Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Does Cameron Need Policies?
Have just finished watching a Newsnight interview where some right-wing loon called Jon Gaunt, who presents a radio show and writes for, erm, the Sun, has been given plenty of air time to attack a Cameroonie about the Tories' lack of policies. Paxman, having earlier demolished the Labour minister Phil Woolas, was particularly ineffective in this exchange, but so too was the Cameroonie - MP Ed Vaizey. Gaunt ranted on for a while about the lack of clear policies coming from Cameron, but in fact it turned out that what he really meant was the lack of good old fashioned right-wing moral and social fascism that served the Conservatives so well in the last two elections.
Surprisingly, Vaizey took him at face value - allowing him to confuse his right-wing urges for some principled stand about having actual policies. Instead, Vaizey should have taken him to task for sheer humbug. The absence of policies charge is wearing thin. Cameron is staking out a range of positions but, sensibly for an opposition leader, refusing to elaborate the policy detail without considerable debate. Ths was David Willett's point a couple of weeks ago. Having spent a year identifying the key problems, it seems appropriate to spend time developing rigorous and well thought through policies rather than a series of quick knee jerk reactions.
The Gaunt-Vaizey interchange came about because of a Newsnight report that Cameron has failed to shift the public image of the Conservative Party very significantly, and that he may now be relying too much on the bogey figure of Gordon Brown to help him out. BBC Online's Nick Assinder reaches much the same conclusion in his report here. Whatever the truth of the latter charge, it is certainly the case that, for all his advances, Cameron cannot afford complacency one year on as leader. But then, in all fairness, he never looked as if he would.