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Dave Cameron – is that all there is?

Posted on 14 February 2009 | 11:02am

Sorry to go on
about Dave Cameron again (oh ok, I’m not sorry at all) but I saw him blathering
on the story about the 13-year-old who became a Dad. He had exactly the same
intensity of expression he applies for soundbites on economic calamity,
ministerial scandal, diplomatic crisis, global warfare and pestilence or how
well Slumdog Millionaire does at the Oscars. And he had absolutely nothing to
say. Well, granted, he did have ‘something’ to say, roughly boiled down as
‘children shouldn’t have children.’ Yeah! And?

Yet he and his
team will have considered yesterday a good day’s work on the media front. By
getting into the Dad at 13 story, they kept his profile up, had him saying
something which most people agree with (should children have babies, yes or no?
Er…) but most importantly he was able to avoid saying anything on the economy.

You might think,
given its state, that he would want to get noticed for saying something on the
economy. But no, you see having nothing much to say on the economy might get
noticed more. It would underline the fact he would be out of his depth dealing
with the current crisis. So far better to pop up and say something trite about
whatever passing talking point the media is focussed on.

Don’t forget that the main items on Dave’s CV, since his Eton and Oxford education, are bag carrier to Norman Lamont and spin doctor to a TV station. He
thinks only in terms of good media. 

One of the
reasons the media like him, and give him such a tummy-tickling ride, is that
he’s always there with a little quote or two.

You see in our country the Leader of the Opposition is an official and
important position. So to have him chipping in on a story, for those who are
running it, remains a good commodity to have. ‘Cameron calls for this, Cameron
calls for that, Cameron praises Kate Winslet’s Baftas speech, Cameron steps
into Chelsea turmoil, Cameron says something must be done about double parking
in Notting Hill,’ it is still worth something.

Or it will be,
until people realise that the politician as day to day commentator is not just
part of the act – it’s pretty much all there is.

  • stewartfinn

    Cameron falls into the shallow and populist categories no question. He is essentially a blown up version of what I talked about in the Lincoln Team of Rivals post:-

    *If there is an easy option- he will take it
    *If the public have an opinion- he will agree or shut up
    *If there is a right but unpopular thing to do – he will do nothing
    *He will be critical but offer nothing but a populist soundbite.

    But this “Political Opposition 101” has gotten him this far. This is what I was saying in the previous thread- In a 24 hr media, this is an extremely simple hand to play, but surprisingly difficult to counter.

  • jennifer joullie

    Your Blair Years book is brilliant.I was a Blair supporter until Iraq when it seemed to me he lost the plot. I’ve just discovered your blog so I can ask you “What’s your take on the Blair Brown heritage in the context of today’s financial and economic meltdown?”

  • Barbara Cannon

    At the end of the day political parties need to use the 24 hour media in order to get noticed. The important thing remains that he has no substance to what he has to say. I suspect the thinking media understands that but as you say Alastair it helps to fill column inches because he is prepared with a plethora of quotes an just about any subject. He may eventually trip himself up.

    I guess what could also happen is that this relentless exposure in the media could have a negative aspect as people begin to wonder if he does have anything else to offer. If he and his mates had anything about them they could have been running something like the No ifs, No buts campaign and could have had a field day against the government – the fact is it did not occur to them.

  • Denis Byrne

    I dont know whether to laugh or cry, Cambell criticising a Tory because he uses soundbites.After 14 years of listening to Cambell inspired New Labourisms, especially Browns ” no more boom and bust” As Boris might say F****** bo****** !!

  • richard bailey

    You can give it for more than a decade but you don’t like taking it, do you?

    We suffered years of your vacuous sound bites and when you won we really did discover that that was all Blair had. Your creation was little more than a walking talking soundbite. At least there is intelligence and integrity behind Cameron, rather than the liberal bourgeois deceit perpetrated by your man.

    The least you can do is compliment Cameron on his adoption of a tactic that evidently works. Imitation is the finest form of flattery. Just say thank you and move on.

  • Alina Palimaru

    Cameron did indeed miss an opportunity to tie the “13-year old dad” piece to the ailing economy. But he is only an amateur, Alastair, so what do you expect?

    Regarding your comments on DC’s trivial media exposure as a “good commodity to have,” I am not convinced he is benefitting much from it at all. People are very scared about what is going on the domestic front, and now, more than ever, they are thirsty for leadership and for serious, determined action to solve these matters. Therefore, Cameron’s comments about the movies, football, and star glamour should (if they haven’t already) frighten people! During uneventful periods, face-time of any quality breeds familiarity between politicians and their constituents. But this is no ordinary time! If my life hinges on the vagaries of a fragile economy, I wouldn’t want my Prime Minister preoccupied with the BAFTAs! Nor should anyone for that matter! So the more DC’s face pops up to throw his two cents in on some non-issue, the more people’s stomachs will churn, anxious about the disaster Cameron would wreak once in power. Be afraid! Be very afraid!

  • Alina Palimaru

    To Richard Bailey

    I am not going to get into your claim about “Blair’s vacuous soundbites” because it is always difficult to address unsubstantiated statements!

    Concerning your observation that Cameron is adept at “imitating” (whatever you think he is imitating), let me tell you that today the winning strategy is “innovation” (See Barack Obama for starters). So no matter what angle we place on Cameron, he is always a few steps behind, isn’t he? I rest my case.

  • Mark Martin

    I think it worth reminding people at EVERY opportunity that Cameron used to work for Lamont. And, at Lamont’s “finest hour” during the last recession. The one that he caused. And of course, of Lamont cosying yp to Pinochet.