Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cameron Puts in a Solid Performance

David Cameron put in a solid performance on The Politics Show this morning. The audience was advertised as consisting of undecided voters but in fact appeared to, in part at least, consist of people who support other political parties. There was one person who openly admitted that he was a UKIP voter.

So, despite the fact that the questioners were perhaps less open-minded than might have been expected, Cameron put in a statesmanlike performance. The bottom line was that he looked like a credible next PM.


DC delivered a sensible message on the Referendum issue - pointing out that it really would be futile to have a referendum on something which is law - simple and effective.

John Sopel tried to put DC under pressure by trying to ridicule him for not being prepared to detail exactly how spending cuts will be made. DC deflected this, avoided getting ruffled and made the straightforward commitment that the info would be there for people to take into account before the General Election.

On more than one occasion DC started to dissect the questioner's arguments and in so doing really won the point. For me this was the top highlight. He didn't just give the predictable statement. He questioned the pre-suppositions in the questions and exposed the flaws to justify his position - much better than I have seen before.

But what could he improve on?

I think the privilege question was ducked. He reverted to the position which has proved inadequate in the past (which is one reason why the question keeps re-appearing time and time again). When accused of having a  shadow-cabinet made-up of a lot of people from a privileged background he countered by arguing against the simple truth (not credible) - quoting the examples of William Hague and Eric Pickles. It just doesn't wash. The underlying objection here is that a Conservative Govt would be elitist and by avoiding the underlying accusation he loses. It doesn't help much that some of the shadow cabinet were state educated - it's fact that it's not representative. To argue against basic fact looks like avoidance.

I suspect this point alone is so powerful it could unlock at least 3 or 4% in the polls.. If the suggestion that a Conservative Government would have an agenda of supporting and maintaining the position and benefits of the privileged can be comprehensively overturned it could be the difference between a hung parliament and a Conservative Govt or a very low majority and a decent working majority.

And there is a danger that if the question is not properly answered it will go away. People will stop asking it because they think they know the answer - and it's one they don't like. The opportunity to overturn this will recede. People's minds will close.

Music to my ears would be to hear him say:

'Yes it's true that a good proportion of the Shadow Cabinet do come from privileged backgrounds. It is is a fact that the best educated and most skilled people are more likely to come from privileged backgrounds because, their parents were able to pay for a high-quality education. And that is exactly what we are going to change. We are going to reverse the decline in social mobility over the last 13 years and give everyone the education and life opportunities they fairly and rightly deserve. Don't assume that just because I was lucky enough to born in to a wealthy family and had great opportunities and a fabulous education that I don't want everyone else to have that kind of start in life. I do. Absolutely. That's exactly what I want to change in this country. Everyone deserves this opportunity.'

Killer Punches.


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