David Cameron is going berserk, says Kevin Meagher

Oh dear, and it was all going so well.

Was it a lack of fresh air on the plane? Something he ate? Perhaps it was the heat which has shorted the political circuitry in his brain? Whatever it was, David Cameron seems to be going berserk.

After picking fights with just about every key public sector union and professional group in sight, he is now taking his peculiar brand of call-a-spade-a-shovel diplomacy on to the world stage. With predictably eye-wincing results.

On his visit to Turkey earlier this week, he managed to suck up to his hosts by implying that a Gallic shrug and an intemperate German “Nein” were holding up Turkish accession to the EU. Quoting De Gaulle’s vetoing of Britain’s own bid in 1962 he said: “We know what it is like to be shut out of the club, but we also know that these things can change.” Which will be welcomed like a glass of warm pilsner by the Germans who want ‘privileged partnership’ status for Turkey, not full membership.

He then went on to talk about the Middle East saying: “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp”. Many would agree with the sentiment, but not to put that remark in the wider context of the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict was crass and simplistic. So he managed to insult the Israelis to boot. As the Wall Street Journal complained: “David Cameron’s solution…seemed straight from his Foreign Office’s old Mideast handbook: Shower uncritical praise on your hosts and trash Israel.”

Quite a start to the week. But he’s not finished yet. Our boy is riding the faux pas express to oblivion. On the first day of his visit to India he has managed to insult the Pakistanis for not doing enough to counter Islamic terrorism. Speaking to a group of business leaders in Bangalore he said that Pakistan should not be allowed to “look both ways” as it promotes “the export of terror.” The Pakistani government took the rare step of officially rebutting his remarks.

On the evidence of his performance in the past few days the prime minister must have developed his clod-hopping diplomatic skills during his days in the Bullingdon Club. Only this time Daddy’s chequebook will not be able to pay off his mistakes.  Interestingly, he also appears to favour the cushion method of conducting international relations. He lets his host sit on him so they can leave a deep impression. When he comes up for air the net result is a curious mixture of ass-kissing his host and slighting their enemies. He used to call his town hall meetings with the public ‘Cameron Direct.’ On this form it’s more like ‘Cameron-too-bloody-direct.’

He needs to crank the ‘subtlety’ dial up to 11. At the moment his lack of grace makes Prince Philip look like Kofi Annan. But like his partner Mr Clegg (and we have to be careful how we deploy that term following Mr Davis’s comparison of them as loved-up cowhands), the prime minister prides himself on being plain speaking.

But he should learn from Mr Clegg’s mistakes. He, rather admirably, began his leadership of the Liberal Democrats promising to give straight answers to questions, which memorably led to the abasing revelation that he had squired two and a half score of young women in his frisky youth.

Indeed just last week “Calamity Clegg”, idling as our nation’s deputy prime minister, had to be upbraided by No 10 for his off-piste remarks at prime ministers’ questions about the legality of the Iraq war, suffering the indignity of his words being disregarded as a ‘personal view’ (that is, complete tosh).

Telling it like it is can be a wonderful idea.  But diplomatic niceties do matter. Especially when you’re the leader of a government and dealing with countries who have nuclear weapons. And who also happen to be our allies. Or at least they were last week.

The Israelis, French, Germans and Pakistanis must all be wondering what special kind of disregard the British have for them that they send The Tourette’s Kid to knacker-up bilateral relations.

And one can only assume that those protocol experts at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are responding to threatened spending cuts with a subtle work to rule.

Well chaps, if you are, it’s succeeding.

Kevin Meagher was special adviser to the Labour secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

Tags: , , , ,

4 Responses to “David Cameron is going berserk, says Kevin Meagher”

  1. @epictrader says:

    A very entertaining read 🙂 As well as the countries mentioned in the article, I dare say that Greece and the Greek Cypriots will be less than enthusiastic about the unreserved support for Turkish membership of the EU demonstrated yesterday by the ‘faux pas kid’, particularly as there was no detail about the how or when of the Turkish plan to rectify their reckless military intervention and subsequent occupation of Northern Cyprus 36 years ago.

  2. In fairness, epic, that’s a policy that’s continued over from Brown. Labour also backed Turkish membership, but more diplomatically.

    For that matter, I think Papandreou actually backs Turkish membership. He’s certainly trying to improve relations. Cyprus, of course, is another matter entirely.

  3. vern says:

    I feel you have missed the point here. Now is the time for straight talking, enough of the spin and waffle that blighted us for the last 13 years. I have already had enough of you guys slagging off anything the coalition do to score points-be constructive not reactive….if you can!
    Blair did everything he possibly could to destroy this once great nation by pandering to other countries. I always thought Brown was a patriot and tried to give us a backbone again but sadly, too little too late.

  4. Parasite says:

    I agree with the above poster; enough of the nicely-nicely bum-sucking Creeping Jesus mentality in the FCO and spin; Cameron’s frankness is a breath of fresh air.

    Has the Labour attack moved from “teh evil Tories” onto Cameron is potty? – you’ll get used to opposition soon enough I expect!

Leave a Reply