Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Has Cameron got a bit of temper on him?

Nearly four months into his leadership, the first chinks seem to have started appearing in David Cameron's armour.

I listened to his response to the Budget debate a couple of weeks ago and, while I thought it was totally over the top, I dismissed it as routine politicking until I heard some gossip to the effect that, for all his apparent affability, Cameron has a notoriously short fuse.

Today's ill-considered outburst, branding the UK Independence Party "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" shows at best lack of judgement, at worst an inability to control his tongue.

Gavin Ayling cites another example from the leadership campaign when he apparently lost it with David Davis.

I'm all for politicians using colourful language when appropriate, but given that Cameron is basing part of his political strategy on being a sunnier, more uplifting character than Gordon Brown, I think this sort of thing could turn out to be significant.

I suspect Labour will now be monitoring Mr Cameron very closely to see just what presses his buttons.


Anonymous said...


skipper said...

When I first heard Cameron sounding off I thought he said they were 'closet rapists' which really would have been a serious charge to level at any party, even one as odd as the one he is attacking.

barbara worth said...


I think you are right, DC does seem to be on a bit of a short fuse. I'm not sure how much this will damage him, however, particlarly among younger voters. (Clearly it will add to his unpopularity with many older and/or more right leaning voters, but arguably they had already dismissed him as blue labour anyway and were already planning on voting UKIP or staying at home). You and I may feel it isn't very statesmanlike but younger people seem to feel much less inhibited about venting their frustration in outbursts like this. I'm not sure there is a right or wrong here- it just seems to be a scoial trend. Clearly there are extremes (Wayne Rooney springs to mind!) but on the other hand perhaps some of us old farts have been too uptight.

I have been enjoying your blog, Paul, and have recently read some of the archive material. I was very moved by the tribute to your father last month. I think that would resonate with many people of a certain age. My mother is now in the final stages of a terminal neurological illness and my father is quite frail, so I totally identified with your savouring the memories you had of relating to your father as one adult to another. Sadly that hasn't really been possible with my mother as the mental instability which plagued her when I was a child seemed to morph directly into the dementia and paranoia of her final illness (leading us to wonder if her earlier behaviour was sadly the beginnings of this dreadful illness). However, I do relish this time with my father and your post was a timely reminder to try to see as much of him as I can while I still can, despite the inevitable other pressures of life.

I've gone on longer than I meant, but thanks again and keep up the good work!

RedEye said...

Is Cameron, like Major before him, thin-skinned and petulant? Having seen him lose his cool on Sky News the same month as Paul wrote this, I'd say yes. He merely had a criticism (that some in his party think he's 'obsessed with change') put to him, and completely lost it, losing his thread so comprehensively that he asked if they could do the interview again.

Then again, Blair can be just as bad (as he was during PMQs re. his plan for 90 days detention without trial). It was all the more off-putting when he'd overruled Clarke's compromise, agreed with the opposition parties, of 40-50 days detention without trial.

Was this just the result of incompetent arithmetic by Hillary Armstrong? I don't think so. It was (at least partly) to put the opposition parties in a position where, by opposing the government's legislation, they could be accused of being soft on terror. Blair was taking a leaf out of Bush's book and trying to make (party) political advantage of the fight against terror.