Is this Cameron’s Night of the Long Knives, or his own death by a thousand cuts?
Conservative Home is calling on Cameron to do something decisive about those of his MPs who are perceived to have stretched the rules for expenses to the limit. Tim Montgomerie calls this a “massive moment” for Cameron and continues:
David Cameron has a very difficult task.Â He’s reportedly cleared his diary this morning (should have done so before now) and is surrounded by advisers and, significantly, lawyers.Â The public needs to see someone/ some people pay for this milking of the system but it’s difficult to single any individual out.Â There is no clear line between right and wrong here – only a messy gradation of greediness within rules set by MPs to suit themselves.Â He should demand a combination of repayments, public apologies and some MPs should be asked to quit at the next election.
The key here is going to be how ruthless Cameron is with those on his Front bench team. The public anger over this row is, arguably, unprecedented though, so the idea that anyone censured and demoted could successfully attack Cameron from the Back bench on the issue wouldn’t fly well with the public and Cameron would likely receive admiration and respect for taking them on. This does of course assume that Cameron knows there are no elephant traps about the order of his own house waiting to surface.
Let’s assume for the moment that Dizzy is right and that Cameron has no skeletons in his own closet. What are the consequences for Cameron. The most positive scenario is that the electorate appreciates and rewards Cameron for his refusal to push this issue under the carpet. When the election comes he will be seen as the leader who was prepared to take a stand and act against colleagues who had fiddled the system.
The most negative scenario is that his disciplining back-fires, the Tory party implodes and Cameron is seen as the man who lost the Conservatives the election. However, even in these circumstances I believe that Cameron will have made the best move for his career and his personal life, despite not achieving his goal of the highest office in the land. After all, what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?