Saturday, 23 February 2008
A week of misjudgment for Cameron
Who'd have thought that the week when Gordon Brown was forced to nationalise a bank would be the week when the wheels started to come off the Cameron bandwagon? But this has not been as bad a week for the Government as it might have been. Polls suggest the public doesn't blame them for the failings of Northern Rock; indeed Brown and Darling are rated more highly than Cameron-Osborne for competence. The Tories have shot themselves in the foot at a time when they had the chance to gain political advantage. First, George Osborne made a complete chump of himself with his shrill shriekings over Northern Rock on Sunday and his lightweight Commons performance on Monday. Then, Cameron missed the target at PMQs. And finally, he capped a week of poor judgment with his crass list of 'gimmicks' yesterday, which was bad enough in itself, but was compounded by a refusal to withdraw his suggestion that sending sixth-formers to visit Auschwitz was a 'gimmick'. (The idea, being put about by poor David Hunt, who has been forced to defend Cameron, that the fuss has obscured an otherwise brilliant speech is absurd, as a quick reading of its contents will show). Cameron makes a great pretence of copying the tactics of Tony Blair and his team before the 1997 election; but this week has shown that he lacks the sure-footedness of Blair. And it may be that this unexpectedly bad week for the Tories will reignite public doubts about his judgment and competence (those that were buried after last year's Tory party conference). How ironic if the event that Brown least wanted - Northern Rock nationalisation - should trigger that reaction.