Could such an approach backfire on Cameron?
Yesterday’s characterisation by David Cameron of the Prime Minster as being “that strange man in Downing Street” has prompted a number of Labour-leaning bloggers, including Paul Linford, to suggest that this is part of a Tory plan.
This is what Linford wrote:“it’s clear….that portraying his opponent as somehow not one of us is a key part of the Tory leader’s political strategy..Mr Cameron clearly wants to portray himself as This Charming Man, and Brown as (to quote) This Strange Man, but if the public has any sense it will backfire. What on earth gives Cameron the right to describe another man as “strange” and by what measure of “normality” does he seek to judge the Prime Minister?”
In a comment on another website Linford suggested that there’s “..a deadly serious attempt by the right to fix the idea of Gordon as a “weirdo” in the public mind.”.
Certainly there have been one or two recent instances of such descriptions being linked to the Tories and rightward-leaning blogs but is this all planned or is it just a coincidence? Are they seeing conspiracy, which implies people getting together to agree a particular course, when that does not exist?
Looking at the context of Cameron’s description it is hard to judge either way. It came up when he was pressed on the Tory plan to stick to Labour spending plans and replied – â€œI am being very careful because if you say anything else that strange man in Downing Street will cook up an enormous package of Tory spending cuts. It is complete and utter fiction. I have seen it done before and I have learnt a thing or two in the last few years.â€
I think that this all started in an interview two years ago that the leading novelist and close colleague of a number at the top of the NuLab project, Robert Harris, gave to the Sunday Times. In it he compared Gordon with Richard Nixon and said: “Brown, like Nixon, suffers from a kind of political Aspergerâ€™s syndrome. Intellectually brilliant, he sometimes seems socially barely functional: a little bit . . . odd.”
Is there a Tory plot or are Brown’s defenders being a bit precious? I don’t know but the character of a party leader is a key part of a general election battle – hence the efforts by some Labour people to characterise Cameron as “a public school toff” or the “Bullingdon bully”. And, of course, look at what both the Tories and Labour did to Ming Campbell – not pretty but effective.