Matthew Parris: At least one solid, distinctively and obviously Conservative policy should be found (but don't retreat on the huggy, green stuff)
DC should not be spooked by talk of an early general election. However strongly Brown might enter such a contest, elections have lives of their own and this Prime Minister is eminently de-railable. Whenever the contest comes, DC should aim off: aim to win, of course, but remember that the best result would be to wing Brown then let Britain see him flap around for a year or two with a shrunk or non-existent majority.
Between now and then the watchwords should be Statesmanship and Authority. Recommendations coming in from his range of policy commissions should be treated as just that – recommendations – and cherry-picked with relaxed command, the media being given to understand that he is positively looking forward to rejecting ideas that won’t fly. This should be done with despatch, nobody and nothing left hanging in the air, and care taken in advance to nurse bruisable egos. At least one solid, distinctively and obviously Conservative policy should be found – death duties, whatever – headlined, showcased, and stuck to regardless.
Guns must be stuck to on Euro-referendum, etc, but calmly, quietly, always understanding that the public are not all that bothered and the treaty’s probably going to happen anyway – or be rejected by someone else.
No more pictures with poor people – we’ve got that message. Abroad only for pictures with powerful people. Suits and ties, sometimes; red carpets; aircraft steps; handshakes, presidential palaces.
A sense of command should be exuded as he settles the final shape of his potential Cabinet. Some of the faces and voices are not right from the viewpoint of the world outside his party, and that’s the viewpoint that counts. An act of ruthlessness would come in handy.
Much that was unhelpful in the party’s image has now been successfully neutralised. There must be no backsliding or signs of nerve-failure on any of the huggy, caring or green stuff. It’s all good. But next, DC must come across as what Gordon Brown keeps insisting that at core he is: a proper Conservative. By Christmas Britain needs to have seen (what DC, in my view, spectacularly is): an imaginable prime minister.
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