Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron Doesn't Need a Tory Campbell; MEDIA

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Cameron Doesn't Need a Tory Campbell; MEDIA

Article excerpt

DAVID Cameron does not have an Alastair Campbell figure behind him because it is blindingly obvious that he doesn't need one. Cameron is his own Campbell.

I could pointto the fact that he was once a full-time PR for a TV company. But it is facile to label every PR as a spin-doctor. The point is that Cameron combines the skills of both Tony Blair and Campbell.

Since he became Conservative leader almost two years ago it has become more and more apparent that he has assumed Campbell's role. It comes as naturally to him as walking and talking. He is the very model of a modern media man, having turned the personal into the political without any semblance of embarrassment.

His leadership has been marked by a series of personal initiatives aimed at promoting himself as a likeable and liberal sort of chap so that the people can register "Dave" as an eco-friendly cyclist, a drinker of fashionable smoothies and, via his webcam, an understanding parent and husband.

If this is media manipulation then it is very clever indeed because at no stage despite the hostile commentaries and the revelation that his cycling is shadowed by a chauffeur-driven car does he come across as false.

Now, in the hour of his greatest political test thus far, the repudiation of academic selection at the age of 11, he appears to be reaping the benefit of his media charm offensive.

Rightly, The Independent's John Rentoul and others have tagged his abandonment of the long-term Tory regard for grammar schools as his Clause IV moment. He has to face down opposition from within his own party and from what used to be called the Tory press.

Cameron has taken a battering from some columnists, particularly the reactionary element, such as Peter Hitchens, Melanie Phillips and Simon Heffer.

He has also provoked criticism from the Daily Express, the paper that has been his most enthusiastic supporter, and from The Sunday Telegraph.

Its editorial argued that "Team Cameron" had "provided a textbook example of how not to announce a change of policy".

But it was noticeable that the paper's fire was directed at the shadow education secretary, David Willetts, rather than Cameron himself. …

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