Friday, December 26, 2008

Did David Cameron Meet the 2008 Challenge?

In my Telegraph column at the turn of this year (read it HERE) I assessed the three challenges facing Tory leader David Cameron during 2008. They were...

1. To attract more so-called C2 support
2. To create a government in waiting
3. To get Simon Heffer to say something nice about him

So how has he done? I do think the Conservatives are attracting more support among the so-called C2s (an expression I loathe), but there is still some way to go before Essex Man and Worcester Woman totally buy into David Cameron.

On the second one, I don't see enough progress. Francis Maude and Nick Boles are doing a fine job on preparing for government, but I still don't think the Shadow Cabinet is looking like or behaving like a government in waiting. Perhaps a January reshuffle will rectify that.

On the third one, Simon Heffer has, believe it or not, made one or two positive utterances about "Dave", as he insists on calling him, during the course of 2008. Let's have a few more during 2009!


Null said...

Iain, I agree with point 2. The problem the SC have is that baring Osborne and Cameron, no-one recognises them.

As for point 3, I am sure that Heff carries great sway with some people, but whenever I see him, I can't help but think of Flumps...

NB said...

Would broadly agree, Iain. The Shadow Cabinet, to me, still looks very lightweight - but that's from the leader down, not just on the periphery.

Whether Cameron is actually attracting anyone is debatable - that Gordon Brown is forcing people to look for an alternative is not.

Paddy Briggs said...

Rather like John McCain I suspect that the, man, Cameron, is far better than those who surround and advise him. But there is little or no chance that at a personal level the C2s will relate to him at all. That doesn’t mean that the Tories can’t attract this group – but it will be in spite of not because of Cameron. After all London (just) voted Boris in – albeit at the nadir of Labour’s fortunes. A re-run today would see Ken comfortably home.

Politics, including this website, remains obsessively interested in personality. A hangover from Blair (although the phenomenon pre-dated him). Cameron is strong on patrician personality and academically intelligent. But he, like Blair, has really never had a proper job and, unlike Blair, he was hugely lucky to get his job as Leader. As DD’s campaign Manger, Iain, you must still regret how a good speaking Toff with no substance beat your man – just because your man cocked up a speech!

There is no substance to Cameron. None at all. Where the truly significant politician of 2008, Obama of course, has substance galore from his background and his writing (how very good “Dreams from My Father” is) Cameron is puffery and veneer. Will the great unwashed warm to this – of course not. I agree with NB that the Shadow Cabinet is lightweight and can understand why DD wanted no more part of it and why Ken Clarke will continue to eschew it. And I agree also that it is lightweight from Cameron down. Puffballs do get elected sometimes – and we in London are coming to regret it. But in time I suspect that Boris will be seen not as John the Baptist - but as an aberration – and Cameron as well…

marksany said...

The SC may be lightweight, but then so is the Govt FB.

Wrinkled Weasel said...

On Wednesday, 18th October, 1936, King Edward VIII stepped out of his limousine into the cold, chilly and wet reality of an abandoned steelworks in Dowlais,in South Wales.
He had been on a tour of the area and was greeted with considerable warmth, due to his apparent deep concern for the plight of the unemployed.These steelworks brought the men hope', he said. 'Something must be done to see that they stay here - working.'...

Something must be done. It sounds so bland now but at the time it annoyed Baldwin and it was clearly seen as political meddling.

Times change and so do meanings of words and their signs and signifiers. Today such a phrase sounds so bland that it would not even be picked up by those who pour over every word of every speech of our leaders.

Cut to David Cameron. In response to the Damian Green affair, Cameron's initial response was "Questions must be asked". It might have rocked the political establishment in 1936, but frankly, it got the bum's rush in 2009.

David Cameron, I think, is no fake. Unfortunately he is an anachronism.

I believe that two world wars were won on the playing fields of Eton, but these days, we are in the hands of a world where some credulous woman with a Tutu in needlework can be a minister of state, and against that he is defenseless.

These days, "Questions must be asked" is what you might say if the Steward of one's club started wearing Cologne, but it isn't enough when confronting an assault on democracy.

