The Times attacks Cameron

Paper declares there is no "compelling case" for a Tory government

A damning leader in today's Times questions David Cameron's fitness to govern. In the wake of another opinion poll showing a hung parliament is on the cards, the paper declares:

Clearly David Cameron is not making a convincing case. The central charge against him is that, while he is approachable and likeable, his aims and values as a future prime minister of this country are still unclear. David Cameron has yet to answer a basic question: what does he stand for?

It goes on:

Mr Cameron's case is not yet persuasive. His speeches are replete with favourable references to charities but precious little about the practical business issue of job creation. He has been fond lately of set-piece speeches of dubious intellectual and strategic wisdom on the iniquity of the big state and health and safety legislation . . . Mr Cameron is, instead, projecting the aura of a man who wants power rather more than he knows what to do with it.

Cameron's intense anti-statism (in his conference speech he made the absurd claim that "big government" was to blame for the financial crisis) has damaged his party's credibility. There is something in the Labour line that "those who do not believe in the power of government should not be trusted to form one".

The Times concludes:

It is all very well to complain about the Labour record but we still await a clear, unambiguous and compelling case for a Conservative government.

It's a timely reminder that unlike its Wapping cousin the Sun, the Times remains committed, at least in principle, to Labour.

After you've had a look at the latest Populus figures (which would leave the Tories 21 seats short of a Commons majority) it's well worth reading John Harris in today's Guardian on the sudden downturn in Tory fortunes.

In the piece, the psephologist John Curtice points out that the Conservatives' lead is particularly "soft" due to the decreasing number of people who describes themselves as "Tory identifiers". The party's poll lead is built on floating voters, who "have at least the potential to disappear".

Given the fragility of the Tory lead, and given that anything between a Labour lead of 1 per cent and a Tory lead of 10 per cent could result in a hung parliament, Brown is probably right to pursue a "core vote" strategy in the hope this will prove just enough.

 

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Commons Confidential: Dave's picnic with Dacre

Revenge is a dish best served cold from a wicker hamper.

Sulking David Cameron can’t forgive the Daily Mail editor, Paul Dacre, for his role in his downfall. The unrelenting hostility of the self-appointed voice of Middle England to the Remain cause felt pivotal to the defeat. So, what a glorious coincidence it was that they found themselves picnicking a couple of motors apart before England beat Scotland at Twickenham. My snout recalled Cameron studiously peering in the opposite direction. On Dacre’s face was the smile of an assassin. Revenge is a dish best served cold from a wicker hamper.

The good news is that since Jeremy Corbyn let Theresa May off the Budget hook at Prime Minister’s Questions, most of his MPs no longer hate him. The bad news is that many now openly express their pity. It is whispered that Corbyn’s office made it clear that he didn’t wish to sit next to Tony Blair at the unveiling of the Iraq and Afghanistan war memorial in London. His desire for distance was probably reciprocated, as Comrade Corbyn wanted Brigadier Blair to be charged with war crimes. Fighting old battles is easier than beating the Tories.

Brexit is a ticket to travel. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is lifting its three-trip cap on funded journeys to Europe for MPs. The idea of paying for as many cross-Channel visits as a politician can enjoy reminds me of Denis MacShane. Under the old limits, he ended up in the clink for fiddling accounts to fund his Continental missionary work. If the new rule was applied retrospectively, perhaps the former Labour minister should be entitled to get his seat back and compensation?

The word in Ukip is that Paul Nuttall, OBE VC KG – the ridiculed former Premier League professional footballer and England 1966 World Cup winner – has cold feet after his Stoke mauling about standing in a by-election in Leigh (assuming that Andy Burnham is elected mayor of Greater Manchester in May). The electorate already knows his Walter Mitty act too well.

A senior Labour MP, who demanded anonymity, revealed that she had received a letter after Leicester’s Keith Vaz paid men to entertain him. Vaz had posed as Jim the washing machine man. Why, asked the complainant, wasn’t this second job listed in the register of members’ interests? She’s avoiding writing a reply.

Years ago, this column unearthed and ridiculed the early journalism of George Osborne, who must be the least qualified newspaper editor in history. The cabinet lackey Ben “Selwyn” Gummer’s feeble intervention in the Osborne debate has put him on our radar. We are now watching him and will be reporting back. My snouts are already unearthing interesting information.

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 23 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump's permanent revolution