Why doesn't Cameron seem to understand where the argument's line is and which side to stand on?
He seems determined to pick fights on issues that he then fails to satisfactorily resolve.
EU referendum. He won't have the In/Out that the party wants, because he is not sure he would win it. So he whips up a storm over not going to give any more powers to Europe and jolly well taking one or two back if they don't decide to let us have a bit more say in our own affairs.
The party is annoyed by this lack of commitment to a central issue. The EU is annoyed by his foot dragging when they know full well UK won't leave the EU. Supporters are annoyed. Opposition are overjoyed. UKIP are ecstatic! There is no easy answer to our EU membership. Not addressing it doesn't help. Faking a referendum pledge won't help either.
But at least an EU referendum is a serious issue that he must dodge.
Cameron is happy to pick fights he doesn't need to, on issues few are concerned with, on subjects he can't satisfactorily resolve anyway. High Speed rail. Heathrow. Wind Farm subsidy. Leveson's Press regulation. Votes for prisoners. ECHR. Gay marriage. Student immigration, Alcohol pricing. ..Drugs legalisation..
Take the 50p tax rate. The Brown government had set the trap, raising the rate from 40 to 50%, daring Cameron to reduce the tax rate back on entering office. Dave wisely decided to avoid stepping onto the rather obvious, land mine shaped mound, and opted to keep the tax high. This angered some in the party, who wanted an end to Brownite mentalness.. But others saw the political necessity of having a high tax rate if you are going to use 'all in it together' as the slogan foundation stone of your tenure.
Come the budget the rate is cut to 45p. All the hard work in portraying millionaires as paying their fair share is lost. And the rate not returning to 40%, undermines the Tories own argument for lower taxation=growth. No one is pleased.
This sort of wrong footed decision happens too often, on too many issues, many of which have little importance.
Gay marriage is the obvious one. Its earth shatteringly, fundamentally important to about 2% of the country. Total number of civil partnerships formed in the UK since the Civil Partnership Act 2004 came into force is 53,417. Not even 0.001% of couples in the country. The rest of us shrug with indifference.. Why even visit the issue? Polling must have told him he would lose more votes than he could gain, or at the very best the extra votes from homosexuals would slightly outweigh the blue rinse losses. A handful of votes. It angers the Tory party and conservative values and makes them look as out of touch as Bishops.
This particular bill enables and outlaws gay marriage at the same time. Its hopeless to everyone.
Cameron knows that he must attract a wider base or the Tories will never hold power in their own right again. He doesn't believe that a lurch right will do any good. He has some justification. Romney showed the folly of that approach.