IT SEEMS a political age has passed since David Cameron, by imperious gesture, insisted his minions in the Parliamentary Conservative Party rise to join him in applauding Tony Blair, as he departed the chamber for the last time. This surprising appreciation then just seemed like a misguided, but gentlemanly, error of judgment by Cameron. With benefit of hindsight, however, it is now clear that political dogma aside, it was Blair’s leadership style that he so admired and therefore would seek to emulate when he himself came into power.
The Prime Minister’s posturing and absurd Hollywood style of political window dressing, especially in Africa, is embarrassingly reminiscent of Tony Blair at his worst. To be fair though, Blair was much the better actor in his time, only being rumbled when he became carelessly over-confident, allowing the things-can-only-get-better brigade to realise that they been comprehensively conned by their favourite son of Fettes and his elite henchmen. It is still difficult not to recoil in horror when recalling the dark age of British political history, when Blair and Company were misleading our country into disaster after disaster culminating in a shambolic illegal war.
It is a strange coincidence that, while Tony Blair suffered, the real “enemy within” was the lurking and brooding menace of Gordon Brown breathing down his neck. Now we have David Cameron having to carry the burden called Nick Clegg.
Clearly, Clegg is a political lightweight compared to Brown, but by virtue of that contrived title of Deputy Prime Minister, bestowed during the coalition wheeling, dealing and jockeying for position, the pompous Clegg now looms large on the scene. This obstructive and obviously untrustworthy Lib Dem nonentity is succeeding in thwarting Cameron at every turn. For David Cameron, having Clegg on his side, as his deputy, must be like trying to run a marathon with a wooden leg.
One puzzling feature of David Cameron’s present reign at Westminster is his apparent reluctance to rely on and to trust the senior members of his own cabinet to properly carry out their respective jobs. Cameron’s idea of being Prime Minister is to constantly meddle in everything, all aspects of government, regardless of urgency and importance to the country. In exhibiting a peculiar grasshopper mentality in his approach to all of his perceived problems, he even considers it quite appropriate that, as Prime Minister, he should be thoroughly embroiled in the current gay marriage controversy!
Cameron’s involvement might reasonably be regarded as ham-fisted, it having resulted in splitting his Party right down the middle and causing quite unnecessary disharmony among his supporters.
There must be few things more irritating to the various Secretaries of the Great Offices of State than to be constantly second guessed, if not actually pre-empted in action, by their own boss. It has been said that Cameron should delegate more. Surely this is incorrect? A Prime Minister does not delegate, he appoints. He then allows those appointed to get on with it. Only after an appropriate period of assessment, does he retain or fire the chosen few, according to each individual’s performance in office. That has always been the logical way to manage and command.
David Cameron does not have the option to employ the unique solution to any internal Ministry problem adopted by the slippery Tony Blair. Whenever Blair considered that he had a Ministry that was “not fit for purpose”, he simply dumped the incumbent Minister and shipped in his main trouble shooter, the able and tough Dr John Reid, to sort things out. In his time John Reid seems to have rescued more people than the RNLI. Unfortunately for David Cameron, he has nobody of a comparable calibre to Reid, who is still regarded as the best Prime Minister we never had.
The more uncharitable of David Cameron’s critics suggest that he spends too much of his time hogging the limelight, courting the camera’s and barking out topical sound bites for public consumption. They contend that this opportunistic bluster is symptomatic of deep feelings of inadequacy and general insecurity in his highly responsible position. Whether or not this is true and whatever the reason for his odd erratic performance of late, there is no doubt that more than a touch of Thatcher type positivity, toughness and drive is now required and quickly.
Already there are rumours and rumblings of discontent among Cameron’s backbenchers, principally about his style of leadership and what they perceive as undue pandering to the Lib Dem Faction. At the moment, this is being treated as mischief making by the media, trying to drum up a story, but a nod should be as good as a wink to a good man going through a rough patch.
David, it is high time to get a grip and to forget the Blairite antics. One Tony Blair was more than enough!
PC 30B Chris Anderson served in the Edinburgh City Police (1954-84) and was a valued member of its Pipe Band that won the Grade 1 World Championships in 1963, 1964, 1971, 1972 and 1975. In his eightieth year (2012-13) he wrote many articles for ThinkScotland.org based upon his wealth of policing and piping anecdotes and following his passing in September we are pleased to publish as a tribute a mixture of unpublished stories and old repeats every for readers to enjoy.