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The smart move for Cameron would be…

I rarely write about party politics as I think it is a waste of time, given that the two and a half main parties in Westminster are largely interchangeable and simply despise them all with an icy passion. But I will make an exception today…

Cameron, far from being a smart political operator, could not even gain a majority for his party against a detested Labour government at the last election. But by saying ‘no’ to Merkozy, he has actually done something that almost 60% of the country appear to approve of. And it has made his LibDem coalition partners publicly incandescent with rage… and therefore also uniquely vulnerable.

So the smart move is to finally tell Nick Clegg to get stuffed and to call a snap General Election. Go ‘nuclear’ and do it right now, whilst the advantage is for once very clearly in the Tory Party’s court. If the LibDems and Labour want a shot at forming a coalition, well give them what will be a ‘hospital pass’ and let them try.

But then this is the Tory Party we are talking about of course, and it would be fair to say they rarely miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. More likely he will just sit there looking smug and wait for the initiative to pass over to his political enemies once again.

24 comments to The smart move for Cameron would be…

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    But Cameron might be very worried that UKIP would gather all the votes! Whilst he wouldn’t have Nick to clegg up the works, his new partners might be even more unstable! (Or so he might think.)
    And given that voting is not compulsory, so you can’t guarantee victory, and Cameron isn’t even halfway through his first term, I can see why he wouldn’t.

  • Chris Cooper

    Perry, I thought they had a deal not to hold an election before the full term is up.

  • Perry, I thought they had a deal not to hold an election before the full term is up.

    So?

  • Jim

    Bad idea. There is no particular reason to call an election, no great issue that needs the peoples approval. Any party calling an election mid term purely for political gain could expect to get a good kicking at the ballot box. Plus the electoral boundary commission hasn’t completed yet, so the Tories would be behind from the start.

    Far better to wait and see what happens with the Euro, and if some fundamental shift in our relationship with the EU is required, then call a snap GE in order to get a mandate for renegotiation (for example) could be in order.

  • Far better to wait and see what happens with the Euro…

    You seriously think there is *any* doubt what is going to happen to the Euro? Do you really think there is *any* plausible scenario in which Europe’s profligate government will actually stop printing money, stop artificially suppressing interest rates and the national ones then massively cut back spending on welfare state programmes (as opposed to just saying they will)… and by that I mean stop before the now inevitable onset of systemic bankruptcy and hyperinflation?

    Do you *really* think there is another outcome for the Euro? If so, please explain.

  • Andrew

    They won’t call an election until the new boundaries are settled in 18 months. Before that the electoral numbers just don’t add up – Cameron needs a huge win in % terms to get even the barest majority.

  • ‘Nuke Gray writes:

    But Cameron might be very worried that UKIP would gather all the votes!

    Of course, if we had introduced AV, the Conservative Party would not have to run scared of UKIP through vote splitting: at least until and if it became much more popular.

    That they took such a strong view against AV means that they will never have my sympathy on the danger of UKIP. A party that is more afraid of its near allies than its enemies is clearly lacking in something rather important.

    But, as Perry points out, the Westminster leadership of the Conservative Party is difficult to differentiate from that of the other main parties. Unlike its voters. What a strange thing is politics.

    Best regards

  • Runcie Balspune

    It’s more likely Cameron’s hand could be forced into a GE by the LibDems.

  • John B

    . . Do you really think there is *any* plausible scenario in which Europe’s profligate government will actually stop printing money, stop artificially suppressing interest rates and the national ones then massively cut back spending on welfare state programmes (as opposed to just saying they will)… and by that I mean stop before the now inevitable onset of systemic bankruptcy and hyperinflation? . .

    That is what the whole global, never mind national, economic/political structure is doing.

    If only there were some small place of sanity in the world that worked on the basics of Austrian economics. What a rich and prosperous place that would be.

    What bliss to live there, indeed.

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    I thought the fixed term parliament act which just came in stopped Cameron from calling a GE without a 2/3 majority vote or a vote of no confidence (in which case Red Ed would get the chance to form a government first)?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The LibDems are toast and there is a significant chance that UKIP could get a bigger share of the vote; however, due the first past the post system in the UK, I am not sure if a UKIP candidate will win; more likely, the LibDems will lose seats to the Tories.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of the public, for very different reasons, regards Clegg and his party (with the odd exception) as a joke. They have tried and succeeded in blocking some of the more decent policies; Vince Cable remains an embarrassment; Chris Huhne is a 24-carat wanker.

    It would be a nice idea for Cameron to just go for it, that is true. But I am not sure he can persuade enough people to do so.

  • It sounds like this post should have been titled ‘The smart move Cameron will not make’…Looking in from the outside, his problem seems to be not the lack of brains, but the lack of balls.

  • TDK

    I’m inclined to think this is all theatre anyway.

    There was no EU treaty to be vetoed and the Germans and French will still do what they wanted anyway. In fact they will probably find it easier to do as an intergovernmental agreement. Plus they get a convenient scapegoat.

    Cameron is pretending to be the great Euroskeptic and the usual characters on both sides of the mainstream are lapping it up with predictable responses.

    I’d even go so far as to suggest that the Liberal response is part of this theatre and was probably agreed with Cameron in advance.

