March 26, 2006


This time it's personal (BRIAN BRADY, 3/26/06, Scotland on Sunday)

WHEN David Cameron condemns the old-fashioned "Punch and Judy" knockabout that he insists he wants to drive out of British politics he speaks from bitter personal experience.

Ever since the youthful MP for Witney emerged as the great white hope of the Conservative Party whenever he has stood up to speak in the arena of the House of Commons he has been confronted with the full destructive power of the hardest puncher in the building. Dennis "the Beast of Bolsover" Skinner immediately pulls himself to his feet, leans as far as he can across the floor of the House and bellows: "Cameron! You put black lead on yer 'air!"

Cameron's aides, and the Tory leader himself, cheerfully admit that they have little idea what Skinner's repeated intervention actually means - although they suspect he's casting aspersions on how Cameron maintains the impressive head of dark hair that is part of his "housewives' favourite" appeal. What they know with absolute certainty, however, is that the Beast is not trying to be complimentary.

Cameron should not feel too victimised by Skinner, who spreads his contempt around the opposition benches like great dollops of mud. The Tory leader's greatest political friend, shadow chancellor George Osborne, regularly runs the gauntlet, having to deliver speeches with "you changed yer name from Gideon" echoing in his ear. The rather blunt accusation is that Osborne - like Cameron - is a toff who is attempting to dumb down in order to appeal to a wider section of the electorate. And Skinner doesn't like toffs.

Until now, the Bolsover MP's approbation has simply been a minor irritant, but the veteran's aggressive approach looks increasingly in line with the mood of his party - and its leader-in-waiting.

Labour looks ready to go the way of the post-Clinton Democrats--insane.

Meanwhile, the Tories go all Ownership Society, Tories demand action on housing (BBC, 3/26/06)

Conservative leader David Cameron has demanded urgent action to tackle what he calls the growing gap between rich and poor due to high property prices.

He warned of "a growing inequality at the heart of British life" because the property ladder was beyond young people from less well-off families.

He called for more housebuilding to provide an adequate provision.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 26, 2006 8:06 AM

I would have thought this tactic went out 25 years ago, after complaints about Ronald Reagan's hair color failed to keep him out of the White House.

Posted by: John at March 26, 2006 11:47 AM