New Times,
New Thinking.

  1. Election 2024
27 April 2015updated 12 Oct 2023 10:45am

Why the new “pumped up” David Cameron isn’t working

The Prime Minister is injecting some 11th-hour passion into his campaign. It’s not very convincing.

By Anoosh Chakelian

You may have noticed something different about the Prime Minister in the past few days. He’s rolled his sleeves up. He’s taken his tie off. He’s being a bit shouty. He’s started turning red again (a distinctive PMQs hue that we haven’t seen since parliament dissolved). He’s saying things like “pumps me up”, “stick it where the sun don’t shine”, and “bloody”.

Rather than hiding behind badly photoshopped posters of Nicola Sturgeon as a puppetmaster and hordes of dead-eyed party functionaries wearing Alex Salmond masks, he is finally fighting an election campaign. Or at least that’s what he’s trying to do.

Following a competent few weeks from Labour (as Stephen outlines), and accusations that the Tories are running a lacklustre campaign, David Cameron is studiously Being Passionate. Watch him, shirtsleeves unleashed, during a speech where he harangues his audience about the suggestion that Tories “don’t always shout with the passion that some people would like”:

And here he is in a later speech, gesticulating wildly:

…it “PUMPS ME UP”:

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 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
  • 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.

Following this speech, stunned journalists asked him about his sudden change of tone. “If I’m getting lively about it it’s because I feel bloody lively about it!” he bellowed.

There are some problems with this new approach.

Firstly, he is brazenly acknowledging and drawing attention to the fact that the Tory campaign has been flat. Not a great admission to supporters and the electorate.

Secondly, a raging, rattled Cameron doesn’t fit with his party’s appeal. The Conservative message is confidence over chaos, economic competence, a steady road to recovery. A calm, collected Cameron fits with this message far better than one reddening and roaring in the heat of desperation.

Thirdly, there’s the Bullingdon effect. Cameron has been criticised by Alastair Campbell for being “too posh to push” for an election win. And that’s true. He is too posh to behave that way. As soon as he starts ranting and turning scarlet, viewers are reminded not of a slick, safe statesman, but of a bully on the rampage. A tyrannical lord of the manor who’s been awoken from his slumber by an improperly-timed dinner gong.

Earlier this month, Ian Leslie wrote in the NS that Cameron “looks like a man who has lost his desire for the job”. Tacked on as an afterthought to his campaign, the PM’s latest performances expose this more than ever.

Content from our partners
We need an urgent review of UK pensions
The future of private credit
Peatlands are nature's unsung climate warriors