Being Prime Minister and all the tensions related usually mean that each week can vary and usually each week is a rocky road in some respect. So you can gather that a Prime Minister will hope to sometimes get a nice little break from the tensions and be able to get some headway in the polls. And, despite the summer saying “bonjour” to the UK this week, it seems that Christmas has come early for Cameron, hence why this will probably be one he will want to remember (but Miliband may want to forget). Lets look at why this one will be memorable.
Firstly, Cameron saw a much-appreciated increase in the economic polls for the government. The Spending Review may have seemed tough but measures like making wealthy pensioners not get state provisions, introducing a temperature tax and increasing infrastructure spending seemed to go down well with the public. In fact, the Cameron-Osborne economic team led the Miliband-Balls team by quite a chalk, with 30% over the Labour rating of 23%. Nevertheless, there is still quite a large proportion of people who prefer neither economic plan (33% to be exact – source, Telegraph). This economic news was welcome because although in the general poll Labour led, on the major electoral issue of the economy the government was leading; they are showing a solid plan in contrast to the Labour opposition. The story of the Spending Review has come a long way from ‘Burger-gate’ and it seems as though there still is some public trust in the government’s plan.
Next, the thing every leader dreams of – trouble at bay for the rival party- and Cameron’s dream certainly came true this week. Labour’s troubles started off on the back burner after the Spending Review but things got worse for them when they started the selection process for the Scottish Constituency of Falkirk. Labour are looking for a candidate for the constituency to fight in 2015 after the sitting MP Eric Joyce became independent due to certain events- including ones relating to alcohol. But, when selecting the candidate, it was discovered that many of the candidates were of very strong union background. This may seem good because Labour is the ‘party of the working people’ but, rumours of falsifying and corrupting the selection were discovered and the process has now been ended. Further to this, the police were called in to investigate and Miliband’s Election Co-ordinator Tom Watson MP decided to resign because of the scandal.
So, Labour was strongly on the back-foot by mid-week, could anything else affect Labour to help Cameron? Well, yes. After the usual tense PMQs on Wednesday, it was revealed that immediately after the event, one of Ed Miliband’s advisers left the Labour leader’s briefing notes in the parliamentary toilets. This didn’t help the Labour leader but Cameron must have been revelling in the gaffe, especially when it made a point of Andy Coulson in response to the points about Falkirk etc. Could anything else go right for Cameron? The roll of good fortune continued it seemed...
On Friday, the historic EU Referendum Bill came to the Commons and as you can imagine, the Tories were all there sporting their blue principles in their support of an In-Out vote in 2017, re-negotiation and withdrawal as the last resort. Cameron was there, his Cabinet were there (the Tory side of it of course), his parliamentary party was there but much of the Labour Party and the Lib Dems were not. In a sense, it was good for Cameron to have the chamber mostly to himself, but despite a poor show from other parties, a confused statement by Labour and the argument of ‘bring it forward to before 2015’, the bill passed for a Second Reading by 304 votes to 0. What a victory for the Tories. And there was more to come.
One of Cameron’s main problems in his premiership has been the issue of terrorism. Of course, after the horrific killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich, the issue has really stepped up the need for government action. One of his obstacles was Abu-Qatada. Attempt after attempt, gaffe after gaffe saw Qatada nearly deported but stay in the UK despite the legal bill running into millions. Well, Cameron has got his wish and after the UK-Jordan Treaty was signed, the legal boat (or plane in Qatada’s case) has well and truly gone full steam ahead and now the UK has rid itself of the troublesome cleric. He left the country at 3am Sunday morning to return to his home country of Jordan after 20 years to hear the legal claims against him.
There was more metaphorical political sunshine for Cameron on Sunday as the IMF suggested to the Treasury to upgrade growth predictions to 1% and then to 2% next year. It is still modest but the plan seems to be getting through to the markets and there seems to be some growth – it may be slow but it certainly is sure.
What a week for Cameron! It was his Labour predecessor from the 70’s, Harold Wilson, who said that ‘a week is a long time in politics’ – it certainly was- but a good one for Cameron, made even better with a British Wimbledon victory for Andy Murray to break the 77 year drought. And talking of victories, he will hope that this week will help his chances of victory next year at the European Elections and the General Election in 2015. It certainly looks as though it may.
By Sam Kenward