Most Daily Mail readers will have gained a very negative sense of the current position of the Cameron project from their newspaper this morning. Ben Brogan has written a page six piece headlined "The Tories terrible week". The article’s three subheadings are:
- Willetts in jeopardy over grammar row;
- Outcry over red-top editor’s new PR role;
- MPs’ scorn over ‘heir to Blair’ claims.
Readers turning to pages 14 and 15 will see a double page article from former Thatcher adviser Robin Harris that is headlined: "Why does Cameron despise the Tories?" On page 25 Peter Oborne’s regular column also makes very uncomfortable reading. The headline: "The Leader’s ‘heir of Blair’ strategy is in disarray. His enemies are on the prowl."
Few readers will probably read the leader column on page 14 but it will offer some relief to Team Cameron. The leader (not currently online) notes that "the inelectable fact is that [David Cameron] is the first leader in more than a decade to make the party look electable". The leader continues:
"If Michael Howard brought discipline, then Mr Cameron, by giving the party a new caring image, has reconnected the Conservatives to countless people who had been alienated by the perceived harshness of some Tory policies. He has executed this stategy with both brilliance and courage."
Although critical of Mr Cameron’s addiction to the appeasement of The Guardian-BBC (a key concern of Mail Editor Paul Dacre) the leader-writers warns that the party must "unite behind the best leader they have had in years."
For David Cameron the last two weeks will make him stronger if he learns the right lessons. Lesson number one is that he must pay more attention to the breadth of the Conservative coalition. There should be no retreat from the greener and gentler conservatism that has been so successful in attracting LibDem voters back into the Tory column. But he must pay more attention to the concerns of striving voters and other natural Tories who would like him to address their concerns about crime and immigration and squeezed disposable incomes. As this website has constantly argued – there need be no conflict between a compassionate engagement with the problems of developing countries, for example, and a very tough approach to border control. The party can and should combine a massive prisons building programme with more support for the children of prisoners. ConservativeHome believes we have the right leader for our times. With this week’s inspired appointment of Andy Coulson he now has a key adviser who can help him connect with the traditional, northern and lower income voters who are currently unconvinced by the new Conservative Party.