Saturday, July 11, 2015

Eynsham Cricket Club stands on the Cameron/Osborne fault

I like to think Eynsham's ground looks like this
David Cameron is a patrician Conservative from a land-owning and banking background. Like most such politicians he is a pragmatist and not greatly interested in ideas for their own sake.

He is on record as saying that he wanted to be prime minister "because I think I'd be rather good at it". You sense he went into politics, like many sons of the gentry, to (as they would put it) stop Labour ruining everything.

George Osborne is a different animal: urban (he went to St Pauls' rather than Cameron's Eton) and from a more nakedly commercial background.

He is also intensely interested in ideas and in free-market economics in particular.

So far what has been remarkable about Cameron and Osborne is the way they have kept together - the relationship of Labour's equivalent, Blair and Brown, soon foundered on the latter's thwarted ambition.

But there are potential fault lines between Cameron and Osborne, as an otherwise inconsequential story in the Telegraph shows:
David Cameron’s attempt to save a local cricket club from folding because of an unexpected tax bill has been stumped by his own Chancellor George Osborne. 
Eynsham Cricket Club in Mr Cameron’s Witney constituency has been fighting for months against a decision by HM Revenue and Customs to saddle it with a £34,000 VAT bill. 
The bill is due after the club raised £170,000 to pay for a new club house after it was burned down in 2012 in an arson attack. 
The cricket club, which has just 25 adult members and 20 juniors aged five to 65, taking in £2,300 a year in annual subscriptions, is warning that it will have to close if the bill is enforced ... 
Mr Cameron then raised it with Mr Osborne, who investigated but found nothing could be done. 
In a letter from his House of Commons office, Mr Cameron told the club on March 17: 
“I have raised this with the Chancellor and we have looked very carefully at what can be done. 
"I am afraid it is not promising."
This is a neat parable. The pragmatic Cameron, has a good local grandee wants to help his local cricket club, but the more theoretical Osborne tells him that nothing can be done.

Note too that this incident features Cameron as the supplicant and Osborne as the one who makes the decision.

That may be a neat metaphor for what has happened in the Cameron-Osborne relationship.

Cameron's attempt to give his beliefs shape - The Big Society - failed. In fact it would be more accurate to say that it was not even tried.

Today it is Osborne ideas that define the Conservative Party. How happy Cameron is with this remains to be seen - particularly if the polls suggest those ideas are not going down well with the public.

In the mean time, keep any eye on Eynsham Cricket Club. It may be the field where this battle is lost and won.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That ground is surely The Parks, not a million miles from Eynsham. Alas, even that nice old scoreboard has been electronicified.