Vir Cantium

I'm right, you know …

Cameron Loses the Hilton Rudder

Steve Hilton, Downing Street’s policy ‘guru’ has left, fed up with the Whitehall machine and Europe to spend more time with his family.

The direction that Steve Hilton took the Conservative Party in was not to everyone’s taste, but at least he gave it one. Despite the capitulation to watermelon greenery, detoxification in principle was necessary, and Hilton’s euro-scepticism was credited, in part, as being a factor in Cameron’s quasi-veto back in December.

A couple of weeks ago, a conference of Conservative MPs heard from Andrew Cooper, the former pollster who is now at the heart of Number 10. His increasingly influential position is in contrast to Hilton’s; while all governments should have regard to public feeling, an increasingly prominent feature of the government in recent months has been an apparent heightened sensitivity to the headlines. Whether it’s the over-reaction to the Council prayer’s decision (which only served to open new divisions in the party) or the woolly response to the Heston bonus story, the pollsters influence on government business has been trumping whatever coherent policy direction that existed before – and that direction was pretty weak, diluted as it inevitably was y the politics of coalition and Cameron’s own antipathy to “-isms”.

Alas, with Hilton now taking his ball home with him the party’s rudder, erratic though it could seem sometimes, has finally disappeared. A government reacting to headlines and polls seems to have more in common with the last years of John Major’s. One could suggest New Labour as another comparator, but at least they had some grip on the media, rather than the other way around.

There is one consolation with this situation though – before now, Cameron’s government has been haunted not by the ghost of Margaret Thatcher’s time in power, but by Ted Heath’s – and that has nothing to do with Europe, rather the numbers of u-turns and compromises that destroy any confidence in the ability to govern.

Cameron is unlikely to be asking the electorate the question, without knowing the answer, ‘who governs Britain’. He’ll know the answer from the polls, we’ll know the answer is the polls.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: