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.