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Cameron and Johnson share prices falling simultaneously, Osborne supporters note

Posted on 30 November 2013 | 10:11am

David Cameron’s all-over-the-shopness continues apace, with one of his ‘strategists’ (sic) briefing that his new ‘strategy’ (sic) is to steal any good ideas put forward by Labour. In tones reminiscent of the tough-talking Lynton Crosby, the strategist briefs that Cameron will take the bones, and leave Labour with the gristle. Mmm, tasty. But clever? Not so sure.

Crosby has had a very good press of late, credited with delivering Boris Johnson’s re-election as London Mayor, and with sharpening the Tory operation, and hardening Cameron’s approach to life and politics. But as I see Cameron lurch rightwards with his anti-immigrant rhetoric, his EU referendum, and his dismissal of once precious environmental strategies as ‘green crap,’ I am reminded of the 2005 general election campaign when Labour, despite all the problems over Iraq which dominated large parts of the campaign, were blessed with one of the worst Opposition campaigns in history as Crosby took Michael Howard willingly by the nose to a nasty, right-wing, ‘dog-whistle’ campaign. We won, they lost.

As to who wins the next one, so much will depend on the economy, and this week George Osborne takes centre stage. Already the pro-Osborne brigade (oh yes, he has his supporters) are gearing up, and so is he, staring out at me from The Guardian with what looks like an attempt at a friendly smile. I have said before that Labour have helped the Chancellor by failing to rebut his central ‘mess we inherited’ line, which is what allows him to portray low growth and failure on meeting his debt and deficit targets as something of a success. But at what I call the ‘character strategic level,’ Osborne can portray himself, style wise, as the opposite of Cameron, bouncing around from issue to issue, one ‘top priority’ to the next, painting a chaotic picture of a man unclear about his strategy and his purpose. Whereas there are many slogans and strategies associated with Cameron, as I suggested yesterday, Osborne is pretty much Mr Austerity and, er, that’s it.

Cameron is off to China, and nothing wrong with that. But last time he had much to do with China, it was to upset them, by being nice to the Dalai Lama. So now he is proclaiming that the DL words will not cross his lips. Another confused tactical message underlying that the first step was to be seen as touchy-feely back then, but now he wants to get his ‘anything for business’ hat back on. All over the shop. No clear strategy.

Meanwhile, the man most often spoken of as Cameron’s likeliest successor as Tory leader, Boris Johnson, appears to be losing the touch and losing the appeal that allowed him to float above politics for so long. I am indebted to Iain Dale’s Conservative Home column for the best description I have read of Johnson’s latest attempt to unsettle Cameron and get Tory activists to pant for him even more. ‘Boris Johnson made one of the more bizarre speeches of the year when he gave the third Margaret Thatcher lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies on Wednesday,’ wrote Dale. ‘Its aim was clear – to claim the Thatcherite mantle. But having read the speech, it had more than a touch of the Keith Josephs about it. Older readers may remember that Keith Joseph’s Tory leadership ambitions collapsed in 1974 when he made a speech in Preston (I think) referring to the unfortunate breeding habits of classes C and D. Boris used similar inappropriate language referring to the low IQ of 16 per cent of the population and apparently idolising Gordon Gekko, leading to headlines in both the Guardian (which you would expect) and the Daily Mail (which you wouldn’t) declaring GREED IS GOOD! Is this really the message he wants to get over? Having read the whole speech I have to say it was intellectually deficient, full of bizarre conclusions and lacking heft. It wasn’t so much a lecture as a haranguing by the political equivalent of Dame Edna Everage.’

In between preparing his (late) autumn statement, Osborne will have read it too. Indeed, one of the papers reports metaphorical champagne corks popping at the Treasury when news of this – ‘bizarre’ is indeed the word – speech came through. Osborne is never going to win a public popularity contest in the way that Johnson has in the past. Nor does he have Cameron’s slick presentational skills. But this week he will be trying to show that he has something they lack – a plan, that he tries to stick to.

  • Ehtch

    If we were wading over our wellingtons in pig cack in early 2010, due to the International banking collapse of 2008, mainly US caused, now with Osborne it is up to our necks, when our economy was starting to recover early 2010. National public debt is heading to twice it was than in May 2010, by May 2015 – $1.4trill seems to be an optimistic lowest estimate. Osborne is all talk and no trousers.

    And as for Boris, his Jim Davidson type presentation would be comedy, if it wasn’t for the fact he was being serious.

    And Cameron is as subtle as a breeze block in the mush in foreign diplomacy.

    p.s. – Happy St. Andrew’s Day all. But heck, tragic accident last night in Glasgow.

  • Gillian C.

