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Shortly after he became Prime Minister, Gordon Brown made a terrible mistake which resulted in one of the most delicious and unintentionally amusing episodes in recent British history. The events surrounding Brown's "election that never was" also provided a valuable insight into the personality of David Cameron, the most infuriating of Tory leaders. It served to illustrate that the Tory leader is a gifted individual, someone with a strong survival instinct in a crisis, who has a maddening habit of relaxing after a comeback and then squandering his advantages.
Back in August and September 2007, Cameron came perilously close to destruction and showed what he is capable of in terms political management. The then newly installed Brown was riding high in the polls and being presented by newspapers usually unsympathetic to the Labour cause as a father of the nation whose supposed wisdom, experience and all-round reliability made him, it was claimed, a splendid contrast with his predecessor Tony Blair. During an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the countryside and the floods that hit Britain that summer, Brown floated on a tide of the media's goodwill and public approval. So excited did his advisers become that they urged Brown to capitalise by calling an early general election to smash the opposition leader David Cameron and the Conservatives. Journalists were briefed by Labour that an election would take place that autumn. Momentum built, with the press reports fuelling confidence in the Brown circle, leading to further boastful briefings, more reports and a spiral of hubris.

Brown himself was unsure whether or not he wanted an early election. Having waited ten years to inherit the premiership from Blair, he had no desire to risk losing it a few months later. However, he was ahead in the polls and enjoying Tory discomfort. Winning a contest would earn him his own mandate and simultaneously crush the young Tory opposition leader. Unwisely, rather than announcing early, an uncertain Brown then allowed the speculation to run during his own party's conference in Bournemouth and the Tory conference held the following week in Blackpool.

Indecision was to prove disastrous for Brown. Cameron — fearing defeat — had for weeks been orchestrating a fightback to avert an election. At the Tory conference the party faithful were duly rallied by speeches made by the then shadow Chancellor George Osborne, offering to dramatically reduce inheritance tax, and by Cameron himself taking the fight to Brown in impressive terms. The voters noticed, as was reflected when the polls crossed that week giving the Tories a lead. Brown, his bubble burst, had to announce that he would not after all be calling an election. Result: public humiliation.

What Brown and his acolytes had failed to factor in to their calculations was David Cameron. That summer they dismissed him as a boy sent to do a man's job and in their excitement made an elementary error, forgetting that their ruthless opponent might not respond in the manner they anticipated.

Brown's team was so sold on the idea that Cameron was a southern softie, a metropolitan liberal Tory lightweight and public relations puffball, that in their mania they failed to spot that he tends to do well in a serious crisis. Cameron is good at handling pressure; only a fool writes him off.

And yet, having fought his way back to contention Cameron then made a hash of the election campaign against the discredited Brown when it eventually came in 2010. In failing to articulate a clear sense of mission, or even to enunciate properly the party's policies, Cameron baffled many of his own supporters and failed to win the election outright. It was as though he desired office without having a clear enough sense of what he wanted to do with power. He snuck in at the head of a coalition.

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hegels advocate
June 24th, 2014
4:06 PM
Why can`t the big idea (from all political parties/protest movements) be to organise an economy/society/civilisation like the people of Uruguay? Uruguay 2 England 1 but not a word from the BBC, or the culture&sport ministers/shadow ministers about all the social,political and cultural progress of Uruguay ! Does nobody in brit politics want to meet the elected ministers and cultural/business representatives of Uruguay? The Russian,Chinese and Islamist dinosaur nations are the big deal Big Society? The Peoples Assembly Against Austerity had 50,000 people protesting in London. "The biggest protest march in british history" is being organised for October. The Peoples Assembly website is up and running. The mainstream parties have reached the apotheosis of Terminal Media Naff (Cameron,Clegg and Milliband holding up their identical copies of the Sun sport pages). The material deficiency of ideology and the strange poverty of the rich have mutated into ersatz political`derivatives`. Cameron is it`s most unconvincing salesman at the sales. I`m not voting Tory but all credit to Michael Gove`s anti-islamification initiative (and Douglas Murray) and William Hague`s participation in the anti-FGM campaign. The next Tory leader could well be Michael Gove. Assuming the party membership hasn`t shrunk from 100,000 to 50,000.

