You wouldn't have thought it from a Tory Old Etonian, but our 'Establishment' Prime Minister is starting to show a very unexpected sign of weakness - political cowardice. The evidence is starting to build that when the going gets tough, the PM hardly gets going - except by his strenuous efforts to avoid his opponents.
I first picked this up when there were reports that Cameron was arranging Parliamentary recesses and foreign visits seemingly to avoid PMQ's (reported by Dr Eoin Clarke over at http://eoin-clarke.blogspot.com/) . Then we have Cameron's NHS summit to come on Monday 20th February where the invitations have only been sent to those in the health service that are more compliant towards the heavily criticised NHS and Social Care Bill - no invites for those from the Royal Colleges who have dared to demand that the Bill be dropped. On top of this we have the breaking news that Cameron actually shut journalists away when he recently visited the RVI Hospital in Newcastle, presumably so they could neither witness nor comment on the apparent rough ride he was given by some NHS staff. Contrast this to the way Blair and Brown undertook such visits - the contact with the staff and the public (and indeed confrontation on occasions) Blair and Brown both had were witnessed by a breathless media.
One wonders whether this is just an adept PR professional - which Cameron undoubtedly is - managing his appearance for the electorate or whether it is a sign of something deeper within the man himself - or could it be both perhaps?
If you witness how Cameron reacts to criticism, either in the HOC or elsewher, he either gets very short-tempered as the testy exchanges with the Leader of the Opposition would indicate, or he seems to simply sulk and avoid eye contact, as he was when dealing with a frosty Sarkozy straight after his EU veto that never was. An interesting aside on this is that many Conservatives consider Cameron's use of the veto was from a position of weakness and not strength despite the tub-thumping response it got from the Right.
Are the spin doctors worried about how Cameron appears under pressure and if so are they managing him so as to avoid anticipated pressure points? If this is the case then the Coalition needs to be worried. Should Cameron continue to be closetted in such a way and continually surrounded by people who don't disagree with him then there will only be one result - bad advice, bad policies and electoral disaster. Whilst one could accuse me of hoping for the latter, I would rather not have the former.