Thursday, March 22, 2007

Team Cameron


Much blood has been spilled over the reputation of Gordon Brown.....did I say blood? That damn Stalin analogy - gets everywhere. Of course I meant much ink. Regardless, Brown is just one of the two likely principal protagonists at the next election, so what about Cameron. I am indebted to the ever eagle eyed Conor Daly for drawing my attention to a major Guardian feature on 'Team Cameron' - the people surrounding the Tory leader. One got the impression that this was meant to be a pretty devastating expose of an extraordinary and mysterious clique. Understand it, was the implication, and you'll never look at Cameron in the same way again. Alas, no such luck! Over four pages of G2, this was pretty thin stuff.

The main conclusions were that Cameron is surrounded by a young-ish team; they all went to Eton; they are polite to journalists; they may be young but they're not novices and...er...that's about it. The Guardian's real gripe, I think, is the Eton one. How dare the aspiring leader of a modern egalitarian democracy come from an elitist school and then use his school-mates as advisers! Eton's always been divisive, but it's hardly a killer point!

More significant, I think, is the political pedigree of these advisers. For all the veneer of Tory progressiveness that provides the nice sheen on the surface of Project Cameron, his closest supporters hail from a right-wing, euro-sceptic past that has no more relationship with traditional Tory One Nation-ism than Blair does with working class socialism. They understand modernisation in terms of public perception and high-profile political campaigning on 'triangulation' issues. But there is no heart or passion to what they are doing. The Guardian reporter got that bit right - they want power, but to what end?

Tomorrow a film called 'Amazing Grace' is released. It follows the extraordinary political crusade of eighteenth century Tory MP William Wilberforce as he fought to abolish slavery. Of course, Wilberforce was inspired by his Christian faith to pursue his noble campaign against often enormous odds. The film's title is taken from the hymn by former slave trader turned Christian minister, John Newton, who inspired Wilberforce. But whatever the personal inspiration, such a film might prompt us to ask the question today, 'where are the men of principle and idealism'? In a world of spin, are we no longer capable of producing the Wilberforces and Shaftesburys? Compared to such giants, David Cameron looks small indeed.

3 comments:

C H Daly said...

I think that your penultimate paragraph hit the nail on the head; Cameron and his Cameroons are from this tragic, Tory grassroots past that people simply aren’t interested in electing anymore. If they truly are prepared to lie to the public regarding their policy strategies, concealing their unease at the liberalisation of the party, then that’s fine but I can’t see them winning too many elections based on that premise.

By the way, just in case you were confused as to why the article was such “thin stuff” then you can judge for yourself here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2038776,00.html

I was also interested to see Michael Portillo (Ed. one of your pals back in the day Sir?) give a massive thumb down to Cameron’s squad, “I think his team is a bit thin” he says before concluding that "They're bright and they're nice. But they don't look like killers." I can appreciate that you can argue away the “former senior member of the Labour backroom operation” by pulling him up for bias (He described the team “the rest of the team [except for Steve Hilton] is very poor - a bunch of jobbing Conservative Central Office second-raters…Cameron's lot are very green, very immature. The media operation is abysmal. They have no idea how to deal with hostile commentators.") But, this criticism from Portillo must surely be worrying Cameron who seems thus far to have relied so heavily on his backroom team to portray him as well, whoever the electorate want him to be.

GM said...

Portillo's comment is certainly interesting, from a weighty former politico. Portillo himself underwent a bit of a damscene conversion after he lost his seat in 1997. Before that, he had been one of the ultra-Thatcherites and not, thus, one of my pals 'back in the days'!! We saw him as 'Mr. 40%' - a man who knew that you only needed 40% of the vote to win an election and didn't need to be concerned with the needs of the remaining 60%. He pretty well admitted as much at a dinner with us I remember. But that was before his metamorphosis into a more interesting, progressive, credible politician - at which point the Tory Party rejected him. Tells you everything.

Lord Milky said...

Britney Spears, she who was powered by christian love, wrote a song entitled 'I'm a slave for you' - and where is she now eh? No politics for her anymore. Just like Wilberforce really.

I like Portillo, good man. In case you weren't aware, his brother plays in the Spanish Primera League.