Progress | Centre-left Labour politics

Decoding Cameron’s words

This week at business questions I asked about David Cameron’s refusal to acknowledge his complete failure on his ‘no ifs, no buts’ promise on net migration. He promised that immigration would be in the tens of thousands, but instead it is nearly 300 000 this year alone.

In a desperate attempt at a diversionary tactic at prime minister’s questions this week he treated us to a very selective list of things he thinks he got right, while continuing to refuse to make himself available for scrutiny on any of them in a head to head television debate with Ed Miliband.

I enjoyed hearing the leader of the House, William Hague, speaking at the press gallery lunch last week where he decoded what he called ‘civil servicease.’ He said that when civil servants say ‘we are scaling up our response’, they actually mean ‘we never expected this to happen’.

So I gave done my own decoding of the prime minister’s pre-election promises. When he said ‘There are absolutely no plans to raise VAT’, what he really meant was, ‘I will raise VAT as soon as the election is safely over.’ When he said, ‘We will not balance the books on the backs of the poor,’ what he really meant was, ‘We won’t balance the books at all.’ And when he said in 2009 ‘I’ve always believed in live television debates. I think they can help enliven our democracy,’ what he really meant was ‘I will only debate with people when I’m not scared I might lose.’

In his pre-2010 election contract with the British people David Cameron wrote ‘if we don’t deliver our side of the bargain, vote us out in five years’ time’. I am glad there are only nine weeks to go.

I also learnt this week that the Conservative party is busy preparing for a Labour victory in May. The chancellor has apparently hatched a long term cunning plan to curb the regicidal instincts of the Conservative party after 7 May and keep the prime minister on as leader even if they lose. Once again showing his strategic prowess the man he’s chosen to assist him in his mission to avoid a leadership battle is the Tory chief whip. Apparently they are going to form a ‘protective ring’ around their leader and claim they have won a ‘moral victory’ even if they actually lose.

Having just listed some of their broken promises I feel I should offer some comfort to the Tories. If there is one target I am confident they will not miss – it is the one on the prime minister’s back.


Angela Eagle is member of parliament for Wallasey, shadow leader of the House of Commons and writes the weekly Business of Parliament column for Progress. She tweets @AngelaEagle


Photo: bertogg

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Angela Eagle MP

is MP for Wallasey

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