David Cameron needs to do a Thatcher - and grow a pair

Maggie In Hard Hat

Now former British Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher was many things, but a ditherer she wasn't.

Thatcher, Prime Minister between 1979-1990, was famous for knowing her mind, and relentlessly pursuing her objectives. And while ultimately this strategy contributed to her undoing, she recognised that there were occasions when making a specific decision was more important than the actual outcome. A decision, she quickly learned, sets a course - and it's often more critical to start the journey than to procrastinate and become at the mercy of 'events, dear boy', as Harold MacMillan would say.

Prime Ministers, of course, make countless decisions over the duration of their years in power. Together the outcomes build a legacy. Thatcher understood this, and although her dogmatic approach made her an extremely divisive figure, some 25 years after leaving office, Margaret Thatcher is acknowledged as one of our greatest Prime Ministers and was recently named in a poll as the most influential woman of all time.

In terms of certainty of purpose and decisive action, you surely couldn't get much more of a contrast between Maggie Thatcher and David Cameron. And there are three current examples which clearly demonstrate this.

The first is the issue of the UK's renegotiation with the EU to take back some of the powers many of us feel shouldn't have been given up in the first place. Cameron has talked big, but so far we haven't got much to show for it. Cameron surely needs to make some more noise - at the moment his half-hearted actions aren't convincing anyone that he is serious about renegotiating anything. 

Then there's the emotive issue of immigration. Cameron has been pledging to reduce the flow of immigrants into the UK for years. But latest figures suggest that non-EU citizens continue to account for a slightly larger share of immigration into the UK, compared to EU citizens. Where's the leadership position there ? Where is the understanding of the impact that large numbers of immigrants are having on our health, social service and education infrastructure ?

And then there's the proposal for a third runway at Heathrow (or a second runway at Gatwick, which now appears to be back on the agenda). Last week we learned that Cameron's government had postponed its decision on the runway, a move which John Longworth, director general at the British Chambers of Commerce, described as 'gutless'.

It's the big decisions, you see. The decisions that define a Prime Minister and a party in power. And this government, led by Cameron, doesn't appear to be comfortable making them. Instead of leadership, there is fudge; instead of certainty, there is doubt; instead of determination, there is gutlessness. Cameron really does need to take a leaf out of Thatcher's book - take the pulse of the electorate, and grow a pair!