“He has done a brilliant job so far” says Charlie Edwards in an analysis of Cameron’s first six months.
I told you a while back that I genuinely believed David Cameron would be the best leader for this country. Why? Because no leader since Thatcher led with the passion and dexterity that this country lacks. Because his brand of compassionate, noblesse oblige conservatism that defends, champions and is still wary of the state. His plan to cut the deficit and get Britain back on its feet encouraged me.
What has he done in these first six months? He has impressed. He is taking great strides to remedy the public finances, began a radical overhaul of the welfare system which will do more to alleviate poverty than another generation of dependency. He is clawing back some international respect for Britain by appealing for trade deals, carbon quotas and militaristic co-operation. International diplomacy does not simply mean acting as a global policeman, stampeding on an undemocratic nation here, toppling a dictator there, all the while playing politics with the lives of our fallen and wounded men and women of the armed forces.
In Britain, he has set a course for Parliamentary reform that will clean up British democracy: the right to sack an MP, financial incentives for open primaries, fixed-term Parliaments and no more unelected Prime Minister (cough BROWN).
In his speech at the Lord Mayor’s banquet last night, he affirmed the primacy of the City of London as the world’s financial centre. He wants to recreate a Silicon Valley in the East End as the ultimate Olympic legacy. He wants to radicalise schools so kids and parents and teachers choose what to study, rather than government dictats. These are not pithy soundbites for a soundbite-hungry media, these are real proposals that he is putting into action.
No Prime Minister is infallible. Gordon Brown proved that within about twenty minutes of the job. What Cameron currently misses is a convincing approach to the “tough decisions”. We know they are tough, we know it is because of the legacy left behind, but some are accusing Dave of being slightly too smirky when cuts are announced. In all honesty, I would laugh too if I had to sit through George Osbourne’s spending review and look directly at the hypocritical party opposite who have no ideology other than “Oppose! Appeal! Yay opposition!”
The PR gaffe about the photographer is a bit of a non-story. I think there is a fine line between scandal and one-liner opportunity in PMQs. Ed Miliband had his moment in the Commons. I hardly think the reduction of a £500,000 communications bill at Number 10 by using a photographer Cameron can get on mate’s rates is necessarily Watergate standard.
As far as his personal leadership goes, he has his allies (like all leaders). The way in which he utilises them is better than the puppet-mastery of an Alistair Campbell figure, more of a conference of expertise. Iain Martin, of the Wall Street Journal, best summed it up:
Cameron combines being supremely confident in his own abilities with never wanting to rank one of his very closest confidants higher than another. There is an element of divide and rule, a tactic often deployed in business or leadership. The key dynamic in this regard is the Cameron/Hilton/Osborne relationship.
I fully support David Cameron’s premiership. I have been encouraged by the way he has started, and relish the election in 2015. Britain is already on the way up; and somewhere along the line it was partly Dave’s doing.
*Paul Goodman MP, one of Conservative Home’s editors, has written my favourite assessment of David Cameron’s first six months.