When Cameron first threw his hat into the ring as leader, many Tories asked aloud if an Etonian could really be party leader. Not from a sense of inverted snobbery, but because they feared the left would caricature the Tories as being of the rich for the rich. The Daily Mirror has indeed done this remorselessly, hunting for stories that play to this theme. And on Monday, they found one.
This will not work because, for all his wealth, there is not one piece of snobbishness about Cameron. I recently spent a day with him on the campaign trail and saw how he connected so easily and quickly with people from all backgrounds. From school gate mums to one guy with “love” and “hate” on his knuckles, he found a way to engage with them all. It is a gift which he has, and our shy PM lacks. If Brown and Cameron were put in a working men’s club, I suspect, Cameron would go down far better.
Still The Mirror is testing a critique which, if successful, will be used by Brown at election time. This is why it matters. Anyone interested in the future of the Brown v Cameron battle should be interested in how the “snob” line is played by the left and how Cameron responds to it. He handled himself well at the press conference yesterday, saying nothing to inflame the situation. But I detected a look of unease, reflecting how toxic this charge could potentially be.
In electing Cameron as leader, the Tories took a bet that modern Britain has no truck with inverted snobbery. And as I will argue in a Policy Exchange debate tomorrow, it is a bet which has already paid off.