole, stop digging

Last week the target on the dartboard was Blair.  This week he has been replaced by Cameron with various commentators taking aim at the Tory leader.  They are justified in doing so.  Dave - how shall we put this – is in a spot of bother.

Rachel Sylvester, having picked up on the Ming vase metaphor (good girl), says that Cameron “is at his best when he is boldest” and “needs a bit more courage”.  Indeed, yes. 

The problem here is that he needs a strategy to do both, which he plainly doesn't have at present.  Couple this with the narrowing of the polls, which in turn saps morale.  Then panic sets in and bingo, Dave starts to make mistakes, first on tax and then on cutting the deficit.

This theme is picked up by Steve Richards, who kindly mentions to Dave where his mistakes have been made:

Osborne pledged an emergency budget during a conference organised by the Spectator magazine last year. This was a tactical mistake. Sir Geoffrey Howe as shadow chancellor made no reference to an emergency budget in the run up to the 1979 election even though he had written one.

Spot on.  As discussed, how the Tories manage themselves and implement their policies after the election should not be in the public eye.

Then Richards moves on to how Labour behaved in opposition before 1997:

I see no evidence that Cameron and Osborne have had the same ruthless discussions that punctuated the Blair/Brown phase in opposition. With a forensic persistence Blair and Brown asked what signals they wanted to convey with their tax and spend policies. If any policies contradicted the intended signal they dropped or revised them. They asked other questions. Did every policy consistently convey the message? Is everyone delivering the same message?

Contrast that with the goings on in the Tory camp over the last few weeks and you begin to see where the problem lies.  D&G are not at one.

Richard concludes:

The belated stirrings of their opponents signal the start of a period in which the Conservatives will face intense scrutiny for the first time. I am not sure they are ready for it.


There will be more evidence of Cameron not being “ready for it” when Brown announces his latest dividing line; voting reform.  It won’t happen, because time will run out to pass the legislation, but that is not the point.  These little matters, like the 50p tax rate, throw the Tories off balance, even if the policies eventually don't deliver.

Where do the Tories go from here?  A period of quiet contemplation is required.  They need to take stock, work out their strategy and resolve the differences between D&G.  More importantly, they need to seize the agenda back from Labour. 

If they don't do this by the time the election is called, they will only have themselves to blame when it goes spectacularly wrong.

Digg This

No comments:

Post a Comment