Cameron's Mistakes? How Long Have You Got?

The most illuminating issue to have emerged from the recent News International scandal is just how do we trust and put our faith in Mr Cameron again?

To me, the most illuminating issue to have emerged from the recent News International scandal is just how do we trust and put our faith in Mr Cameron again? His refusal to acknowledge his mistake in hiring former News of the World editor Andy Coulson - despite numerous warnings - has beggared belief and his cheek to turn around now and state that he is leading the debate over News International's inappropriate relationship with government is astounding.

This, after all, is the man who had five long years to tackle Labour on the issue during his spell as Leader of the Opposition. A recent poll, conducted by ConservativeHome, has exposed the top 10 mistakes Tory party members believe David Cameron has made during his time as party leader. Interestingly - and unsurprisingly, seeing as the topic is still so fresh and prominent - the News International outrage failed to enter the top 10.

However, what the poll did throw up was just how out of touch the Tory party and its members are in relation to the rest of Britain. Let us take a look at some of the laughable conclusions:

1."U-Turn on NHS reforms" - hardly a mistake seeing as the professionals (doctors, nurses etc) did not approve of the radical alterations put forward by Andrew Lansley and the majority of the general public (rightly) failed to grasp the concept; only 27% of people supported the proposed changes.

2."Flirting with softer prisons and sentencing policies" - in actual fact, whilst the right-wing media jumped on Ken Clarke's liberal proposals, his plans actually seemed promising. Nations whereby rehabilitation is prioritised over harsh sentences (such as Denmark) behold as crime rates drop significantly and re-offending rates are at an impressive 27%.

3."Agreeing to Nick Clegg's participation in election debates" - forgive me for thinking this was a democracy. In other words, the Conservatives feel it was a mistake allowing another party leader to gain a platform and project his vision. Regardless of whether I agree with Clegg's views, he still deserved a shot - and succeeded - at acquiring public support and admiration.

4."Supporting climate change policies" - roughly translated, Tory members do not care if the planet is dying, just so long as it remains in tact for their generation. This result, more than most, highlights the severe backward attitude manifesting within the party. Moreover, despite Cameron's pledge to lead "the greenest government ever", he has attempted to sell off our forests to private logging companies, opened up the British coast to deep water oil-drilling and invaded Libya to avoid rocketing oil prices. If Tory members see that as "supporting climate change", what would they consider opposing it?

Seeing as the Conservatives cannot be trusted to conduct a fair and representative catalogue of catastrophes, here is my attempt to construe Mr Cameron's largest, and most significant, errors during his time at Downing Street. Firstly, it is imperative that I outline why the ConservativeHome findings are not a true reflection of British attitudes. On the 6th May 2010, not one single party won the general election. Admittedly, the Conservative's gained a large number of seats (+97) and increased their share of the votes (+3.7%). However, the majority of the British electorate did not desire a right-wing government (36%). The result signalled a victory for the Left; with 52% of the electorate opting for a left-wing leadership. Consequently, the Left possess a stronger voice within Britain, and the views of the Tories are something of a minority. Therefore, here is the Left's all-conclusive account of Mr Cameron's record in office thus far - lovingly named 'The Cock-up Catalogue'. Mr Cameron's top 3 cock-ups:

Cock-up One: Libya. During a period of objectionable austerity measures and unpleasant tightening of belts, could Britain really afford to intervene in affairs that, frankly, had nothing to do with us? At first, the invasion was justified as being essential to ensure the "protection of civilians". Then, William Hague, during an interview for the Times, made this revealing admission: if we failed to act in Libya there would be "terrible economic consequences [for] the price of oil". Broadly speaking, we invaded Libya to ensure greater access to rich oil resources. Britain's calamitous involvements in Libya have been further tainted by our refusal to intervene in other Middle Eastern nations that are witnessing equally abhorrent conditions. Syria's death toll stands somewhere around 2000 following President Assad's vicious onslaught. No sign of our so-called principle of protecting civilians there though.

On the contrary, our Prime Minister, during the height of the Middle East violence, welcomed Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, the crown prince of Bahrain, to Downing Street; even posing outside No.10 for photos. The Khalifa family had been instrumental in the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protestors, condoning mass torture and bloodshed. Double standards would be an understatement. How could our Prime Minster stand there and shake hands with this loathsome dictator whilst condemning the actions of Muammar Gaddafi? In the words of one of Mr Cameron's top propagandists, Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail, 'You couldn't make it up'.

