Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Cameron Real

I've begun to dislike Dave Cameron's TV appearances. This began around the time the election was called. I'm sure there is a connection.

I have observed, with dismay and eventual horror, how the last two Conservative party leaders at their respective election times were grabbed by those responsible for 'style' at Party HQ and turned into performing seals, devoid of recognisable human behaviour.

For some time, I thought Dave was on top of this threat and had the measure of the style stasi at CCO. He's a former PR man himself, after all. He could justifiably say "I just don't need any of that—I'm already a PR pro". But never dismiss the power of the psycho-image-makers.

We know William Hague today as intelligent, suave and cool. But back then, he appeared as a teenaged rebel in order, apparently, to impress the voters. The baseball cap worn backwards against a backdrop of funfair rides, was more 'Princess of Wales–average mother' than wise party statesman. At party conference, he seemed like a frog-marched marionette—this time more 'Andy Pandy' than wise leader—with his ever-present minders pulling all the strings.

Then there's the debacle of the much respected, IDS, which has passed into infamous management history. Prior to his elevation to party leader he was known in Conservative circles (eurosceptic ones) as a thoughtfully concise man of clarity, integrity and high principle—and an excellent public speaker. But after emerging from the style gurus' mill he became a walking and talking disaster.

Dave has begun to suffer no less. Watch him arrive for his public performance set pieces. The self-concious walk. The wave. The look. Surely this is a man about to walk on the stage of the highest accolading body known to man—the Hollywood Oscars. And as he speaks—deliberately turning to left, right, and centre, arms consciously embracing all—do we hear sincerity? No, we hear Hollywood scripted sound-bite-speak. No wonder the voters are beginning to doubt the message.

Just occasionally we get to see the real David Cameron. At the press Q&As, immediately after the manifesto launch, he forgot to look directly at his questioners, forgot to place impact pauses into every seventh word of his replies, and forgot to be kind, sympathetic or understanding to the gathered reptiles. Instead, they got his message direct. He was forceful, uncomprising, sraightforward and coherent—and most of all ordinarily human. Just the way a campaigning party leader ought to be.

Will the voters ever get to see such a Cameron? Perhaps, as elected Prime Minister, the image controllers may let him be. But for the moment, as long as the image-makers can spot a video camera they'll control the shots. We can only hope that by the time polling day arrives voters will be prepared to do just anything to get Brown removed.

In the meantime, I'll watch the upcoming Presidential Prime Ministerial debates on TV with interest.

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