Sunday, September 28, 2008

Conservative Party Conference: All will be revealed... Time?

Well, it wasn’t. In the UK, the feature was introduced as: 'Behind the smile: Gifted and polished or empty suit. Who the heck is David Cameron?' And so one awaits with bated breath to hear from this week’s Conference the positive pronouncements and the primary policies which will define the next Conservative government. And this Conference is the opportunity to do so. If an election is to be held in the spring of 2010, leaving the manifesto show-pieces until the autumn of 2009 will be too late for them to enter the public consciousness. While the world and his dog may be sick of the present government and even more sick of its leader, there is still a considerable element of ‘known unknown’ about Mr Cameron’s political philosophy, and this can only be rectified by distinguishing and by definition.

When Time magazine introduced the rest of the world to David Cameron as Britain's prime minister-in-waiting, he appeared only on the front of the European, Middle East and African editions of the magazine: he did not make it on (or even inside) the US edition, or those covering Asia and Australia. Time sells 3.4 million copies in the US - compared to just 1.1 million in the rest of the world. Having a cover on Time magazine is prized by politicians as a sign that they have made it. But it seems the Leader of the Conservative Party still has some way to go before he may reach the majority of his audience.

Mr Cameron may ooze Etonian and Oxbridge confidence, and he may embody the yearning for a generational shift. But he lacks the understanding of the need for clarity and definition. What made Burke, Disraeli, Churchill and Thatcher ‘great’ was that they personified the Conservative Party for a particular era, providing its policies, appeal, style and structure to suit the age into which they were born. In his approach, Mr Cameron risks being a Derby, a Bonar Law or even a Heath, insofar as he told Time: 'I think you just get on with it. It's the best thing to do in politics rather than trying to endlessly work out the definition of who you are or what you're about.'

No, Mr Cameron. The people need to understand ‘what you’re about’, and they will only grasp this through definition. Cranmer might agree with you when you say ‘You can't walk a mile in everybody's shoes’, but it is your task to make them feel that not only could you, but that you would want to. When David Willetts describes his leader as a man who ‘is comfortable with Britain as it is today’, the gulf becomes apparent. And it is not that the majority wish the nation to return to 1558 or recreate that of 1958, but that this majority is manifestly and distinctly uncomfortable with ‘Britain as it is today’, and decry what New Labour has done to it. And they may cite uncontrolled and uncontrollable immigration and the consequent ‘multiculturalism’ as a primary concern.

What are you going to do about this, Mr Cameron?

It is one thing to enforce a ‘points’ system upon those seeking to immigrate from India or Pakistan, but how do you intend to prevent millions of Poles, Romanians and Hungarians from taking 'British jobs', or making use of doctors, dentists, hospitals and schools while British taxpayers are forced down ever-lengthening queues? And you say you want Turkey to join the EU, granting its citizens the same border-free migration rights as all EU citizens. How will you stop millions of Turks from swelling the ‘ghetto’ communities of Bradford, Oldham or Leicester, storing up the potential for civil unrest, exacerbating the likelihood of civil war?

In 18 months, David Cameron is likely to be Prime Minister, and it is likely to be an electoral landslide of the magnitude wrought by Tony Blair in 1997. Yet 18 months prior to Mr Blair entering No10, the people had more than a vague idea of what he was planning to do - devolution, the minimum wage, the New Deal funded by a windfall tax on the privatised utilities.

What has David Cameron pledged?

He will raise the threshold for inheritance tax from £300,000 to £1m - a move which will not affect vast swathes of people. And he will find £121million to reinstate weekly dustbin collection. Yet even the announcement of this policy fundamentally contradicts his pledge to restore powers to local authorities.

What is to be Conservative foreign policy? – a known unknown.
What is to be done about increasing rates of crime? – a known unknown.
How will he mend Britain’s ‘broken society’? – a known unknown.
How will he address the crisis in the health service? – a known unknown.
How will he tackle the dire failures of education provision? – a known unknown.
What will be his policy on the Lisbon Treaty? – an unknown unknown.
Will there be a referendum? – an unknown unknown.

But doubtless he will talk about his ‘vision’ and promise to bring about ‘change’. And he shall bring his wife onstage, and the standing ovation shall be rapturous.

And the faithful shall feel good.


Blogger Miss Snuffleupagus said...

Nice post Your Grace. Most leaders are like this, whatever their field. That's why most of them are ordinary and lead their people into doom. Leaders have to really BELIEVE in what they say and what they are doing. Does Cameron? According to your post, it would seem not. The answers to your questions would come naturally if he actually 'believed', instead of just doing a job and ticking boxes.

If you are right in what you say, then this means that Cameron is not the man for the job. One cannot teach a man to believe. One can only teach a man to tick boxes.

28 September 2008 at 10:32  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

Cameron is an empty suit, and will be as big a disaster as Blair. He stands for nothing but power.

28 September 2008 at 11:15  
Blogger dizzyfatplonka said...

Tory speak nowadays from what I am hearing keeps reiterating the mantra of how they work hand in hand with business and the private sector.

I think they are just letting us know that all parties are now nothing other than puppets of the Corporate State.

Im all for following the good advice on the site and releasing myself from the whole dirty corrupt World Bank World Government system of control.

Its time to aproach our parties, the EU and UN with voices of natural human beings and not Corporate Identities lets see what the Corporate Dictatorship have to say obout the current wars and their open declaration of population reduction or genocide

Maybe that is the known unknown?

