Is supporting the Government the right opposition strategy?
With yesterday’s 2-1 lead in the YouGov poll of Tory members and this morning’s endorsements from William Hague and Liam Fox we now regard David Cameron’s victory in the Tory leadership race as a forgone conclusion. Given that a significant proportion of the members have already voted only tragic events, surely, can stop him from doing it. Those punters, like me, who ignored the Times’s coverage of Wednesday’s Populus poll have done very nicely.
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Commentators are already starting to speculate about how the political environment will change with a new Leader of the Opposition and the first big test will be the Education Bill with the creation of trust schools. This could attract a rebellion as big as the one on the 90-day detention plan – only Cameron will state on the BBC’s “Politics Show” today that the Tories will back the Government.
According to the Independent “when asked whether he might be tempted to join Labour rebels to bring Blair down, he says: “We’ve got to resist that temptation because we’ve got to show that we are in this for the public good and in it for the long term.” As John Rentoul observes “Cameron has adopted the opposite approach to the opportunism of John Smith, the supposedly pro-European Leader of the Opposition who brought Major to crisis over Maastricht.”
This is a very different form of opposition and it will be fascinating to see if the strategy of detaching Blair from the Labour rebels works. A danger for Cameron is that by supporting Blair he could be helping to keep him at Number 10 longer.
Surely it will be better for the new Tory leader if there is an early handover to Gordon Brown so the “honeymoon effect” will be over by the next General Election.
And will Cameron carry his own party as his new approach is seen to keep Blair in longer?