Congratulations to David Cameron … now there’s something you never thought you’d see on here. But I mean it. I’m impressed.
Turn to page 4 of The Guardian and you will see why. He is standing, in the middle of a London Underground carriage, clutching a sheaf of papers in one hand, and WRITING with the other. The man is a genius. Have you ever tried it? Writing while standing on a moving Tube train? The only time I ever did, I ended up lurching forward and headbutting an American tourist, creating a scene in which someone who had been eyeing me up ever since I got on at Pimlico, said loudly ‘hey, aren’t you Alistair Darling?’
I said not even Fiona calls me that any more, apologised to the Yank, and skipped out at King’s Cross.
Maybe this is what sets true leaders apart … the ability to stand AND write. Take a closer look at the picture if you can. There are five other people in it, including shadow defence spokesman Liam Fox who has the look of a man thinking ‘surely there is more to political life than being an extra in one of Dave’s subterranean photoshoots.’
All five of Dave’s companions are holding on to the rail in the ceiling of the carriage. It is dark outside, so we must assume the train is moving between stations. But Dave is unperturbed. The hand is still. The pen is on the paper. The poppy is in place. The picture is perfect. And that’s enough Ps.
Over in The Times, a different carriage, a different picture, page 13. Liam Fox is history. The other men in suits are gone too. Dave knows that for The Times, a different image is called for. Guardian readers are Tube-standers. Times readers are sitters. Central Office polling makes that very clear. So for The Times, we sit. But we have the same look, we have the same pen, we are looking at the same sheaf of paper, we are pretending to work in the same way.
The problem with this one is that there are more people in the picture. Not so easy to control as Liam. So the first thing I notice is that he is the only one wearing a poppy. Shouldn’t he say something? But he is so intent on that piece of paper, and the pen in his left hand.
The second thing I notice is that the people opposite him are not looking at him. Very London. He should go up north more. Two people a few yards away are looking at him, warily, suspiciously even. Neither seem terribly impressed. They are probably thinking that he does not look like a regular on the Jubilee Line, that all that scribbling looks a bit posed and phoney and oh, there’s a camera to make sure they get a picture of Dave on the tube.
So all in all, had I been Dave, or had I been advising Dave, I would have stuck with the standing picture.
But hats off, he has just performed a spectacular U-turn on Europe and here am I, something of a critic of the man, blathering away about his demeanour on a London Underground photocall.
Congratulations to The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh too. Something else you didn’t expect to hear. I always worried that Trevor’s utter obsession with Europe bordered on a mild form of derangement. But he appears to have been cured. And we can thank Dave for this too. Because now The Sun is backing him, when Dave says the ‘cast-iron guarantee’ of a referendum no longer applies, Trevor has to fall into line, the line being that it would be odd to be opening a fight with Europe when people are more worried about jobs and the economy. They always were Trevor, they always were.
I am pleased his obsession has been tempered. It is always sad though, to see the fight go out of someone, because the boss says it has to.