Sunday, April 22, 2007

Cameron & Thinking the Unthinkable

Greg Dyke has given a 'from the horse's mouth' account of his non candidacy for the London mayoralty in today's Observer. It makes for interesting reading...

The week was dominated by the events of Wednesday when, for a short period, the world - or that part of it interested - was told that I was standing to be the next mayor of London supported by both the Conservative and the Liberal parties. Sadly, it wasn't to be...

Several months earlier, I had been approached by someone influential in the Tory party to see if I would be interested in being their candidate for mayor in next year's election. As a former Labour donor and supporter who then gave money to the Liberals at the last election because I supported their position on Iraq, I was surprised. But after a few meetings, I agreed to have a chat with David Cameron. I suspect many in the Labour party fail to understand what is happening to the Conservatives under Cameron and that the change he has brought about
could be as radical for his party as the arrival of New Labour was for Labour. Most Labour stalwarts I meet hope and believe that Cameron will turn out to be a nasty right-winger, whereas, in reality, I suspect he's more liberal than the current authoritarian Labour Home Secretary. Not that that is too difficult.

What all this means is that there are now three political parties battling over the centre ground and the ideological differences between them are small. The future debate in politics will not be about policy, but about delivery...

In the meantime, I believe the public are increasingly disillusioned with politics and politicians and looking for something new; the plan I proposed to David Cameron when we met was certainly that. When I suggested that I stand as an independent supported by both Conservatives and Liberals on a common platform for London, I thought he, like most politicians, would run a mile. He didn't. Instead, he proved very open to a discussion about what I call 'new politics'. He later discussed the idea with his senior colleagues and said he was willing to put it to the Conservative party in London with his support.

The next step was to get the Liberals on side and over Easter I had discussions with friends in the party. They were interested and open to discussing the idea, which I reported back to Cameron's people; I later discovered that Ming Campbell had been told about the plan. A meeting was set up between Cameron and Campbell for Wednesday to discuss the idea. Sadly, the story broke that day and what should have been a confidential discussion ended up becoming public which, I suspect, effectively killed the idea.

I like Ming, but his instant rejection of the idea showed, I think, a lack of imagination that people in politics so often show. In business or in television - the worlds I come from - thinking the unthinkable is how you become successful. Cameron has taken criticism for doing precisely that and it is unfair; I hope it doesn't stop him doing it again. We live in a world where you have to be brave to win and Cameron showed that he was brave.

This raises a number of interesting points. It shows that David Cameron is able to think the unthinkable and to delve into political areas no one would expect him to. While I certainly did not like the idea of Greg Dyke running under a Conservative banner, I do like the fact that David Cameron is a risk taker. Ming Campbell, however, is emphatically not, and ran for cover at the first sign of grapeshot.

According to Dyke, David Cameron wanted to put the proposal to London Conservatives at a meeting planned for late last week. In the event the meeting was cancelled. I have no idea what the reaction would have been, but with David Cameron's support for the idea there would have been enormous pressure on the London Party to go along with it.

It is also interesting to speculate on the motives of those who made this whole episode public. As someone who played a part in it I have mulled long and hard about what certain people wanted the consequences to be. I'm afraid I shall have to keep those conclusions to myself... Yes, I know, spoilsort...


Anonymous said...

doesn't all this hype conceal (a) desperation among the Tories and (b) Dykes' ego is roughly 99 per cent of the size of Jeffrey Archers's?

Dykes was useless at the Beeb and would be totally useless if he (heaven forbid) ever got in with a sniff of being Mayor of Greater London. Cameron was only interested because for all that Dykes was c**p, everyone else he had on offer (Mr Dale aside, of course) was/is significaltly c**pper

BJ said...

No, Dyke was brilliant at the Beeb. I'd happily vote for him: whichever party he stood for.

Anonymous said...

Who on Earth would vote for Greg Dyke? He's only slightly more credible that David Ike.

The fact the Tories and LibDems can't find anyone who could beat Ken shows what an absolute non-job MoL is.

Can anyone actually tell me anything useful the MoL has ever done?

Anonymous said...

