James Forsyth

Cameron needs to go big on the big society

Cameron needs to go big on the big society
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The more I think about David Cameron’s debate performance the more I think that the problem with it was that it was too one-note. He said little that would make voters think of him as a different kind of Conservative. As with his 2008 conference speech, there was too much health and safety and not enough hope.

Cameron actually started the debate strongly, I thought his answers on immigration and crime were solid. But an example of what he didn’t do came when education came up. Cameron talked about excessive bureaucracy, discipline and government waste. Not once did he mention how he was going to let parents, teachers and voluntary groups set up schools funded by the state but free from state control and how this would give every parent the kind of choices in education that currently only the rich have. There was a real chance here for Cameron to show how the Tories were setting the intellectual debate and how they would make life better for people but he missed it.

When Cameron was pressed by reporters on why he didn’t talk about the whole big society agenda in the debate, he replied that " all the questions were all rather subjecty subjects.” But on at least three out of the eight questions, there was a real chance for Cameron to talk about this agenda.

Nothing convinces in politics like conviction. So over the next few days Cameron needs to set aside all the internal debates about tactics and media strategy and tell the British people why he wants to be their Prime Minister.

The post-debate polls show that the electorate is still making up its mind. It is time for Cameron to ask them for their vote.  

Written byJames Forsyth

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

Topics in this articleSociety