Wednesday 13 October 2010

Danger for David Cameron

I can see some real danger today for David Cameron as a result of Ed Miliband's first outing at PMQs - but this has nothing to do with the new Labour leader and everything to do with Mr Cameron.

While Miliband used sensibly formed specific questions - something that always scores points at PMQs, even IDS managed this - Cameron talked in generalities. This is the first danger. Once you start answering specific points with general responses you can look to be evasive and, become too much of a politician in the eyes of voters.

Cameron also seems unwilling to defend the cuts to child benefit in a robust way. This is the second danger. One of David Cameron's great strengths over the past 5 years, including throughout the Conservative leadership election, has been to tell it like it is. This is one of the reasons Labour's 'Dave the Chameleon' and 'Dave the PR man' attacks failed. I remember seeing some of the Conservative's private polling back in 2007 where people trusted Cameron but generally didn't feel the same about the Party. I imagine that polling has remained pretty constant since.

If I could advise Cameron now, I would tell him to have courage of his convictions, to continue his straight talking style that has got him to where he is today and not be afraid to say, quite robustly, to voters how it is. In difficult times people want strong leaders.

Over the coming months there are going to be a succession of announcements, policy changes and cuts that are going to affect all of us. The Prime Minister should not shy away from admitting that these measures are going to affect people - sometimes quite hard. He should also take every opportunity to tell people why this is happening. 

If he doesn't then, with every row over specific cuts, his reputation will take a hammering. It really would be death by a thousand cuts.

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