  • Sam Duncan

    What TDK said. Plus, while pretending to veto a new Treaty is popular, over the six-week course of an election campaign the status quo ante would reassert itself a bit. And Labour is inexplicably popular right now (well, perhaps not so inexplicable: the coalition is hopeless, and people think they have no other choice). Too much of a gamble.

    What strikes me about this affair is that it’s the same old story. Cameron’s learning exactly the same lesson about the European Project that every Prime Minister in the last 40 years has had to, the only way there seems to be for our naive political class: the hard one. It doesn’t matter how enthusiastically in favour of the thing you are, how many friendly noises you make about “being in the heart of Europe”; at some point the reality of “ever closer union” is going to hit you in the small of the back like the down express, and you’ll be “isolated”, seen by the Colleagues as “anti-European” and – if you’re a Conservative – by the British media class as “pandering to the Little England wing of the Tories”.

    Since this is bound to happen to anyone who gives the slightest damn about British sovereignty or the liberty of its people (Ted Heath neatly avoided this pitfall by the simple expedient of not caring about either), why do they bother with the bloody thing at all? Yes, stupid question which I already answered myself: naivety. But how long can this Groundhog Day routine go on?

  • Paul Marks

    Good post Perry – this is exactly what should be done.

    Sadly it will not be.

    If Mr Cameron went to the country the UKIP votes (presently) would go straight to the Consevatives – indeed many LABOUR voters would vote Conservative (if the issue of the election was the E.U.).

    But, again, it will not happen.

  • Jim

    “Do you *really* think there is another outcome for the Euro? If so, please explain.”

    Logically no. Long term no. But the Euro-fanatics are not going to let their fantasy disintegrate without a fight. They will try all sorts of things, probably illegal ones, to prolong the agony, in the hope something will turn up. I suspect they can keep the plates spinning a while longer yet, most likely for a few years at least.

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Sam, have you ever seen the British classic series, “Yes, Minister”, and “Yes, Prime Minister”? There, Dave Cameron/Jim Hacker creates a fake scare over Eurosausage regulations, so he can look good by standing up to the nasty Europeans. It was all PR. Maybe David Cameron is just channelling Jim Hacker?

  • Antoine Clarke

    “There is no particular reason to call an election”

    Of all the silly comments I have read, this takes the biscuit.

    1) European integration.
    2) The Euro.
    3) The small matter of there isn’t a majority in the House of Commons for anyone but there probably would be after a new general election.

    The statement that “voting is not compulsory” and this prevents a Conservative majority, is, at the very least, completely unproven one way or the other.

    Of course David Cameron should call an election if he wants to have a Conservative government. But does he?

  • Andrew Duffin

    The history of PM’s who call elections when they’re not strictly required to, is not good.

    Remember the traitor Heath – he went to the country on the explicit message of “who rules Britain” and the resounding answer was “Not you, mate”, even though that meant the return of Wislon and surrender to the NUM.

    I don’t admire Cameron at all but he’d be mad not to soldier on at this point.

  • Chris Cooper

    What BigFatFlyingBloke said is what I meant to mean:

    I thought the fixed term parliament act which just came in stopped Cameron from calling a GE without a 2/3 majority vote or a vote of no confidence (in which case Red Ed would get the chance to form a government first)?

    Mr Google says he’s dead right.

    So WTF is this discussion about? Cameron can’t call an election off his own bat.

  • Of course he can, Chris, it is not worth the paper it is written on. All he has to do is tell his own party to have ‘no confidence’… not in him (although they should)… but rather in ‘The Coalition government’….

    …which leads to an election unless the LibDems think they can cobble together a coalition with Labour, and good luck with that.

    Politicians pull dirty tricks like that all the time when it suits them.

    I am hardly the only one making similar observations. It would be child’s play to precipitate a GE.

  • Paul Marks

    Actually Mr Cameron would be “mad to soldier on” at this point.

    The Conservatives are not ahead in the polls – and he has the perfect issue to go to the country on (safeguarding the independence of the nation – the exact opposite of traitor Heath).

    Staying in office means watching as the economy goes off a cliff (as it will do – most likely next year) and the Lib Dems prevent anything good being done (such as getting rid of the absurd 50% tax rate – or going for REAL as opposed to pretend, reductions in government spending).

    Nor are the establishment elite going to be idle – the senile Keynesianism that one finds on the BBC and in magazines such as “Private Eye” (I thought I would name a different mag from my usual target) will just get shoved into people’s heads over and over again.

    “The counter productive cuts” (even though government spending is actually going UP) .

    The “need for …..” (stupid stuff like the new railway from London to Birmingham – that will cost tens of billions of Pounds and achieve bugger all).

    And on and on.

    If Mr Cameron wants to save the Conservative party from a terrible defeat in a few years – he should call an election NOW.

  • Chris Cooper

    All he has to do is tell his own party to have ‘no confidence’… not in him (although they should)… but rather in ‘The Coalition government’….

    Ingenious, Perry. And quite incredible. That would really get a belly-laugh from the voters.

  • Ingenious, Perry.

    Not my idea actually but rather something that came up in conversation with a certain person (whom I feel should remain nameless given the context of the chat at an ASI event a while back) and who is mostly found during working hours at Tory Central Office doing whatever the hell it is he does :-D