Big-Ben

Cameron at top of strength

Two massive u-turns risk overshadowing the news that really matters – the IMF’s endorsement of George Osborne’s plan A.

Do not underestimate the importance of winning the explicit support of the markets and the IMF for the Chancellor’s deficit reduction strategy.

It all-but silences Labour on the issue.

It shores up the UK’s ability to borrow at decent rates and it sends a message to the world – it’s safe to invest in Great Britain.

These things matter to jobs, to the cost of mortgages and to the stability of the UK government.

To peoples’ lives.

The media will naturally focus on the two government u-turns – sentencing and NHS reform – performed by David Cameron in which he has overruled Andrew Lansley and Ken Clarke.

But these hardly matter.

Here’s something else that really matters – Cameron is enjoying 88% satisfaction amongst Conservative Party members.

Not his MPs.

But card-carrying members.

That’s on a scale only ever enjoyed by despots and dictators in far-off lands.

Cameron is so powerful that he is able to tear up Bills before they’ve even been published and rewrite them.

He can afford to say to the country: “This is a new style of government. I listen. I am strong enough to admit I was wrong and get it right.”

How refreshing.

Voters will like this. Perhaps the astonishing success of the local election night already shows us that people like their leader.

The NHS Reform Bill will be unveiled next week.

Much work has been done by powerful figures in the new number 10 policy unit – led by Paul Kirby and Patrick Rock – to knock it into acceptable shape.

Many Tory MPs feel Lansley has been rather hard done-by.

They supported the Bill in its original state and don’t see why it should be sacrificed to vested interests and LibDems.

Disgruntled 2010 intake MPs are stirring.

They feel they were elected as Tories and are prevented from being Tories thanks to Greek bailouts and the law and order problems.

There is still an enormous piece of work to be done to win the buy-in of the medical professions.

Some in Downing Street have already written off any chance of BMA support, no matter how much they rewrite the Bill.

But it will be unveiled, there will be huge changes to accommodate the concerns of some doctors and most LibDems.

And the fundamental principle of removing decision-making power from bureaucrats will be upheld.

Pulling apart the Justice Secretary’s sentencing guidelines was altogether more straight forward. It was merely a matter of time.

Tory backbenchers and many ministers expressed huge concern about Clarke’s attempt to save cash by halving jail sentences.

A full scale Tory rebellion was on the cards. MPs tell me they were already beginning to plot to block its passage.

The Premier was in no doubt that Clarke’s stance was putting the Conservative Party’s reputation as tough on law and order in peril.

Cameron showed his ruthless side in summoning Clarke to number 10 for a 30 minute chat – and ordering him back to the drawing board.

The Justice Secretary will no longer be in his post at the next reshuffle – July 2012.

But the PM will keep him for another year, despite the demands of The Sun and the Daily Mail for him to be sacked.

That means no promotion for the highly polished Transport Secretary Philip Hammond who never fails to impress internally.

His grasp and reach way beyond his own brief has already secured him a ticket for a bigger job the next time the music stops.

Others to have impressed are Iain Duncan Smith, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove, I am told.

Middle-rankers like Chris Grayling, Justine Greening and Nick Herbert are also on the “must promote “ list, I gather.

And David Laws will be back. But he must do his time in the wilderness.

The PM is also beginning to win the battle of Libya.

No one can say when.

But those in number 10 are are sure as they can be that Colonel Gaddafi will be gone.

More than 60 smart bombs were aimed at Tripoli overnight – to mark the dictator’s 69th birthday.

Our intelligence services are clear that more and more members of the regime are lining up to defect.

There are always difficulties in government.

Tom Strathclyde, Leader of the Lords, is gearing up for some bloody battles as Labour organise themselves to mount attacks on legislation.

There is little doubt that, as things stand, the next general election will be on May 7 2015.

Written By

George Pascoe-Watson