James Forsyth

A child of Thatcher

A child of Thatcher
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David Cameron has a complicated emotional relationship with the Conservative party. The party picked him and follows him because it thinks he’s a winner. But it worries that the leader doesn’t love it, that he views the Tory party as a vehicle.

So when Ed Miliband threw the ‘son of Thatcher’ line at Cameron today, the Tory benches waited nervously to see how the PM would respond. As Cameron  started off by making a rather lame joke about his mother being able to confirm that she was his mother, the Tory benches looked disappointed. Cameron appeared to be distancing himself from the party’s heroine. But when he changed gear and told Miliband, ‘I’d rather be a child of Thatcher than the son of Brown’, they went wild. Giving him one of the loudest cheers I have heard in the Chamber for a while.

That line alone would have made today a win for Cameron.  But in truth, he had got the better of the earlier exchanges to. As the session went on Ed Miliband, who is normally a happy-looking chap, appeared rather downcast. Cameron’s string of personal remarks — ‘not waving but drowning’, ‘he’s been in the job three and people are beginning to ask when he’s going to start’ — appeared to have hit home.

One thing worth watching is whether Cameron’s remarks about a British Bill of Rights presage some progress on this front. But the consensus is that this issue will remain in the long grass for the sake of coalition comity. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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