Iain, you say have 'no idea what the reaction of (London Conservatives) would be'.I suspect you do.You must know as well as I do that there is no chance whatsoever that many would accept Dyke standing under a Conservative banner if there was the remotest chance that a 'real' Conservative would win. Of all Camerons ideas sop far this has to bew the worst.

Anonymous said...

Interesting article, and having seen Greg Dyke discuss it over the last few days, very much as I thought.
David Cameron seems to have impressed this once Labour and now Libdem supporter, and that is good for the Conservative party and all its candidates in the next GE.
Pretty disappointed at who ever leaked this story before it was ever put to the London tories, I hope it did not come from within the party with the sole aim of damaging Cameron.
Also sad at the reaction of some tory members on the internet and I wish they would get out of their ivory towers in their often already tory corner, they need to realise that to win a GE and overcome voter apathy Cameron has to appeal to wider audience. As Greg Dyke pointed out, David Cameron has to be imaginative and innovative and yes a risk taker, as the SAS know "he who dares wins". He who sits at home demanding the strait jacket politics of 20 years ago will not win and a hung parliament looms.
I want an outright Conservative win at the next GE not a minority tory government or god forbid the Libdems sitting holding the balance of power with a demand for PR being the auction price!

Anonymous said...

Greg Dyke may think that Cameron was brave, I think he was just plain stupid.And quite where the idea that Cameron supporting a crap proposal (again)would put pressure on the London party comes from is beyond me.The London party is becoming increasingly fed up with Cameron, Maude and the rest of the half witted toffs at CCHQ treating the London Mayoralty as unwinnable and some kind of opportunity to kick the party at large in the teeth in the interests of making nice with a LibDem party that patently hates us.

Cameron turns out to be a spin based con man and Maude should just sod off to the LibDems where he has always belonged.

Anonymous said...

Iain, I appreciate this post and your giving us the background on this story.

I am still totally opposed to this mad, desperate idea.

Dyke is right; in business, who dares,wins (often).

Politics isn't business. A political party is an ethos. It's almost spiritual in that it is a community of belief. A leader must adhere to the tenets of that ethos (be it socialist or conservative or libertarian).

Doing something "daring" and "unthinkable" - as opposed to guiding the party back to its roots - is counter productive and immature. What Tory voters are looking for isn't a show-stopper. They're looking for the guiding principles of Conservative values, and Dave is bereft of them.

Like trailing the talking to Greg Dyke as a joint candidate with people the Tories wouldn't give the time of day to was clearly seen as "a daring new concept in politics!!!". (I realise it was leaked. Like leaking elements of the plot of a new TV series.)

I am sorry to sound like a reverse snob because, as I have said here several times, I have never met an OE who didn't charm me down to my toes. They are a pleasure to be around. But they cannot relate to life as we know it.

Dave sincerely thinks that Tory voters are exercised about "green" issues rather than mass immigration, the EU, the fascist attitude in schools - little children subjected to "political correctness" indoctrination and the dumbing down of education so all might have prizes - the loss of our heritage and national identity and the disintegration of the UK.

They don't give a rat's arse about carbon footprints, and frankly, I would like to leave my carbon footprint on David Cameron's arse.

I'm sorry, but he's a smug clod and way out of his depth.

Anonymous said...

Chatterbox writes: "Cameron has to appeal to wider audience."

No, he doesn't. This not, as Cameron would have it, marketing a brand, which he can tart up with bells and whistles.

He has to appeal to the heart of the Conservative voters who have been devoid of representation for 10 years. Conservatism isn't a new "brand". We've been here for a hundred years. We didn't leave you. You left us. We want our party back.

Cameron gives me the creeps in almost the same way that Blair gives me the creeps

It Will Come to Me said...

G Dyke, by all accounts a 'paid up leftie', standing for Mayor of London with the support of the (useless) Tory leadership?

How long before Dave announces 'The Fourth Way'?

Third Way? Fourth Way? Smoke and Mirrors Way?

I'm fed up with PR spivery. Would that Dave really was pushing a broom.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a principle to vote for? Almost any principle would be ok.

Chaterbox (10.43) wants an outright Conservative win. I'm wondering what he means by Conservative?

