Are these David Cameron's ten biggest mistakes?
By Tim Montgomerie
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In today's Sunday Telegraph I list what Tory members identify as David Cameron's ten biggest mistakes since becoming Tory leader in December 2005. Each respondent were asked to list THREE errors so the numbers add up to close to 300% not 100%:
- Making a "cast iron" commitment to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and then abandoning that commitment: 48%
- Supporting climate change policies that are likely to increase energy bills: 40%
- Embarking on bold NHS reforms but then having to U-turn: 32%
- Making the Big Society a big part of the Conservatives’ electoral appeal: 25%
- Flirting with softer prisons and sentencing policies before U-turning: 24%
- Opposing grammar schools: 23%
- Agreement to Nick Clegg’s participation in the election debates: 22%
- Not making defence a spending priority: 21%
- Not campaigning on immigration: 20%
- A lack of economic policy-making before the recession, including the decision to match Labour's spending plans: 18%
If I had to pick the three biggest mistakes they would be (1), (7) and the biggest mistake of all, (10).
The Lisbon U-turn wasn't so much significant for what it said about Europe (although that did and does matter) but what it appeared to say to many voters and newspapers about Cameron's trustworthiness. I explain more in The Sunday Telegraph:
"Members remember that the binning of this pledge raised big questions about the Conservative leader’s trustworthiness. Newspapers attacked Cameron for being as cynical as Tony Blair in breaking faith with voters. If you look back at the pre-election opinion polls you can trace the slide in the Tory ratings to this “trust moment” and not, as is commonly suggested, after George Osborne had begun to set out controversial austerity measures."
Economic disarmanent and confusion throughout our time in opposition was members' tenth biggest mistake. I'd put it at the top of the list:
"Up until the economic crash, Osborne was mimicking Labour’s high-tax, high-spend policies. Even today the Tory leadership hasn’t got a powerful growth agenda. Cameron and Osborne need to be ready for the likely moment when the eurozone crisis reaches boiling point. That will be the time to pass controversial but necessary reforms to our tax, regulatory and banking systems and restore the British economy to competitiveness. After all the drama of the past two weeks, it will be economic policy that makes or breaks Cameron."
Read the full piece.