Today Londonist introduces it’s latest column: Inside Westminster. That’s not cryptic or anything, it’s a bloke who works in Westminster writing about what goes on… in Westminster.
And what a day to start a regular political column? David Cameron has put on his leader’s hat and made his way to the despatch box to go toe to toe with Tony for the first time.
So let’s get the inside view shall we…
Question: How many Tory leaders does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Five… and counting.
First, there was Major, who broke the light bulb (after telling it to “light up or shut up”), then Hague, who was far too nostalgic for the old days of lantern-light, and based his entire election campaign on an ultimatum to save the oil lamp. Then came Duncan-Smith, who looked like a light-bulb, but didn’t have enough electricity to light ANYTHING up! And number four was Howard, who disintegrates in light, and much prefers darkness.
But now, Cameron is here. Although he seems unsure as to what kind of lightbulb he will be replacing the old, broken one with (whether it is similar to Labour’s previously strong, bright bulb, which is now beginning to fade, or the favourite bulb of the Liberal Democrats – alcohol fuelled, and a gingery colour), he seems to be a breath of fresh air for a party who have been in the dark for eight years.
Bad puns and analogies aside, Cameron looks a very strong candidate for the next general election. Here in Westminster, Tory MPs are buzzing with excitement, and in the corridors of the House of Commons, you can smell the nervous sweat of the Labour backbenchers.
Cameron’s speech yesterday at the Royal Academy, accepting the post as Tory leader was incredibly slick and well-written. He outlined a plan for a “modern, compassionate Conservative Party,” to which “everyone’s invited.” He also called for an end to the “Punch and Judy show” that parliamentary politics has become.
Cameron’s Conservatives are clearly aiming for the centre-ground that Blair and Labour stole from them in 1997, and with scuff-marks appearing all over Blair’s previously shiny New Labour, it looks like they could be successful.
Cameron’s first appearance at the despatch box as Leader of the Opposition at Prime Minister’s Question Time today was ingenious. He came across as very mature and civilised, and when the Labour Chief Whip, Hilary Armstrong, started insulting him across the floor of the House, he put her down quickly and efficiently, denouncing her as “shouting like a child.”
Cameron then shoved a wedge into the Labour Party’s ranks, by praising Mr. Blair’s education reform proposals that are proving extremely unpopular with his own backbenchers. Cameron said in extremely simple terms that the Conservative Party would be voting for these proposals, which caught the Prime Minister off-guard. Cameron’s questions (interestingly, he only asked five out of his entitlement of six) were an island of sensibility and maturity in a Prime Minster’s Questions session that descended into just another “Punch and Judy show”.
Cameron vs. Brown will be a close-run thing at this rate. Watch this space…