Limmy (of Limmy's World of Glasgow fame) has a character called Benjamin who runs a PR company called BAMN. BAMN is an acronym for By Any Means Necessary. My guess is that Benjamin has moved to London and is the Alistair Campbell of the (useless) NuTories.

Tony Blair: played by D. Cameron

Peter Mandelson: played by Steve Hilton

Alistair Campbell: played by Benjamin (Limmy)

Yet another Satanic Trinity.

Anonymous said...

Stupid idea, and i wouldn't be so proud of David Cameron being a risk taker - that is not what we want our prime minister to be.

Anonymous said...

I've no idea who 'Handy 11.13' is, and somehow he seems to have hijacked my post.

By George, Verity, you're on good form. I wouldn't like to fall foul of you just at the moment!

Anonymous said...

"While I certainly did not like the idea of Greg Dyke running under a Conservative banner, I do like the fact that David Cameron is a risk taker. Ming Campbell, however, is emphatically not, and ran for cover at the first sign of grapeshot."

What a volte-face from your earlier comments this week...

Iain Dale said...

Er, in what way? I was against the Dyke idea then and I am now - as I said in the post. Read the piece again and your brain might switch into gear and understand the point I am making.

Anonymous said...

Handy - The Fourth Way! V good!

David Cameron is the Heather Mills of the British Parliament. New misunderstandings with the media. New explanations. New show stopping attention-grabbers.

An exciting new appearance on TV, dancing with a fake ethos! To media music! He can do the mambo to the left with a fake leg! He can do a backflip in beliefs with a fake leg! Do you love him, or what? Call in and vote Dave!

Peter Mc said...

You (rightly) have a go at the Darlington LD group leader for signing a BNP candidate's nomination papers. Then you have a pop at Ming for not supporting a Conservative proposed candidate for the London mayoralty.

Your logic circuits seem to do better on London fug than North Sea air.

Iain Dale said...

Peter Mc, are you on something?

Anonymous said...

Dave's dancing on a prosthetic leg. I think it's his right leg. It's not real.

Anonymous said...

Handy said:

Peter Mandelson: played by Steve Hilton

Now that is spot on. Well said, Handy

Auntie Flo'

Anonymous said...

"He has to appeal to the heart of the Conservative voters who have been devoid of representation for 10 years. Conservatism isn't a new "brand". We've been here for a hundred years. We didn't leave you. You left us. We want our party back."
Verity, he has to appear to a lot more voters than just conservatives to win an election!!!
And while we have been "picking" nice safe "right wing" leaders who blow all the right whistles Blair and Brown have been destroying our once proud voting system, pensions, savings etc etc....
Principles which only apply to about a third of the population will not bring about a change of government and a return to those principles in British life!!!!

Anonymous said...


If i'm honest, I personally think Ming displayed exactly the kind of knee-jerk reaction to Dyke's proposals which he so often criticises the government for having.

In reality, events would suggest that Ming fears what any sign of co-operation with Cameron would mean for his party. Namely, the authentication of Cameron's claims to be a "liberal conservative".

Ming, like vast swathes of the Labour Party, is desperately hoping Cameron is a closet right-winger just saying anything to get into government.

The truth is probably somewhat different, and even i recognise that.

Ming should look on this as an oppurtunity to work with Cameron to actually put some key Lib Dem proposals into practice. The liberalism i know and believe in is much closer to Cameron than to Brown, which is why working with the former.

The question is, does Ming actually stand for it?

Anonymous said...

Just to re-inforce the point I was making ... Chatterbox writes: "Cameron has to appeal to wider audience."

Incorrect. His "wider audience" has always been here, but the Tories threw it away as not being trendy enough; not being NuBlairy enough. Hiw "wider audience" is the huge body of the Conservative party. If he deserts them in search of a "wider audience" the Conservatives will win another defeat.

Dave is toxic. He is precisely the wrong individual.

Anonymous said...

I cant tell you anything usefull Ken Livingstone has done.

