James Forsyth

Cameron is walking into an elephant trap on 42 days

Cameron is walking into an elephant trap on 42 days
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Like Fraser, I thought that David Cameron went on the wrong topic today. But I think the bigger mistake the Tories might be making is in trying to turn 42 days into a trial of Brown’s political strength. Regardless of what one thinks about 42 days, and a good case can be made both ways, there is something deeply unappealing about people playing politics with the issue. Now, you can say that both sides are doing it but today Cameron looked like the main offender. The Tories also face the problem of what do they do if, as looks likely, they defeat Brown on this issue. The sight of them celebrating would be distinctly unseemly, it certainly was in 2005.

There is also the most hideous scenario of all to be contemplated: that another terrorist attack succeeds. If that were to happen, this whole debate would look very different. Suddenly, Brown’s approach would be far more appealing to the public. The electorate might also turn on those who had appeared unserious on this subject. I can’t imagine that this has escaped Brown’s attention.

The Tories should avoid walking into this trap. If they are to oppose the measure, they must do so in a high-minded way and eschew making political capital out of it. Pressing on the question of whether it will be a confidence measure is particularly foolish, as it highlights just how political the Tory approach is.

Written byJames Forsyth

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

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