Monday, March 01, 2010

No Notes but Nothing to Say

Across the media, David Cameron's speech is examined with all the attention due to the chicken entrails in the auguries of ancient Rome. But in the end I think that the chicken entrails probably carry more meaning than the endless trail of meaningless banalities that Mr. Cameron put forward.

"Vote for change" means nothing if we do not know what will be changed and what will be kept the same. I know that politicians are afraid that if they put forward detailed proposals they will have to face tough questions, but it is not much of a change if they show such cowardice. The reality is that we face difficult times and it is not enough to admit that we face "touch choices" if you are not tough enough to phrase what those choices actually are.

David Cameron increasingly faces an image problem: that he is all public relations spin and no substance. The speech did not address this. Lots of emotive vocabulary: no concrete proposals. Indeed virtually no proposals at all. essentially his speech boiled down to: "Vote for me because I am not Gordon Brown".

As the opinion polls unexpectedly tighten, the Conservatives have got to do better than this.

Though the Tories hug themselves and say that the polls are a bit rogue (which they might well be), they should also understand that if they genuinely represent change, they have to do more than say that they are "for change". Without clear principles, any government will fail. While behind the scenes it does appear that more substantive discussions are going on, the fact is that the leadership lacks the courage of other Tories' convictions.

Without such courage a hung Parliament could become all but inevitable, but any Conservative led administration that emerges will fail.


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