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.


Alasdair W said...

Has any one actually complained about food prices. It's not something everyone is talking about. Our bills may have gone up, but the vast majority of people aren't to worried about it. In Egypt the price of bread is a big issue. But it's not something people are serously complaining about. We waste a third of our food, our shelves are full, we're getting fatter. David Cameron probably just looked at the percentage rise and thought, "gosh, here is something people must care about" as if it was a tax rise. He's not quite in touch with society.

Anonymous said...

A very funny piece of prose.

'In a society where being 'posh' is about the worse sin out'
Don't know where you have been,maybe in a 1960's timewarp,the class war finished some decades ago.

I assume by your rationale that Clegg also public school and Oxbridge is also 'posh',or are you just 'posh'if you wen't to the best public school and not 'posh'or not so 'posh' if you went to the second best public school?


Jonathan Calder said...


I am no class warrior, but if the class war is over it is only because the upper class won. And the use of "posh" to mean "educated" makes me angry. To describe a common view is not to share it.

I assume you are a Conservative, so let me recommend two books by Tory writers to help you understand modern British society:

Mind the Gap by Ferdinand Mount;

The New Elites by George Walden.

Walden writes:

"Today we have the foxiest elite ever: one that rules in the people's name while preserving the lion's share of the power. For the first time in Western democratic history society is dominated by an elite of anti-elitists."