Government toughens tone in media ahead of reshuffle

The Government has been successful in 'hardening' its position to appease the right of the party, comms PROs have suggested.

Cameron: A tougher stance
Cameron: A tougher stance

The weekend saw PM David Cameron go on the offensive as MPs return this week from the summer recess, with a range of proposals announced including £50bn of private sector building projects.

The flurry of activity also comes ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle, and criticism aimed at both the Prime Minister and his deputy, Nick Clegg, in recent weeks.

Cameron’s positioning, spelt out in an article by the Conservative leader in The Mail on Sunday, was praised by Pagefield partner Simon Redfern.

He said: ‘The policies emerging are highly electable with the voters. Critics will say why has this happened now and it is clearly playing to the right of his party because there’s been all manner of sniping. But if the £50bn announcement works, history will judge him well.’

Last week, Conservative MP Tim Yeo asked Cameron if he was ‘a man or a mouse’ over the subject of building a third runway for London’s Heathrow Airport.

However, in his piece for the Mail on Sunday, Cameron took a firm tone, saying he would cut red tape and claiming he would not ‘cave in’ to teaching unions who wanted to ‘pretend standards are rising each year'.

Redfern said this represented a ‘hardening’ of position, something that Alex Deane, head of public affairs at Weber Shandwick, also praised.

‘The PM is spot on. Moving to the right will be successful both economically and strategically – it will work, and will be seen to be decisive, an appearance which has arguably been lacking of late.’

On BBC One's Andrew Marr Show yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne backed up the message around investment yet appeared to give mixed signals around the building of the third runway at Heathrow.

In apparent contradiction to his Downing Street colleagues, he refused to rule out a third runway at Heathrow.

Redfern saw this as a softening of position ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle that could see the exit of Transport Secretary Justine Greening, who opposes the move.

However, Peter Bingle, founder of Peter Bingle Consulting, was left unimpressed by Osborne’s performance.

In a Musings blog post today, he commented: ‘It is certainly true that George was on form in the sense of oozing self-conviction and certainty that what he is doing is right. The trouble was that apart from speeding up the planning process and accepting Cable's idea of a state bank there was precious little of substance.’

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