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« Hustings Report (5): Bolton | Main | Davis blogger causes trouble for his idol »



A man who won a first at Oxford in PPE (after having won an exhibition to read PPE at Oxford in the first place) is not generally an idiot. (PS: Tony got a 2:1)

Cameron then spent nine years working as an adviser to, respectively, the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exequer, and the Home Secretary. He then spent almost seven years in the senior management of one of Britain's largest companies.

The man, in sum, is no dimwit.

And with 13 years at the highest levels of British politics and seven years at a high level in British business behind him, it's ludicrous to call him 'inexperienced'.

And no, married men with children who are almost 40 years old and not "young".


But I do agree: Mr. Cameron owes us a strong performance tomorrow with Paxman.


Correction Goldie, Tony Blair got a 2:2.


I don't think that's right. Back in the seventies seconds weren't yet classified in this way actually, but reportedly Blair got a 'good' second.


Tony Blair got a Second since Oxford did not classify Seconds until much much later which was why it was the great void. So Cameron wore a 'bum-freezer'gown did he ?

PPE is a degree with many options - I wonder just how many of his 8 Finals Papers were Politics and how few Economics. Ever since the 1968 problems, Politics had the widest number of options of any of the three subjects in the course.

AS for Firsts, the proportion expansion significantly in the 1980s. It really is not a good indication of political capability - both Harold Wilson and Roy Jenkins had Firsts in PPE, so did Tony Crosland, I cannot recall id Damian Green has a Second (what did you get Damian ?) and Hague has a First from Magdalen.

Noone has ever claimed Cameron is stupid - I thought he was rather good at dealing with Nick Clarke (BBC) during the Election, I just don't think he is prepared or suited at present on his experience to date for the job the Tory Party thinks he can do.


Oh, and I think Ruth Kelly has a First in PPE as does David this reassuring ?


Can I just ask when the last time anyone listened to AC seriously was, if ever? I think that if DD was still the frontrunner he'd be insulting him.

James Hellyer

Disagreeing with Campbell's politics doesn't make his assessment of Cameron instantly wrong. As it is, his summary of Cameron's strengths seems bang on the money.


"There may be those who say there is a bit of double reverse spin at play here. First, it is said I am a friend of David Davis and this article may be seen as an attempt to assist him" - so is Mr Campbell being Honest Alistair or is he doing what spin doctors do so well, raising the objection themselves and dismissing it?

Interesting to see the line of attack being developed though - and whether Paxman follows it.

Selsdon Man

Campbell is a good friend of David Davis and helping him out. Campbell is no friend of the Tory party and I would not trust anything he says.

henry curteis

So Campbell puts presentational skill low down on the list of Blair's skills. Mmmmmmmm. Not surprisingly a bit of kidology.

But as he tries to find a place to land a punch on Cameron, he's obviously hungry to hurt him but is struggling to find a way to do it - even going to the lengths of saying Blair cannot present.

That's about all Blair can do other than agree with anything from Bush, the EU or anyone else who'll do his thinking for him -including a certain AC.

AC recognises that Cameron can play spin quite well, and is inviting him to play a few sets. DDavis can play hardball. but AC doesn't want to be in that business. No invitations there then.

hayek's grandad

Would you really let something Alistair Campbell says on the topic influence your choice for leader of the conservative party in any way whatsoever? I'm hoping that's not true for all our sakes.


Modern Youth

Well Grandpa, it has more substance than almost anything David Cameron has ever said.

malcolm thomas

Also note that Campbell is mostly worried about how the European issue is playing. Read that as where he feels vulnerable, and if you like where his power base is. Maybe he's the child of the EU and not of Blair which could be why he treats Blair like a junior member of his staff, whose presentational skills he feels able to diminish publicly.

In the game of power, once your enemy shows his weak point, it is advisable to attack it. Campbell is advertising his by showing his concerns about the EU. So in we go...

Mr David Cameron will not do so of course - hoping to join a media gentleman's club once elected as leader, so please Mr David Davis, will you do so?

The idea behind democracy is very simple. The people choose the government, and are entitled to be consulted as to who rules them.

A referendum on Britain's EU membership is only natural and right, and David Davis is the only leader who will bring this to pass. It might also win him the leadership of the Conservative Party. If we 're going to take Campbell on, let's at least fight about something worthwhile - not some vague discussion about the relative strengths of Blair Brown and Cameron. That's their game. Ours is about power. We are the Conservative Party - not the vicarage tea party.


What a load of tosh.

The first sentence is about the only thing that appears to be true:
"I know Mr Blair and Mr Brown well."

From then on we are in planet spin:
"They have strengths and weaknesses, but the strengths outnumber the weaknesses. I would put their PR and presentational skills fairly low down the list of other formidable strengths."

Absolute nonsense. The only thing Blair has got going for him is his presentational skills. What has he acheived since 1997 with a huge majority? A lot of PR for soundbites that never amounted to much but were generally well presented.

