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Saturday, May 08, 2010

The weakness of Cameron's position

There is a fascinating article in today's Independent that underlines just how weak Cameron's position is within his own party and why his ability to get his feet under the table in 10 Downing Street is key to his survival as Tory Leader.

Michael Brown says that this is a pyrrhic Tory victory: In the words of one senior Tory backbencher to me yesterday, "Cameron has pissed this election away." The Tory leader has spent more than four years "decontaminating the brand". Yet, against this backcloth of humiliation for Labour, he has ended up with less than a 3 per cent increase on the share of the vote achieved at the 2005 general election by Michael Howard, who pursued a "dog whistle" campaign highlighting, immigration, Europe and tax cuts.

This result is a recipe for Tory backbench recriminations that could poison Mr Cameron's putative premiership from the start. Particular embarrassing for the leadership were the heavy defeats for the likes of Shaun Bailey, the black candidate in Hammersmith; Joanne Cash the über Cameroon, who described her party workers in Westminster North as "dinosaurs"; and Mark Coote, the openly gay candidate in Cheltenham. These three were the poster boys and girl for the "modernisation" campaign that consumed Mr Cameron's energies when he could have been formulating coherent policies to address the economic crisis and the national deficit.

Most, though not all, Tory backbenchers, whether friend or foe of the party leader, would rather be in government than in opposition – but not at any price, and certainly not (wrongly in my view) at the price of sacrificing the first-past-the-post electoral system. This will tie the Tory leader's hands in any discussions he may have with Nick Clegg. The Tory blogger Iain Dale has suggested that Mr Cameron could offer Mr Clegg legislation on a referendum for PR – and then promptly campaign for a "no" vote. Somehow, I suspect such Machiavellian tactics would cause mayhem in the Tory ranks.

Should he cross the threshold of No 10, Mr Cameron will face as many nightmares from behind him as he will from the parties ranged opposite him. He will be under pressure to dispense with the "voodoo advisers", led by Steve Hilton, who have sought to control and sideline backbench MPs, parliamentary candidates and the party membership. As Harold Wilson recognised throughout his minority government premierships, the only place that now matters is the House of Commons and the parliamentary arithmetic.

The consolation is apparently that the power of the executive will diminished giving more power to backbenchers. That must be a good thing.
Hi Peter,
See also John Gray in today's Guardian, and taken with comments from Liam Fox and Tebbit and we begin to a real picture of the difficulitise Cameron faces.
The difficulties Cameron faces are, in my eyes, no greater than those faced by Clegg. Make a deal with the Tories and alienate a large number of Lib Dem voters and party members or prop up Labour and alienate a large number of Lib Dem voters and party members. Sounds hellish to me.

But heck, I was one of less than 200 Swansea West TUSC voters, what do I know?
Peter would you say your views are aligned with the group who wrote the orange book?
Have you read the Orange book? It actually contains a wide range of views including essays from Social Liberals like Simon Hughes.
Peter, I read that in the Independent today, but you need to have a look at the 'shock and awe' which has hit ConservativeHome...

The election 'bunker-buster' has blown the Tory Old Guard off their feet and they are now stumbling around 'dazed and confused'.

p.s. The best comment of the day was from the 'Malcolm Tucker' article in the Graun, referring to Dave 'Dude, Where's My Majority?' Cameron...
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