Will shuffling the pack create a winning hand for the Tories in 2015?
British PM David Cameron is an effective communicator although perhaps not in the same league as Tony Blair. However, Cameron did learn his trade whilst working within the public relations industry as director of communications for Michael Green at Carlton Communications. I remember it well. I once had a meeting with both men. So it’s probably fair to assume that Cameron recognised the PR challenge that was starring him in the face.
The fate of the Tories in winning the next General Election remains in the balance despite the resurgence in the fortunes of the UK economy as evidenced by a recent spate of research and statistics that show Britain’s economy is growing faster than any other large advanced economy this year.
However, until ordinary people start to feel prosperous again, the recovery will be viewed as benefiting only the rich and well-off.
This air of superiority and elitism that the Cabinet exudes has dogged Cameron ever since taking office as it’s filled with Anglo Saxon, blue-blooded white Etonians and Oxbridge educated multi-millionaires.
Unsurprisingly, the perception of elitism has been perpetuated much to Cameron’s best efforts to portray the Government as on the side of the ordinary person in the street. Sadly the act began to wear a bit thin when the electorate were being given lectures on how the nation needed to tighten its belt by these same multi-millionaires.
Understanding that the popularity of his party will need to extend beyond the nicer parts of the UK populated by the chattering classes, Cameron has gone sex crazy.
Well to be more precise, he’s now got five women around the Cabinet table: Teresa May (Home Secretary), Nicky Morgan (Education Secretary), Liz Truss (Environment Secretary), Justine Greening (International Development Secretary) and Theresa Villiers (Northern Ireland Secretary).
Many commentators are starting to sound much more positive of the chances of Cameron being able to pull this off in the face of a Labour Opposition that has singularly failed to pull far ahead in the polls against the incumbent party of power.
According to Tory pollster Lord Ashcroft, the Conservatives are slightly further behind Labour in marginal seats. Yet they need to be at least four or five points ahead nationally just to be the largest party and do better than that in order to command a majority.
The rise in popularity of the right-wing UKIP party presents a problem for the Tories as they struggle to appeal to disaffected voters without sounding xenophobic or racist. The latest YouGov poll suggests that 14% of respondents who voted Tory in 2010 said they planned to vote UKIP next time round.
But according to YouGov founder Peter Kellner, the “fundamentals” are on the Tories’ side and what Cameron needs to do is to turn his party’s strengths on the economy into votes.
However, just winning back defecting Tory supporters by focusing on their living standards won’t be enough.
Perhaps Cameron is now getting in touch with his feminine side which could see him return to power next year but also deliver what he’s always promised he would do – a more compassionate and caring conservatism.
But for that he’s likely to need the feminine touch.
Ardi Kolah is author of the popular cartoon series of books Guru in a Bottle, published by Kogan Page in UK, India and USA.