01 March 2010

Cameron's judgement has to be questioned

Taking the correct decisions, and getting the timing right, are two important factors that a person who wishes to become Prime Minister needs to demonstrate.  Over Michael Ashcroft, the conclusion has to be that Cameron has failed on both counts.  This not-so-small matter should have cleared up before now.

The latest polls, one taken while the Ashcroft admission was breaking, have top line figures firmly in the hung parliament territory.  Anthony Wells comments:

In theory it is possible that Labour did narrow the gap before the weekend, but that David Cameron pulled it back over the weekend (or perhaps more likely, that it was a mixture of the two with a genuine narrowing of the lead, exaggerated by random sample error) – the reality is that we’ll never know.

John Rentoul, who demonstrates his knowledge of the London Underground (he’s in good company), makes the point out that betting markets are now moving against the Tories.

Tim Montgomerie comments that today’s fall in the value of pound means that we should elect “a strong government that is capable of coping with the fact that Brown has doubled the national debt”.

You could argue the the reaction in the markets is entirely due to Team Cameron and their failure to “seal the deal”.  A task that should be relatively easy when they up against Gordon Brown.

Having followed every general election in some detail since the mid ‘60’s, it’s difficult to remember when the main opposition party has so comprehensively made a mess of it during the pre-election period.

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  1. I wrote this in response to your earlier post, and it is far better here! Ashcroft has been an uncomfortable burden but a necessary one and I agree he should be open and that this type of arrangement cannot continue (for any of the parties)...but I can't see any lasting impact on the Tories from this and Labour are more vulnerable.

    One of the reasons for market fluctuation may be the write-down of Q3 GDP which led to the revised Q4 growth. Of course, the markets hate uncertainty more than anything else and we have much of that at the moment.

    Tories back up to 7 on YouGov and at 5 on ComRes. Probably the end of the jitters and hopefully DC now has a grip. I think these things are cyclical, or pendulum-like (is there a decent adjective, maybe pendular, not pendulous as that sounds pornographic) and that the Tories will probably swing back up towards the 40s.

    I suspect that Labour will regret the Ashcroft furore. This would have been better on Friday, to obscure Brown's Chilcot appearance, and does little other than to muddy the dirty waters even further. They shouldn't overshadow Brown's utterances - or waste Alan Johnson's or Jack Straw's time - with such trivia.

    Will Balls, McBride or Whelan be seeing the Headmaster with a copy of The Wealth of Nations (or Rawnsley's tome) down the back of their shorts for a Nokia-thrashing??

    This election phoney campaign is interesting and probably unique. The electorate is split 50-50 on cuts now or cuts later. Both sides are trying to square that circle, in a climate of 24/7 media, blogging and unparalleled access to information. There's no doctrine that can be followed by either side, the old class allegiances are for the most no more, and the majority opinion is up for grabs, confused by the policy deluge and united by deep distrust in politics and the complete reverse of the deference culture. Probably like trying to nail jelly to a wall for anyone trying to find a 'message'. Brown's wisest move was to (be forced to) listen to Alastair Darling, the only Labour figure with any credibility, and a man who realises this....Darling knows fine well that Brown's bullying lies - repeating rubbish about investment in a grave voice until people get bored - do not stand up. Thus has muddied the waters between cutting Tories and spending Labour, as has the struggling apparent growth of Q4. Cameron needs to trust the leadership and change instinct that drove him to make the speech which got him the party leadership...he has an instinctive grasp of what 'middle Britain' wants that even Blair lacked (or lost).

  2. I think Cameron has a real problem on his hands. It's not just Ashcroft but everything else. I will try and come back to this later if time permits.

  3. I can't help feeling that Cameron's item by item attacks on Brown/Labour are properly Oppositional in normal times, but we're now in election period - and one of the most important elections (for Tories if not Britain) for decades.

    What's totally missing from Cameron is the vision thing. We know Brown's legacy means two years or so of misery, but what follows? What will a Conservative future be like?

    Voters need positive reasons to vote for a party. There is every opportunity for Cameron to paint a positive picture of a regenerated Conservative Britain freed from Brown's
    /Labour's depression.

    But according to a commenter at John Redwood's blog reporting a conversation he had with a Cameron SpAd:
    "political philosophy and policy comes a distinct second to winning the election. The trouble is their strategy for winning the election depended on an exhaustive analysis of polling data which determined policy. By doing this, they’ve decided upon an entirely reactive strategy and are now in trouble as the polls change"

    I do hope Cameron finds some visionary philosophy from somewhere before he goes on those Prime Ministerial debates.

    Where is the Conservative Future?