Sunday, 28 March 2010

Cameron can't have his cake and eat it

Janet Daley, writing in the Telegraph this morning, thinks that Cameron has the right vision but lacks the nerve to trust the public with it.

However, it just might be that Cameron has the right vision but lacks the nerve to trust CCHQ with it. You see, every time Cameron pledges to devolve power, to return decision making back to the level it belongs, up pops a member of the shadow cabinet to pledge that a Conservative government will legislate to impose minimum insulation values for curtains, or set a national standard for supermarket trollies. Dave may talk the talk about Localism, but he doesn't seem to have told the rest of Team Cameron about it.

The Central State is a powerful magnet to the loathsome political class and its dags. Thirteen years in the wilderness and CCHQ, itself a ruthlessly centralist body, dreams of nothing but having a go at working the levers of the Leviathan State. If you've ever tried taking a toy away from a three year-old, you'll know the petulance, tears and tantrums that shadow ministers will throw at the prospect of abolishing their own Departments of State. All the instincts of the political class are to accumulate and consolidate power, not give it away.

And the fact that Cameron isn't making firm, unequivocal promises about Localism, and that when you look at the actual words he uses they turn out to be vague aspirations with no substance, means that voters don't trust him. Polls suggest that voters think he'll just replace Labour ministers with Conservative ones and govern for the benefit of his chums, just as Labour have done. And that rather than the Health Act (Abolition) Bill coming before the Commons in the Autumn, we'll see the Domestic Fabrics (Insulation Standards) Bill. And it's hard to defend him from these suspicions whilst Eric and the rest of the lads carry on as though the election were nothing more than a change of watch on the Ship of State.

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