At the moment, the Left have control of the dialectic and control of the language of the dialectic. Unless the Tories get it back, you are sunk.

Anonymous said...

"After all London (just) voted Boris in – albeit at the nadir of Labour’s fortunes. A re-run today would see Ken comfortably home."

Boris won with over 1 million first preference votes, and with a 13.5% swing towards the Conservatives. There was nothing 'just' about it, nor is there any evidence that Ken would romp home if the election was held again today.

"There is no substance to Cameron. None at all. Where the truly significant politician of 2008, Obama of course, has substance galore from his background and his writing."

Person you agree with has substance. Person you don't agree with does not. What a surprise.

"Puffballs do get elected sometimes – and we in London are coming to regret it."

Speaking for millions of voters now are you, Paddy?

"But he, like Blair, has really never had a proper job and, unlike Blair, he was hugely lucky to get his job as Leader."

Actually, Blair worked as a barrister, and Cameron worked in media for seven years. No, it's not working down a pit, but it's outside politics. I don't see how you can say he was lucky when he was essentially the underdog until the final round of MP voting.

Paddy Briggs there, with the 'what I think is what is right' approach to politics and world affairs.

Briantheship said...

Take Paddy with a pinch of salt. Personality does matter. However he’s right believing that Cameron will struggle to ‘attract’ C2s; but then parties rarely win elections, incumbents tend to lose them. Punters will only vote for a snot nosed little prick like Cameron because we dislike Brown even more. Boris, however, will remain a sure fire winner - in that he’s a ‘character’ who brightens the day. He’d probably win a larger majority now than he did at the time of his election. Like Livingstone, Boris is a Londoner. People supported Livingstone because he wasn’t Blair or the establishment. Once Blair ceased to be, the newt man’s raison d'ĂȘtre disappeared. Boris will rule for as long as he’s seen to be fighting for Londoners, and delivering. Be wary of stereotyping: I’ve voted Conservative since ’79, but regard Heffer as a bigger tosser than Cameron – knee-jerk rightwing garbage.

Mr Mr said...

Agree about the Shadow cabinet. Dismayed that Hague will not work full time and equally dismayed Cameron did not sack him. On the subject of Hague, he's been decidedly lacklustre of late.

David Davis and Ken Clarke need to be brought in. They are the ones who the public see as Tory spokesmen for the economy and national security and their counsel is well regarded.

I suppose Cameron is waiting for the outcome of the Spelman inquiry before re-shuffling. Move Osborne to party Chairman? I would like to see Eric Pickles given a high profile role, the public like him.

Yak40 said...

It would be nice to see the Cons on the attack. As I've said before scoring points at PMQ might be interesting to political junkies but to the other 99.9999% of the electorate it means nothing.

That the Conservatives' lead is only in the single digits is astonishing given the almost total incompetence of Brown's government.

The Tories need to attack when justified, stay on message and hammer home their message. The left understands how to obtain and keep power, they treat it as war, the Opposition has apparently forgotten how it's done.

It might help if the Shadows treated their positions as a full time job for a start.

MikeyP said...

The trouble is that by now, Brown should be walking around as if his dangly bits are located somewhere near his belly button, and Dave has NOT done that!

Anonymous said...

Iain,I absolutely disagree with this part of your article...

"This is a mission primarily for David Davis and William Hague. These are the two Conservatives who can reach parts of the electorate that other Conservatives can't."

No way. No chance. Those two haven't attracted new interest in the past and they won't attract new interest in the future. DC needs fresh faces like Ed Vaizey on board. Sensible, reasonable and in tune with middle Britain.

Davis and Hague are far too right wing to appeal to any swing voters or undecided voters. Trust me - I'm undecided. I've never voted Tory in my life and so far it looks likely to remain that way. But I do like David Cameron so I'll see if he can turn it around. He's actually done a very good job so far.

DC won't win an election from the centre right. He's got to be bang in the centre or centre left. I can imagine the LibDems picking up lots of protest votes if the election happens in 2009 (although it won't).

MARKY_UEA said...

Hi Iain,

What do you think is this campagin which has recently started up?

bryboy said...

