If Cameron were President, he'd have resigned by now

British politics in crisis looks a lot different from that of our trans-Atlantic counterparts. Team Dave continue to make mountains out of molehills while Obama carries on unscathed

When Barry met Dave...
Alex Wickham, UK Politics Editor
On 19 May 2013 09:30

For me, the only real point of interest in this weekend's swivel-gate story is the fact that three national newspapers know the name of the man in question, but are so pathetically subservient to their Lobby omerta that they have kept it from their readers. 

In any case, if and when the identity of the “senior figure in the Conservative Party who has strong social connections to the Prime Minister” is confirmed as the man every journalist in Westminster knows the name of, so what? Somebody no one in the general public has heard of will possibly have to resign over something no one in the general public cares about. 

Events of the last week at home and abroad have revealed much about the nature of our politics. 

In Britain, the Tories are in crisis/at war/tearing each other apart (delete as personal preference) over something that will in all likelihood never happen.

They are not going to win a majority at the next election - they probably won’t even be in government - so there is something almost swivel-eyed about arguing so violently over whether or not to commit to a referendum on Europe after that election. As for today, well swivel-gate is hardly Watergate, is it?

Cross the Atlantic, and we have a President mired in real, actual, crises. It really is no exaggeration to describe as positively Nixonian the denials of Barack Obama and his spokesman, Jay Carney, over the Benghazi and IRS scandals engulfing that country. 

In the US: an administration that may well have covered-up embarrassing details concerning the death of a diplomat in a terrorist attack, and an instrument of the state complicit in undermining the President’s political opponents in the run-up to an election. 

In the UK: some Tories argue about something that will never happen and a famous-for-Westminster party apparatchik says something rude about his own supporters. We don’t exactly do crises like the Americans. 

This tells us two things. The good news is that perhaps we should be grateful that the “scandals” this government have had to endure are so tame. Our Prime Minister may be lots of things, but at least he’s no Obama. 

The bad news - for the Tories at least - is that Team Dave is so uniquely incompetent when it comes to crisis management that they seem capable of turning the smallest problem into a month-long saga.

It would hardly be a surprise if we were still talking about swivel-gate in four weeks' time, such is their apparent determination to stoke the flames at every opportunity.

If David Cameron were the President of the United States, he would probably have resigned by now. God forbid the day he actually has to deal with a real crisis.

Alex Wickham is the UK Political Editor for The Commentator and tweets at @WikiGuido

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