Saturday, July 21, 2007


Cameron Embattled

The implications of the by-elections and the removing of the Yates inquiry sword of Damocles, are discussed by columnists today. Martin Kettle points out that Brown has been the substantial beneficiary of the CPS decision: the inquiry helped hasten the demise of his predecessor and its ending enables him to swish his new broom around. The by-elections were not fabulous victories but they were won against the dominant political tide of the past two years.

So what about an early election? Stan James is offering Labour at 1.73 and the Tories at only 2.0. Kettle does not think an autumn poll is likely but is sure 'the option is being discussed at the highest levels'. Peter Riddell in The Times also discusses the election question:

The party leader with the most headaches this weekend is David Cameron. None of this means that there will be a snap general election in the autumn. There will almost certainly not be, but Mr Brown now has the freedom to establish the identity of his own Government and a range of choices for an election next year or in 2009.

Cameron's investment of so much energy and hope into the Ealing by-election came badly unstuck. He made no less than five visits during the campaign and on the ballot paper Tony Litt's name was accompanied, unusually, by the description 'David Cameron's Conservatives'. And still he managed to increase his share of the vote by the merest sliver.

The Guardian leader piles on the agony for Cameron by concluding from yesterday's happenings that:

Labour may have mutated from victim to potential conqueror.

But the most telling comment on Cameron's plight is given by Mike Smithson, author of in my view, the best political blog going, who suggests:

Why doesn’t he pre-empt his opponents and seek to restore his authority by resigning and seeking a fresh mandate from his party in a new leadership election?

If the most knowlegeable political blogger in the country thinks Cameron is facing so much dismay in his own party that he should do a John Major a la July 1995, then he must be in seriously deep doo-doo.

I want rid of Dave of course. But he would be an idiot if he did what you suggest. Such a move would be such a mistake that I think it would preclude his re-election as leader. Tactics were bad and lessons should be learned. Local party workers should not be ignored and should not be treated with the contempt Dave showed Ealing. He needs some good advice now. He needs to shore up his core support on big issues. Too many people are being ignored. I suspect the by-election poor show reflected peoples' contempt for his statements on grammar schools and general gimmick-ery.

But just as too many people called the election too early for Cameron, now they are writing him off too early. Brown was always going to get the bounce, but his long-term issues with the electorate will remain, and the caring listening Gordon act will soon wear off. Cameron is still a good electoral prospect, if he would just wind his neck in and do a few less gimmicks.
Much of your analysis is fair comment and time will show if you are right. But I should make it clear that I was not suggesting Dave should flush out his opponents- that was Mike Smithson. And I agree it would be a mistake for Cameron to even consider it,
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