Sunday, 4 May 2008

Have you really got it Mr Cameron?

It's going to be tough for the Tories from here on. I know they've just had a riotously successful election night and I know that the media are busy crucifying the PM, but seriously, Cameron et al are now going to come under so much pressure they won't know what hit them.

Take London. They got Boris elected in an incredibly tough fight. This appears to have been managed by paying Lynton Crosby £140k to sit on Boris for three solid months, making sure he never said anything. But now what. Boris will launch the 'first 100 days plan' that Crosby has written for him, but who will be there to make sure he doesn't revert to being, well, Boris.

And it's not just the Mayor who could make life tough for Cameron. Look at who they have on the Assembly. Brian Coleman, as James Graham points out, is going to be in his element. The man can be amusing in the same way that Boris can be (ie he says silly things that make his opponents laugh and thankful he isn't one of them). But he also opposes most of the platform on which Boris stood and he says and does some truly offensive things. I cannot see Coleman shutting up for two years. Nor can I see him being bought off with a job - however much he loves chains of office.

More widely, the Tories did just what they had to in order to win on Thursday. They were policy lite, but who cared - they weren't Labour and that was pretty much all that mattered. But you cannot win a general election without policies because the media will demand that an incoming Government explains what it is going to do. So Cameron is going to need to drag his party along with some policies that will appeal to voters. And it'll be tough. We are still talking about the party of Tebbit and Ken Clarke, both of whom like speaking out on the issues that matter to them.

And then there is the media. While they have been focussing their attention on Brown and his woes (and fair enough to them for that), they have, nevertheless, been keeping a weather eye on Cameron. They are waiting for him to show any signs of weakness, at which point they will jump. The media, much like political opponents, don't like a smart arse. And Cameron is currently the smartest of arses.

The challenges for Cameron are pretty much similar to those from Brown - the 42 days vote (he needs not only to have a 100% loyal turnout for his own MPs but he needs to ally himself with Labour rebels so as to win the vote); Crewe and Nantwich (Dave has to win); Henley (the Tories have to hold it convincingly to prove that they won't be leaking vote to the Lib Dems) but also the development of those new policies and a convincing manifesto.

Over to you Mr Cameron. Have you really got it?

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