Whatever became of quietly competent David Cameron?
Opinion Digest: Prime Minister's lack of purpose, Grand Prix politics and angry Europeans
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CAMERON HAS NO STRATEGIC PLAN
BENEDICT BROGAN ON THE PM'S CRISIS
Many have praised David Cameron's natural authority in the role of PM, says Benedict Brogan in The Daily Telegraph. They've admired his mastery of detail, his effective chairmanship in meetings, his ability to delegate. "He is convincing as a prime minister, if by that you mean he suits the part." But the economy is stagnating, the government misfiring, and the Budget was a shambles. Follow these strands and they lead to Cameron, his character and his suitability for office in a time of national crisis. Cameron is not driven by ideas or ideology or a grand strategic plan. He prefers "the simplicity of a completed ministerial box and a well managed in-tray". But where he was once praised for showing a cool head in a crisis, his quiet competence "now looks like aloofness, verging on arrogance". He is so busy being a competent manager, "he has forgotten to provide the political direction that would give his government purpose".
BRITISH VOTERS NEED AN ALTERNATIVE
JANICE ATKINSON SMALL ON THE 'POSH BOYS'
Nadine Dorries was right to call David Cameron and George Osborne "out-of-touch posh boys", says Janice Atkinson Small in the Daily Mail. Former Conservative prime ministers such as Margaret Thatcher understood the working-classes. She knew what they wanted and they voted for her in droves. Most British voters have not succumbed to the BNP or the Socialist Workers Party, but they are now "looking for an alternative". It is no coincidence that UKIP's Nigel Farage's personal poll ratings are the highest of all our political leaders. Farage's policies on crime, immigration and the EU "resonate with the voters, where New Labour and the so-called Conservatives have failed to get to grips with these issues". Under Thatcher, Britons felt part of a great nation with vision and backbone. These days "the country is being run by droves of college kids" who have never held down a proper job in their lives.
EVERY DESPOT NEEDS A GRAND PRIX
MARK STEEL ON POLITICS AND SPORT
The interviews with the Bahrain government during the Grand Prix started like this, says Mark Steel in The Independent: "You have stated that you're moving your country towards democracy. Is that true, Crown Prince Imperial Grand Emperor O Flawless Being of Gorgeous Holy Succulent Mightiness?" The government then calmly explain how they're trying really hard to reform the country gradually, as if there's something holding things up that they can't help. Like other brutal governments, they've been coached on how to deal with the media, cheerily informing us that the Grand Prix "has nothing to do with politics" and that it's "fun for the people". It's a shame other Arab countries didn't think of this strategy when they've experienced unrest, says Steel. "If they'd stuck a Grand Prix in Libya, the people would have been delighted and Gaddafi would still be in charge, gradually working towards democracy."
EUROPEANS TURN AGAINST BRUSSELS
DANIEL HANNAN ON THE EURO CRISIS
One by one the governments of the eurozone are giving way under the strain, says Daniel Hannan in The Daily Telegraph. First Ireland, Greece and Italy, and now the Netherlands. The government had been propped up by the anti-immigration Freedom Party, but collapsed when that party refused to support a proposal to raise the retirement age. This is no longer a Mediterranean crisis. If it can happen in Holland, it can happen anywhere. Even in France, Francois Hollande has promised to reject the FU (fiscal union) treaty. It was wrong of the Freedom Party to oppose the Budget. All Western countries need to deal with the problem of longevity. But Freedom's walkout reflected wider Dutch resentment at being asked to bail out less prudent governments and anger at the EU. People have realised that the euro is a recessionary mechanism, causing deflation in the south and tax rises in the north. And Europe's leaders' determination to keep it "is causing preventable destitution" and "vitiating democracy".