Posts Tagged ‘boxing’

Bring me the head of David Cameron

09/10/2012, 07:00:39 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Kill the body and the head will die, so goes the old boxing maxim. The spine that is the chief whip is banished from conference. The lifeblood that is the party chair does not know who he is. The minister for Murdoch, now minister for the NHS, has distracted from efforts to restore vitality to the body Tory with his views on the bodies of women.

The Tories are taking a pummelling. It has become, to mix metaphors, as easy as shooting fish in a barrel to attack Tory ministers. What is more challenging and much more consequential is to have these attacks stick on the man responsible for these ministers. Up until now the prime minster has displayed a rather Teflon ability to evade calculability for the rolling omnishambles over which he has presided.

Several shadow ministers have been heard to bemoan over the TV and radio lately that the rule for blame allocation in this government is ABC: Anyone but Cameron. Damaged ministers are kept in post for as long as possible to soak up as much opprobrium as possible – otherwise, it might attach to the prime minister. Hapless junior ministers, as far as possible from association to Cameron, are sent out to try to explain u-turns. No humiliation is too great for these dispensable shock absorbers. Their reputations only matter insofar as they impact upon the prime minister’s standing.

It’s no surprise that a man whose only motivation for being prime minister is that he wants to be prime minister is deploying a vain and self-serving strategy. But shallow egotism is not the only motivation for Number 10’s approach. They see Cameron as the Conservative’s strongest resource, which they must preserve over all others.

Even if – as has transpired – the economy tanked and deficit grew, Conservatives reassured themselves with the view that the country would never vote for Ed Miliband and had become content with the idea of Cameron – so natural, so smooth, so born to rule – as their prime minister. Now two things are changing, which worry these Tories.

First, Miliband is starting to look and act a bit more like a prime minister. He leads a party united and determined to make a concerted pitch for the electoral centre ground: two preconditions of electoral success that Tories had assumed Miliband would never satisfy.

Second, Cameron seems less imperious. It’s not that Boris Johnson has won two elections, while Cameron has won none. It’s not that Johnson strikes an easier bond with the Tory faithful. It’s not that a time beyond Cameron has long been in sight. But all of these things matter. It’s that events appear the master of Cameron and his incompetent ministers.


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