|David Cameron and PMQs|
|Wednesday, 07 December 2005 17:24|
As expected David Cameron was elected yesterday as the new Conservative Party
leader. He beat his opponent and former Tooting resident David Davis by a margin
of more than 2 to 1. Are the Tories finally getting their act together and will
they present a credible challenge to Labour? Is Cameron the best thing to come
out of Notting Hill since Hugh Grant?
Cameron has rightly been criticised for running a campaign that was very light on policy, although it could be argued that his opponent went too far the other way! As chief policy adviser to the former Tory leader Michael Howard, David Cameron was chiefly responsible for the Tories’ general election manifesto. However in recent weeks, he has distanced himself from the very same policies that he devised only months ago.
David Cameron will obviously continue to be compared with Tony Blair in the coming weeks and months. However in terms of experience, there is clearly no comparison to be made. Blair had been a Member of Parliament for eleven years and in the Shadow Cabinet for six years when he was elected Labour leader. In stark contrast, Cameron has only been an MP for four and a half years and in the Shadow Cabinet for about eighteen months. His prior political track record does not make great reading either. David Cameron was an adviser to the then-Chancellor, Norman Lamont, at the time of Black Wednesday. This was an economic crisis so catastrophic that the Tories have yet to recover their previous and undeserved reputation for financial management. Following this he advised Michael Howard in his work as Home Secretary and presided over a fall in the number of police.
Nevertheless, at first glance it does appear as though Cameron will offer more of a threat to the Labour Government than his three immediate predecessors. The Government cannot afford to be complacent about this new challenge. However Cameron must quickly prove that there is substance to support the slick media image he has successfully developed. Cameron has only appeared at the Dispatch Box on a handful of occasions to date and I have yet to be impressed by his efforts. Earlier this year he led a debate on special education provision. This is an issue where Cameron, whose son has special needs, has made his position clear. However as I highlighted in the debate, his concerns don’t seem to reflect those of Tory councils such as Wandsworth who have closed special schools.
Having seen him in action at his first Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this afternoon, I am not sure how long Cameron’s so-called policy of “consensus” will last. The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, asked him specifically to confirm his support for the Labour Government’s policies on school admission, the New Deal and investment in public services. Cameron refused to support these important policies.
Prime Minister’s Questions also gave me the opportunity to highlight improvements at St George’s Hospital.
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