Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Iron in the Soul: David Cameron's destiny.

During my now celebrated interviews with John Major, I asked him, "When did the iron enter into your soul?" The answer is in the biography I wrote. But I now want to ask that question of David Cameron: and I'm going to second guess the answer. The rather flabby Mr Please All PM of recent years has suddenly developed grit and vim of the sort that only comes after the iron has entered into the soul. It happened while he agonised over the outcome of this Scots vote. Did it matter that much to the English? No, it was just an exercise somewhere else. Not quite a far away people of whom we know nothing, these purveyors of salmon and scotch, proprietors of North Sea oil, seemed to turn Cameron from polite yes man into a sudden superman.
If he hears Boris barking at his heels or senses worse to come at the in/out EU referendum, or thinks he's found a way of leaving Nigel Farage without a foot to stand on, and Ed Milliband with 40 fewer MP's he has now risen from his couch and is beginning to look like a leader rather than a follower of pubic opinion.
He'll bomb Asil and try to win a Tory coalition on English Rule and maybe he'll win the next General Election. I still doubt he'll remain as leader after that, unless he shows real determination to lead the country out of the EU. And he may still need to be pushed hard to do that. Meantime, I have been watching and waiting anxiously for this decent and chronically indecisive man who waits to see what people think before he leads them forward, to discover that leadership is more than managing the results of market research.
Has he found the way? I think so. I thought he found a way in 2010 when he came to an agreement with Nick Clegg after a ten day wrangle that ended in the Coalition. This was artistry of the possible at work, I thought, as I watched from my eerie above the Louvre and was pleased with them both.
Cameron is a negotiator and a diplomat but real leadership needs a rougher gift of uncompromising conviction in one's own rightness and the firm determination to win the day.
Seeing a nation poised on the edge of calamity with constitutional reform as the unavoidable agenda for the next few years, Cameron may have tempered steel out of that iron newly in the soul. At last the flab has become firm muscle. On your horse, boy! History may yet award you the prize. Not only Britain, but Europe, needs to be led out of a floundering mess of indecision, excess government and false notions of union. The poor economic performance of the EU and its member states is due to a system of government and economic management that is too cumbersome to function effectively. Sweeping reform is needed to simplify government to allow real growth through fresh enterprise; and where better to start than at home, from the ground up. Constitutional reform is the way to release the forces of economic dynamism that are now trapped among layers of bureaucracy. But the reforms must be good ones. There is no point in adding another layer of government to soak up more taxes and generate busybody laws.  The aim should be to reduce not increase government and to ensure its relevance to present day patterns of economic activity.
The common good is to be found in new political structures that reflect a true sense of participation in regional and national life, in the roots that choose their expression in a sense of identity with origins and traditions, no less the tradition of Parliamentary democracy. As George found his dragon, David may have found his Goliath, while Cameron is discovering his destiny.