Rudderless, arrogant posh boy: Cameron takes a hammering

Tory MP Nadine Dorries comes back slamming her leader as new poll shows slump in party support

Column LAST UPDATED AT 10:49 ON Tue 24 Apr 2012

JUST when it seemed it could not get any worse for David Cameron, one of his old chums pours more of the brown stuff over his head by accusing the Prime Minister and his Con-Lib Dem coalition government of acting like a ship without a rudder. Dave, says a scathing report, hasn’t got a clue where he is going.

Tory MP Bernard Jenkin is behind the report by the Commons Public Administration Committee which says the lack of a proper national strategy is responsible for a string of "mistakes", from the Budget to the handling of the threatened strike by tanker drivers.

It says the Cabinet and various Cabinet committees are incapable of carrying out anything more than a "patch-and-mend" approach to policy-making.

And it warns that "chaotic strategy" - just "muddling through" - risks creating a "vicious circle", where weak leadership leads to bad policy, further undermining public trust in government.

All of this would be bad enough, but the committee’s chairman is a right-wing former Tory minister, Bernard Jenkin, son of Tory grandee Lord Patrick Jenkin. He should be one of Dave’s natural allies – but the right wing of the Tory Party has despaired of Dave and his Lib Dem tendencies.

The past month of gaffes, unpopular taxes, and the farce over the failed attempt to deport Abu Qatada is only part of the problem, according to Jenkin’s cross-party committee. There’s also the clumsy re-think on the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers, the lower-than-expected economic growth, the likelihood that child poverty reduction targets will be missed, as well as difficulties over welfare spending, airport policy and climate change.

"We have little confidence that government policies are informed by a clear, coherent strategic approach, itself informed by a coherent assessment of the public's aspirations and their perceptions of the national interest," the report says.

Jenkin's damning assessment comes as a new ICM survey for The Guardian finds support for the Tories has slumped dramatically in the past month. Labour's poll rating has risen to 41 per cent - its highest score by that pollster since 2003 - while support for the Tories has fallen a staggering six points to 33 per cent.

If the slump in the opinion polls is reflected in the 3 May elections, it could cost the Tories hundreds of seats across England and ruin Boris Johnson’s hopes of winning a second term as Mayor of London against Labour candidate Ken Livingstone.

According to a YouGov survey for the Evening Standard, Cameron’s troubles are beginning to drag Boris down. Londoners are remembering that beneath the charming exterior, there beats a Tory heart – and it looks like he’s now paying for it. Johnson’s previous lead of six points has been slashed to just two points — 51 to 49 - in a run-off.

But what’s really putting the wind up Cameron – or should be – are the increasingly vitriolic comments of Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries.

Yesterday morning, the Mole picked up on her warning to Cameron on ConservativeHome that he faced a coup if he gave more ground to Nick Clegg. By midday she was on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics show saying: “I think that not only are Cameron and Osborne two posh boys who don’t know the price of milk, but they are two arrogant posh boys who show no remorse, no contrition and no passion to want to understand the lives of others – and that is their real crime.”

Dave has spent the past two years trying desperately trying to prove that the Tories have changed, that they are no longer ‘the nasty party’, and that he is an ordinary sort of bloke, despite his Old Etonian antecedents. That was in fact Dave’s only strategy. And in 30 seconds, Dorries has wrecked it. ·