But I can tell you that half of Londons roads have become bus lanes. The buses are predictably still empty half the day. If the trains get any shorter at weekends they will become non exsistant. The Police service have become invisable except to car tax dodgers. Traffic wardens are more numerous then parking spaces. It now costs me £8 per day to sit in a traffic jam all day when it used to cost nothing at all.

I could go on and on.

What makes it all more then sad is that Ken is costing me and my family approximatly 500 taxed pounds every year and rising fast in extra council tax.

OH I did forget to mention the really 'usefull' trip to Cuba, I helped pay Ken to go on. I also forgot Ken assisting in the olypic movement bankcrupting my great great grand children.

Anonymous said...

Verity is turning into the lady that protests to much about someone who has never been in power yet.

Whats wrong with giving the middle class prat at least a year in office before trying to roast his testicals on the end of her triad?

In think shes secretly got a crush on public school boys with more cash and charm then herself. Only dont tell her because she will get really really pissed again.

Anonymous said...

Gary Powell, fair questions all, although your extrapolations are condescending. I could as easily opine that you rather fancy David Cameron and all those naughty public schoolboys who have more cash and charm than you do. That would explain you swooning over David Cameron and wanting to "give him a chance". Hmmmmm..... A chance at what, may we ask? Does your bottom wriggle when you think of David Cameron?

Insulting, isn't it?

Don't dish out what you can't take more of. And never get into a fight about sexual innuendos with a woman because we will always win.

I have been forgiving in this post.

Next time, not. Try to keep it on a level discussion between adults who do not know one another and, in my case, would avoid acquaintanceship at all costs.

I don't like David Cameron on his record, which is one of cheap, public relations opportunism. He was a PR man before and frankly, for a PR man, he's pretty crap. He doesn't seem to have had any triumphs, ever, in his dimly-lit career.

Can any point to any clever public relations triumph that David Cameron ever had in his 40 years? He's in middle age. He should have had some coups by now. He seems to have slipped under the water for most of his professional life.

He's not "middle class", by the way, despite us all being middle class, all being American, all being Hezbollah, now. There are still aristocratic people standing around. Not that I mind them. In fact, I think Prince Charles, with his long experience of his Prince's Trust, and his record of having spent long, ardous hours, year after year after year helping hundreds of young people to become entrepreneurs, is a perfect example.

Dave has accomplished nothing. Dave has no record. No background of achievement. Dave's a zero and continues, to my satisfaction, to prove this on a daily basis.

Cometh the hour, sinketh the man. Although as he has always swum beneath the surface, for his whole career, who would notice?

Praguetory said...

The piece is interesting because it confirms the version of the story that you broke and makes it clearer (as it was already crystal to those who follow these things) where Ming's loyalties. Vote yellow, get brown.

Anonymous said...

Problem with Cameron is that he understands that the Conservative Party's problem is not its policies, but its image, priorities and rhetoric (whereas for New Labour it was almost entirely unpalatable policies) but he cannot avoid actually changing (or avoiding talking about entirely) the "policies".

In other words, he can see the difference in the problem, but can't address the problem "differently".


Because Camerons team cannot tear themselves away from rigidly following New Labours battleplan of the mid-90's because that's the only game plan they know which "worked" and it is consequently one which they are obsessed with.

They need to change their approach pretty fast because no-one will vote for vacuity and waffle again.

"Social responsibility" - how uninspiring is that?!

They want an attractive, sensible Conservative party, but one which offers a clear vision and is worth voting for.

Cameron needs to SORT IT OUT asap.

Anonymous said...

chatterbox is right, verity is wrong - if we had to rely on the votes of Party members, we'd be dead in the water.

Cameron is changing the brand, and like it or not, that is the job Cameron was elected to do.

People who loathe all politicians have said in my hearing 'Cameron speaks like a real human being not a Party machine'.

Would I like to turn the dial back to, say, 1986? Yes, with all my heart - but I can't, and Cameron gives us the best chance we have had since 97 to turn the tables on this vile Government.

What has Cameron achieved by the age of 40(?) - he has made the Conservative Party viable again, and whether I like or don't like aspects of his approach is really unimportant.

Anonymous said...

Dismissing Dyke, as Ming's knee-jerk reaction did shows how out of tune the Lib-Dem leadership is from the "new politics".

