David Cameron’s intensely relaxed leadership style may be his downfall | Melissa Kite | Comment is free | The Guardian.
Isn’t Cameron’s strongest hand from the deck the fact there is no obvious replacement among Cabinet colleagues? Can you imagine a Prime Minister Osborne? Or Gove? Or May?
While one does not want to be begrudging, or insinuate that the PM does not deserve downtime, it is only stating facts to point out that not having had a holiday since Christmas is not exactly the definition of hardship these days. Cameron, his aides explained, had not been abroad with his children since last summer. Yes, well, one bucket-and-spade holiday a year is kind of the deal for every father in Britain, if they are lucky, during a recession.
But let us assume it is unfair to attack the prime minister for being out of touch because he can afford to take a family of five on a half-term foreign break. Let us take that sort of dog-in-the-manger, class envy out of the equation. What really niggles is the rest of their explanation. It was all right for the PM to go on holiday days after Lee Rigby was murdered, the aides argued, because Cameron “had urged everyone to carry on as normal”.
To my mind, there is something vaguely distasteful about this. Downing Street should not be trying to make a virtue of a trip that really has nothing to recommend it apart from personal enjoyment. A still more potent puzzler is why Cameron is able to chill out on a beach this week. It seems that no matter what happens, be it European Union revolts or terror attacks, the briefing from No 10 is always the same: “The prime minister is relaxed.”
He is starting to remind me of a horse asleep on its feet. You admire the trick, but wonder how on earth they pull it off.There are those who praise this relentless imperviousness to any notion that he has to prove himself.
I find it offputting. One should not rehash the old Old Etonian row about privilege and entitlement too much. But it is interesting that Cameron’s modus operandi is the exact opposite of what a chippy former grammar schoolboy might do.
A chippy type who had reached Downing Street from humble origins might work night and day to prove himself. He might cancel holidays in order to show he was worthy of the trust that had been placed in him.
But an Old Etonian knows he is worthy. He doesn’t need to try too hard. While Labour criticises the PM publicly for his laid-back attitude, it is also a cause of simmering resentment among the already restive Tory right. After all, they worship the hallowed tradition of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and getting on their bikes.
They go misty-eyed at the memory of Lady Thatcher, sitting up all night writing long letters to bereaved Falklands service families because she felt the need to show hands-on leadership in dark times. They want a more proactive, edgy prime minister with the sheer hunger that will be required to drive the effort to win the next election. They do not understand the notion that when the going gets tough, the tough go to Ibiza.