Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
15 December 2009

Cameron still looks like a phoney

The Tory leader's problem is not his class, but his insincerity

By George Eaton

It’s becoming increasingly clear that David Cameron’s problem is not his class, but his perceived phoneyness. Voters are rarely troubled by a politician’s background or education (after all, they elected an Old Etonian as Mayor of London) but they despise insincerity.

A series of events including Cameron’s U-turn over the Lisbon Treaty and the revelations over Zac Goldsmith’s tax status have reinforced these concerns. Equally damaging has been the Tories’ refusal to abandon their pledge to cut inheritance tax, despite their warnings that the deficit is dangerously high.

It’s a thread picked up by Rachel Sylvester in her Times column today. She argues that Cameron must deal with the toxic issue of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status if he’s to avoid further antagonising voters.

Here’s the key passage:

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

Of course, most voters have never heard of Lord Ashcroft — although you can be sure that by the time the country goes to the polls Labour and the Liberal Democrats will have made him a household name. But the questions about his tax status play into the wider issue of trust. Voters are still unsure whether Mr Cameron really calls the shots with his right-wingers. If he can’t even force his own vice-chairman to say where he lives for tax purposes, then it is fair to wonder whether he could assert himself on things that really mattered if he got to No 10.

The most notable finding from the latest Guardian/ICM poll is that while two months ago 49 per cent of voters said they thought Cameron and Osborne would do better than Darling and Brown, today only 38 per cent do. Clearly these isolated events are damaging overall trust in the Tories.

The difficulty for Labour is that few people will be willing to take lectures on trust from Gordon Brown, who hubristically declared that he’d “abolished boom and bust”. But after the MPs’ expenses scandal, perhaps the best any leader can hope for is to be mistrusted the least.

 

Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action