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Three key tests for David Cameron

  • Michael Crick
  • 8 Feb 08, 06:08 PM

cameron20330.jpgQuietly, and barely noticed, people in the political community are starting to contemplate a change of government, and to prepare for it. Government political advisers are putting out feelers for jobs in the private sector. Left-leaning think tanks, lobbyists and PR firms who’ve all thrived in the years of New Labour, are starting to re-orientate themselves, trying to recruit more staff with Conservative backgrounds, all in readiness for the day they will have to prove their worth under a Cameron regime, and show strong personal links with his likely team of ministers.

But personally I am far from convinced that David Cameron will emerge from the next election as Prime Minister – if you put a gun to my head I’d say it’s still only 50-50. Despite Gordon Brown’s troubles (and continuing gloom in the Labour ranks), I know that many leading Conservatives privately share my doubts about their prospects.

It’s that 2008 doesn’t yet have the feel of the years 1994 to 1997, when the newly elected Tony Blair inspired a genuine popular enthusiasm for New Labour, which by 1996 became a widespread assumption that Labour would return to power. Whilst many of the public have severe doubts about Gordon Brown and the Labour government, they aren’t yet convinced that David Cameron is the answer, or has the answers.

And whilst the Tories are ahead in the polls, they aren’t yet matching Tony Blair’s huge double-digit (often more than 20 per cent) leads of the mid-1990s. And remember the huge bias in the electoral system which means (depending on which analysis you trust) the Conservatives have to get between six and ten per cent head of Labour simply to win an equal number of seats.

To persuade me that David Cameron is on his way to Downing Street let me pose three tests.

Continue reading "Three key tests for David Cameron"

Friday, 8 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 08, 04:43 PM

williams203x100.jpgThe Archbishop of Canterbury has attracted widespread criticism after appearing to back the adoption of some aspects of Sharia law in the UK. Dr Rowan Williams said the UK had to "face up to the fact" some citizens did not relate to the UK legal system.
Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said such moves would create "social chaos”. But Bishop of Hulme, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, criticised the "disgraceful" way in which the archbishop had been "ridiculed" and "lampooned" by some.

We'll be devoting the whole of the programme tonight to the main issues surrounding this story. Both traditionalists and liberals in the Church of England have criticised Dr Williams' comments. With just days to go to the meeting of the General Synod is his leadership now an issue?

We'll also be examining the reaction to this story. Is it Islamophobia or is there a genuine threat to British culture? Join the debate

The Bishop of Hulme will be debating these subjects with a critic of Dr Williams, a leading Muslim academic and a writer on social cohesion in Britain.

Newsnight Review
Joining Martha on Review are Sarah Churchwell, Mark Kermode and Ekow Eshun.

Detail from Reflection by Peter DoigThey'll be discussing British artist Peter Doig's retrospective at Tate Britain (Watch an extended version of Martha's interview here and read her thoughts on the show here); the film Juno with rising star Ellen Page; BBC One's new near-future surveillance drama The Last Enemy; and a new production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming at the Almeida Theatre, London. Read more on the Review website and leave your reviews below.

Has reaction to the Archbishop's Sharia law comments been Islamophobic?

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 08, 10:32 AM

Dr Rowan WilliamsPoliticians from all the main parties have criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for suggesting that elements of Islamic law might be recognised in Britain. Some senior Anglican priests have defended his remarks - saying Dr Rowan Williams was talking about decisions relating to marriage and property, not crimes or questions of belief.

Has the response to the Archbishop's comments been Islamophobic or does this pose a genuine threat to British culture?

We'll discuss the issues on the programme tonight - leave your thoughts below.

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