Has Johnson found the way to deal with Dave?
Gordon Brown has many qualities but one that is never ascribed to him is being “a good listener”. so I wonder what he’ll make of his health secretary’s comments during the weekend on the way Labour should deal with the Tory leader.
For ever since David Cameron was elected leader of the Conservative in December 2005 the party has floundered as its tried to work out a way of dealing with the new approach. We’ve had Dave “the Chameleon”, Dave the “Toff”, Dave the “Novice” and Dave the “Slick Salesman”.
None of these descriptions has stuck because none has really chimed with the way that voters see the new leader. For an attack can only work if it builds on perceptions that are already there.
So what are we to make of Johnson’s weekend comments talking about Cameron in positive tones – but with the secondary message that he is a prisoner of an unreconstructed rightwing party.
The Sunday Times reported Johnson as saying “Cameronâ€™s been very skilful at the way he has projected his own image onto his party. Now there is a feeling that, yes, you are a nice guy, but what is next?”…Cameronâ€™s genuine, but he is leading the Conservative party. It is not a presidential system â€“ much as we might have disguised it under Tony. This is a party system.”
This is smart and an approach that I first advocated here nearly three years ago. Don’t dispute Cameron;s sincerity but raise the spectre of what in the party is behind him.
The question is whether the Johnson approach is a new strategy – or just him thinking aloud. My guess is the latter. You cannot see Brown buying it.
But Labour needs to do something and take a few risks. The message of this weekend coverage is that the narrative is horribly against the party.