Cameron's first 100 days - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

Cameron's first 100 days

Preparing for Power - Starting Out & Europe: In the last of our series, Andrew Grice, Political Editor, examines how the Tories plan to hit the ground running after winning an election and whether divisions over Europe will return to haunt the party

Tony Blair has become an unwitting model for a Tory government – but only in how NOT to act on coming to power. David Cameron admires the New Labour election machine, but is convinced that the party did not prepare enough for what it would actually do when elected in 1997. He is determined not to make the same mistake, and has set up an implementation unit headed by Francis Maude, a Shadow Cabinet member and former party chairman, and Nicholas Boles, the former director of the Policy Exchange think-tank.

"Blair's biggest failure was his first term," Mr Maude told The Independent yesterday. "By the middle of the second term, he knew what he wanted to achieve and had a pretty good idea how to achieve it. But his authority was diminished, there was Iraq, and Gordon Brown was obstructing his public service reforms. We are not interested in winning for the sake of it. We have a vision of how Britain can be. It will take a ling time to deliver it, so we had better start from day one."

So what would Mr Cameron's first 100 days be like? One close ally gave a candid answer: "The scope to be hugely different on the economy will be limited, so the fireworks will be on the social agenda."

The two centrepieces of the first Queen's Speech are likely to be education and welfare. The first may be easier to achieve than the second. An Education Bill would allow parents, philanthropists, charities and other groups to set up new state schools.

A Welfare Reform Bill would use private firms to get the unemployed, sick and disabled into work on a payment-by-results basis. But its scope may be more limited than the Conservatives originally planned, since James Purnell, the Work and Pensions Secretary, will bring in a Bill containing similar ideas in the parliamentary session starting in December.

The first 100 days would see George Osborne's first Budget. The Queen's Speech could also include an NHS Bill to set up an independent board to reduce ministers' day-to-day control; an Immigration Bill to set a limit on the number of migrants from outside the EU; and a Prisons and Rehabilitation Bill under which state-run prisons would also be responsible for inmates after their release.

How would Mr Cameron run his government? "The Blair-Brown style is all about central control," said Mr Maude. "There would be a return to something much more like more conventional cabinet government, with a strong prime minister showing leadership and direction at the top." He added: "To have a strong centre, you don't need a prime minister's department. What you need is a strong prime minister who sets direction clearly. David Cameron will be more trusting of his colleagues, with their departments being held accountable but not constantly being second-guessed and interfered with."

Formal contacts between the Opposition and the Civil Service will begin next January. Whitehall is studying the speeches and statements of Conservative frontbenchers more closely as the prospect of a Cameron government grows. Some officials may welcome a change.

"The Civil Service is extremely demoralised and fed up. It is not being treated with respect," said Mr Maude. "Civil servants don't mind if their advice is not taken – decisions are up to ministers. But there is real resentment that advice is not being sought."

But preparations, however extensive, only get you so far. Mr Maude, a former minister, said: "In my experience, 75 per cent of what you do in government is not implementing your programme but dealing with events."

Europe – the issue that won't disappear

While David Cameron has talked up the environment, poverty and health as part of his rebranding of the Conservatives, more traditional Tory issues have been relegated further down the agenda – notably Europe.

Its ability to split the Tories was painfully illustrated during the Thatcher and Major governments. Today the party's centre of gravity is Eurosceptic, with Europhiles such as Kenneth Clarke reduced to a rump. That has made Europe less of a headache in opposition; but senior party figures admit it could become one in government, when tricky decisions could no longer be fudged.

Mr Cameron has tossed a few bones to his Eurosceptic MPs, who think he is "one of us". It is no coincidence that the two most Eurosceptic members of the Shadow Cabinet, William Hague and Liam Fox, hold the jobs – on foreign affairs and defence respectively – that place them on the front line of relations with the rest of Europe.

Yet the Europhobes might be disappointed if Mr Cameron becomes Prime Minister. He could have an early decision to make on the Treaty of Lisbon, designed to streamline EU decision-making, which the Tories oppose because it would increase majority voting. The party has promised to call a referendum if the treaty has not been ratified by all the other 26 EU states when it takes office. The process has been delayed by Ireland's "no" vote in a referendum. A similar rejection by Britain could plunge our relations with the EU into chaos.

If the treaty has been approved, the Tories have said they would not "let the matter rest", but refuse to spell out precisely what they would do. They might try to win back control of some powers handed to the EU under Lisbon, but would almost certainly be given short shrift by other EU members.

Similarly, the Tories would find it very difficult – if not impossible – to implement their pledge to withdraw from the EU's social chapter of workers' rights. Eurosceptics would then demand a renegotiation of Britain's membership, but Mr Cameron is unlikely to want the early years of his government overshadowed by trench warfare with the EU. On relations with the US, meanwhile, Mr Cameron has had a pop at the unilateralism of the current White House, but his approach would essentially be the same as Gordon Brown's.

Unanswered questions

* Could the Tories' blueprint for government be blown off course by the state of the economy they inherit from Gordon Brown?

* Has the Tory plan to put welfare at the heart of their first Queen's Speech been wrecked by Labour's decision to bring in very similar proposals?

* How would a Tory government try to change Britain's commitments under the Treaty of Lisbon if the treaty has already been approved by all 27 EU member states?

* Would the Tories try to renegotiate EU membership if the other nations refuse to let it withdraw from the social chapter?

Face to watch: Nicholas Boles

A key moderniser who heads the implementation unit drawing up the blueprint for the early months of a Cameron government. Set up by the Policy Exchange think-tank in 2002, road-testing some of the ideas taken up by David Cameron. Selected to fight Grantham, Margaret Thatcher's home town, at next election. Could rise swiftly up the ministerial ladder.

Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
Kenny G
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Markets Analyst

£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...

Junior Web Analyst – West Sussex – Up to £35k DOE

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

Nursery Manager

£22000 - £23000 per annum: Randstad Education Bristol: We are currently recrui...

Web Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k - London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week