Matthew Dancona

Cameron delivers a non-electoral milestone

Cameron delivers a non-electoral milestone
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Leave aside the specifics: when David Cameron walks into Number Ten, his press conference this afternoon should be remembered as one of the non-electoral milestones on the road from Opposition to power. Compare and contrast the image of Gordon being interviewed on a train when the Telegraph story first broke last week – blaming the System and congratulating himself on the action he would be taking in the future to reform it.

In his body language, tone and recognition of the public’s fury, Cameron showed that his antennae are much more sensitive to the electoral mood than Brown’s. He has acted today to rectify the worst of the expense abuses by members of his own party – as he said, senior Tories are writing cheques this afternoon, as they should be – and he was not afraid to name colleagues who had crossed the line and had been instructed to make amends. There was a ruthlessness in Cameron today that reminded me of Blair at his hungriest.

At a time of public disgust, impressions matter. Generalities are more important than ever. What Oliver Letwin calls the “aroma” a politician exudes becomes of utmost significance. Cameron looked the part. The clarity of purpose with which he spoke and the certainty he evinced were deeply impressive. This was a Prime Minister in waiting, striking just the right balance between contrition and anger. Today, at least, he thoroughly outclassed the incumbent, and looked like he has no intention of yielding pole position to the man he aspires to drive out of Number Ten as soon as humanly possible.