15 May 2011 14:21:11
By Matthew Barrett
In case you had missed it, here's some of the most striking...
- Leo McKinstry: "Cameron is now the dominant politician of our times. Even in the local elections he helped the Tories to increase their total number of seats, an incredible achievement given the state of the economy and the media’s barrage of hysteria over the cuts." - in the Daily Express
- Max Hastings: "Because Cameron is comfortable with himself, he makes others feel comfortable, too. He is clever, fluent, witty and direct. He and his wife Samantha bring to Downing Street a touch of stardust, such as Tony Blair had in his first halcyon days, but without Blair’s maddening preachiness. Cameron is willing to listen and learn. He knows how to behave — witness his refusal last week to dance publicly on Nick Clegg’s political grave." - in the Daily Mail
- Benedict Brogan: "Mr Cameron also displayed his intent with his solid work-rate, rising at 5.30am to plough through his red boxes. Officials expressed admiration at his capacity to absorb detailed briefs (and wished Mr Clegg would do the same). Order has been restored to No 10 after the chaos of the Brown years... The clear winner is Mr Cameron, who has shown adaptability and drive, and acquired stature as a result. We have only to look across the Channel at how things might be to realise that Britain’s capacity to produce a functioning, resilient government out of an uncertain result is an achievement worth a cautious cheer." - in the Daily Telegraph
- Simon Jenkins: "The past year has seen Cameron emerge as a political leader of real ability. He won last week's voting referendum with panache, releasing his attack dogs on the enemy while shrugging off Lib Dem cries of foul. He has sustained the "emergency coalition" aura of his government with greater finesse than did Lloyd George in 1916 or Ramsay MacDonald in 1931. He has yet to experience a serious political crisis or, with the exception of Libya, risk a possibly fatal trap. The cartoons are right. The head of school has a right to be cocky." - in the Guardian
- Philip Stephens: "Mr Cameron exudes a confidence that says the thing that counts above all else is that he is prime minister. He was made for the role. Everything about 10 Downing Street – the limelight, the statesmanship and the daily exercise of power – fits him like an expensive suit. This self-assurance, suffused with a pragmatism that puts power before ideology, has carried Mr Cameron a long way. Britain has given him the benefit of the doubt." - in the Financial Times (£)
- Peter Oborne: "Personally, too, the Prime Minister is setting about his mission with grace and charm. Gone is the brooding, dark presence of Gordon Brown, skulking round the Downing Street corridors and throwing a tantrum at a moment's notice. When he became Pope 500 years ago, Leo X is reported to have said to his brother Giuliano: "Since God has given us the Papacy, let us enjoy it." David Cameron, in sharp contrast to his predecessor, loves being in Number 10, and it makes him a much better leader. Unlike Brown or Thatcher, he does not involve himself, except when absolutely necessary, in detail. He has time for family life – in fact, with Samantha away, he has been looking after his children over the past few days." - in the Sunday Telegraph.
And our own Paul Goodman's reflection on Cameron's first year as Prime Minister.
12 May 2011 06:57:27
by Paul Goodman
Looking at David Cameron after a year as Prime Minister is a bit like looking at a portrait from a new angle. We've gained views that we didn't have before, but the picture we see remains the same.
- He's a "lucky general", at least to date. Let's start with the most fragile observation first, because luck can easily change. But to date, most of the big political breaks have gone his way: I listed them last week in the aftermath of the AV referendum. He's needed skill as well as luck - perhaps the best illustration being one from opposition: his nerveless conference speech without notes which, with George Osborne's proferred tax cuts, helped to avert the 2007 election that Gordon Brown might well have won. Good fortune can always change. But so far, Cameron's had it in plenty, and is the big winner from last week (Alex Salmond excluded). AV was defeated. His party won a bigger share of the vote than Labour in the local elections. Its poll ratings haven't collapsed - far from it. And his Coalition partner is weaker, which brings with it opportunities as well as problems.
- He may have passed the maximum pressure point on the Coalition. The AV referendum was the issue on which the Coalition negotiations could have broken down. Cameron told the 1922 Committee that they had to concede it to their potential partners, because otherwise Labour would grant the Liberal Democrats AV without a referendum. This turned out not to be true. If Britain had voted yes to AV, the concession would have come back to haunt him: there could even have been a leadership challenge. But now that it's voted no, the negotiation details are mostly of interest only to historians. The referendum itself was always likely to strain relations between the coalition partners. Now that it's passed, it's hard to think of other issues that will do so to the same degree, barring some European crisis. With one bound, Cameron is free, at least for the time being.
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