And yet, and yet. I am getting the fear about David Cameron in a big way. I tell myself that anyone who goes into politics has to be doing it motivated by something good and laudable - a desire to fix something broken. After all, that is how politics has been sold to us ever since I've been old enough to take any notice - the age-old technique of creating a problem and offering a solution, from advertising geniuses to masters of spin in a generation. Maybe I'm being naive in swallowing it. Maybe not everyone in the game has altruistic motives.
Johann Hari is using his column in the Independent this week to give us some chilling pointers about the current Conservative leader's attitude, drawn from that series of interviews published recently by the editor of GQ magazine. And when you consider that this book is clearly meant to be a wholly positive portrait of a great social reformer, who in his own words "ought to be Prime Minister", it's disturbing to see that even here, if you're looking as hard as Hari is, you can see the cracks in Cameron's caring, sharing facade.
What cracks they are, too. Cameron's desired image to "be as radical a social reformer as Mrs Thatcher was an economic reformer" is like crazy paving. Most people who have seen the breaking story have noted the cynical hypocrisy in his holidaying habits this summer: inviting the media to watch him treat his family to a traditional holiday in Cornwall to show solidarity with hard-pressed 'ordinary' folks, then slyly swanning off to a luxury yachting trip on the Turkish riviera. But how many have picked up on the things he has said publicly that show what a huge sham his 'liberal Conservative' ethos really is?
Some excerpts from Johann's column:
- He would stop the £40-a-week given to poor students to stay on to sixth form.
He will whittle down services largely for the children of single parents – SureStart, Family Credit – to pay for tax breaks for wealthier married couples. He is, Jones notes, a "huge fan" of the Wisconsin model of welfare reform, which cuts off single mothers from benefits for life after two years – whether they are prepared to work or not.
Hardly the model of social conscience there, David.
- He tells Jones he first became alerted to the urgency of [global warming] by Margaret Thatcher in 1989. But why then was he silent about it for the next 16 years, except to mock wind farms as "giant bird-blenders" and demand "a massive road-building program?"
He delivers a Clarkson-style rant against the pedestrianisation of city centres.
What happened to "Vote Blue, Go Green"?
Almost three years ago, just two days after Cameron became leader of the Conservative party, Johann Hari wrote a compelling piece for political history buffs, in which he asserted that although David Cameron was using Disraeli's rhetoric of One Nation Conservatism, he was actually more in the mould of Lord Sainsbury, the man who "made the Conservatives into a tireless defender of the overdog". I don't think much has changed, but unfortunately I don't share Hari's optimism. This week's column is titled "Cameron is wily but he's beatable". I fear that because of the woefully unhelpful two-party mentality that this country wallows in, Cameron is destined to become Prime Minister at the next general election simply because they are seen as the people to beat the Labour party that the electorate are so tired of. And it scares me.