Friday, November 04, 2005

Two Davids but no Goliath

The head-to-head between Conservative leadership contenders David Cameron and David Davis went ahead last night and, while it made interesting viewing, it didn't quite live up to the hype.

He’d never get my vote, but if I was a true-blue Conservative I would probably be backing Davis on the strength of last night’s performance. It was much more polished than his disastrous showing at the recent conference, and seemed to offer substance to his policies, compared to Cameron’s Blair-esque vagueness.

Cameron is likeable and draws a stark contrast to the usual stiffs that the Tories throw up. He could certainly appeal to a broader audience and pick up a number of disillusioned Labour voters but he doesn’t yet look like the finished article. At times last night he looked almost petrified, while his youthful, podgy face makes him look more like a sixth former at a college debating contest than a Prime Minister in waiting. Throw him in the pit against a Blair or a Brown and he’d be torn to pieces. I felt quite sorry for him when an audience member said something like: “You’re very good in your stage-managed comfort zone, but I wouldn’t trust you to run a bath”. Ouch. Though to be fair, he handled that one quite well.

Davis on the other hand embodies that “I know best”, patriarchal position that the Tories feel most at home with. He put forward his beliefs with clarity and stuck very much to the official Conservative script: tax cuts, the family, clawing back power from Europe, law and order. I bet the jam-making set in Berkshire were sucking it up like thirsty goats.

A real dilemma for the party then: a conviction leader with limited appeal (and a slightly sinister air, like a psychotic headmaster) or a fresh faced universalist lacking any real ideas or experience.

I look forward to round 2. . .

14 comments:

Hobbzee said...

If only there was a way of merging the two candidates into one!

ph said...

I think that you are right that the labour party along with their media mates would make very short work of Cameron. What every Tory member must fear is that the day after Cameron is chosen a carefully prepared dossier of his past indiscretions is published. (Labour is probably one of the nastiest news managers around)
Personally both seem fine, but I think I would go for Davies on the basis that Labour are unlikey to blow him out of the water as soon as he leaves port.

Citizen Sane said...

Which media mates do you mean? The Daily Mail? Express? Telegraph? Times? Sun? Sky News?

The biggest danger to Cameron's integrity comes from his own party. It was the Davis camp feeding the druggy rumours.

Although why anyone gives a toss about whether he has ever smoked a joint, taken a pill or snorted coke from the arse crack of the Duchess of York is beyond my understanding.

ph said...

I have to totally disagree with you there.
I am sure the Labour supporting papers of a more scurrulous sort will gladly stick the boot in if they think that Cameron has a chance of upsetting the labour hegemony. Those papers being The Times, Mirror and Sun - oh yes and lets not forget the BBC. These media outlets do criticise labour, but it is amazing how they leap to Labour's defence when things do start to look tough.
Also it was not the Tories that highlighted Cameron's druggy past it was the media. When Davies gave an interview he was pressed and pressed by the BBC interviewer about politicians and drugs, he then gave an anodyne answer about how serving politicians should not snort coke, and the BBC news headline a few minutes later was Davies attacks Cameron - bollocks did he.
The Labour party have everthing to gain by damaging Cameron, and their mates in the media will help if they can, whilst saying that his drug taking should not matter.

Citizen Sane said...

But it was the Daily Mail that made the biggest issue of the drugs thing, was it not? You can't tell me they were taking their lead from Labour.

And while I don't disagree that Labour will go after him with it given the opportunity, I don't believe they have majority media support to use as an outlet.

Anonymous said...

Why is there this perception that Cameron will suddenly be blown out of the water by Labour if/when he becomes leader?

As far as I can see, he has remained eloquent and focused throughout since launching his leadership bid. Many people expected him to 'cave in' over his past drug use - but he didn't.

Yes, he's less experienced than Davis - but he's hardly a sixth former asking for your vote. he spent 7 years as a director of one of Britain's most powerful media companies; he was special adviser to (ahem) Norman Lamont during the ERM crisis. Hardly the 'new boy'.

Blair was around the same age - longer as an MP yes, but less experience outside the Commons than Cameron - when he became leader. I think he deserves quite a bit more respect than some are willing to give him.

DA

Anonymous said...

... and as for the debate last night: Do you really think Cameon wasn't expecting to be up against it? That's why he did it. He obviously doesn't want to be seen as having an effective 'coronation', so he's putting himself through the metephorical assault course.

DA

Citizen Sane said...

I just think he looked shaky last night. Davis exposed the lack of substance of his ideas. It's all very well saying that he does not want to peg himself to manifesto commitments that may backfire in four years time - that's probably a sensible line to take - but right now people are looking for something to get their teeth into. Cameron looked like Blair version 2.0.

And you're right, Blair was of similar age and experience when he became leader but he took over a resurgent party and had John Major et al to contend with. Blair and his Labour crew shat all over them. It would be far harder for DC to take on the current government. They may not be the force they once were, but I don't think Cameron would cause them much of a headache. Davis probably could though.

Maybe I'll be proved wrong. I hope so - it would be good if Cameron could come in and make an impact. Because I could never vote for a man like Davis.

mAc Chaos said...

Cameron sounds like John Edwards.

Citizen Sane said...

A good comparison. They've both got the boyish looks / fat cheeks thing going on as well.

ph said...

DA - you may well be right and we should not be worried that DC will be 'blown out of the water' by Blair. However I fear that you may be underestimating Blair's skill in the use of the dark arts

Citizen Sane said...

Curse those dark arts!

dw said...

I can't come here anymore. Hobzee's photo scears me.

Citizen Sane said...

It's OK dw. Hobbzee might look scary but she's quite harmless really. At least, after feeding time. And those teeth aren't real. . .