The Lib-Dems still think they are sitting on the fence in a left-right-wing world. They still think sitting on a pivot makes them pivotal [well it hasn't and never will] and they feel very uncomfortable abandoning that position.

LMO said...

A party like the Conservatives can never put forward a policy the liberal left does not like,nor possibly a candidate.The likes of the BBC control the agenda in that they define what is the "centre ground"(Often to the left of the public)This is the reason it is all about delivery and presentation.Dyke would do wonderfully well,the BBC helping his cause.

Newmania said...

Good for Verity . If Cameron was really that Liberal then I would leave and join UKIP .

There is not a new politcs of unprinciple and management not until they rip real choices from the cold dead hand of the British People.
Thanks god this shameful episode is at an end . People like the CHatterbox have no conception of what the point of poltics is . It is not a f----- game !

( What is the swearing rule at the moment ?)

Anonymous said...

javelin said...April 23, 2007 9:29 AM

Dismissing Dyke, as Ming's knee-jerk reaction did shows how out of tune the Lib-Dem leadership is from the "new politics".

The Lib-Dems still think they are sitting on the fence in a left-right-wing world. They still think sitting on a pivot makes them pivotal [well it hasn't and never will] and they feel very uncomfortable abandoning that position.

Sad to say I have to fully agree with this statement.

Anonymous said...

I'd have thought certain Lib Dems would have more to benefit from this becoming public than any Tory? Probably yet another nail in Ming's coffin...

Little Black Sambo said...

"Principles which only apply to about a third of the population will not bring about a change of government."
With the sort of turnouts we have seen, they might. Anyway, if they are the RIGHT principles, we should stick to them.

Anonymous said...

I think that a lot of the criticism of Cameron is way too harsh; It is no good being a political Casandra - completely correct but never heeded. Yes, a political party has its principles and has to make the case for those principles, but it also has to negotiate with the wider electorate and try to come up with a compromise. It is this "contract" with the electorate that makes the UK system tick (or rather did, and still does when you compare it with where I live in Russia). For me, being willing to accept that a Greg Dyke that he could work with would be better than a Red Ken who is off in his own little world is a good sign that Cameron could be a seriously good PM.

Anonymous said...

david davis leaked the details, which says a lot about his view of Dave.

EML said...

I think this was a brilliant spin operation to win over yet more Lib Dems.

Sir Ming comes out of it looking like a prat, while Cameron looks open-minded and flexible.

Mission accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Prague Tory - Good point!

More Vulgar - That's it in a nutshell. David Cameron - a pr man - cannot think of a way to draw people back to the Tory party that isn't a copy of what NuLabour did with such success back in the 90s. He hsn't got a clue about what to do except copy the enemy's dishonesty from a decade ago.

Incidentally, it has always chilled my blood how eagerly the Tories cooperated in their own trashing. Teresa May should have been sacked for donning the mantle of the enemy and dubbing the Tories "the nasty party", thus reinforcing Labour jibes. In fact, other than a couple of people who took small amounts of money in brown paper envelopes and a couple of people who had affairs, they were rather staidly middle class.

Yet people who called their own party "the nasty party" are unable to land any blows (for fear of being called names) on the morally bankrupt, vile Labour party that has brought Britain to its knees in almost every area.

As you say "social responsibility" (and "green") - how is that going to get the blood racing? We need David Davis talking stirring ideas to real middle class and working class people who have been robbed of their country, their incomes through communist-style taxation, and their pensions and their precious British freedom of speech.

Judith falls into the same trap of trying to sound modern and market-oriented. A political party is not a "brand", any more than a religion is a "brand". It is a belief system which people incorporate into their lives and live by. Please, let us not have this NuLab-speak of "branding" because it sounded "modern". Frankly, it sounds ridiculous and studentish and falls, yet again, into the trap of aping the enemy.

Little Black Sambo - Precisely.

Reggie Maudling's Ghost - The news was leaked by David Davis! Oh, goody! There's my morning frisson! Stirrings of dissatisfaction among the trooops at the job the leader is not doing with so much banging of drums and playing of trumpets.