Cameron tested by the choppy waters of welfare, Lisbon and Marr

At the start of his party’s conference in Manchester, Tory leader David Cameron has announced plans “to get Britain working again” – but his comments have drawn a sharp response from the Lib Dems’ shadow work and pensions secretary Steve Webb:

This is yet more Tory posturing. Much of what David Cameron is proposing – such as reviewing people on incapacity benefit – is happening already.

“But the central assumption – that unemployment is simply about the workshy not applying for jobs – is ridiculous in the middle of a global recession. There are parts of the country now where there are already 100 people applying for every vacancy. So forcing more single parents and people with health problems to apply for the same jobs is far more about posturing than about tackling unemployment.”

Mr Cameron is having a tough 24 hours. First, he is having to defend his party’s precarious position on Europe, refusing to say what the party’s policy will be when the Lisbon treaty is ratified (other than he “will not let matters rest”, whatever that means). As former BBC journalist Nick Assinder notes on his Commons Confidential blog:

The answer to this apparent confusion is, of course, simple. The Tory leader knows full well his views on Lisbon are not going to sway the process, which is now pretty much complete, one way or the other. He is simply trying to stop Europe exploding as an issue through his party conference and stirring up his Eurosceptics once again.

His message to the party on the eve of the rally, in which he insisted there would be no new policy announced during the week, actually amounted to a warning to the factions to keep quite and not wreck the show. Boris Johnson appears not to have received that email and has already stuck his oar in, demanding a referendum come what may. Others won’t be far behind.

And then, secondly, Mr Cameron looked more than a little discombobulated by his encounter this morning with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, who quizzed the Tory leader on his controversial Bullingon Club past, and the suggestions that he’s worth a cool £30 million. PoliticalBetting’s Mike Smithson judged it “one of his less good performances”. What did LDV’s readers make of it?

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This entry was posted in Europe / International and News.


  • David Boycott 4th Oct '09 - 4:15pm

    I would like to see Brown questioned about HIS time at university, which he spent advising students how to rip off the state and their mates.

    And HIS policy on Europe and the broken promise of a referendum.

    I’d like to see Mandelson questioned about his wealth – and how he has managed to procure so much of it while working as a public servant.

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