    Good blog post.
    BJ is showing his true colours now. We all know that there are people who are not very bright, in this country (16% apparently) and throughout the whole world. But that doesn’t mean that stupid people do not have a right to their own lives.
    I’m old enough to remember Keith Joseph, and what he said about the breeding habits of classes C and D. It’s eugenics that they are and were talking about.
    Bill Gates recently said something along the lines of – it makes no sense to keep granny alive, when we could use that money to hire 6 more teachers in the schools. We can see where this is leading and people should be concerned.

  • Richard Thomas

    Your aside about Osborne’s smile puts me in mind of Daniel O’Connell’s quote about Peel – His smile is like the silver plate on a coffin’.

  • Michele

    Don’t look much on the twittersphere but random googling led to some incredible spite from Neil Wallis on David Yelland’s.
    Latter seems to be regretting some of his ‘achievements’ while the former apparently feels justified in how he gained his pension.

    Am so glad I don’t know people like this in real life or read rags like theirs since adulthood.

    14 Jul 2011 … On Fleet Street he was known as the Wolfman because he was short, hairy and
    had a vicious temper.

  • Ehtch

    Ali, hope you re-approve my comments here, when I hit edit, instead of reply, and did other things wrong with my miss-directed fingers.

    Just posted a load of replies to Michele On the Alec Salmond thread, which should amuse, I hope. She said RAH once too often, so I responded, but with good humour I think Ali.

    Hard luck yesterday Ali, cracking first goal by that Hudders fella, but I think Burnley was robbed, as we were against Oz yesterday. Ah well, life moves on – PEACE!!

    • Michele

      There seems to have been a techie hitch on Saturday inc: no Edit function but posts came up yesterday.

      Things change, anybody could be misLED/misinformed very easily centuries ago, they had to decide (or be forced) re who to trust/follow or believe IN.
      It was easy to be exploited and unknowingly pass their own misinfo down through generations.
      Imagine the duelling banjo situations that could pertain in this century in the outer reaches of a country where small populations had the same urges we all do ….. smirk (or recoil)

      Of course it’s highly likely that today’s inheritors of ill-gotten gains (naming no names like) received what had been stolen during the Highland clearances but there were and still ARE good effectS from them (for the descendants of those ‘cleared’).

      The poor in England were exploited until WWII too, it’s always been about class but by fighting among ‘our’selves in the pretence that one nationality’s poor suffered more than another’s is silly and awful nationalism.

      ‘Whinge whinge my great great great great grandparents suffered more than yours so I want legislation to screw your for that’ (and yes I yuk at my own use of HER ‘whinge’).

      I will NEVER forgive the Scots if the rest of the UK is condemned to an infinity of Tory rule as ‘we’ will be without their Labour beliefs.

  • Michele

    Really wish that Osbo would stop trying to use plebspeak :-s It’s offensive.

    This weekend he’s spent time away from his hyce to let us know he’s ‘gunna’ affect power prices (by re-routeing the funding of the green crap).

    Does he actually think that dispersing it into general taxation will be any more fair or justifiable?
    A house (or hyce) could well have loadsa taxpayer in it – done the maffs Osbo?

    The power companies have annynced increased profits.

    When are THEY going to feel the pinch?
    Every time there is an increase in costs which they use to blame for rising prices they carry on using the same profit margin/multiplier, thereby gaining by the increasing costs themselves and for doing naff all (that’s a bit of pleb speak for your next outin’ Jowge – or is it an iyting)?


    Re the Mayorship I don’t think BJ really won it, causing someone else to lose it via having people whip up a dirty tricks campaign is different and his and ES’s was vile.

    Lots of people know how easy that particular slur is to make stick and there isn’t wriggle room for the most-justifiable explanation or lack of intent.

    What is he doing about cyclist deaths? Or about those cyclists that need something doing about as well as for them?

  • Ehtch

    Just done a poem Ali, for my US mate, Ms. X, offtopic, maybe…

    Depressions, Ms. X,

    Down down, up, down,
    yes mainly down.

    Bottom of valleys,
    rarely on their hills.

    Bottom of the barrel,
    sometimes is half full.

    If you catch me then,
    on one of my good days.

    I then I praise the feeling,
    to some makeup crawling.

    In the deep pits within me,
    other dayed me falling, down.

    Feeling like shit, broken bits,
    looking for glue, falling apart.

    Song, to go with it, via Tears For/Without Fears, from Bath, Wiltshire,

    • Ehtch

      Bollox, Bath, Somerset even – same difference…

  • Michele

    Yet again lots of talk this week about HOW MUCH the shabby coalition are spending (but how, on what and to whom?).

    We can all go out and buy supporters, say we’ve ‘spent’ some as if there’s no other criteria.

    Yesterday we saw the naked ex-emperor Cable who used to seem wise but (I’m allowing myself a LOL) boasted yesterday about how much outside info (ie: private 🙂 guidance they’d taken re the Royal Mail share price.