Commentator
June 23rd, 2014
5:06 PM
Cameron will struggle to win an election in 2015 because he has been shown time and again to be a slippery vindictive snob and a lightweight whose only goal is hanging onto power and enriching himself. His clique are all cut from the same cloth. Spooked by UKIP they are now doing what patrician Tories always do when cornered: promising things they have no intention of delivering and hinting at things they have no intention of promising.

hegel`s advocate
June 4th, 2014
6:06 PM
With the tragic narcissist Tony Blair after the job of EU president, (having abandoned Britain to hang out with oligarchs) isn`t it obvious Clegg and Cameron have the same `heroic materialist` career objectives? I always thought the enthusiasm for Tony Blair (and the bands Oasis and Blur) as delusional/third rate and as eagerly conformist as the enthusiasm for the papist showbiz of Catholicism. Our politicians are not Sir Ken Clark of Civilisation fame. Sir Ken was the Zizek of the 20th century. The Monarchy,Tories and Labour were suspicious of his genius,handsomness,beautuful intelligent wife and the "red castle" . Clark`s final comments on the future "we can be optimistic but not joyful" are echoed today by Zizek`s " the future will be utopian or there will be none." He says he advances this proposition as a "pessimistic communist". As an atheist Zizek wouldn`t agree on "the God-given genius of certain individuals" that Clark believed in. Today the God-given genius of the young American artist Akiane Kramarik has so far eluded the BBC (and Zizek and Paglia) but not American tv , Youtube or fans of her website/facebook. At 18 she`s starting her own art school! And Michael Gove (and the Royal Academy )are as silent as the grave on this. President Obama , the Democrats and Republicans have said nothing but Oprah Winfrey advanced Akiane to millions ten years ago! Akiane`s book is now in its 2nd edition. How "ignorant as swans" (as Clark described the idle rich of his day)about God-given genius do politicians need to be these days?

hegel`s advocate
June 2nd, 2014
11:06 PM
Surely HD2`s last sentence is a definition of the present tory party ! It`s the political equivalent of Morris Dancing into oblivion. But in bankers suits. The cultural anthropologists are already interested.

HD2
May 30th, 2014
8:05 AM
Mrs Thatcher sold off State housing and State industry. Cameroons won't do it, but the Next Big Idea should be to sell off the State Social Services: Education, Health, Soc Sec, pensions, as well as the other key areas in which successive governments have failed (utterly) to invest; roads. Once the State deals with Defence, Justice and Taxation, it can spend maybe £150-£200 billion pa, reasonably effectively 9with taxation to match) rather than squandering £750 billion + as it does today. Once WE retain OUR money, WE can spend it on our children's education (tax-deductible fees, with a taxpayer-funded subsidy); on (tax deductible) private health insurance; on (tax-deductible) private pension plans and private soc sec insurance; on those things which matter to us. A simple fact which politicians cannot grasp: 65 million people making individual decisions will do a far better job than 650MPs, (or 6 Ministers) as at present. And another thing - Darwinism has always beaten Marxism over the last 4.5 billion years - so why oh why do politicians think that they can do better? They keep backing socialism when it's failure is inevitable, so do us all a favour and back Darwinism's key elements instead: diversity + competition = evolution or extinction. Anything which is centrally-planned, centrally-managed and centrally controlled is doomed to be inefficient, ineffective - and incapable of responding to need.

hegel`s advocate
May 30th, 2014
1:05 AM
A party that is down to 100,000. Looks like most conservatives have evolved leaving the Tory Party`management` behind to an epigonal oblivion. A vanishing dull species is all their publicity now actually records. I read that George Osborne has actually borrowed more money in five years than G Brown did in ten! That`s how blank and self-infantilised the Tory Party now is? Soft on islamification and soft on the causes of islamification. The Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets prospers in London. Are the Tory Party now reduced to feeding themselves their own `taqiyya` ? Intinctively most conservatives now want nothing to do with Cameron and Osborne. They`ve destroyed the Tory Party.

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