Tuesday 14 November 2023

Back to the Future - Don't Call me Dave, it's Lord Dave

 Yesterday, I was a bit slow to rise. I got a text from my brother, one I was not expecting, asking if I thought Rishi Sunak had been reading my blog. I was mystified. When I put on the radio, I realised he was referring to last Thursdays blog about Suella Bravermans comments about homelessness and recalling the efforts of Samantha Cameron at The Passage Homeless day centre. I don't think I was the only one who was surprised (to say the least), to find David Cameron back in the cabinet. My Whatsapp feeds lit up. What did I think? I told them all to read my blog today, once I'd thought about it.

So here goes. I think Sunak has played a blinder here and pulled a masterstroke. Whatever you may think about Cameron, it has taken Braverman off the front pages. He's surrounded himself with grown up politicians, not given to showboating and embarrassing him. Cameron has vital experience of turning the Tories around and detoxifying the brand. It's not clear to me who hates Cameron more, the hard right of the Tories or the hard left of Labour. It is interesting to note how few people I've spoken to across the spectrum actually like Cameron, but just about everyone seems to think that he's a price worth paying to see the back of Braverman. 

I suspect he'll be a decent foreign secretary. He strikes me as a born diplomat and he has a degree of gravitas that the UK needs on the world stage right now. As an ex PM, he will know many of the movers and shakers. I suspect that Sunak wanted a team that won't continually embarrass him. It will make it very hard to claim that he's a 'new broom' and a 'break from the past', but I doubt Cameron will generate a torrent of dodgy headlines as Braverman seemed to enjoy. 

Braverman has been replaced by James Cleverly at the Home Office. As an ex military man, I suspect he'll behave himself and build bridges which Braverman burned with the Police. With the Rwanda verdict due, he is on a win/win. If the Judges ban it, he can quietly dump it and say "nuffink to do wiv me mate". If it's declared legal, he can pacify his own backwoodsmen by implementing it. The Home Secretary job is a poison chalice. Things always seemto go wrong, but I doubt Cleverly will actively look for rows as Braverman has been doing. 

If you look at the top jobs, Hunt, Cleverley and Cameron. Steady hands, men who conversations won't get too heated with for Sunak. There seems to be a natural consensus amongst them. I am sure that Cameron will be doing his best to persuade Sunak to make policies that are as inclusive as possible for a Tory PM. He will be backed up by Hunt, a natural ally. Although Cleverley is a Brexiteer, he is not stupid and I think he knows which way the wind is blowing. Cameron knows that elections are not won by pacifying the hard right of the Tory Party (unless your opponent is Jeremy Corbyn). 

It seems to be pretty clear now that Braverman knew she was getting the chop and so got booted out on her own terms. I suspect she is playing a longer game. Let the Tories crash and burn and become the next leader of the opposition. As parties often do, when they lose an election badly, they indulge in a period of navel gazing and decide they were not hard line left/right enough. That is how they end up with leaders like Jeremy Corbyn and Michael Howard. Invariably the result is the same, another stuffing at the polls. 

The problem with most politicians is that they live in bubbles, where they don't talk to ordinary people. They just hear an echo chamber of their own views. They convince themselves that because all their mates are saying it, everyone is. It comes as a nasty shock when the general election educates them otherwise. Will Dave, sorry Lord Dave make a difference? It is impossible to know. I suspect that the election will be in a years time and that is a very long time. My best guess is that the Tories will lose badly, but less badly than would otherwise have been they case, although they won't see it like that.  Sunak's big challenge after 13 years, is to persuade us that there is something we still need them to do, that they have something fresh to say to the electorate. I don't seriously see David Cameron helping that. If the answer to Britains problems are to give a discredited PM a peerage and bring them back, Lord help us. 

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