by Stephen Tall on November 16, 2009
Oooh, here’s a nasty ‘forced choice’ question to thrust upon LDV’s readers … let’s assume for a moment that, by some quirk of electoral fate, the Lib Dems do not storm to victory at the next general election, and Nick Clegg is not asked by Her Maj to form the next government. A far-fetched scenario, I know, but go with me on this. If those were the circumstances, who would you rather have as Prime Minister: Gordon Brown or David Cameron?
And, yes, those are your only two choices in this poll. We’re not giving you an easy ‘neither of them’ cop-out answer. No opportunity to bat back equidistant platitudes: if you answer this poll question, you must perforce come down off the fence and take a stand.
No, it’s not easy, is it? I’m genuinely torn. That’s why (with a tip of my hat to my LDV colleague Richard Huzzey) I thought it was a genuinely interesting question to pose.
Gordon Brown has, in many ways, been a disastrous Prime Minister. He has no strategic vision: he believes merely by his continuing to do the job Britain will get better. He has no sense of empowering individuals: only the state can be trusted in Gordon’s world. He has no real interest in governing Britain: in Matthew Parris’s memorable phrase, he’s “an ambitious school bursar with a powerful ego, a good head for figures and a big gap in his brain where a creative political imagination ought to be”.
Which leaves us with David Cameron. Oh God. The thought is too depressing for words. I’ve no doubt I’d enjoy his company: he seems likeable, witty, urbane, cosmopolitan, and pretty tactically shrewd. But he has a ‘born to rule’ superiority complex which I find even more frightening than Gordon’s ‘born to rule’ inferiority complex. But Mr Cameron is the captive of his right-wing activists, the tail which wags the dog: his time as Prime Minister will be one long ConservativeHome-led lurch to the socially conservative, eurosceptic fringes of regressive, isolationist politics. I guess my only hope is that Dave’s time in power will at least prove to those wooed by Mr Cameron’s occasionally progressive words that it is his reactionary party which is the true face of the Tory party.
None of which answers the question I set. Okay, it’s ‘fess up time: I’m voting for Dave as the guy I’d least want to be Prime Minister in a year’s time. (Obviously I’d choose ‘neither of them’ but some fool didn’t give that option in this rigged poll).
My reason: when faced with the financial crisis last year, Gordon did – after a lot of non-plussed blinking – eventually do the right thing, and injected a big stimulus into the economy at a time when the Tories were enjoying leaning back in their seats, laughing, scorning and gloating even as the economy nosedived. Of course, there’s loads more he got wrong even in pursuing that policy. But he got it less wrong than the Tories would’ve done. And for that reason, he wins my extremely reluctant backing in this abominable poll.