Sunday 13 June 2010

Not President Cameron

Notwithstanding the Cleggmania arising from the first debate I still believe that three leaders' debates, and nothing much from other major contenders for office placed too much emphasis on the personalities of the leaders and not enough on the policies of the members of their teams (see previous post.)

Although he has broken no new ground David Cameron has continued the presidential style in this first month that he has held the office of prime minister.

Each Wednesday he reads out the names of soldiers killed in service overseas and expresses the government's regret, a pratice begun by Mrs Thatches but which would be more appropriately done by the minister of defence. He has visited Cumbria after the devastating killings there. Surely member of the royal family could best express the nations condolences to the bereaved, and the home secretary, the person responsive for law and order, is the one who needs to know from the police and other authorities what lessons, if any can be learned. He has held talks and a press conference with President Karzai, although he has a foreign secretary in whom, presumably, he has confidence. He is about to talk to President Obama about BP when he has an excellent business secretary who could well do that if he felt it really necessary.

This is not new politics. Althugh it would be churlish to doubt Cameron's sincerity in respect to the bereaved in Cumbria and the relatives and friends of soldiers killed in action, it is hard to avoid the suspicion that these and the other instances mentioned have an element of public relations. Real new politics would be for the restoration of cabinet government and for the responsible ministers to take the lead, in public where necessary, in their departments, and not find themselves upstaged by the prime minister every time a public relations opportunity arises.

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