"From what I’ve seen of Mr Cameron I would put PR and presentation skills top of a fairly short list..."
Indeed, Cameron can communicate. It is about time that we had a leader who could get people saying "you know, he has a point".

"What have the public learnt about him — that he probably took drugs, he can make a speech without notes and he can get out of a car as elegantly as Princess Diana. None of these requires special leadership qualities..."
A cheap nasty shot about drugs, showing Campbell's true character.

"He wasn’t put under much pressure in the TV debate but when he was, he didn’t much like it."
He was subject to some well placed, personal attacks that were so general, there really was not a response to them.

"His Commons response to Ruth Kelly on the Education White Paper was poor. I see no parliamentary skills to worry Mr Blair or Mr Brown yet."
This is the one area that Cameron does need to prove himself, especially in the weekly PM questions. Unfortunately, the same also applies to Davis. However, Hague was one of the best parliamentarians recently and that did not win the election.

"His stance on terror, putting him on the side of civil liberties against the police, is a strategic error that won’t easily be undone, as is his deal on Europe with the hardline sceptics."
Yes. He stood up for civil liberties against a nanny state. This could be an area of strength, actually. It is always amazing how socialists claim to be on the side of the people against the state and have been the ones responsible for internment, trying to get rid of trial by jury and double jeopardy.

As for Europe, we are to be thankful we have two candidates that are taking a similar line with a body that has just had its accounts not signed off once again.

malcolm thomas

It's quite a point that everyone is thinking about DC as the next Blair. What we need is not the next sales manager, but the next AC - the strategist. Once you have your AC, you can attach a sales department to it. Strategy first, sales second - in labour's case a secret strategy.

Cameron has nil strategy but is a walking sales department. Davis has strategies but needs to go the whole meal, rather than offering half menus designed to tickle taste buds but not fill the stomach i.e. a referendum on the EU is needed not just on repatriating a few powers here and there.

If Cameron is Blair, who's his Campbell? I see a lot of media luvvies around Cameron and no strategists. Davis is nearly there, but needs to go further. He will need a good Blair or two around him to soften the edges, but at least he smells of strategy and could give AC a bloody nose when required.


malcolm - can you define strategy? I think there is difference between policies and an overall strategy.

Strategy is the approach you take and encompasses your image, tone, language, actions and policies.

I'm confused about the Davis strategy which describes his Party as 'modern conservatives' without the substance to support it. Indeed many of the policies, seemingly reheated from the past 8 years would suggest the opposite.

Also the poor presentation of his campaign suggests a lack of understanding of what the strategy should be.

An example, to cut tax by X amount isn't a strategy, it's a policy.

To appeal to core conservative voters would be the strategy.


Did TB leap on the stage with fully thought out strategy in 1994? Imagine that during John Smiths leadership TB & Gordon with their media luvvies (AC in fore) sat round restuarants and kitchen tables agreeing directions, themes, issues then after TB took over a group of strategists worked through the plan for The Project.
We already have Letwin's influence showing through and I would be certain the Cameroons are already adding flesh to their version.
Neither did he come forward with fully thought out policies at the 1997 election - it was "we abolished Clause 4, we're new, we're clean, we won't change Tory economic targets plus a few dog whistle messages on saving the NHS, education - very little on how. In first two years nearly every issue seemed to be sent to "a commission"
DD smells of strategy! How - he's put together a number of electorally rejected policies, promised tough opposition - strategy if there is one is "one more push."


Ted, you articulate the point better than I did.

I genuinely don't know if the Davis strategy is a modernising one, one more push, or move to the right.

It can't be a mix of all 3 surely? Not so much the 'third way' as 3 different ways to oblivion.

malcolm thomas

strategy is to be found in the big decisions which matter - against smaller matters which can be traded.

The biggest issue is who runs Britain? the EU or the people of Britain through their representatives in Parliament? The size of the state and the power of the executive.

Davis has addressed these. Cameron has dodged them. Davis should go further.


I really like the views of the Cameron supporters on this site, we have to give him a blank cheque because he has the skills to win us a election. Sorry I wan't a man/women as leader who has principles not just a smile.

hayek's grandad

I beg of you all do not trust AC, do not quote him, do not even read him.

Make points about how you believe in DD and what he claims to stand for and explain in that way why you are voting for him and why you believe we should too (ditto for DC), but please please please I beg of you do not take the the side of AC against a fellow conservative. Have no doubt these are the sort of comments he revels in provoking out of us.

He's a very naughty little boy delighting in causing mischief and deserves to be treated as such and ignored.

Barbara Villiers

Ah, my little Cameroonies,

The truth hurts!


"so did Tony Crosland,"

Actually i was wrong - Crosland like Margaret Thatcher got an "Unclassified" degree ("Unc"). Crosland had been in The Parachute Regiment at Arnhem before going to Oxford and in those years Oxford issued Unclassified degrees without any I recall Thatcher was at Somerville and graduated in 1947 since Chemistry is a 4-year degree.

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