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Financial Times leader identifies ten weaknesses of Cameron's leadership

By Tim Montgomerie
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I got a stern lecture from a Tory MP last night about my "Tory MPs are at war" blog of yesterday evening. The Government is fundamentally sound, I was told, the party's biggest problem is its "crazy Right". If only everybody could get behind the leader, she said, all would be well. I invite that MP to read the leader in today's FT. I count at least ten criticisms...

Too much compromise, not enough leadership: "Mr Cameron lacks the undisputed authority of his predecessors. But even so, he has exhibited a worrying lack of grip that leads him to split differences rather than set clear direction and priorities."

Inadequate direction from Number 10: "Mr Cameron, the self-styled chairman of the board, has allowed ministers too long a rein. He should not, for instance, have allowed his health secretary, Andrew Lansley, to press ahead with a flawed and unnecessary NHS reform bill. Other ministers have been cut too much slack."

Questions of probity: "When the coalition was formed, the prime minister preached that his administration would be “whiter than white”. This is hard to square with his decision to leave his culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in his post in spite of apparent breaches of the ministerial code, for which Mr Hunt has yet to give a satisfactory explanation."

Narrowness of the leadership and poor party management: "Mr Cameron’s party-management skills also need sharpening. He has rightly taken heat from his backbenches for running an aloof and exclusive administration."

Too much power in George Osborne's hands: "An administration that saddles the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, with responsibility not only for the economy but also for the government’s political strategy and keeping Scotland in the union, is one that is too narrowly based."

Poor record of appointments: "It cannot be denied that some of Mr Cameron’s personnel choices have turned out to be flawed. He should not have brought Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World, into Number 10. His decision to make Peter Cruddas the Tory treasurer backfired within days."

Too much headline chasing: "The government as a whole is suffering from a growing perception of incompetence. Too many initiatives are launched, and too few delivered."

Inexperienced advisers and failure to reform civil service: "A few more grey hairs among the special advisers would do no harm. But above all, Mr Cameron desperately needs a proper political operation in Downing Street, with clear lines of command and control... Problems with delivery stem partly from the failure to reform the civil service, where officials should be charged with making sure policy is translated into action."

Some ministers are clearly failing: "After two years it is clear some of his ministers are not up to their responsibilities. While this newspaper shares the prime minister’s unease about excessive reshuffles, the time for a reorganisation has come."

Cameron too hands off: "The coalition must rediscover its ambition and the prime minister must assert his leadership. He is not a chairman. He is the chief executive officer. His government would run better if that was beyond doubt."


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