Even Bruce Anderson thinks David Cameron had a bad week last week. He cites Liam Fox’s failure to undo Des Browne on Monday, Gordon Brown’s performance on Tuesday in which he rallied Labour’s troops and, of course, Wednesday’s Dyke debacle. Unfortunately Mr Cameron is unrepentant. In an article for The Guardian the Tory leader insists that he made "the right judgment":
"I’m prepared to take risks in the name of changing our politics – to be less partisan, and to be less arrogant about politicians’ ability to improve the quality of people’s lives… We could have given the people of London – and Britain – hope that a new kind of politics is possible, one where we don’t weigh up every decision purely in terms of short-term party advantage, but try to do what’s right for the long term. People know this makes sense. They know that sometimes the other guy might have a point. And that it’s often easier to get things done if you work together. People despair at the predictable and juvenile partisanship of Westminster politics, and yearn for a more mature political debate."
It is very unfortunate that the Conservative leader is continuing to defend this sorry business. While it’s true that people would like a less shrill political discourse it is not at all clear that they want this "new kind of politics" if it involves a fundamental narrowing of choice. Greg Dyke would be better than Ken Livingstone – few candidates could be worse – but he is clearly a man of the left and was rightly criticised for his oversight of the BBC at the time of the Hutton investigation. A Cameron Government will make many crucial appointments and this affection for Greg Dyke is a worrying omen.
Although the Dyke affair has undermined every Conservative’s chance of ousting Ken Livingstone, most Conservatives would still like to be able to vote for a candidate that is genuinely close to their views on tax, transport and crime. ConservativeHome.com certainly hasn’t given up on the belief that a small government party can win in London and across the country if it is patriotic, compassionate and willing to face up to Britain’s long-term challenges. Mr Cameron’s charismatic personality gives authentic conservatism an extra chance of victory.
Ahead of the next General Election we should be ambitiously seeking to dominate the political stage as Tony Blair did so potently in his early years but we should also offer thought-through policies that can realise the ambitions. No more behind-closed-doors deal-making. There should be no repeat of last week. Mr Cameron wouldn’t have done himself any harm if he’d admitted that and ruled out any further backroom talks with the LibDems.