Cameron at least has one special skill – to hold together an ungovernable party which is irrevocably split. He does not appear to have an ultimate belief in anything – only to sustain his own position and his party at whatever cost to the country at large. That explains his early embrace of driving an anti-climate change sleigh and hugging a hoodies to de-nastify the Nasty Party, only to be unceremoniously junked as soon as he got to No.10. It explains his latest gyrations over the EU and immigration, promising what he can’t deliver in order to deflect the UKIP rampage, putting Britain at risk of real isolation to score points for personal and party advantage, and alienating the whole of the EU (and the US too, behind the scenes) for the sake of short-term electoral gain. When tasked about this at PMQs he never answers any questions, but uses the occasion (and his unique privilege in having the last word) to smother his opponents with clouds of party political rhetoric and partisan propaganda. His Bullingdon Club toff self-confidence (or overweening arrogance whichever way you look at it) is well-suited to this abuse of parliamentary procedure.
But the current chatter isn’t about Cameron because the Tory tabloids (whatever they really think about Cameron, which is often unprintable) are remorselessly determined to retain power for the Tories at all costs. The talk is about Miliband because the Labour Party is less resolute under fire and, in some quarters at least, panics quickly at the potential loss of their own seats. The real problem for Labour at this time isn’t Miliband. It’s Labour’s bizarre economic policy, promising austerity and spending cuts all the way to 2020, exactly the same as the Tories, which is counter-productive and a massive voter turn-off. What Labour voters need, and indeed the whole country, is HOPE when at present they feel only insecurity, abandonment, alienation. What is needed is not idle and destructive chatter about a change of Leader (which is frankly inconceivable anyway), but focusing relentlessly on a commanding narrative – restoration of the NHS, reversing austerity via public investment in sustainable economic expansion, Living Wage plus a relentless assault on inequality and tax avoidance, rebuilding public services, restoration of collective bargaining and trade union rights, etc.
Miliband himself has some priceless qualities which his party should be talking up, not bad-mouthing in dark corners. He has integrity, honesty and vision, none of which Cameron has, and he has courage – he took on Murdoch over BSkyB, the Tory tabloids over Leveson, and Cameron over a missile onslaught on Syria and yet another Middle East War, and won in each case, which no previous leader of Labour in Opposition has ever achieved – certainly not Blair. The sooner Labour members recognise and promulgate the assets of their leader, the quicker
they might learn to stop throwing the election away.