28 September 2008 at 12:22  
Blogger mongoose said...

That's an interesting view, YG. Eighteen months before Thatcher was elected she stood for not being the Labour party, not being on strike, not leaving the dead unburied, not having beer-and-sandwich parties for the TUC, not leaving the rubbish ten feet high in Leicester Square. Governments generally lose elections; Oppositions don't win them. The current task for Cameron is to sit quietly while the other lot disintegrate. "Clear blue water" is not called for.

It is interesting to note that most of the calls for Cameron to put forth his policy agenda are coming from his opponents. Why would they do that, do you think? As to your next point - is there anything inside the suit? - well, we shall surely see because at this rate he is going to be PM for a decade.

28 September 2008 at 12:35  
Blogger McKenzie said...

It makes no difference that his opponents are calling for policy agenda, he should say what he stands for and stand for what he says. I don't care what 'rate' will install him for a decade, if he comes up with the right minerals, the heat and the pressure will produce the diamonds. The nation has an instinct for tuning into courage and direction, and the collective satellite dish is frantically searching for channels at the present time, but I do not relish another wally at the helm for ten minutes never mind ten years.

28 September 2008 at 15:28  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace,

That the faithful shall feel good is the whole point of such a convention.

Compare and contrast with the (minute) NuLab faithful, post Manchester.

28 September 2008 at 17:10  
Blogger Curly said...

Does he have conviction and is he convinced that he can control the machinery of government? These were the characteristics of the last great Tory leader and we must wait to see if Mr. Cameron would walk a mile in her shoes.

28 September 2008 at 17:36  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Conservatives could hold Lisbon Treaty referendum after ratification

A Conservative government could hold a referendum on the European Union's Lisbon Treaty even if it has already been ratified, William Hague has said.

By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 5:35PM BST 28 Sep 2008

The Shadow Foreign Secretary made the pledge as David Cameron promised to fight next year's European Parliament elections on a referendum pledge.

The Lisbon Treaty, based on the old European Constitution, is currently in limbo having been rejected by Irish voters in a referendum in May. It must be endorsed by all 27 EU states to take effect.

Another Irish vote has been suggested for next year, but Mr Hague said the treaty could remain unratified at the time of the next general election, and pledged a British vote if so.

He said: "If the Lisbon treaty is unratified and on the table at the point we take office then, of course, we would hold a referendum."

And even if the Treaty had been ratified when a Tory government took office, a referendum could still be possible. He said: "We haven't made the decision," he said. "I certainly haven't ruled that out."

Mr Hague's strong commitment to a referendum has threatened to embarrass Mr Cameron, who has tried to shift the Tories' focus away from Europe. Labour say holding a referendum on a ratified treaty could open the way to renegotiating Britain's entire relationship with the EU.

Mr Cameron, speaking on BBC television, said the party remains committed to a referendum if the treaty is not ratified.

"We have elections for the European Parliament next year, we'll be campaigning very hard for that referendum," he said

But he declined to say what the party would do if the treaty is ratified when the party takes office. He said: "If that happens, at the time that that happens we will set out exactly and precisely what we'll do."

Jim Murphy MP, the Europe Minister, said: "The Tories are trying to change their image but they haven't ended their divisive, ideological obsession with Europe. For months they have tried to avoid taking difficult policy choices on the Lisbon Treaty, but now it seems that David Cameron and William Hague are at odds on whether to try and repudiate a ratified international treaty and put Britain's trading relations with Europe at risk.

"When they are put under scrutiny, it's clear the Tories are still divided over Europe and would pursue isolationist, ideological policies that would reduce Britain's international influence at a time of global economic instability."

28 September 2008 at 18:16  
Anonymous Paul said...

Is there not a pecedent somewhere for us to wait patiently, looking into a glass, darkly?

28 September 2008 at 19:28  
Anonymous for ever and anon said...

Kinda, Paul!! St. Paul set up I Corinthians 13 with:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.

The chapter ends:
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

12 FOR NOW WE SEE THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY; but then face to face: NOW I KNOW IN PART; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

13 AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

[King James Version]

28 September 2008 at 20:39  
Blogger Dave said...

I know that the greatest asset of any politician is the ability to wax eloquently on any subject with saying anything of substance, or of committing him/herself to any decisions or policies that may later backfire.

That's why we hate politicians so much.

Blair may have been seen as the natural successor to Thatcher, and Cameron is being groomed by the meeja as Blair's heir, but we knew what Thatcher stood for, even if the majority disagreed with her.

29 September 2008 at 11:47  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

The really depressing thing, still, is that ZNL "won" three elections in a row. This is such an idiotic and irrational thing to have happened that I wonder whether our present political system can be depended upon at all. Would coming out of Europe encourage more voters to turn out, now that the laws would be made by the people they actually vote for; i.e. is the EU the cause of the malaise?

30 September 2008 at 10:20  
Blogger MAK said...

Have you ever been to Oldham?

I ask because previous "waves" of immigration have not always swelled our "ghetto". There is a very large kashmiri and bangladeshi community here, but very few Jamaicans, Kosovans, Poles, Somalians, etc etc.

Why do you assume that Oldham is:

(a) a ghetto?
(b) likey to "swell with turks" when it has not been the focus of large-scale immigration from most recent immigrant groups?
(c) on the permanent brink of civil unrest?

Come up and spend some time here, or at least read up on Oldham before passing judgement of making bold predictions, because on this matter you show great ignorance.

30 September 2008 at 11:07  

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