James Forsyth James Forsyth

Cameron: a leader in need of ‘a people’

One of the odd things about David Cameron is that he wants to be a consensual radical. Unlike Margaret Thatcher he doesn’t want to have ‘a people’, a section of the electorate that is loyal to him personally. Rather he wants to be seen as a unifying national figure. He is, to borrow a phrase from The Economist, a ‘one nation radical’

But Cameron’s persona doesn’t mean that the left aren’t going to fight him with everything they’ve got. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s assault on the coalition today in the New Statesman is a classic example of the kind of opposition he is going to face. (If you read the whole piece, it is clear that Rowan Williams identifies himself as being on the left).

If Cameron and the Conservatives are going to face down this opposition, they are going to have to know who their friends are and who their enemies are. At the moment, they don’t. As demonstrated by the fact that two Cabinet ministers have given extra emphasis and legitimacy to the Archbishop’s attack by appearing in his issue of the New Statesman.

At some point, Cameron is also going to have to get ‘a people’. For you can’t win an election without one. By 2015, Cameron must be able to show them how they and their families lives are better because of his policies.  

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