Conservative Diary

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"If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same..."

By Tim Montgomerie

Last week we noted seven days of high praise for David Cameron. He was the best thing since sliced bread, "the dominant politician of our times", "right to be cocky" and within reach of "genuinely heroic status".

This week he's leading a "zombie cabinet" according to Fraser Nelson and a "calamity cabinet" according to Andrew Rawnsley:

"Not one Tory cabinet member turned up to show support for Chris Huhne when he had to face the Commons. Newsnight could not find a single minister to bat for Ken Clarke. The Tory whips couldn't stop – or didn't even bother trying to stop – Conservative MPs from monstering Nick Clegg. There are Tories who now refer to the Lib Dems as "yellow bastards", a feeling amply reciprocated by some of Mr Clegg's MPs. Dr Fox's leaked letters play to the rightwing gallery of the Tory party at the expense of Conservative colleagues. The government is beginning to factionalise and ministers behave as if it is every man for himself."

There's much truth in both sets of commentary and we are fortunate to have a Prime Minister who, unlike John Major, doesn't worry too much about his day-to-day press. He knows that this week the media caravan will move on to the Obama visit. There'll be something else a week later to satisfy Fleet Street's neophilia. He knows that just about every Westminster pundit decried the No2AV campaign but it achieved a landslide victory. As much as some commentary matters (and the strategically loyal Matthew d'Ancona calling for Ken Clarke to go really should wake up Downing Street to their law and order problem) a lot of it doesn't. The next election won't be decided by the talking heads. It will be determined by the progress of key reforms, the CCHQ machine and, above all else, the strength of the economy. The best thing Cameron and every minister can do is focus on growth, growth, growth.

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