David Cameron was always quite fond of criticising the centralising Number 10 system which operated under Tony Blair.
So it is highly amusing to watch him steadily shift towards the kind of centralising Number 10 system which operated under Tony Blair.
He appears to be realising that whilst it is all well and good in theory to let ministers get on with the job of running their departments, if they do so without regard to broader strategy and an understanding of the political scene as a whole, all manner of chaos and incompetence can ensue. We have seen plenty of both of late.
Cameron just about got away with his plea of ignorance on the botched sell-off plan for forests. But how on earth such a proposal got off the ground without Number 10 thinking through the consequences is just, well, odd. Odd too to have Number 10 saying they were taken aback by the scale of the NHS reforms brought forward by Andrew Lansley.
It is commendable that Cameron wants to see his kids every now and then. But the constant chatter you hear that he likes to work relatively short hours, and not get too immersed in policy detail unless he really has to, does not suggest a PM as much in control as he would like us to believe when he struts his stuff at PMQs.
The appointment of pollster Andrew Cooper in a strategic co-ordinating role is sensible, if the aim is to get government activity organised according to a coherent and compelling narrrative.
Cooper is a thoughtful and intelligent man presumably hoping to get a grip of a machine that has been spluttering at best. But unless his boss makes clear throughout the system that he has seen the error of his ways, and the system responds, Operation Get A Grip won’t work, and Cooper will become just one more confused contributor to a confused set-up.