Coffee House

Cameron has reached the tipping point

21 May 2013

4:45 PM

21 May 2013

4:45 PM

The combination of complacency and incompetence that seems to have afflicted the Conservative Party is a wonder to behold. Janet Daley wrote at the weekend of her frustration at David Cameron saying he is ‘relaxed’ about the situation. She is right that welfare, education and the criminal justice system are in need of reform, although I am not convinced this government is going about it in the right way or with the right personnel. The competence factor is becoming a huge issue for this government, across individual departments, in the management of the parliamentary party and the wider membership (swivel-eyed or staring straight into the headlights).

The Labour Party managers who had to help dig Cameron out of a hole of his own making were handed a very practical insight into the chaos at the heart of the Coalition this week.


Cameron often says he is relaxed about things: unpaid work experience for friends and family, for instance. As Andrew Rawnsley pointed out, he probably isn’t and certainly shouldn’t be. People vey rarely have great insight into their own personality. You can always guarantee that someone who ‘always tells it to you straight’ will be the first to stab you in the back. Why would anyone who is genuinely relaxed need to tell you they were? (The alternative is that there is someone in the Downing Street media operation who has a verbal reflex for using the word ‘relaxed’ on behalf of the Prime Minister whenever he is in trouble.)

The question begins to arise: when is a government not a government? The Coalition is fragmenting. But political parties are coalitions too and the Conservative leadership can’t afford the right of the party to break away. The emergence of UKIP  is the dream scenario for the Labour Party because Eurosceptic Tories concerned about the collapse of ‘traditional’ values finally have somewhere to go.

Cameron has done a remarkable, enlightened thing by introducing gay marriage. But he has also allowed the Labour Party to take credit for getting his bill through parliament. What a mess this all is. The smell of defeat now hangs over the Conservative Party. Although Ed Miliband has yet to convince, David Cameron is right on the edge of that tipping point political leaders reach when they are no longer electable. He is on the brink of ridicule.

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Show comments
  • ArchiePonsonby

    On the brink of ridicule? He passed that point a long time ago!

  • paulus

    No there is too many important things still left to be done. Education, welfare, etc Cameron must stay for the rest of the Parliament. But he will not lead the conservative party into the election, he is a liability.

    The narrative is in the face of a world collapse we have done what we could.We have been equitable, we have shared power, with people we don’t like, they are untrustworthy backstabbing bastards. Even so we have risen above above it.

    Conservatism is not old fashioned it is a brake on lunacy and is the only thing that can be trusted in times of crisis. Everything that could be done was done.


    gay marriage ‘remarkable’ yes for WRONG reasons Mr Bradshaw gay ex-minister LAB – no call for this in gay community civil partnerships ‘fine’

    The mind-set is always that traditionalists are wrong. Old Testament (notoriously strict) says an ‘abomination’. I can see why Christians are outraged. The thing about the written word is that it cannot be erased once promulgated(even in 20/21 centuries). Mr Grayling ‘the line has to be drawn at the bed & breakfast owners’ (?had to withdraw)

    Simon Heffer said DC ‘PR spiv’ not agree till he came up with ‘believer in marriage .. therefore gay marriage’ line.

    An unnecessary fight to try to sway 100k in marginals (J. Daley 12.05.13). The maths are poor + ?1/2 100 k alienate 2/3 million – also per J.D. deeply UNDEMOCRATIC ‘throw trad.s under a bus’ US expression (my words & is exaggeration).

    You have to have a sense of danger – till 2010 nowhere else trad.s to go – NOT NOW & problem worse by the week. Mr Cooper (?former) Strategy Director was a POLLSTER – inconceivable NOT tell DC. RE Ukip.

    VERY GOOD COLUMN iain Martin 22.05.13 – we’ve seen what we get with DC for EIGHT years i.e people don’t re-engineer their personalties & characters. Also point I’ve been making for some time – he is from trad CON family CoE, service to Crown for centuries, but the most precious part of his life is with Sam. Facing her when she knows what he has done if not suit her ‘champagne socialist’ views v difficult.

