Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Skill, Calmness and a Dash of Luck Help Mr Cameron Stay on Top; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Skill, Calmness and a Dash of Luck Help Mr Cameron Stay on Top; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Linford

have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow."

he said in 1848.

The danger for Mr Cameron, as the BBC's Nick Robinson has pointed out, is that having succeeded in Libya he develops something of a taste for military conflict.

In this context it is worth remembering that Mr Blair's first war was the successful intervention in Kosovo, not the later much more problematic entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Some credit, too, should go to Dr Fox who, whatever his other shortcomings, left the Ministry of Defence with a reputation more formidable by far than any of his short-lived Labour predecessors.

Having faced down Chancellor George Osborne over the spending review last autumn, securing proper funding for our armed forces may prove his most important legacy.

Victory over Gaddafi does not remove Mr Cameron's wider problems within his own party.

His enemies on the right are not in the least pleased by the substitution in the Cabinet of the right-wing traditionalist Dr Fox for the socially-liberal Justine Greening, who came in as transport secretary in last Friday's enforced reshuffle.

They are said to be even more incensed by the elevation of a Cameron 'favourite,' Chloe Smith, to a middle-ranking Treasury job, ahead of what they see as more talented, but also more right-wing, rivals.

And above all, they are up in arms over the imposition of a three-line whip against plans to hold a referendum on EU membership in 2013, due to be debated in the Commons next week.

With mounting concern over the implications of the Eurozone bailout, this last issue has the potential to be as toxic for Mr Cameron as it was in the 1990s for John Major.

Unless the three-line whip is modified, there may well be resignations in the government's junior ranks.

But in his calm and authoritative handling of the Libyan conflict, Mr Cameron has once again demonstrated why he is vastly more popular than his party.

And so long as that remains the case, they won't dare push him too far. …

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