I\’m going through old Polly columns (Factchecking Pollyanna and I are doing an analysis of them) and this one from last automn really needs to be read again in the light of more recent events:
It\’s Boris! His selection as Tory candidate for mayor of London was inevitable – though only 0.3% of the electorate voted. Between now and next May, he risks becoming David Cameron\’s nightmare shadow, a buffoonish parody of the Conservative leader: same generation, same school, same kind of charm – but all done in pantomime. Desperately seeking gravitas, this is a new woe Cameron could do without as his troubled Conservatives gather in Blackpool this weekend.
At 11 points behind in the polls after Labour\’s triumphal display of unity, how much worse can things get? Lord Tebbit, the party\’s deathless Sauron, shot a deadly pre-conference bolt at Cameron with effusive praise for Gordon Brown – "I think he is a very clever man and I have very considerable regard for him" – while damning his own leader: "I think we lack somebody of the standing of Margaret." What caustic acid he poured on the Eton phalanx: "What a lot of people will suggest is that they don\’t know how the other half lives … they have no experience of the world whatsoever."
What should David Cameron do now? Ask around the Conservative party and you can hear the advice raining down on him. Turn right! Turn left! But don\’t flip-flop, be strong. Go back to the gut issues the people care about. Have policies, have none.
It\’s only a short time since he was riding high in the dog days of Tony Blair. Remember how this time last year Labour\’s post-putsch conference felt like a party on the brink of implosion. Now his own party is riven between trads and mods.