    Also human – he is a modern pol. – 24 hour news cycle – former head Ulster Unionist Party – UK govt asked him to do something that would be deeply unpopular with Protestants ‘told them where to ***** it.

    reasonable DC to have similar view – he’s responsible 24*7, has deeply held anti-‘racist’ views – if he has to do things he can’t look Sam in eye about then walk away

  • JustAnOtherRandomGit

    Yet Cameron has one great asset, which is that Brown’s goons have captured the Labour party. This, of course, does paint the way to a nightmare scenario, but let’s not think of that yet.

  • Wombeloid

    Being ‘intensely relaxed’ is a hideous Mandelsonism. What a giveaway!

  • Swissy J

    I note with interest that Dave has been having talks with multi-national tax avoiders. Most of them cosy chums. If you want to see how much they benefit from the HMRC regime – sorry : you’ll have to subscribe to Private Eye ! (PS the jokes are also quite good.)

    And also remember that he suggested that we oldie benefit-receivers (ie the winter fuel allowance receivers) who didn’t need the money (?) should just donate it to charity. Now we learn that the whole team of troughers are raging for a massive 10 – 15 % increase in their annual pay.

    Might I suggest that those MPs who feel that their (outrageous in an austerity – driven economic plan where we are all so much poorer) 10 – 15 % income hike is a tad immoral , and they should instead, when – as they will – get it, donate the tax-paid surplus to a suitable charity also : how about a food bank near them ? Or even refund the “bedroom tax”

    I nominate the vociferous Chairperson of the PAC to be the Regulator in this quagmire.

  • thanksdellingpole

    Christ, if you’re reading from the same page as Rawnsley then you really must think DC’s only just reached the tipping point. Get a grip man, Farage’s party isn’t going to come first in 2014 (predicted looooooong ago) and only 2% points behind the Tories because of something just recent.

  • Swiss Bob

    I’ve a couple of quid on Cameron gone by the end of June, 14.5 so good odds!

  • MirthaTidville

    So, we reckon Dave is at the tipping point??….jolly good, must be plenty of volunteers willing to give him that last push

  • margaret benjamin

    Cameron is a lame duck, just a matter of time before someone gives him a nudge and he falls, that’s the tipping point.!

    So who is going to take his place, after a vote of no confidence?

    Cameron will go down for his reform of the welfare state amongst other things.

    Also the dreaded bedroom tax, it was doomed from the off set, low paid unemployed those caught in the poverty trap, begged him to overturn his decision,but he said a resounding no to them, despite the fact amongst this group were the infirm people on low paid jobs who needed a top up and got housing benefit as a subsidy, then found themselves in the firing line.
    A cloud came over many in this nation, for Cameron broke the spirit of the people.
    When he spoke as a prime minister he was addressing a chosen few, but had nothing good to say about those he said were living on hand-outs.
    The best place for these old hooray henrys is the dustbin of history.

  • Noa

    What is the ‘tipping point’?

    When UKIP support exceeds Conservative in the polls?

    Or is it when the Tories consign David Cameron to the tip?

    • the viceroy’s gin


  • andagain

    But he has also allowed the Labour Party to take credit for getting his bill through parliament.

    Well, yes. That would be because they voted for it. The Tories cannot really claim the credit for something they hate and despise with every fibre of their being.

  • ghanimah

    “The smell of defeat now hangs over the Conservative Party…David Cameron is right on the edge of that tipping point political leaders reach when they are no longer electable. He is on the brink of ridicule”.

    Most voters had worked that out years ago – which is why Cameron never won an outright majority. But hey we’re only swivel-eyed loons.

    • Makroon

      You guys who so hate the “Westminster bubble”, should surely be the first to recognise a hyperbolic, tripe blog-post from a typical bubble denizen rather than quoting from it ?

      Allow yourself a dismissive snort.

  • Fitzwilliam

    I got a begging letter from D Cameron the other day. It was asking for money to help with the battle for marginal constituencies.
    I wrote “NO WAY. I’MVOTING UKIP. CAMERON AND OSBOURNE OUT!” on the donation form in black marker and posted it back to them.
    Hoping they get the message?

  • Justathought

    Cameron must retake ground lost to UKIP otherwise it’s GAME OVER! Judging by the local council results, rebellious Tory MP’s are piling on the pressure and Farage is scooping up the disaffected voters. A negative outcome in the Scottish referendum and a drubbing at the MEP elections could further tarnish brand Cameron.

