Magazine article The Spectator

Cameron Is the Tory Muhammed Ali

Magazine article The Spectator

Cameron Is the Tory Muhammed Ali

Article excerpt

Irwin Stelzer gives his ringside scorecard on the young contender versus Gordon 'Tax 'em'

Brown The fight is on. In the blue corner, painted green for this event, is Dave 'Kid' Cameron. His seconds are John Redwood, advising him to lead with his right, and Zac Goldsmith, urging him to lead with his left, but not so violently as to affect the wind currents in the arena.

In the red - very red - corner is Gordon 'Tax 'em' Brown. His seconds are Ed 'Endogenous' Balls, telling him to ignore the blows he is taking because theoretically they don't exist, and Shriti 'The Confiscator' Vadera, who keeps score but doesn't count any hits by Cameron so that Gordon is never in deficit when the judges add up the punches.

These fighters have wildly different styles.

Cameron slips and dodges, moving first right and then left, trying to feint his opponent out of the centre of the ring, and off to the side. Brown plunges straight ahead, clearly the fighter with a vision not of each round but of the entire match, and of matches to come. He uses his right only to feint, before delivering with his left.

Cameron's style is the flashier, making him a crowd-pleaser, except for those who follow the fight game closely and wonder if he is capable of both delivering and taking a punch when the serious hitting starts.

History of the game matters. The Kid is more like Muhammad Ali, who floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee. Well, at least the floating part is right; when he attempted in a preliminary bout to sting 'Tax 'em's' partner and the reigning champ, Tony 'Regular Guy' Blair, he got swatted so hard that he lost his stinger, at least for a while.

Brown is more like that old American champion, Joe Louis, who famously said of one adversary, the fleet-footed, slippery and aptly named Billy Conn, 'He can run but he can't hide.' Conn was last seen flat on his back after being introduced to a Louis uppercut.

Cameron trained for the event by riding his bicycle wherever photographers were present; Brown trained by rereading Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments.

Cameron knows that the referees are sometimes influenced by crowd noise, so he panders to whichever set of fans are within earshot. He told one audience that he is a real fighter who will take on anyone, in the ring or out, and then went north to tell another that he really is quite pacific, and would never get into a fight without polling all of his friends - and, if in a fight, would announce a schedule for getting out, even if that meant leaving the ring before the final bell. Never mind that this would allow his opponents to gear their strategy around his known departure plans, and save their best shots for weaker opponents.

Brown, too, is aware that the crowd's reaction counts with the referees, something he has had to take into account ever since he made them independent, although retaining the edge a fighter gets from being able to appoint the refs to their job in the first place. So he promised that he would make available to all of them the medical entourage that hovers in his corner, and would allow them to pay for it in a way that is painless. Or at least not obvious. But he has a problem with his fans: those who live in his neighborhood have begun booing him.

The proprietors of the arena are not sure which fighter they want to see carried out on his supporters' shoulders, and which carried out on a stretcher. Because they try to turn an honest profit, Cameron has called them extremists. He wants them to stop selling chocolate-covered oranges to the fans, and replace their heating and cooling system with a windmill, no matter what the cost. …

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