Conservatives should not praise David Cameron, but whip him

Posted on March 8, 2012


David Cameron is a disappointment as Conservative leader. This view is prevalent throughout the Party; everyone seems to have a reason for being disappointed with the Prime Minister’s leadership. For me, it was his actions over Libya; the intervention was everything we promised we wouldn’t do. For others, it is vacillation on Europe and/or the lack of a coherent economic growth strategy and/or supposedly appeasing the Liberal Democrats on key Tory issues. Tim Montgomerie, the influential editor of ConservativeHome, probably expressed the feelings of many yesterday when he attacked Mr. Cameron’s strategic leadership of the Party since 2005:

Cameron is the guy who undertook the wrong kind of modernisation, then didn’t win an election that he should have won, then took us into a coalition, which is proving to be the biggest mistake of all three. The Liberal Democrats are retoxifying the Conservative Party.

It is not a good sign when Conservatives as violently different as Tim and I, plus many more besides, are so disappointed in the Prime Minister this early in his premiership. He should think himself lucky that there is no viable alternative to him.

Perhaps we are being unfair on David Cameron? The political commentator Janan Ganesh tweeted earlier that Mr. Cameron’s government’s is the boldest one Britain has had since the Second World War, bar those of Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher. It is implementing radical changes in education, welfare, and policing, to name just three areas of reform. ‘Some Tories want the moon on a stick’, Mr. Ganesh remarked.

In reply to Mr. Ganesh, I stated what I believe should be the approach of disgruntled Conservatives towards David Cameron in the absence of an alternative: we should never praise him for whatever bold actions he has taken, but constantly punish him for underperforming. The Prime Minister is too much of a coaster as a leader and too much of a loser electorally to be blindly trusted with the fortunes of the Conservative Party. We must constantly pressure him, therefore, and then, after he retires, we will praise his achievements and ignore his many faults.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Ganesh then pointed out, most Conservatives aren’t as strategic in their thinking as this, which seems to be the constant lament of this blog…