    • Tom Tom

      It is already over – Cameron has destroyed them

  • Adrian Drummond

    “Cameron has done a remarkable, enlightened thing by introducing gay marriage.”

    What utter, utter rubbish. Only to the metropolitan elite is it remarkable.

    • dalai guevara

      Adrian, sir. Without wanting to appear disrespectful, we need to see you in church more often. That is the only place where you will find refuge from the morally collapsing world around you. Why are attendance levels falling at record pace, yet everyone on these pages continues to spout how their position ought to be recognised as somehow morally superior?
      What position?

      • Adrian Drummond

        Personally, I am not concerned with morality; I am concerned with intellectual dishonesty. Redefining a word to suit the narrow prejudiced view of the ruling elite is what bothers me; I suspect this angers many, many others too.

        • dalai guevara

          The intellectual dishonesty of equality before the law?
          The tyranny of all western societies treating same sax socks six couples without prejudice?
          The number of pilgrims from the shires heading for Mecca and Medina must be on the rise…

      • Tom Tom

        You write tripe. Why do you think Churches are immune from moral decay ? It is getting near the point where this country will erupt into civil war, don’t exclude Lebanon or Yugoslavia happening here

        • dalai guevara

          No, of course not – but marriage is a sacrament, the position taken with regard to this sacrament it is a matter of *religious* belief. Yet most commenters expressing their discontent do not even know what it feels like to hold rosary beads (!)
          So to them, it is simply a *societal* matter, and that is always debatable, how could you argue this was set in stone?

          Any ‘infidel’ claiming his/her fixed views on marriage were incontestable is seriously delusional IMHO. I am happy to stand corrected if a compelling case could be made for the opposing argument.

          • xDemosthenesx

            “but marriage is a sacrament, the position taken with regard to this sacrament is a matter of *religious* belief.”

            Marriage pre-dates your monotheistic religions by quite a distance – it is something as fundamental to our society as tilling the fields – and yet has always been about the commitment of men and women together.

            • Tom Tom

              “he commitment of men and women together.”The fact you put that in plural says why it is meaingless twaddle. That is not Marriage but Group Cohabitation

            • dalai guevara

              Further proof that a church cannot take sole ownership of this concept.

          • Tom Tom

            I thought Marriage was a sacrament for Roman Catholics and Orthodox but not for Protestants or the Church of England

            • dalai guevara

              You are of course correct and now you know where I am coming from.

  • foxy_loxy

    And what’s this about ‘gay marriage’ being enlightened. Since when did David Cameron’s Tory Party ever get a democratic mandate for that?
    Answer: they haven’t.
    Martin Bright is just another of the arrogant chattering classes who believes that the ‘ordinary people’ shouldn’t have a say in law making. Democracy? What’s that, then?

    • Tom Tom

      Is this Martin Bright of The New Statesman ?

  • foxy_loxy

    Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.
    The Tory Party is dead! Just about twenty years too late, mind.

    • Colonel Mustard

      No one but a fascist wishing for a single party state would rejoice at the loss of political pluralism. But it is in everything coming from the left these days.

      • Gabrielle

        The Tory Party have brought it on themselves. In Ted Heath’s time and before they did at least pay lip service to being a one nation party. The top brass of the Tory Party these days despise everyone except the extremely wealthy, who more or less now own the Tory Party lock stock and barrel. It’s these very rich people who are the only ones benefiting from this government’s policies.

        • alabenn

          Grow up you fool, the policies that were put in place to benefit the rich were Labour policies, instigated by Blair and Brown, and they have took full advantage, check out multi millionaire Mandelson who twenty years ago did not have a pot to piss in.

      • Makroon

        Ha-ha, I think the UKIP choir on here really needs a huge purge.
        Chokker with Labour trolls are they !

