Monday, January 05, 2009

Cameron's folly

I've mentioned before how The Telegraph seems to have deserted its core Tory supporters in favour of the Cameroonism of soft socialism, but the impressive Janey Daley continues to be one of the few saving graces of that once esteemed conservative newspaper.

In an excellent article which ought to be compulsory reading for every Tory party member from David Cameron downwards, she spells out concisely just what it is that the Conservatives need to do.

Daley begins by outlining, accurately, the basic strategy of Brown and the Labour party.

In an interview broadcast over the weekend, [Brown] reaffirmed his unwavering commitment to the Government's goals: to claim that Britain's economic crisis was all America's fault, and to smear the Tories as "do-nothing" defeatists who wanted to let the recession take its course, and were (I quote verbatim) "almost revelling in things going wrong".

This is the incredible thing about this current situation. It was the Labour party government who got us into this mess, but it is the Tory party who are on the defensive about it! How on earth did that situation come about? My own view is that the reality is that the Tories failed to do what an opposition should do - oppose - while the government were leading us down the garden path.

Under Cameron, the Tories have openly supported the government's spending plans and economic policies and offered little in the way of an alternative. Cameron and Osborne thought that the sound bite of Labour "failing to fix the roof while the sun shone" was enough to get them off the hook, but the reality is that they made no suggestions on how to "fix the roof" while the sun shone either. Daley goes on ....

If Mr Brown gets away with this, if he manages to browbeat the country into believing that Britain's economic problems are unrelated to Labour's policies of the last decade which hugely expanded the proportion of wealth seized and spent by the state, and blatantly encouraged irresponsible lending, then we are done for.

This is, essentially, why I believe that the Union is finished and that the future for England lies outside of the United Kingdom. I don't want that - but I can not see anyway in which it can be avoided short of a political revolution. Unless some British party emerges which has the policies required, the financial clout to get noticed and the ability to articulate those policies to the electorate then Britain is doomed to break up. As someone who is proud of the achievements of Britain and its people it hurts me immensely to say that - to even think it - but I can not see any alternative.

The way to counter it is not with retaliatory fury, which would look defensive and ineffectual, but by doing what the Conservatives have so far failed to do: make the positive moral and economic case for less government interference, a smaller state, a less confiscatory tax system and greater individual responsibility.

In other words, conservatism.

Mr Cameron flirted with all of these themes in a rather confusing rush of speeches at the end of last year in which pronouncements that needed to be clear and definitive were often buried in nuanced argument.

Ah, nuance. Where would we be without it? Better off, in my opinion. One of my earliest posts was about the nonsense of nuance. The modern politician thinks he is clever and sophisticated by being "nuanced" but as I said back in October 2006 ....

Politics and politicians need to be precise and clear when they talk or define policy. We need to know exactly what they mean when they say something, we do not want to be led to make our own interpretations - that just means confusion and argument.

And as Daley points out ....

Sometimes [Cameron] enunciated a sound principle but failed to back it up with any detail. (When political leaders offer philosophy, they must also explain precisely what it would amount to in everyday life.) He had a tendency as well, to cancel out a "hard" message with "soft" language which obscured its logic.

Exactly. You can't be pro the traditional nuclear family and supportive of other relationships as well - but Cameron wants to be all things to all people. He can't - no one can. Daley goes on to make some accurate observations about government agencies and closes with this insightful and eloquent paragraph.

If the Conservatives are to have a hope in hell of winning this larger argument, they are going to have to speak the unashamed truths that will resonate with most ordinary people's experience. They will have to counter the mythology that governments can create jobs (which they can only do by using money extracted from the private, wealth-producing sector), remove poverty (by subsidising it through taxation), and transform everyone's future by fiat.

Very true - but it won't happen. Why not? Because the Tories, like the other main political parties believe they can transform everyone's future by decree - that is why they support membership of the EU. Is that likely to change anytime soon?

I don't think so.

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