The BBC lead-in was bang on message for VacuDave tonight, leading its bulletins with talk of his ‘big, bold plans for welfare reform’ and the highly comical notion that the Tories are now the party of jobs.
Well done Dave and his spin team then for getting this thought as a major news item rather than something for the satirists. Nice pictures of him running by the way, (style a bit namby) and playing table football. Oh, his new personal photographer is going to get such a lovely coffee table book out of this.
However, my entirely random analysis of his performance on the Andrew Marr programme suggests it will take more than a strong news bulletin to erase the impact of what was not a good showing by Mr Cameron.
I started the day in Manchester, headed later to Warrington for the Rugby League championships play-off finals, then home by train.
Along the way, I reckon I collected eight personal impressions of his interview. All were negative. Of the eight, only one was avowedly Labour, though others may well have been. I was not asking for their party affiliations, just interested in their impressions.
I was clearly not alone in my tweeted instant view after the interview that as well as having a problem in failing to give clear answers about policy, he also has a problem with peevishness. He is clearly someone, perhaps because of his background, who does not really think that he should be challenged over his statements and opinions. But when such statements or opinions are as lacking in clarity as those he divulged on Europe or public spending, he is bound to get people pressing for more detail. Yet such pressing, actually quite gentle, appeared to lead to reddening of the face, beads of sweat on the forehead, tightening of the lips, and very clear annoyance.
Because David Cameron polls ahead of his party, Tory strategists assume that the more we see of him, the better the party will do.
But he polls ahead of his party because his party is a dreadful place populated with its more than its fair share of dreadful people, as my overnight stay in Manchester confirmed.
For me, the most stunning moment of the interview was when he said he had been leader of the Tory party for four years. Four years!! Of course I should know it has been that long, but four years is an Olympiad. What does he really have to show, in terms of change to his Party, and public understanding of him, his character and his policies?
His big success has been media management, getting all the negative focus of politics onto one side, Labour. An important effect of that has been to dull the senses of the media when it comes to scrutiny and analysis of his policy positions. That might be changing, and as it does, the Tories may have to revisit their assumption that the more the public see of them, the more they will like him. It also means that provided the planned leaders’ debates really do focus on serious substance and policy, where positions cannot just be expressed in neat soundbites but are put under genuine pressure, then GB ought to be able to do serious good to his own standing, and damage to Dave’s.
Labour did ok last week. They might do even better this week, provided the public gets plenty of opportunity to see VacuDave avoiding questions, and looking a bit lordy-lordy that he is even asked them. Interesting too, was it not, that whilst he appeared not to have clear answers to most questions, when it came to scrapping inheritance tax for the richest families in the country as his big tax priority, he had no difficulty at all in spelling that one out.
Congratulations to Keighley on winning their play-off final, 28 26, against Oldham. I did some interviews on the pitch at half time and was asked in one of them if politics could learn anything from Rugby League. Certainly. Always work as a team. Keep taking the fight to your opponents. And never give up.
his name is David Cameron not VacuDave.. Come on Alastair you are a good writer, you do not need to resort to feeble insults to make a point! Also repeating untrue mantra like “scrapping inheritance tax for the richest families…..” is so weak
…So you think labour did ok last week..toss away your rose coloured glasses and get real, they were an absolute shambles as the tories will probably be this week..we have reached the stage in politics where the choice is not the best but the least worst….
In thinking that a Labour defeat would be a positive thing, as it would give them a kick up the proverbial and give the media a chance to find a new victim, I thought of the alternative – Tories in government.
All the good work that Labour have done to combat the recession would be jeapordised because of millions of protest votes against Labour. If the Tories had been in control for the last two years, our economic situation would have been dire (even more so than it is now). Sure, let the Tories in after Labour have secured our foundations, let them come in and, if (as I suspect) they are powderpuff and undo some of the good work of Labour since 1997, then at least it will be rectifiable and people will be reminded of who the Tories are. If they win the next election, we could be set back 10 years. It could be a disaster. I can see Dave blaming Labour for the UK’s economy collapsing and the ‘Labour spin machine’ for cruelly making people think we were working our way out of a recession when there was never a chance.
Plus, when I think of the importance of our relationship with Europe and the confidence the world needs in Britain for us to come out of this with strength (for trade, economic stability and future growth), I worry that Cameron will come in and ruin it all. I’m sure this is said everytime, but I feel the next election could be the most important election for quite some time. And, I don’t feel like conceding it just yet…
I watched the Andrew Marr interview twice. According to Mr Cameron, the Tory policy on the EU is perfectly clear. If the Lisbon treaty has not been ratified by all countries, and the Tories win the election, there will be a referendum and Mr Cameron will campaign for a “No” vote. I think I understand that. But when asked repeatedly what he would do if the treaty HAD been ratified by the next election, he said that he didn’t wish to comment on an issue that was still “live” in other countries. When pressed by Marr, he said that he’d made the position perfectly clear. But I still don’t understand what the position is! Now, either he talked a load of waffle or I’m pretty dim.
Likewise when pressed about how many jobs would be lost in the Conservative policy of slashing public spending. It seemed that all they would need to do would be to wind up a few quangos and the national debt would vanish. Miraculous!
But then, as you say, the policy on inheritance tax is clear as a whistle, fully funded, and a definite policy during their first parliament.
So, that’s alright then.
In your comment in the Observer you seem to count on the fact that policy will win over presentation in the coming tv debates. Well, at least GB has nothing to lose by taking part.
Just watched the Marr interview. Totally surreal. Cameron is seriously asking us to believe that the most important factor in this debate is that we must not interfere with the Czechs’ decision-making. I’m sure the man on the Prague omnibus can think of little else than the shadow cabinet’s internal arguments.
When I read the bit about having a problem in failing to give clear answers about public policy, peevishness and not thinking he should be challenged about his statements and opinions, I thought you were talking about Gordon Brown.
What about Tory announcements on welfare reform? That will hit the poorest the hardest – and where are the jobs these days for the workless to go to? Oops – it seems the Tories are looking to further implement policies that Labour has set in motion already. And Labour’s welfare guru Freud has jumped ship to the Tories too. The limosine liberals – tory and labour – are mixing a helluva social cocktail for the future.