Fraser Nelson writes an interesting column in the Telegraph today arguing that David Cameron has returned to Downing Street a changed man in 2013 with a renewed desire to make “Cameronism” mean something. But Nelson also notes that the Tory leader’s big vision all too often gets lost in policy u-turns and conflicting messages.
It is a trait that is increasingly vexing his backbenchers, fed up of defending contradictory messages emanating from the centre with their local associations. This week those rumblings rose to the surface when his parliamentary party used a meeting on the 2015 election strategy to let off steam about his very public backing of gay marriage.
MPs are infuriated that the PM has at once sought to court the grey vote by protecting universal benefits for pensioners, while alienating the over 65s by pushing gay marriage. “I wish he had just left it well alone,” was how one weary Tory put it this week.
George Osborne, the chancellor, believes embracing ideas such as gay marriage is vital to winning the centre ground – and is taking a calculated risk that it will not be enough to put off the core Tory vote.
After Tuesday’s meeting, Cameroons defended the PM’s position, arguing that gay marriage is something the PM really believes in. They point out that sometimes Cameron needs to take decisions based on conviction rather than electoral tactics.
But if he really wants to be regarded as a PM with a ‘moral mission’, rather than just a man of spin, maybe he should look once more at his decision to protect rich pensioners’ benefits while simultaneously taking child benefit away from wealthy families.