Why Cameron should avoid hitting the headlines

5 Nov 2012

Never has the phrase "holding out for a hero" been so appropriate for David Cameron. It began with the 'Plebgate' scandal in which former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell was forced to step down following a row with police officers in Downing Street, and since then, things seem to have gone from bad to worse for the Prime Minister. Andrew Mitchell's outburst only confirmed the popular view that the Conservatives are "out of touch" with society, with a Cabinet largely filled with former Etonians. Despite Cameron's best efforts to denounce this impression during his recent party conference speech, news of late appears to have suggested otherwise. 


After being exposed by a loitering journalist, Chancellor George Osborne was another leading Tory who faced embarrassment after he was spotted travelling in first-class with only a standard-class rail ticket. Although such a story may seem trivial, it still managed to be the talk of the papers throughout the following week. However, without the help of Andrew Mitchell or the Chancellor, Mr Cameron manages to create a storm all on his own. The issue regarding Europe surfaced last week when Eurosceptics voted to defeat the government's current position on EU membership. Tory rebels and Labour MP's joined forces against the Prime Minister by advocating a cut in the EU budget rather than Cameron's desire for a budget freeze, another blow which secured more tensions between Cameron and his party. Following this, Cameron was all over the Mail on Sunday last weekend regarding the constant issue surrounding his private messages with former News International executive, Rebekah Brooks, just in case anyone had forgotten. 

Although one suspects that Cameron has had better times, it should be noted that a number of people are willing to offer their support. Former Deputy Prime Minister, Lord Heseltine last week offered a new plan of action in order to stimulate growth in the economy by focussing on local enterprise and advising on greater state intervention. Unsurprisingly, George Osborne is a fan of Heseltine's ideology - perhaps such a strategy could prove promising in tackling the deficit? Another source of advice came from former Tory MP Cheryl Gillan in an interview with the Sunday Times. Acknowledging that the Conservatives had suffered a "series of mistakes", undermining the Tory reputation of being good at government, Gillian stated that gaining back public support was "a massive but not impossible task". Clearly, Cameron has many opportunities before the next general election in which to transform his position, though avoiding frivolous headlines and ministerial slip-ups will be paramount. Former Labour spin-doctor Alastair Campbell recently suggested a possible way of increasing Cameron's chances in 2015. Campbell stated that the Prime Minister needs to stay away from the headlines and instead focus on constructing a clear and coherent policy, a failure which he believed cost Cameron a landslide victory in 2010. Given the success of former PM Tony Blair, this is advice which Cameron may just want to listen to. Come to think of it, Nick Clegg has scarcely been seen in the news lately, and it doesn't appear to have done him any more harm.

By Emily Stacey

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