Curve evades Cameron, again

I had such high hopes for Mr Cameron. When he pitted his wits against David Davis to win the party leadership I am ashamed to admit I sent my ballot paper off, strongly believing that it was best to choose the leader who stood the best chance of winning the general election. As much as I try to find things to like about David Cameron, he seems to be doing his best to prove the people who refer to him as CallMeDave, iDave, etc. correct. When the bombs went off in London in July 2005 I found myself eagerly awaiting the statement from the Prime Minister: not because I was a fan of Blair, not at all, but because I knew that he could do the whole statesmanlike reassurance thing. He came up on the radio, said some nice things and I felt a lot happier and I’m sure I am not alone in that. When Cameron started talking about the fires and looting in London this week I just felt my skin crawl.

Cameron seems to be permanently behind the curve. On the Monday night people were asking, with some justification: how did this happen? I may or may not have posted several times airing my views. Today, as things look a lot more settled, Cam is touting his way around the studios criticising the Met. While most people say a big thank you to the police officers up and down the country who came out and rapidly restored calm to our neighbourhoods and as people stand up in their millions against a criminal minority, in comes the PM to say that he has spoken to the elite leaders and now knows what went wrong. Could he not work it out for himself? He has an entire squad of advisers, polling experts and hangers-on. He has hundreds of MPs to call upon. He can phone up anyone he likes in the country to seek advice. And yet he seems totally and utterly out of sync with the mood of the nation.

He seems to have missed the irony of criticising Met officers for taking so long to put themselves on duty on Monday in a speech written on a BA flight from Tuscany. Does he think that bobbies still live in dingy single rooms above police stations, ready to pounce into action at the first sign of difficulty? Does he think that the Met keeps ten thousand riot officers on duty, out of sight, ready to squash totally unexpected, coordinated acts of vandalism and looting? Get real.

In all likelihood the senior officers he has spoken to are as detached from reality as the Prime Minister himself. A PC buddy of mine tells me that as he was just about to leave the nick on Monday he was pulled up by a Superintendent and asked where his tie was. You cannot be serious! Why doesn’t the Prime Minister go outside and take a look around himself? He could walk around Croydon or Elephant and Castle and not a soul would know who he is. In doing so he might smell the mood. He might see people from all walks of life approaching yellow jackets to say thank you. Christ, he might even get a chance to meet some of the other people he thinks he represents: you know, the ones who don’t have gates at the end of their street?

Sorry Dave, but if you think the solution to youth crime is to switch off Twitter and Blackberry Messenger, if you think the way to motivate the very people who go out and solve these problems is to criticise them in public, if you think it’s OK to go on holiday while expecting everyone else to stay at home, then you are even more ridiculous than your critics have so far suggested.

Mr Cameron, you are out of touch and rapidly running out of time. This country needs a leader who is a bit more aware of how it works.

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