Tim Montgomerie

Afraid of being right

The coalition risks withering because Cameron won’t listen to the wisdom of ordinary Conservatives

The coalition risks withering because Cameron won’t listen to the wisdom of ordinary Conservatives

It’s the Mary Poppins principle of successful government: a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. A government does the necessary things to keep the nation healthy while dispensing regular sweeteners to sustain the patient’s consent for the treatment.

Across the country the vast majority of Conservatives are agreed about the tough remedies necessary to restore Britain’s sick economy back to health. They’re also united on the treats that will sugar the pill. The problem is the coalition government. Like all coalition governments, the alliance between Nick Clegg and David Cameron has badly eroded the relationship between the ordinary voter and the political class. Cameron doesn’t wake up thinking about Essex Man or Worcester Woman. He wakes with Nick Clegg on his mind. He doesn’t move, breathe or speak without worrying if the Liberal Democrat leader will approve. He also pays far too much attention to Westminster’s chattering classes, despite their remoteness from the inflation and crime that makes life so miserable for so much of middle Britain. As we’re all now only too aware, both Cameron and Osborne have been far more interested in what Fleet street thinks than in what ordinary people think — it’s as if they’re floating in a bubble of privilege above the common herd.

But Britain needs a government that will lift it out of the economic slow lane and restore the oomph that creates the wealth, jobs and tax revenues that fund our public services. Almost nothing else matters, not just for the country’s prosperity but also for Cameron’s political future. If the economy is strong in 2015, the Conservative leader will be re-elected. If it’s weak, he’s very vulnerable.

The gap between what mainstream Conservatives want and their leadership is able to supply is enormous.

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