Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Chink in Cameron's armour?

. It seems to me that one of the fundamental weaknesses of Cameron's Conservatives has been exposed by the whole George Osborne affair. Whatever you think about what maybe going on behind closed doors it seems obvious that there is alot more than meets the eye and that the kind of damage this episode does is amplified by Cameron's way of running the Conservatives almost from within the walls of his clique as a party within a party. The hapless George Osborne seems to me to have become iconic figurehead for this approach and this seems be contributing to him seeming so alone; yes Conservatives have come up to 'the plate' to bat for him but his admission today that he made a mistake leaves him cutting a rather tragic figure aboard a small dingy adrift in an ocean of loneliness.

Conservative Home has been a platform for attacking this style on several occasions. Significantly, in it's latest edition of its refrain that "Project Cameron is built around far too tight a circle" it also adds the complaint that "Very few of the party's big economic brains have been actively consulted by the leadership on the current challenges." John Redwood is mentioned by name in the comments.

Cameron's fundamental problem is that unlike Blair the 'enemies' of his 'modernisation' drive are less tangible and rather less concentrated in one organisational place like the trade unions were. It is very hard to shift the balance of power your way through structural changes when the people opposed to your project in various ways are virtually the entire party membership and the parliamentary party to boot. Withdrawing into your own tight inner circle is thus a natural self-defence mechanism; Cameron is much like a tortoise sat in the middle of the M25 in this regard - desperately retreating into it's shell in the hope rather than expectation it wont get squashed. It will be interesting to see how this approach weathers the storm of declining poll ratings and the severe wounding of one of its beneficiaries....

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