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16 March 2015

The voters won’t forget Cameron’s record, no matter what’s in the budget

The Prime Minister's advisers think keeping him out of the spotlight keeps him fresh in the public mind. But people aren't stupid

By Beth Miller

With the election campaign entering its final weeks, we’re going to see a whole lot more of the party leaders, whether it’s on the party political broadcasts, on campaign posters or on one of the ridiculously-debated-debates-that’s-format-is-still-being-debated.

I remember reading some time ago that David Cameron’s advisers were urging him to pull back on public engagement. They worried that with a few years to go until the election the electorate would grow bored of seeing his face and he’d be seen as an old timer before this May; he has after all been an MP since 2001 and Conservative leader for 10 years this year, that’s two years more than Nick Clegg and double Ed Miliband.

The advisers believed Cameron, and politicians more broadly, have a sell by date and this date comes sooner the more the politician is in the public eye. The more they’re seen, the longer their perceived to have been around, making them less attractive to those fed up with the establishment and status quo.  

They’re probably right, lots of people don’t like David Cameron, and the more they see him, the more they’re reminded they don’t like him or many other politicians all that much. But not putting Cameron in the public eye as often isn’t good politics, its trickery, and perpetuates the sort of bad politics the British public are so disillusioned with.

I’d like to give the public more credit, just by Cameron not being on their TVs as much in the last few years, they’re still going to know he’s the Prime Minister, and they’re still going to know he’s ultimately responsible for the cuts their local public services have faced, the pay freezes they have felt and the suffering they have seen.

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This week George Osborne’s budget is widely predicted to be an election give away. The press have already reported he’ll be giving the public more freedom over their pensions and reducing business rates. Similarly the Lib Dems announced this weekend a £1.25bn support package for mental health provisions, even though they have been part of a Government that has cut children’s mental health services by more than £50 million since 2010.

Just as the electorate remember who has been PM despite his advisers’ best efforts to stop him falling victim to voter fatigue, they’ll also remember the policies that have affected so many, so badly, whatever the Government announces on Wednesday.