Left Watch

« The Green Party seeks state funding of political parties | Main | Now Ed Balls says that even the cuts proposed by Labour at the election were too ambitious »

Cameron is "jolly" but has no fixed ideology, says Mandelson

ThirdMan The Times is beginning a serialisation of Peter Mandelson's autobiography, The Third Man.

It's all behind Rupert Murdoch's new paywall and I must be careful not to give away too much or I'll be in trouble with the great man's lawyers but to whet your appetite for what those willing to pay £2-a-week can read, here's what Lord Mandelson says about the Tory leader in a related exclusive interview for The Times:

"Cameron, says Peter Mandelson, is “very amicable, with a lively sense of humour. He’s a bit like Tony in that sense. He’s jolly. But essentially what defines David Cameron is that he’s a rather patrician Tory. He’s neither a Thatcherite nor a One Nation Tory; Chris Patten and others like that had quite a philosophical view of Conservatism — what it stood for and what it should do for all the people in the country. I don’t think David Cameron has an ideology. He has views. He has attitudes and he has some prejudices.

“He has a certain ‘born to rule’ thing about him; a sense of entitlement — somebody who thinks that he would be good at governing and being Prime Minister. Indeed, I always remember the Editor of The Daily Telegraph telling me, a year ago, when they had Cameron to dinner, the first question they asked him was, ‘Well, why do you want to be prime minister?’ And he said, ‘Because I think I’d be good at it.’

Now that’s not bad as a sort of first answer but if it’s all the answer you have . . .” He goes on: “That doesn’t mean to say that he’s a bad politician. I think he’s actually rather a good politician — but he is excessively political in a sense. He has values but he doesn’t have a set of fixed, political beliefs that flow from a particular political outlook or philosophy.

“I mean, what is his view of the role of government or the State or markets? Does he really believe, as the ‘Big Society’ implied, that government should just get out of the way and let people organise their schools and hospitals as they wish? I don’t believe he actually thought that through. I don’t think he invested a great deal of time in it. It was a marketing device. It was a narrative that was put into his hands or head by Steve Hilton [his director of strategy]. He could see the political appeal of it because it was neither wholly the State or wholly the market; it was his version of the Third Way. But, under examination, it was like sand disappearing through your fingertips.”"

More here (£).

Tim Montgomerie