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May 02, 2007

Does John Major like David Cameron?

John Major writes an interesting piece in today’s Times. Interesting for what he doesn’t say, as much as what he does.

You might expect, a day before local elections in England and slightly more important ones in Wales and Scotland, that there might be just a little bit of electioneering going on. There is, but not much. The best he can really manage is:

it is once again becoming an exciting time to be a Conservative. Most of our party understand that we will only win if we recapture the centre ground as well as holding the centre-right.

...which is more navel-gazing than soap-box. You don’t expect the finest flowing rhetoric from Major, but he could have tried a little harder.

His article is a criticism of Labour spin – an argument that set sail long ago, really – but many of his criticisms are as easily applied to his successor-but-three, David Cameron. He says:

new Labour only has sound-bites and apparatchiks, careless of constitutional proprieties, who will use any unscrupulous trick to benefit the Government

...but replacing Labour for ‘Conservative’ and Government for ‘opposition’ doesn’t really stretch the imagination. David Cameron himself is the Master apparatchik, regularly employing unscrupulous tricks and gimmicks at PMQs. Admittedly, he’s not had time to prove a disdain for the constitution, but that’s much easier to try from the opposite bench.

Which begs the question… if John Major dislikes spin so much, and in his retirement can maybe see through partisanship a little, does he like Mr Cameron? His Conservatism seems, from the available evidence, pretty detached from that of the 1990s, when Major was in charge. But on policy it’s probably fair to assume they’re still not very far apart. In style however, they are Ying and Yang, Beauty and the Beast, Pete Doherty and Cliff Richard.

Some of his criticisms are notably not aimed at the government, but are a broader view of British political parties. Is he tempted to make his views of Cameron more explicit, or does he not need to?


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