by Ray Fleming

David Cameron's current visit to Japan, and the convenient timing that has enabled him to visit Burma as an extra, are no doubt important. But there are growing signs that he should spend more time at home dealing with perhaps mundane but nonetheless also important matters.

I recently quoted Matthew Parris as describing Mr Cameron as “presidential but not prime ministerial” after his Washington visit and yesterday the Financial Times had an article calling on “the dilettante prime minister” to get a grip. Even an outsider with a bit of relevant experience can see that there is something seriously wrong with the handling of media communications by Downing Street.

Matters which should be dealt with by a straightforward statement are regularly mishandled, leading to an impression of uncertainty and confusion. Most recently Mr Cameron has had to telephone from Tokyo to insist that Nick Clegg knew all about and approved the controversial plans for monitoring the internet while Mr Clegg in London says he did no more than to agree to look at the plans.

There is also uncertainty about whether the government has secured Liberal Democrat support for “secret trials” of alleged terrorists. Coalitions are always subject to this kind of confusion but shouldn't there be someone -- preferably a senior minister -- charged with seeing it doesn't happen too often and sorting it out quickly if it does?


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