Simon Carr: Will Cameron be able to deal with all this?

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The Independent Online

"Surely it is in the interests of this House we are united in the treatment of old people in their own homes?"

That was one of the PM's heavily freighted questions. Let's unpack it: I think we are meant to take out of it that the dignity and authority of Parliament is being undermined by the Conservatives' instant tribal response to anything Gordon Brown proposes – but in this case it will degrade and possibly destroy old people's lives by forcibly removing them from their homes (that's what Conservatism means).

Ditto when he says, "I cannot for the life of me understand why the Conservatives are opposing our Cancer Guarantee!"

Thus: You will get cancer and the Conservatives don't care if you die of it as you have less money than they do.

There will be those who see in this the "noble calling", the mission to alleviate suffering. Me, I think, "Is there nothing the Prime Minister won't say or do to get re-elected?" He wouldn't... break down on television sharing a personal tragedy with a celebrity compere, would he?

Cameron talked about the chorus of disapproval that hit the airwaves yesterday about the "free care in homes" Bill (now in the Lords). Labour and Tory councils are saying it's unaffordable. Others say of it... cruel deception, disorderly, doubly objectionable, classic Brown dividing line – and so forth.

Brown's return of fire began with the accusation – Well, you voted for it! – and went on with more familiar flyting.

Cameron has no policies whatsoever. He has no substance. Why can't he talk about the policies!

Actually, he was asking about the policy, or a part of it. Would people ever be required to pay for their free care?

Read the White Paper, the old Slugger responded. That was an enterprising answer, followed by no policy, no substance, no judgement.

Cameron read out the part about the £20,000 levy, and got a mouthful about having misquoted it and having no policy, no substance, no good ads.

But then he quoted the whole passage and Brown looked a bit silly, refusing to discuss the policy while demanding a policy discussion.

But what a lot of things prime ministers have to know. Stroke associations in Yorkshire, Army pay, research funding in Aberystwyth. Some MP asked him to reinstate a bus route in Birmingham the other week.

I wonder if Cameron will be on top of all this, if he gets to be Prime Minister? He won't get a chance to run himself in. There'll be no honeymoon for the Tories, it'll be maximum violence immediately. Not that the two are mutually exclusive, I've had honeymoons like that myself.

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