Cameron addressed the Tory Spring Forum this afternoon (Photo: Getty)
I’ll be honest, when I saw the headline this morning that Gordon Brown was on course to win the next election I felt a small twinge of ecstatic joy. I loathe Gordon Brown as I loathed Tony Blair. I loathe everything New Labour stands for. I think in 13 years they have done more damage to Britain in shorter space than perhaps any government in history. Which speaks volumes for just how little I think of David Cameron’s Conservatives.
I don’t trust David Cameron an inch. I believe that – contrary to the rumours cunningly put about by Tory Central Office – he is instinctively pro-EU; that he will not have the gumption or indeed the desire to roll back the State because, au fond, he is himself a believer in Big Government; that he is not a radical in the Thatcher mould, but rather a complacent Ted Heath Mk II who will preside over Britain’s “managed decline” for four years, be found wanting, end up being booted out after a decade’s faffing around, meaning Britain won’t even begin to receive the rescue package it needs until at least the 2020s.
All that said, his speech at the Tories’ Spring Conference in Brighton was a blinder and it’s going to win them the next election. It was full of inconsistencies: for example, how can you possibly talk about repairing the deficit while simultaneously boasting that you’re going to introduce “a new army of health visitors”? And I loathed his cantish playing to the authoritarian gallery, such as in the bit where he fulminated righteously about supermarkets selling alcohol to underage children. But it was encouraging that he played down the “Vote Blue go Green” line, having perhaps been counselled by wiser heads than Greg Clark that the tide of public opinion is rapidly turning on the AGW issue. And there was just enough Tory meat in there not to leave natural Conservatives so disgusted that they’ll head en masse to UKIP.
Will Cameron learn anything from the fact that the line that got the biggest, most prolonged clap was the one where he had a go at Regional Development Agencies (and, by implication, quangoes generally) and said: “The whole lot is going”?
Frankly I doubt it. But as he almost admitted himself, Cameron’s speech was a bravura exercise in super-salesmanship. From this point, for better or worse, I’m putting my money not on a hung parliament but on a workable Tory majority.