Tim Montgomerie has a fascinating piece in this week’s New Statesman where he pinpoints ten moments that have shaped the coalition government so far. The tenth of those points is particularly interesting:
Cameron, it seems, doesn’t arrive at his desk in No 10 until 8.30am and has left by 7pm. Away from that desk, he may be working privately, but he certainly finishes earlier than his Downing Street predecessors.
For Montgomerie this is symbolic of an inattention to detail and has resulted in some of his worst gaffes (see Jim’s post earlier today for more evidence of that). But I disagree.
With Parliament in recess, those of us left rattling around the deserted corridors of Westminster have had to find other things to gossip about.
The latest is a brewing scandal of Watergate proportions – did Boris agree to paint his new cycle superhighways their distinctive tone of garish blue because it also happens to be the corporate colour of Barclays bank, which sponsors the scheme?
You might have thought that David Cameron would be steering clear of foreign policy gaffes after his “news-rich” visit to Turkey and India*.
But he has just been accused by Labour of making a new blunder by mistakenly claiming that Iran has a nuclear weapon (at least, we are still assuming he’s wrong) during a PM Direct meeting.
The prime minister was asked why he was backing Turkey to join the EU and said it could help solve the world’s problems….”like the Middle East peace process, like the fact that Iran has got a nuclear weapon”.
Chris Bryant, shadow Europe minister, said Mr Cameron was becoming a “foreign policy klutz”.
“This is less of a hiccup, more of a dangerous habit,” he said. “Considering Iran’s nuclear ambitions constitute one of the most important foreign policy challenges facing us all, it is not just downright embarrassing that the prime minister has made this basic mistake, it’s dangerous.”
There seems to be some disappointment about VInce Cable’s indication that Northern Rock will not be turned back into a building society. The business secretary has told The Journal that remutualisation was not actively being considered.
Michael Stephenson, chief executive of the Co-operative Party, said that the coalition had “failed its first big test on co-operatives” early into the Parliament.
“By reneging on their commitment to re-mutualise Northern Rock, Vince Cable has shown that their devotion to a new approach to the economy is just a sham,” he said.
“Just like David Cameron’s Big Society, this is a Big Con. They are dumping all of their promises one by one and showing that they are just like the last Conservative government which de-mutualised all of our building societies.”
There are two problems with Michael’s reasoning.
These figures are from a YouGov poll for the Sun this week. The findings – which reinforce the view that Afghanistan is the new Vietnam – didn’t appear in that newspaper as far as I can work out.
According to the survey of the British public, only 7 per cent believe that British troops are winning the war with the Taleban in Afghanistan. Another 24 per cent think they are not winning but it is possible.