David Cameron has just been interviewed for ITV1’s Sunday Edition programme. There are two quotes of note; one good, one bad.
QUOTE 1 ON HUG-A-HOODIE: "If people attack me when I say that, when I say that some of these young people have had no relationships in their life, they’ve had no love in their life, they’ve had no-one caring for them, no-one teaching them the difference between right and wrong, if people criticise me for that I say look I’ll go on saying that because everybody knows it’s true."
The Tory leader never, of course, used the infamous ‘hug-a-hoodie’ expression – what he was trying to get at in his much misinterpreted speech was the lack of love and social support that puts young people on the conveyor belt to crime. That speech was deeply humane. David Cameron still believes in tough action against crime – as he made clear on Thursday – but he knows (as Mr Blair once appeared to understand) that you can’t just be tough on criminals, you need to be tough on the things that drive people to be criminal, too.
QUOTE 2 ON STRATEGIC DIRECTION: "Yes, I get attacked by newspapers who’d like me to just bring out all the old policies, but I haven’t wavered one inch from the strategy that I said was the right thing for our party and also the right thing for our country, because you’ve got to do the right thing in politics, you can’t be blown off course by one commentator or another having a bit of a pop at you – that’s part of life."
There are two faults evident here. One is an unhelpful misrepresentation of his critics. Few want David Cameron to "just bring out all the old policies" – they want him to balance the new with the familar. Not to abandon his gentler, greener conservatism but to demonstrate to people that he’s aware of the damage role that the EU plays in British life and that our borders are terribly insecure, for example. ‘Not wavering one inch’ isn’t leadership – its stubborness. Yes, we want a strong leader but we also want a leader who listens – particularly to friendly critics – like this website.