Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Why the Sunshine Is Looking Rather Watery for the Prime Minister; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Why the Sunshine Is Looking Rather Watery for the Prime Minister; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Linford

IT is generally true to say that in order to be successful in politics, you have to be capable of conveying a sense of optimism about your country and its future.

One of Tony Blair's key strengths at the start of his leadership was his ability to communicate a vision of a bright 'New Britain' in contrast to the greyness of the John Major years.

Later, David Cameron donned the same mantle, exhorting the voters to "let sunshine win the day" as he pitched himself against a tired old Labour government.

But there can come a time when optimism crosses the line into mere boosterism, and in my view it's a line Mr Cameron crossed in his party conference speech in Manchester this week.

"Let's reject the pessimism. Let's bring on the can-do optimism. Let's summon the energy and the appetite to fight for a better future for our country, Great Britain," he told the Tory faithful.

And again: "So let's see an optimistic future. Let's show the world some fight. Let's pull together, work together, and together lead Britain to better days."

If, by his own admission, Ed Miliband is no Tony Blair when it comes to speechmaking, then David Cameron is no Winston Churchill either. And I sense that I was not the only one who was left unconvinced by the Prime Minister's attempts this week to summon up the bulldog spirit.

To take another of Mr Cameron's optimistic soundbites: "Right now we need to be energised, not paralysed by gloom and fear."

Yet in the eyes of many, it is his government which has produced the economic paralysis by cutting too far, too fast and choking off the fragile recovery that had begun to see us through the downturn.

In this context, the announcement of a mere 0.1% growth in the economy in the last quarter could not have come at a worse time for Mr Cameron. Against that backdrop, his attempts at uplift were no more persuasive than his earlier, now seemingly discarded mantra that "we're all in it together."

The most startling omission in Wednesday's speech was the absence of any policy detail from the Prime Minister on how he plans to ensure that economic growth in the next quarter does not grind to a halt. …

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