There’s a danger, as Gordon Brown found, in being labelled a “bottler”
One of the features where Cameron generally polls very well is on the ability to take tough decisions. A couple of months ago Opinium found 40% thought saying ‘being able to take tough decisions’ best described David Cameron compared to 16% saying the same about Jeremy Corbyn. In a pre-GE2015 comparison between Cameron and Boris the PM had a big lead over the mayor on the tough decision question.
YouGov regular pre-GE2015 tracker had him hammering EdM on this measure month after on “decisiveness”. This is one of those qualities that voters rate highly. They might disagree with with the actions being taken but at least a decision is being taken.
So it’s in this context that the Heathrow third runway decision postponement has to be judged. We elect leaders to make tough choices.
What’s really striking about Heathrow is how long this has gone on for. The Lib Dems, who used to have a cluster of seats in SW London, were always opposed to LHR expansion and quite deftly Cameron set up the Howard Davies nearly four years ago with an instruction to report after the general election. This he did in June making a powerful economic case for the new runway. Cameron said he’d guarantee to decide before Christmas and he hasn’t.
Paul Waugh at HuffPost has the reason:
“. it is blindingly obvious that the only reason is political not environmental. The new timetable is to get Zac Goldsmith out of a hole before the Mayoral elections in May. Zac has said this issue is so important he would quit as an MP – but NOT as Mayor – if Heathrow gets a new runway. Who says principled politics is dead, eh?”
This looks like a mistake. Cameron should have called Zac’s bluff.