I was on BBC Radio Four’s Talking Politics
today with Anne McElvoy of the Standard and Michael White of the Guardian – and Dennis Sewell in the chair. During it I made a point which I had thought uncontroversial: how close Cameron came to political destruction last autumn.
My theory is that if Brown had called that election, he’d have won. Cameron bluffed beautifully at Blackpool: his Etonian fearlessness saved him and his party. But his bold new policies would not have withstood the scrutiny of an election campaign (especially the back-of-the-envelope figures about non doms). A defeated Cameron would have had to quit, and the topic of discussion now would be a Tory leadership election.
Anyway, Michael said he strongly disagreed - which surprised me. Did he think Cameron would have won in November or that he wouldn’t have quit if he’d lost? We didn’t get a chance to explore it. But it got me wondering what CoffeeHousers think. If Brown’s nerve hadn’t failed on Yellow Saturday, where would we be now?
Other questions we sparred (and I was lightly skewered) on….
1) Brown told MPs he was going “further and faster” with Blair’s public sector reform agenda. But has he in fact been busy dismantling it, as the FT has steadily chronicled?
2) If Brown orders state funding of political parties, is a form of nationalisation – the equivalent of making Labour and Tories go the way of British Leyland? Or is it really no big deal?
3) How far can Brown be blamed for the Northern Rock debacle?Any answers?