« Home | The modern gulag and Catch-22. » | Same old Tories. » | News of the Screws-watch: The biggest liar in poli... » | Troops out of Iraq! Troops, err, stay in Afghanist... » | Scum-watch: Getting ready to back Reid? » | Redwatch-watch: Fascist filth exposed. » | Save us, John! » | Casual xenophobia. » | Nosing of the non-Brown order. » | Blair's speech: The last gasp of a delusional, mes... » 

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 


Watching David Cameron being interviewed yesterday evening on Newsnight, I was struck by something I never expected to feel about a serving Tory leader. It suddenly occurred to me that this man isn't a complete and utter git. Michael Howard, Iain Duncan Smith, William Hague - all unspeakable wankers. John Major was a charisma free-zone, but at least he had something of the normal person about him, even if he was utterly hopeless and a git in private, as claimed by some.

There are of course reasons for this. Cameron has tried as hard as possible to be seen as this carefree, youthful, up to date leader, and more than that, he's also not faced harsh questioning by any interviewer yet on a matter of great importance. He hasn't had to sit in front of a braying bunch of servicemen's wives, or sceptical Question Time audiences that booed him before he had even sat down. He also doesn't get off entirely scot free, as it's obvious how he was born with the proverbial silver spoon in the mouth, attending Eton, going onto Oxford, marrying a suitably fragrant and wealthy woman, etc etc . Even so, you don't get the urge to instantly switch the television off when his voice starts wafting over, as you do as soon as William Hague opens his obnoxious mouth. His accent is neither too posh or common enough, an almost perfect balance for a politician who wants to appeal to everyone.

In essence, Cameron is probably the best the Conservatives are ever likely to get. Unfortunately for everyone else, he's just a facsimile of Tony Blair. Everything about his speech today at their conference exuded Blairism. It even had the verb less sentences that Blair constantly converses in. Unlike Blair however, there was hardly anything in the whole of the speech that you could instantly vehemently disagree with. At times he veers into Mrs Brady, Old Lady territory, rhetorically saying something and then almost absent-mindedly adding yes to the end. In the first part, he talks of substance, or rather his lack of it. His Tories, like John Reid, are sure of one thing, and that's that they believe in social responsibility. This is meant to show how Cameron and his party have moved on from believing solely in the individual, that there is such a thing as society, and that we're all in this together, but the manner in which he reacts to this criticism suggests that rather than wanting to come up with some policies, he'd rather have the current situation stay as it is; after all, despite having no fully recognisable pledges, his party is still ahead in the polls.

He goes on, juggernauting through tax, then the economy, saying nothing that would have been out of place at a Labour conference speech by Blair circa 95-97. They won't take risks with the economy, challenges of globalisation, flying the flag for British business etc. This is though the same Mr Cameron that said that he wasn't a big fan of isms, socialism, republicanism, capitalism, which also at the time seemed to contradict his argument for backing business, that not a big enough case was being made for the creation of wealth.

Next up is the NHS, which seems to have been seized on by the Conservatives as their way of damaging Labour, and they've picked an open goal as their target. Despite all the past bluster of his party, the decades of under investment, the championing of private healthcare, Cameron has decided, quite rightly, that's it the one thing that unifies the public. For all his blustering however, he says nothing about what he would do to make the service better, apart from stopping the pointless reorganisations. Would the hugely wasteful private finance initative continue? Would the private centres that are being paid huge amounts of money despite not carrying out the number of operations they're meant to continue to exist? Is he prepared to commit the NHS to staying in the public sector? He doesn't tell us, probably because he would either change none of the above or go even further. The right-wing press is full of stories of how a private insurance system would be better, how billions are being wasted. Much like the rest of Cameron's agenda, his complete belief in the NHS is an act of political opportunism.

More evidence of which is in the next paragraph, where he pledges to support Labour when it does the right thing. He praises the minimum wage, which is strange, as the Tories at the time, along with the CBI, claimed that it would cost hundreds of thousands of jobs. It didn't, and is still barely a living wage.

Cameron continues in much the same vein, saying nothing controversial or of any real interest, until he eventually gets to the troops in Afghanistan, making a rather bogus claim that our mission there is a "moral responsibility", and conflates it with our presence in Iraq, which certainly isn't. He rather amusingly mentions Liam Fox, the defence spokesman, one who could certainly be added to the "git" list at the beginning of this post. Next up is terrorism, which gets the usual orthodoxies of being a far bigger threat than the IRA and also being unappeasable. Nothing particularly wrong with that, but there's certainly nothing profound about it either. He rightly brings up how wiretap evidence still hasn't been made admissible in courts in terrorism cases, then blots his copy book by once again repeating his idiotic British bill of rights plan. He claims to be the heir to Brown's soundbite "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", that Ronald Reagan and Thatcher defeated the Soviet Union (they didn't, the Soviet Union defeated itself), and to be a "liberal Conservative", despite writing the most right-wing Tory manifesto of recent years, voting for the Iraq war, against allowing gay couples to adopt and abolishing the notorious section 28. He supports faith schools, despite evidence that they contribute to the ghettoisation of Britain. Cameron's solution is that they should admit a certain proportion of children from either no faith or from different faiths, a curious compromise which would do little to nothing to alter it, instead continuing the status quo.

And so it goes on. And on. It's as if he's listened or watched Blair's speeches over the years, took notes, and then decided to rip out anything that might be slightly radical or uncomfortable for his party, but keeping the sincerity, or rather the lack of it that lies beneath all his sanctimonious words. As speeches go, it wasn't really a bad one. It was just lacking absolutely anything that identified it from the crowd.

This is Cameron's problem. He wants his Conservative party to be deeply average, just as Blair's revolution was deeply average but then turned into a war waged against the party's true believers. Cameron too has his war with the true believers, but unlike Blair he has yet to properly stick the knife right into them, and he has shown no sign of doing so. This is partly because the opinion polls could yet still change, or worse, stay the same. All three former leaders talked soft and then moved back to the right when the public's failure to believe them became manifest. For now, Cameron is winning that battle, but it leaves politics in this country completely unremarkable. There are no big ideas, just agreement or slight differences. The only speech from all of the conferences that was genuinely inspired was from the Lib Dems, with Nick Clegg's promise to introduce a bonfire of Labour's draconian legislation. None of the main two parties dare to suggest anything so radical. None want to bring the troops out of Iraq. None are diametrically opposed to conflict with Iran. This is why when someone speaks out of turn, as Boris Johnson almost did yesterday, the media ran with him rather than anything else from the deeply snore-worthy conference. Cameron might be a success, but the danger is that no one cares what he thinks, just that he's different to Blair. Hail then the two identical vacuums, the equivalent of voting for either Kudos or Kang.

Share |

Links to this post

Create a Link