The TV doesn’t lie. if you don’t let it.
There, on Friday, David Cameron had to confront two big issues. And he blew them both, showing tv viewers (read voters) just how he ducks when he thinks he is going to get a ringing shot to the head.
For Friday was no Parliamentary shouting match, no Oxford debating society bunfight for glib posh boys and girls. No closeted metropolitan private club swimming in wine and cigar smoke.
It was reality. it was how events, dear boy, events, hit people (read voters). And the issues were prickly, thorny and difficult. And he ducked them both.
First, he had to make a statement on Scotland – that rumbling place up north that might, just might, decide to go its own way. And secondly, he finally had to head for Somerset, halfway drowned, to meet the folks there who claim government after government has ignored constant warnings about floods.
So,what does this clubable, posh lad do? He and his communications team completely blow it.Twice.
He tells Scotland (a land by the way with one Tory MP) what he thinks – from London. He conjured up a green and pleasant land filled with Olympic dreams and gold medals and mentions Chris Hoy’s tartan accomplishments in cycling races…but from a London velodrome. And, oddly, from behind a podium emblazoned with the Glasgow Caledonian University logo.
If Scotland goes, he infers, all this will vanish into air, thin air. Scotland must stay part of us, he tells us….from London. That man will not put his feet onto Scots soil. Alex Salmond, Scotland’s big cheese, is right: he’s afraid.
So Dave stayed south, in safe southeast England: 400 miles from ravaged Clydeside.
He looked the gutless idiot, the milksop schoolkid who shouts from the safety of an upstairs window to the big boys in the schoolyard.
Then he heads for Somerset.
And blows sit again. He allows Environmental Agency boss Chris Smith to get there first. Smith takes the flak from the angry folks living in their wellies with their farm animals knee deep in mud and water and their roads hidden under two feet of bilge,. Then, almost as an afterthought, there is the PM ducking behind a big tractor having a chat with a tame farmer away from the furious voters.
Both of these episodes were mishandled…mishandled because of what the undeceiving pictures from our flatscreens portrayed – a man who will not confront the anger or uncomfortable voices in the street which may…just may…have a stinging comment or a true word that will get through his smooth carapace.
He’s a coward.
On Friday, black Friday for Cameron, that rang loud and clear.