The Problem With Dave

I wonder how David Cameron would assess his first year in Government. Not in the sense of a verdict he'd give to the media, but an honest opinion of how he thinks he's doing.

I wonder how David Cameron would assess his first year in Government. Not in the sense of a verdict he'd give to the media, but an honest opinion of how he thinks he's doing.

Would he see himself as successfully pushing through his reform agenda, driving changes and pioneering a new, fairer society? Or would he see himself constantly battered by policy changes (or u-turns as the opposition like to call them), hindered by Coalition partners who want to peg him back and a core of his own party that seems unhappy with his leadership?

It would be interesting to know because, out there in the real world, David Cameron is quite a polarising figure. He seems either to be seen as a pioneer of reform and a capable, dependable politician, or as a leader out of touch with society and not able to connect with the vast majority of the British people.

Granted, a lot of this is propaganda from the opposition and the media who are anti-Dave. But then he is rather polarising in many ways. Take the fact that he went to Eton and Oxford. That is either seen as a ringing endorsement of his upbringing and his ability to do his job or a criticism of his privileged start to life. Some say that he has been well-educated and given the best experience to hone his political skills in some of the most prestigious education facilities that Britain has to offer. Others say that he is overly privileged, upper class and out of touch and that he is creating a culture of elitism within politics.

Elsewhere, look at Cameron's reform agenda and deficit cuts. They are either radical ways of bringing the country into the 21st century, of stepping out of the quagmire of the last decade or so and advancing with a fair agenda. Or they are cuts that are 'too far too fast' (Labour's favourite phrase) and reforms that are simply too radical, changing too much too soon and leaving Britain in a dangerous position. It's a case of take your pick.

It is true that any politician swings two ways with the voters, ranging from the positive 'they are the right leader' to the negative 'they are causing more harm than good'. Mr Cameron however seems to have made this more of an issue by his claims that 'we're all in this together' and that his Government is a 'listening government'.

Making the claim that we're all in it together is always going to require strong action and strong leadership, and Cameron seems to have failed to show those qualities. The changes of direction regarding his policies - whilst well-meaning - have been seized upon by his critics as a sign of his weakness as a leader, a hint that he is unable to properly lead his party and therefore the country. He is either portrayed as a listening Prime Minister or one who muddles his way through, and sadly it is the latter that is much more likely to stick with him.

Mr Cameron also treads the fine line between smugness and sincerity. It is hard to tell sometimes if he is being sincere in his comments, or lauding them over people. He can be extremely statesman like, as demonstrated when he announced to the House of Commons the British involvement in Libya. But at other times he can seem aloof, superior and - dare it be said - unaware of the problems facing ordinary people. This is something that does not sit well with the electorate, especially at a time when everyone is being told to make cuts and batten down the hatches for the storm of austerity measures coming our way.

It's not all bad for Cameron however. Ed Miliband is struggling to make an impact in his role as Labour leader, and Cameron nearly always come out on top in the contests between the two. He also has the potential to be a uniting figure. He is genuinely passionate about the Coalition Government, and is intent on creating a new path for British politics. However he needs to transfer that political desire to unification to his public persona, and present himself as a genuine figure of reform. If he does that, then he has a chance of being a great Prime Minister.


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