  • Paddy Briggs

    Good summary. Next few weeks will show if Cameron has the intellectual capacity, the clarity of thought and above all the friends to come back. Lets be clear who has got him in the mess he’s undoubtedly in. Not the. Labour Party. Not his LibDem partners. Not even UKIP although they have been an unpleasant tumour on the body politic, benign not malignant we must hope. No. The Prime Minister is where he is because of the disloyalty and opportunist manoeuvring of the Eurosceptic and Socially illiberal Right. Recent surveys have shown that the under 35s – the future of our country – are overwhelmingly pro UK in EU and pro Gay marriage. They should be listened to more than the prejudiced old grandees and the Eurosceptic obsessives.

    • Russell

      So says a National Socialist Labour party member! Presumably this is a line given out by labour HQ because if the advice in it is followed, it will simply finish the Conservative party some months earlier than is likely now.

      • Paddy Briggs

        I have no personal connection with the Labour Party so I wouldn’t know what their line is any more than you,

        • Colonel Mustard

          Says the paddy who hangs round the Fabian Society website…

          • Paddy Briggs

            (1) You can be a member of the Fabian Society without being a member of the Labour Party.
            (2) The research was completely independent. YouGov can’t be bought.

            • echo34

              yougov president peter kellner, married to baroness ashton , labour’s choice as EU high rep of foreign affairs. Of course completely independent..

              • Colonel Mustard

                Indeed. YouGov is the propaganda wing of the Fabian Society as “the Labour Party is the political wing of the British people as a whole”…

                Thick as thieves.

                • Gabrielle

                  YouGov was co-founded by Nadhim Zahawi, who is now a Tory MP.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  And plenty of Tory MPs are ex-socialists. So?

            • Colonel Mustard

              And you can be a socialist weevil and vote Labour without having any “personal connection to the Labour Party”. In the same way that “buffers in Home Counties golf clubs” might not have any “personal connection” with the Tories.

              • telemachus

                …..slithering up and down each thread……

    • Daniel, Oxford

      Really? Which surveys, conducted by whom, when, where and what was the
      sample size and demographic? Also remember, there is a world of difference between
      tolerance and apathy or resignation.

      • Paddy Briggs

        YouGove research for the Fabian Society. Quantitative with statistically significant results. You can download PDF on Fabian Society website if you want details.

        • Daniel, Oxford

          “YouGove” – you’re being sarcastic, surely?

          • Paddy Briggs

            Oh dear splendid typo. It is of course YouGov !

        • Colonel Mustard

          Well that explains it. The Fabian Society. Whatever might we do without it. Whatever might we have become if that little nest of vipers had never existed.

          • Paddy Briggs

            I doubt that you have the remotest notion as to what the Fabian Society is. “Nest of vipers” indeed!

            • Colonel Mustard

              Oh I know only too well. As in all things it depends from which side of the fence things are viewed. Casting under 35s as “the future of our country”seems to fit well with the eugenics they once espoused.

    • Michael990

      “Recent surveys have shown that the under 35s – the future of our country – are overwhelmingly pro UK in EU and pro Gay marriage.”
      Which, if true, demonstrates just how the collapse of state education over the last 30 years has resulted in an immature, ignorant and trivialised mindset amongst the under 35s..
      The one bright spot in this government has been Michael Gove’s attempt to sort out education.

      • Paddy Briggs

        Absolutely wonderful parody! That is exactly the sort of bilge you would hear from the old buffers in the Home Counties golf clubs. Really brilliant. Well done.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Spare us, please do. You are supposed to believe in diversity and “old buffers in Home Counties golf clubs” are part of that diversity too.

          • MirthaTidville

            Not if you are a leftie Colonel….the usual rules dont apply to the bigots of the left

    • Colonel Mustard

      “The future of our country” – what divisive arrogance. Over 35s to the tumbrils! No wonder the elderly get so badly treated in this country with weevils like you around.

      • Paddy Briggs

        I have managed over the years to express a point of view without resorting to silly insults. Try it sometime.

        • Colonel Mustard

          You are a hypocrite too, which being a socialist is pretty much par for the course (if not a Home Counties golf club course of course). You insulted “old buffers in Home Counties golf clubs”. You insulted anyone over 35 working for the future of this country. You insulted anyone who disagrees with your Fabian Society way of thinking by referring to “prejudiced old grandees” and “Eurosceptic obsessives”.

          So don’t lecture me about silly insults, sonny boy.

