Archie Bland: Cameron would do better not to take sides in future

FreeView from the editors at i

Share

It's embarrassing enough to be overheard being rude about your neighbour if it's just the guy from down the road when you're mouthing off in the pub. Consider how much worse for David Cameron.

Only a few months ago he was making cheery political hay by promising to roll out the red carpet for the tax exiles who would doubtless pour across the Channel should the Socialists prevail in France, and making droll little asides about cheese duties, to boot.

And there, yesterday, was the new President François Hollande himself, on his first official visit to the UK, and in private, one can't help but assume, wearing roughly the same facial expression Mr Jones from 31A might shortly after hearing you cracking jokes about what a mess he was making of his front garden.

Hollande and Cameron got through it; they have to, after all, and politicians are by and large sufficiently used to the political fray to know that such barbs are of limited significance. (Mr Cameron's rapprochement with Nick Clegg is, of course, a case in point.)

But it can't be easy. And there are plenty of examples of diplomatic relations that have been undermined by nothing more profound than the personal animosity between two leaders, which is one of the reasons it's generally considered good form to avoid taking sides in your allies' domestic political races. So you have to ask: what made Mr Cameron do it?

It may be something to do with his general inability to resist having a good kick at any political adversary who appears to have fallen on hard times – an instinct that has rarely displayed him to his best advantage in the House of Commons, and plays little better on the international stage.

One hesitates to say it, but he should learn from Tony Blair. Blair's chameleon-like political persona was not without its drawbacks, but it did allow him to cut a convincing figure as a statesman. The results might have been disastrous, but you have to admire his ability to form an alliance with George Bush, an American president who was his political opposite in every way except the one he decided mattered.

Now Mr Cameron must try to find common cause with a French President who will presumably not view his attempts at conciliation with any great enthusiasm. He had better hope he is able to do so. Whether he likes it or not, he is saddled with a Socialist across the Channel for the rest of this parliament. He might find things easier if he could refrain from taking the mickey out of him.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
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