Cameron Needs to Tread Carefully in the Aftermath of Libya

01/09/2011 00:01 BST | Updated 31/10/2011 09:12 GMT

David Cameron is a lucky man. Just when things seemed to be getting messy in Libya, when the word 'stalemate' was being heard more and more often and when there was seemingly a collective slumping of the international shoulders and an acceptance that we were in it for the long run, the rebels toppled Gaddafi.

Dictators always fall in cowardly ways, running away rather than facing the music, and Gaddafi is no different. Tripoli has been taken, Libya is now ruled by the National Transitional Council, and Gaddafi surely cannot hide out forever in Libya. He may have said he'd rather die than leave Libya, but his options are more and more limited.

For David Cameron, this is somewhat of a victory. The initial optimism surrounding the Libyan conflict soon fell away as parallels were drawn with Iraq and Afghanistan. America got out as quickly as they got in. It looked for a while as if the Libyan conflict would become long, expensive and - at times - a war with no conclusion. Cameron's initial statesman like attitude was replaced by a man desperate to look for small victories to reassure the war-weary British public that intervention was the right move.

So with Gaddafi gone, Cameron may think he can breath a sigh of relief. Whilst he can certainly be pleased with the fact an undeniably evil dictator is gone, there are a whole host of problems - at home and abroad - that now need to be addressed. The Coalition is coming under attack from all sides for a whole host of policies - schools, universities, the NHS, housing, the economy, transport and so much more. Whilst part of being in government is batting away the balls, it seems as if the Government at the moment are struggling to see them all come in.

Now that Libya is moving towards some sort of a conclusion - and the amount of work needed there should no be underestimated - Cameron must tighten the reins on the domestic front. He must push forward some policies that promote genuine reform and genuine change. The first year of his Government has been dominated by U-turns, war in Libya and a collapsing economy. If he does not produce a rabbit out of a hat soon, people will begin to question his position.

Global issues are easier to dismiss or procrastinate on, as they have international reaches. The economy, for example, is influenced so much by external factors that the argument that 'we're all part of a collapsing global economy' is valid and understandable, and gives Cameron time to formulate his argument. However, the Government's own policies are harder to deflect, as they originate from and lead back to Coalition ministers.

For David Cameron, the next few weeks are crucial. He must not dwell on the Libyan victory for long. He can take some credit, and acknowledge that it is a new dawn for Libya. After that, he must turn his focus to domestic affairs and make an honest and genuine push to deliver the reform he promised upon entering Downing Street. If he does not do so, he risks becoming one of the great under-achieving Prime Ministers. To a large extent, the decision rests in his hands.