There are two somewhat conflicting things you hear from inside government about David Cameron’s style of leadership.
The first is that he has taken to the job of PM as to the manor born. Say what you like about Eton, you hear, but it gives people that inner and outer confidence that he puts to good use.
The second is that when it comes to policy detail, he does not go deep enough and so risks making it up as he goes along.
Trait 1 will carry him a fair way. But trait 2 is more important, and will catch up with him.
Today’s Daily Telegraph report on disquiet among the military at the government’s (not very) strategic defence review is the latest, and a rather more serious, example of Trait 2 getting the upper hand on Trait 1.
If Trait 1 were all that mattered, then the military top brass would be a lovely place for Cameron to be. They would respond warmly to all that good breeding, respect for history and tradition and shiny self-confidence which he possesses in abundance.
But one of the downsides of Trait 1 is that you are so confident that you overlook the need to do some pretty basic groundwork. And even taking into account the MoD’s vested interest in painting a picture of itself as rather hard done by, it is clear the basic groundwork of proper consultation, and consideration of the impact of planned changes, just wasn’t done.
And if he can be this careless on military matters, heaven knows how careless he is being in relation to changes planned to other public services not quite up there with defence on the realm.