Today the Prime Minister stood at a podium and mused.
He was not proposing a suite of policies or reforms to legislate in the coming year, he is not expecting to see any of it come to parliament before 2015. No. Today, the Prime Minister dog-whistled the right of his party with a Daily Mail-pleasing and bilious attack on a mythical horde of scroungers and ne’er do wells who are, apparently, having too many children and being too young.
David Cameron is desperate. His Chancellor’s budget was a disaster, the Leveson Inquiry (his idea) has been a source of headaches and embarrassments for months and he has been persistently attacked from his right for the appeasement of the Liberal Democrats.
In the last week, it’s been clear that Number Ten has been working very hard on its calendar of stories with which to distract the press and it’s been going quite well. I imagine he was particularly pleased with the highly personal basting he gave Jimmy Carr over his use of a legal, but nonetheless distasteful, tax avoidance scheme offshore.
So just to even it out, today he extended the Tory narrative of a Britain overrun with multitudes of work shy, overbreeding layabouts who are sucking the very marrow from the country’s bones.
I’m not going to get into how very wrong he is. Suffice to say, the omission of the fact that only 1 in every 8 housing benefit claimants is out of work and that 67% of children living in poverty do so in a household with a working adult, was as close to deliberately misleading the public as it gets.
Today’s speech was a message to the right of the Tory party: “Just wait until I win the Election in 2015 and we get shot of these Lib Dems. I’m one of you.”
But with Michael Gove being touted as a future leader and entrenched ill-feeling toward the Prime Minister for his failure to secure a majority in 2010, the question hangs in the air: was it enough?