Should he really be calling fellow leaders a “liar” and a “joke”?
With barely nineteen months to go before a general election has to be declared the Tory leader, David Cameron, has moved into dangerous territory, I believe, with some of the language he is using publicly to describe Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg.
As the Telegraph reports it this morning “In a series of conversations for a new book by Dylan Jones, the editor of GQ magazine, the Tory leader.. launches his strongest attacks to date on his political rivals – calling Gordon Brown a “liar” and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, a “joke”.
On Brown Cameron refers to the statements that opinion polls played no role in his decision to call off an early General Election and says: “It was a lie and it was treating people like fools.”
On the Lib Dem leader it’s revealed that Cameron and his team habitually use the description “calamity Clegg” – the two words that appeared on a Chris Huhne press briefing document during last year’s leadership contest. But he goes further – “asked for his favourite “political joke,” Mr Cameron says: “Nick Clegg, at the moment.”
In both cases the extra elements in Cameron’s comments did not add anything but they could just come back to haunt him. When you are presenting yourself as the Prime Minister designate terms like “liar” and “joker” are ones you should try to avoid.
I’ve observed before here that I believe that the biggest danger for Cameron is over-confidence that could lead him to saying or doing something that could jar with the voters and undermine his position.
Of course having gone through awfulness of the Brown bounce a year ago and moving to a situation where he’s 20% ahead he must feel that he can do no wrong. But he needs to temper his language at all times – even with jokes told in private with his team.
The last thing he wants is for people to conclude that beneath that “nice” image that he has worked so hard on that there is a nasty Tory after all.
I’ve got a feeling that the Clegg comment in particular could re-bound. After all many of the voters he has picked up have been former Lib Dems and he should not do anything that could alienate them.