  • Austin Barry

    “Cameron often says he is relaxed about things…”

    Relaxed? Cameron is catatonic.

    Perhaps he believes he is personifying an Old Etonian’s languid calm. He isn’t. He just seems inert and disconnected from the real world as wind turbines whirl and gay marriage prances in his jumbled head, and the Tory Party goes into possibly terminal decline.

    Someone in his effete Chumocracy should give him a good shaking. If he remains in his current torpor he is doomed.

    • Portendorfer

      It is at times like this that chaps like Cameron show their mettle and surprise us.

      There are no more banana skins and Leigh, Baron and chums having done their worst and got nowhere will now see the need to get themselves re-elected.
      I have no fear at all for Cameron and the Coalition. We are moving into individual MP self preservation mode.

      • stickywicket

        You have your tongue firmly in your cheek surely?

        Cameron is like Neville Chamberlain.

        • thucydides

          But there is no external threat so he will survive.

  • Nkaplan

    “The smell of defeat now hangs over the Conservative Party.”
    I really do wonder what is wrong with political comentators in this country. The stench of the rotting corpse of the Conservative Party (at least in so far as the next election is concerned) has been filling the air for the last year at least; keep up!

    • pinkgunnergirl

      The stench of defeat started on the day of Osborne’s Budget, when he cut the 50p tax, since then the Tories have not recovered.

  • MaxSceptic

    On the tipping point indeed.

    The best thing would be for Cameron to discover a surprise malady that would necessitate his removal from frontline politics, have the party replace him with David Davies as Leader, and – having ditched all the policies loathed by the ‘swivel-eyed ones’ (i.e. Conservative voters) make a swift non-aggression pact with UKIP.

    The Coalition will last (where would Clegg go?) until it is no longer needed, and having secured his right flank, the Tories would confront the issues that people do care about: primarily the economy.

    The Tories could then stand for re-Election in 2015 with a platform that includes:
    – the key UK demands in the EU negotiations
    – tax cuts
    – cancellation of HS2 and windfarm subsidies.
    – full speed ahead on shale gas exploitation
    – cuts to public spending

    One can dream.

    • Tom Tom

      Too late.

    • Russell

      It is not a pact with UKIP that the Conservatives need, they need to cross the floor en masse and all Conservative voters to join them by switching to UKIP. This is looking like the only way Labour or a Labour/LibDem coalition will be kept out of No.10.

      • Steve Tierney

        No, the Conservatives just need to be Conservative again and within a few months UKIP will be gone in all ways that matter.

        • Russell

          Vote Conservative and let Labour in. Vote UKIP and get a government which will stand up for British Independence and freedoms.

        • PaderB

          I do not believe that UKIP will just go away even if Cameron gives the Conservatives, and for that matter, the Country what they are asking for. Once established in Westminster, UKIP; will be an effective deterrent to those parties that think it is OK to ignore their duty as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition and provide an effective buffer to the party in power and help to reduce the effects of career politicians.

          The Electorate no longer trust the current crop of MPs as they have become embroiled in the ‘Me, me, me’ culture that allows them to consider themselves before the wishes of the Electorate.

          • Makroon

            When the Conservatives all cross the floor to UKIP, will they suddenly become wholesome and trustworthy like Nigel ?

    • PaderB

      I hope that your advocacy of David Davies was a typo. Surely you mean David Davis, the other contender for Party Leader. Now him, I could vote for as the majority of his policies are those that the average man in the street could appreciate.

      • MaxSceptic

        It was a typo. DD’s the best man for now.

    • Makroon

      Speaking of which, what is the UKIP policy on fracking in the home counties ?
      The website seems to have mislaid that.

  • A Libertarian Rebel

    In 2009, The Spectator organised a debate on “Will Cameron be more of a Thatcher or a Heath?” It was very well attended, with some distinguished speakers, on both sides.

    We in the minority who, whether on the platform or from the floor, argued – and voted – “Heath” were, if not howled down, certainly somewhat derided.

    I wonder how many of those who disageed with us would now change their minds were a follow-up debate to be held? Quite a few, I suspect.

  • Charles Hedges

    The party of Lord Freud, Mark Hoban and Iain Duncan Smith should be unelectable.