Peter Stead’s response to Nick Bourne’s article, posted here this morning.
My two recent commentaries were intended primarily to convey my immediate reactions to the television debates. Elsewhere I have expressed my admiration of the new Welsh Conservative Party and its contribution to the success of devolution.
For some years I had assumed that this UK election was Cameron’s to win. Since the start of the year the Tory leader had started to falter and it became apparent that a Tory landslide might not happen. The first debate suggested to me that the election was wide open. In 1964, 1979 and 1997 the respective Leaders of the Opposition had developed a clear critique that caught the mood of the country.
Two years ago I attended a Cameron rally in Swindon and I was struck by two things. Clearly he is a thoroughly decent and honourable man but as a politician he was casting his net too wide. On that occasion his Tory audience were disappointed by his general emphasis on ‘the broken society’. To this day he is happier talking about wider social attitudes than about the specifics of political change.
It surprises me, as it must many Tories, that Cameron has not issued a direct appeal to recent graduates and the people who actually run public and business life in Britain. If he had chosen a more specific battleground then a clear working majority might have been his. This week the more responsible Tory press have tried to spell that out. He has fought the election on an agenda set by Labour. He is a Heath and not a Thatcher.