New Times,
New Thinking.

20 May 2010

In praise of David Cameron

Not a headline you’d expect here, but . . .

By James Macintyre

David Cameron doesn’t get much praise on this blog, which argued against both the likelihood and the desirability of his forming a majority government. However, in the wake of the coalition he has agreed with the Liberal Democrats, a few noteworthy points should be made in his favour.

First, he showed great adaptability in immediately recognising — the day after polling day — the urgent need to reach out to the Lib Dems. The appointment of Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister was unexpected and, from the point of view of Clegg and Cameron, inspired.

That Clegg could resign at any point and destroy the government means that Cameron must keep the Lib Dems onside; his administration will be tempered, to the anger of some Conservative MPs. I have long argued that Cameron never had a “Clause Four moment” during his four-and-a-half-year leadership in opposition. At the thirteenth hour, however, after the election, he has had one.

Which brings us to the second point: Cameron’s style may be brusque, but he is right to clamp down on backbench rebels on the Tory right, as he has evidently tried to do by attempting to force frontbenchers on to the 1922 Commiteee (a move being likened to others taken by — you guessed it — Robert Mugabe). There will be many rows to come, and Cameron — so far — is on the right side of them.

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Finally, sources close to the Speaker’s office and the Conservative leadership say that Cameron had some role in ensuring that the reforming Speaker of the Commons, John Bercow, was re-elected this week. That was a wise move, as the Tories were not in a position of strength to remove him. That Cameron recognised this is to his credit.

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