James Forsyth

Cameron faces a political storm

Cameron faces a political storm
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For the Cameroons, the political weather at the moment is about as appealing as the prospect of a Bank Holiday trip to the beach. The Tory party is having a very public debate about its future strategy. The Alternative Queen’s Speech being promoted by David Davis, John Redwood and Tim Montgomerie is a reminder of how vocal the leadership’s internal critics are prepared to be. The worry for Cameron has to be that there is this much sounding off just two years into the coalition. One wonders what it will like be a year from now.

If this was not enough, Thursday and Friday promise to bring excruciating details of how close Cameron was to Rebekah Brooks and the process by which Andy Coulson was hired by the Conservative party just months after resigning as editor of the News of the World on the conviction of one of its journalists for phone hacking. The Leveson Inquiry threatens to both bolster the impression that Cameron is a member of a gilded elite and crowd out the government’s message until at least mid-June when the Prime Minister himself appears before it.

But perhaps more worrying for Cameron are the external circumstances. The coalition’s growth agenda is worthy enough, it contain measures that will boost growth in the medium term. But any measures that are radical enough to have a real short-term impact are trapped inside the coalition. This means that growth here is particularly dependent on favourable global conditions. But these seem further away than ever this morning.

The results in France and Greece threaten further instability in the Eurozone. Personally, I’m increasingly convinced that despite the immense short term pain it would inflict as orderly as possible a break-up of the euro is the least worst solution. But that is not where Europe appears to be headed. Instead, we appear to be heading for another face-off between the Germans and the Greeks. Even more worryingly, the Spanish government now thinks it has to bail out its banks. But it is hard to see where and how it raises the money to do that.

 

What is ccertain is that the next few months will be the biggest test yet of Cameron's political skills. The Jubilee and the Olympics could well give him some breathing space. But the real challenge for him will be to both win back the government's reputation for competence and remind both his own party and the electorate what the point of this coalition is.