Wednesday, March 26, 2008
PMQs show David Cameron's weakness
I had the chance to watch prime minister's questions on television today. David Cameron chose to devote all six of his questions to the state of the economy, but he did not shine.
His problem was twofold. The first is that he is clearly not a master of the economics brief. His questions were wordy and Gordon Brown was armed with some good quotes to answer him. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Cameron's case over the Financial Services Agency, you have to score the contest to Brown.
David Cameron's second problem is that he is, er, David Cameron. The only time he threatened to engage public interest today was when he talked of the price of bread, milk and eggs. Yet if ever someone gave the impression of not knowing how much bread, milk and eggs cost, that person is David Cameron.
I always wondered, in a society where being "posh" is just about the worst sin out, if David Cameron's background - and even more the fact that he looks like a public school boy - would count against him. This is one issue where it will.
If you want to run this sort of prices campaign, you need someone who looks as they go shopping regularly to do it for you. Shirley Williams used to do it very effectively, complete with shopping basket, in her Labour days. You do not choose a shiny-cheeked Old Etonian.
A final point... My mother remarked the other day what a relief it is that you no longer hear older people moaning endlessly about the price of things. Is that because we are all better of? Or is it because we now have a saner attitude towards food and are prepared to pay more for quality?
The answer will probably determine whether a Tory campaign on prices - fronted by someone more credible than Cameron - would have any effect.