Can you be opposition leader for too long?

Can you be opposition leader for too long?

Is he in danger of ending up like Kinnock?

A couple of weeks ago, on December 6th, David Cameron celebrated his third year as leader of the Conservative party and leader of the opposition.

It’s been quite a roller-coaster for him though his main achievement, even on current declining ratings for the Tories, has been to take the party through what appeared to be a concrete ceiling of support at 33%. But is the gloss starting to wear off a bit? Are the public just becoming a bit bored with him?

    For we all like the new and in his first period Cameron exploited that brilliantly. But being opposition leader without power to do anything for so long can surely take its toll.

Yesterday I did a short piece on BBC 2’s Daily Politics show where one of the guests was Neil Kinnock. He’d taken over the Labour leadership in 1983 after the party had suffered a calamitous result in the election of that year. It was just under four years before he was able to lead Labour into an election and then he had to sustain the role for another five years until his defeat in 1992 – by which time he had nothing like the appeal and potency of nine years earlier.

Just compare that with Tony Blair. Within less than three years of assuming the top job within the party he was fighting the 1997 general election. The public hadn’t got bored with him.

Maybe the best strategy for Cameron is to do what he’s always seemed capable of doing – going quiet for longish periods and only appearing when he has something interesting and dramatic to say.

Mike Smithson

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