    How much shabbier will the LDs become? They don’t even seem to grasp key factors: breakfast clubs set children up from the start of the day, free lunches can only affect the last two hours of it.

    My neighbour (who suffered dreadful abuse as a child and left school at 14), who worked so hard as a mature student first from an Access course through GCEs then paying her way (by cleaning others’ houses) through a degree in Education and has been teaching for 20yrs and LOVED the whole-child philosophy that existed till 2010 has now taken early retirement.

  • Michele

    Fabulous article from John Woodcock :

    Looking at the various MPs who’ve come out about being depressed I wonder why there’s a disproportion between the parties?

    Are some people more likely to feel guilt about those decisions that for now just have to be objective and others that are satisfied or even smug about owning a narrow focus?


    PS: Re BJ I posted recently wondering what he’s doing about/for cyclists, I’d forgotten about who’s been made mandarin for cyclists here …….. I would really really like to know about the selection criteria through which Gilligan was selected for ……
    “Role. To have oversight of TfL cycling policy, programmes and investment priorities, … Salary: £57,000 pa (3 days per week); Expenses – Andrew Gilligan … ”

    The Mayor of London (has appointed)…….. fellow Daily Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan as his “cycling commissioner”, it emerged yesterday.

  • reaguns

    Indeed, while much of Alastair’s criticism of the Tories is pure spin (for example claiming that Labour are “making the weather” when what they are really trying to do is make people forget their ridiculous assertion that you can’t get jobs and growth after austerity) I do agree with Alastair that Cameron’s tactics are all over the police, because he lacks an overall strategy. And I would say that in turn, he lacks an overall strategy because he lacks belief! He has nothing to inform his strategy! He is, as Christopher Hitchen put it “content-free”.

    I am reading yet another book on the economic crash at the minute, by Iain Martin of the telegraph, I am not all the way through it yet, but he is very kind to Gordon Brown so far. I would give Brown a bit of credit – whereas to Cameron, Johnson, George W Bush and co politics is just like another playground or drinking game to be played with their well-heeled mates to see who can get to the top of the tree, Brown came into politics with a genuine desire to improve the lives of the people of Britain.

    On the other hand, a lack of belief, vision and therefore strategy is only to be expected of someone who said the reason he wanted to be prime minister is “Because I’d be good at it.”

    • Michele

      We can get jobs from austerity when we can actually stoop to classing zero hours contracts as jobs and also allow so many ’employers’ to be based off-shore and UK tax-free while also able to run their businesses flogging duty-free imports to the UK after bringing them in to the EU at the lowest duty port they can.

      • northwing

        You forgot counting those on “Workfare” as employed too. I believe they also were wanting to class students with P/T jobs as employed but not class those without as unemployed- don’t know if they managed that swindle or not.

        YouGov has some interesting graphs on zero hours workers and what they call “Involuntary” part-time and “Involuntary” temporary workers. It all amounts to the same thing- fiddling the figures. I remember the last time the tories were in power, they changed the method of calculating numbers of unemployed something like two dozen times, and only once did that involve an increase in numbers!

  • Ehtch

    ref. your twitter Ali, and what did Maggie Thatch do? say no more…

    Who’s this kiddie on the left? Sorry Ali, had to be done… 95, he had a good innings.

  • Ehtch

    More Nelson, being interviewed, in 1961, by ITN….

  • Ehtch

    Poem I’ve done over night for Nelson, in my utter microscopic humbled way, read as you want,

    Don’t keep on,
    we can hear you.
    Know a good man,
    when we see one.

    Us not so about you,
    playing our games.
    Denying bigger man,
    as we grip grounds.

    Lock him right up,
    out of our way.
    He is too disturbing,
    for our own old way.

    Can we kill him something,
    they no doubt think.
    Look into law books for ways,
    but human on human the conflict.

    Unless we can call him a monkey,
    there is no way.
    We will just have to put up with it,
    lock him up for nothing.

    Just his colour of his skin,
    and the power of his voice,
    And his reasonable arguments,
    and we can’t be having that!

  • Michele

    I’m sorry to be plopping another off-topic post in here but am horrified.

    Latest furore re A&E is that patients arriving by ambulance can’t get in to overcrowded depts and are blocking ambulances! One such case lasted over 6hrs.
    We had bed-blocking throughout the 90s (up till 2000 or beyond – what a problem that was for Labour to sort out) and now we have ambulance blocking.

    What a disaster has been ‘accomplished’ in less than 4 yrs.

    I don ‘t know how Clegg can keep showing his face in public, his utter greed for some pretence at effect (a.k.a. power aka ‘just give us your votes and we’ll pretend we respect you) has enabled an unbeatable but utterly false and dishonest majority in HoC.

    He promised to ‘work with both sides’ but he got bought freehold (after several Lib Dems lost their seats while he, Alexander and Cable all started on the road to conversion). When the heck are they going to ‘come out’?