Cock-up Two: The AV debate. Having initially stated that he would not participate in any AV debate that could potentially ensue, David Cameron persistently tackled the liberal perspective - that AV would lead to a more democratic society - and risked alienating his coalition partners, begging the question, did this action run parallel with his customary justification: 'in the national interest'? Surely upsetting your governmental allies is anything but 'in the national interest'. Cameron only calls upon this meaningless statement when he is trying to validate an ideologically-driven Tory policy. By supporting the current first-past-the-post system, Cameron's sole purpose was to allow Conservatives to cling onto power with minority governments for years to come. His party was accused of "Goebbels-like propaganda", claiming that AV would lead to extremist parties, such as the BNP, gaining in influence. All total nonsense of course.

If anything, this error has led to many concessions being granted to the Liberal Democrats. Following the AV referendum, the Lib Dems have successfully managed to distance themselves from unpopular coalition policies. The NHS reforms were scrapped as a result of an amalgamation effect whereby the Lib Dems became vocal dissenters, thus strengthening the public consensus. The Tories had no choice but to yield. But the everlasting product of this campaign was the indisputable knowledge that our Prime Minster is willing to resort to "smear and scaremongering" in order to fulfil his ambitions. Whilst no one is under the disillusion that politicians are all decent folk who never lie to obtain an advantage, it is more telling that Mr Cameron was happy to turn on his supposed ally; Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. During the "cynical smears" crusade, Cameron accused his counterpart of making "broken promises", thus dubbing Mr Clegg untrustworthy. The same Mr Clegg whom he trusted to run the country with and form an ill-fitting hybrid. Moreover, people in glass houses...

Cock-up Three: Economy and cuts. The economy is flatlining, but you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you had solely gained your opinion through the rhetoric of David Cameron and his Tory cronies. According to the Conservatives, the economy is recovering: "Britain is growing strongly" stated George Osborne. However, what they fail to disclose is that, yes, the economy grew 0.5% in the first three months of 2011, but seeing as it fell 0.5% during the winter, Britain has merely made back the money it lost. Far from a recovery, this is nothing more than a stabilisation, leading one commentator to refer to Mr Cameron as an "economic simpleton". Yet incessantly, talk of rapid growth and full recovery hog the right-wing headlines. The Conservative way has always been to cut, cut, and cut. It is imprinted in their ideology and provides the nucleus for all their policies.

Furthermore, some of the cuts they have made do not actually save money. Take the example of Health and Safety cuts. Mr Cameron has cut the funds for Health and Safety, meaning that all-important inspections shall decrease drastically. What is carefully disguised is the fact that an inspection costs far less than a lawsuit from an injured employee. Compensation payouts easily eclipse the figure paid out to Health and Safety firms to ensure the wellbeing of staff working in hazardous environments throughout Britain. The Health and Safety Executives budget has been slashed by 35% and unannounced visits have been stamped out. All in the name of cuts. Equally nonsensical is the target of many of these cuts. You would think that during a tough economic period, the super-rich would be asked to aid the suffering masses. Bankers with million pound salaries and million pound bonuses assisting the unemployed and disadvantaged. How foolish, why would Cameron and co part company with the super-rich? After all, is it not them bankrolling the party?

Even members of the coalition are beginning to voice their concerns. Lord Oakeshott, senior Lib Dem peer, referred to the handling of the banks as "soft" and called the Conservatives "arrogant and incompetent" in their handling of them. Vince Cable stated, "We cannot continue to have a situation where banks continue to be underpinned by the taxpayer. That will deal with the problems of very large bonuses that are unacceptable". Even Tory hardliner Michael Gove said the behaviour of the banks had been "outrageous" and said that they "appear to be living in a parallel universe to the rest of us". The same could be said of the Conservatives. Despite these damning verdicts, Mr Cameron continues to act leniently on banks and (worse still) seems determined to let the vast majority of honest, hard-working Britons pay to get Britain out of its economic mess. Injustice does not get close.

Overall, David Cameron's spell in No.10 has been far from impressive. These three 'cock-ups' merely represent a small fraction of the abundance of errors executed by the Conservatives thus far. The News International fiasco will not die down anytime soon and the European debt crisis will undoubtedly test Mr Osborne's economic capacity to the full. Add these to the relentless policy U-turns, their embarrassingly abysmal green credentials and an overall refusal to acknowledge when they have made judgemental faults leads me - and I am sure others - to feel a tragic sense of worry. Apart from the occasional glimmer of hope - Ken Clarke's liberal prison proposals (swiftly shot down) - the Tories have proven that they are out of touch and distanced from the day-to-day realities of the average Briton. Far from pointing out Mr Clegg's mistakes or the previous Labour government's mistakes, David Cameron needs to take a long stern look in the Downing Street mirror and come to terms with the fact that he is an inept and unwanted leader, currently leading his country down an unforgiving path of destruction.


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