He's not aggressive enough Iain. These Eurocrats ably supported by Gordon Brown are hell bent on destroying what is left of this country.

Everything is a dreadful mess and all we get from the opposition are platitudes. The days of gentlemen debating sensible issues in parliament have long gone.

He must start attacking and forcing answers from Brown. At present parliamentary procedures and a biased Speaker are making Cameron look inept. He should start breaking a few conventions or stage a walk out when Brown bats aside his questions. If he doesn't then that smirking arrogant incompetent PM will ignore him again and again.

Bird said...

Paddy Briggs 2.07
"Cameron is a lightweight".

Something you'll never be, fatso.

Scary Biscuits said...

I don't think Cameron will start to attract many people back to the party until he finds the courage to articulate an alternative to socialism, which is exactly Heffer's complaint. He's now dropped his too clever promise to match labour's communist spending plans but it's in danger of being too little too late.

When Cameron first slipped behind the polls after being elected leader, we kept being told that once he had de-toxed the party's image he'd come out with more policy meat. 3 years later and we're still waiting.

There are two dangers in this: (1) he gets elected anyway but, like Blair, doesn't have a mandate to change much or even a programme for government; or (2) it results in a hung Parliament in which these questions remain unresolved but the client state keeps on growing of its own accord. The latter is just as bad as losing outright and the former isn't much better.

Therefore, Cameron should perhaps be a little braver in 2009 and rediscover the Reaganite dream, also borne out of recession, of a small state and personal responsibility.

Mr Mr said...

To be candid, I do not think that Cameron should be the next Conservative PM unless he can get his act together.

To his credit he has done a great job in turning the party around but of late his leadership has become decidedly weak. Great idea to make the shadow cabinet full timers and bad idea to relent and let them carry on with their day jobs.

His real problem is Osborne, even I do not think it acceptable that two Toffs with drug taking histories should run the country. It is time that Dave proved he has the ruthlessness that makes a leader and stamps his authority down. The sacking of Hague and Osborne would be a good start.

word verification=cones

Alan Douglas said...

DC MUST start finding simple messages to hammer across :

22 Tory Tax Rises

Remember that one ? How could you not, it was hammered at us for years at any suitable AND unsuitable occasion.

Education, education, education

How about responding with :

Prudence, prudence, prudence, UNlike the member opposite.

The DO-NOTHING PARTY - and proudly so, while the PM opposite keeps on digging.

These may not be the best, but they are SIMPLE, and if repeated often enough, WILL stick.

Alan Douglas

WV anoinces - how did Prince Charles get in here ?

Unknown said...

Cameron's fairly placid approach is certainly the best one, save the vigor for the election campaign.
It certainly would be a bad move to peak to early.
On the economy: the conservatives responsible approach may not be what the country want to hear, but it is certainly the best one.
I cannot remember a time when the opposition had a more responsible and realist attitude to economic policy than the government of the day.

Lady Finchley said...

Ugh all the class war bullcrap again - get over it. As far as Paddy Briggs, you are such a bore. I cannot believe that I find myself agreeing with Canvas but there you go.

For everyone who thinks the Conservatives are policy lite go check out the Conservative website and listen, really listen, to the news shows and read, really read the papers instead of parroting the usual crap.

The Conservatives need the brightest and the best - not a bunch of dinosaurs. We will get nowhere by pandering to the likes of Heffer. He should go off and crawl in a hole, unpleasant little man that he is. He simply does not signify any more.

Nich Starling said...

Iain, on Simon Heffer, didn't Dave ask to be called Dave ?

Chris Paul said...

Do you actually know who and what C2s are? And if so wouldn't you agree that C1s are the new C2s?

And that C2s who had been largely been Tory-minded could actually be drifting away from the party of Cam, Goo and Boz?

Have you any evidence at all for your assertion that Tories are getting more support now than at the start of 2008 from C2s?

Figures are available. Have you consulted them?

Iain Dale said...

What a pathetic comment, even by your standards, Chris.

Full of insinuation and snidiness. If you have figures which disprove my assertion then feel free to post them. Naturally you can't, as they do not exist.

Anonymous said...

Simon Heffer is clearly mad - so why bother?