As the tory party conference beckons and in light of the findings of the Channel 4 news poll, it is time for David Cameron to let us know whether he is a man of straw, or a man of conviction. Something that David Cameron should worry about is the fact that he is seen as a lightweight, although this is not particularly surprising given, he tends to come over as a person once removed from the public, all though it could be worse, because Gordon Brown is completely removed. It is also worthy of note, that those polled did not believe that the conservatives would be any better at running the economy than they were in the 1990’s and… that experience counted for something.
Looking at the past 2 or 3 months, it is not difficult to see why the public would have responded in this way. David Cameron really needs to look closely at his policy advisors, certainly if they are the people suggesting it would be risky or ill-advised to engage. There has been consistent bad news over the past few months and instead of grasping at this opportunity to demonstrate leadership, experience, empathy and conviction, the conservative party, lead by David Cameron have fired potshots from the safety of the shadows. Instead of standing up for the people of this country, they have allowed the Labour Party to stumble on relatively unchallenged, save for a swipes about how badly the Labour party have faired or performed. Nothing specific, nothing we can judge the conservative party by and truly, nothing of any value. A lost opportunity. Although Mr Cameron is not a fan of Margaret Thatcher, he should be reminded that she fought and won, she made a difference, she was a conviction politician. Irrespective of whether or not you agreed with her policies, or the way she went about them, she believed in what she was doing, much the same as other conviction politician’s, such as Nye Bevan, Winston Churchill, Enoch Powell, Tony Benn and so on.
My concern, is that whilst Gordon Brown’s attention has been focused on party issues and the economic woes of this country in terms of his legacy, rather than the affect on the lives of the people in this country. David Cameron has been wrapped up in how he looks in the mirror and the conservative party poll leads. Too frightened to make a move in case his carefully staged managed image should unwravel, or his party’s lead should fall. If he can remember his Latin, David Cameron would do well to consider the Latin proverb, “Fortuna audax iuvat“, fortune favours the brave, in other words, in case those around him don’t understand the meaning, good luck comes to those who are prepared to take chances.
We don’t need the conservative party to tell us that this government has failed, we already know that, we want them to tell us what they would do. Instead, David Cameron, the man of straw claims that he is not fighting an election, so there is no need to outline the conservative party policies until then, because the economic situation might change. Well, Mr Cameron, you have obviously never run a business, imagine the CEO going the the board with that one! He wouldn’t last 5 minutes. Maybe that is the problem, perhaps Cameron is worried that not only will we find that he is in fact a man of straw, but also he is lacking in depth, experience and, above all, conviction?
David Cameron has had a pretty easy ride, both from the media and the other political parties. None of them have really challenged him on why he has not outlined his party policies, conservative values and what they would do to make a real difference to our lives. Well, enough Mr Cameron, the public are getting fed up with the cheap sniping, yes the majority want to end this pain that is New Labour, but not if we end up with a man of straw, so frightened of his own shadow, that he won’t take the fight to the government even when they are on the ropes. David Cameron makes the conservative party look weaker than it did during the Major years, at least then, they were fighting for something, even if it was just their very survival. “Tis better to have fought and lost than to have never fought at all”. There is a latin translation if you prefer Mr Cameron.
From a personal perspective, I would rather have someone that is prepared to make decisions with the risk that they may end up being wrong, rather than one that is so indecisive that he makes no decision at all. So long as the man that made the decision and got it wrong, knows how he came to that decision, then he has every opportunity to learn and grow based on that experience. It is far, far easier to hit a stationery object, than a moving one.
Running government is not disimilar to running a very large business. Now you don’t see the chairman or ceo surrounding themsleves by their school pals or best mates. Why? Because they want, and indeed need, the best people for each role, they need experience and depth, but above all and this is important Mr Cameron, the ceo and chairman must have people that will challenge, question and fight their corner. There is nothing worse in business than being surrounded by people that agree with you, because, very soon, you will believe you can do no wrong. Ask Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who, for the most part, have surrounded themselves by so called “Blairites” and “Brownites”. Not only does this indicate insecurity, but it also smacks of weak leadership.
The electorate will often, some 18 months before a general election, deliberately go for the main opposition party simply because they want to make clear that they are fed up with the party in government, ignore this at your peril. If David cameron wants to succeed at the next general election, he needs to think seriously about who is in his top team, because from an outsiders persective, they all appear to be old Etonians or former public school boys, this may prove to a be a bigger problem than Mr Cameron thinks, come the time of the election.
There is no better time than the present for David Cameron to prove that he is not a man of straw. The government is on the ropes, Brown is floundering and the country is looking for leadership at a time when we are being run by buffoons, more concerned with losing their seats and lucrative expense accounts, than they are about the people of this country and the state of our economy. If he must, David Cameron could wait until the end of the month and tell us at the tory party conference, but that would be rehearsed, practiced and would not tell the poeple of this country that this possible man of straw can think on his feet.
David Cameron must engage, not just with the public, but with the government. He does an excellent job at Prime Ministers Question time, but he needs to be doing that in the street, in the media and on television. He needs to tell us what the conservative party stands for, what their policies are and why he would make a good prime minister, He must not wait for Gordon Brown to lose the next election, because contrary to what the polls may suggest, David Cameron could find himself having to deal with a hung parliament as the public move towards the LibDems, because they haven’t had enough time to get to know the conservative party.
The public need to know now, what the conservative party stands for, its values, policies and what they would do if we gave them the job of government, that’s right Mr Cameron, it is just like a job interview, and you are currently in the selection stages. Contrary to what David Cameron’s advisors may be saying, about keeping his powder dry, lest he goes down in the polls, he must come out of the shadows, stand up, and be counted now.
Yes, there is a risk that the public may not like his policies or agree with his ideas and of course, the Labour Party and the LibDems may rubbish them, especially if they are bold. But if David Cameron were to tell the public now, he would have up to 18 months to outline what his policies meant, why they would make a positive difference and to adjust, temper or revise them based on feedback. He would have a real opportunity to demonstrate his leadership abilities, not from the perspective of running a party of, for the most part, yes men, but a leader of this great country. It doesn’t matter if the Labour party steals the tories ideas, the public will know wo suggested them first, we are not stupid and in fact, most are a lot more politically savvy than they were 11 years ago.
If David Cameron fails to heed this advice and only tells the country what he and his party stand for in the run up to an election, he is taking a massive risk. He will have very little time to persuade the public and even worse, he and his party will be strangers to the electorate. It will be a hard sell, at least it will if the conservative party is to be bold, have new ideas for a new era and want’s to make a real difference. David Cameron would do well to look at Vince Cable, although he was ousted as leader of the LibDems, he will criticises the government and follows that up with what he would do, short, concise and language that is easy to the ear. I am not an advocat of the LibDem policies, anymore than I am for any other party, I am a floater, but I will say this, you have to admire a man that doesn’t just snipe from the sidelines, but suggests an alternative. You may not agree with him, but one thing he is not, is a man of straw. Mr Cameron, think on!