Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Cameron and the Tory Deserters

There are a great many committed libertarians, Thatcherites and Monday Club hangers 'n floggers who think that "Call me Dave" Cameron is a bit, well, wet. I agree, sort of... The Nameless one over at The Appalling Strangeness sums this point of view up nicely, to satisfying applause from DK.

They are a bit pissed off because their chosen Party, UKIP for whose ideas I have an awful lot of sympathy, is going to have one effect at the next election - to make a Conservative victory less likely. If you think about what that actually means - best case scenario: Hung Parliament lib-lab coalition and the resultant constitutional vandalism of PR leading to endless unstable coalition government. Worst case - 5 years of untrammeled Brown as PM. The fact is the electorate have been schooled into a Pavlovian res ponce to "the public services" and "tax-cuts" that is wrong. You can complain all you like, or you can get into Government and do something about it.

The counter argument...

...anyone like myself, who is right wing but doesn't vote Tory, will be electing by default a further Labour administration. This is just so much horseshite. Because my counter-argument is simple - there is no point in electing a Tory party that is just a photo-copy of the Blair administration. Which, I am sorry to say, the Conservative Party under Cameron are...
...is just lazy. The Nameless one was at the same lecture as me. He knows the Tories will do things differently. There is hope of tax cuts in time. The reckless spending on pointless administrators and gender outreach co-ordinators will slow and eventually stop. THE TORY PARTY IS NOT THE SAME AS THE LABOUR PARTY, and to suggest otherwise is to employ political analysis at the level of Terry Kelly (see under "Blogs By Idiots" to the Right...)
I am tired of hearing about how the Conservatives are the best we have got, or how politics is the art of the possible. Bollocks. This country has elected radical governments before (see Attlee and Thacther) and those radical governments are the ones, regardless of whether you think their policies were right or wrong, who actually managed to acheive something. Crazy when you think about it, but there was a time when political parties actually aspired to something other than good headlines and a nice photo opportunity. The fact that Blair has spent the last ten years terrified of moving from the middle ground - and in doing so has terrified Cameron into exactly the same position - is no reason for us to accept this post-Blair consensus that offers nothing other than more of the same to the British people.
This government has been a government of Massive redistribution and tax and spend. The rhetoric is middle ground, but the reality is old labour spite. Can you not see that? The Tories are the best we've got and there's no appetite for radicalism when the economy's ticking over nicely (it is at present, the wheel is coming off, I know, but the punters can't see it). Politics is the art of the possible and the business of power. You may be as sick of that as you like, but its the truth.
Here is the brutal truth - it doesn't make a blind bit of fucking difference to me if Labour win the next election over a Conservative Party that is indistinguishable from that Labour party.
No, Nameless one - here is the brutal truth: Cameron's the Tory leader who's getting into polling territory which puts him within a sniff of government, because he doesn't hector the electorate. They are comfortable with him.
I've said before but I'll repeat it here again - there is no point in winning power if you have abandoned the ideas and policies that made you seek power in the first place. I reject the idea that politics should be achieving power to the detriment of everything else outright - and, sadly, this seems to be the guiding idea of both Cameron and Blair
All that's changed in either party is the Rhetoric. Labour - Tax 'n Spend. Tories - Cut tax if possible. The Tories have never been radically imprudent (except the ERM debacle). Even Thatcher didn't cut taxes in her first term, because she couldn't.
By voting for someone else at the next election it won't be me wrecking the party for Cameron. It will Cameron wrecking the party for himself, by forgetting that he is a Conservative and that the valid, workable ideas for improving this country actually come from the right of the political spectrum
We aren't arguing for different ends, just what means to use. To use a military analogy, there are 3 ways to attack - left flanking, right flanking and "straight up the middle, bags of smoke". UKIP represents the last of these. David Cameron is leading the Tories Left flanking: using cover of greenery and the ditch of not promising tax-cuts (yet) whilst attacking the enemy's weak points on civil liberties and the family. This is not moral cowardice, it is the best and only way to achieve difficult tasks. Going straight at 'em while their defence on the economy remains strong presents an easy target to shoot at. (have I sufficiently stretched the metaphor?)

The Tories are the most successful political party the democratic world has ever seen. This is because they adapt to the political climate. There will always be backwoodsmen hankering for old certainties but the enemy has changed and the electorate has changed. You UKIP nutters can masturbate all you like over your minarchist fantasies, you aren't going to get what you want.

I'm sorry the party's broke - I think UKIP's been treated harshly, but it makes not a blind bit of difference. You can either rejoin the Tory party an pull it the way you want, or you can cast Euro scepticism into the wilderness of fringe party politics and make the collapse of the EU less likely.

Your choice.


C4' said...

You are absolutely right!

Devil's Kitchen said...

You are right to an extent, Dude; indeed, to a large degree. My issue is that, having found a party that panders to my EUsceptic minarchist wankfest, I would now find it very difficult to vote for a party that does not advocate that, whatever their chances.

Many people, including you and Iain Dale, have asked if I would consider returning to the Tory fold; the answer is "yes", but the EU is a fundamental sticking point for me, and you saw Letwin's response to that. If he thinks that it is so great, I want him to try to convince me: not take the superior "I know better than you" attitude. Further, I don't think that the EU is reformable.

In any case, I refuse to be lectured at, patronised and essentially patronised by a smug bastard who mentions the Stern Report in approving terms.

So, given that, I have to vote UKIP, if only to persuade the Tories that there is a strong anti-EU base in this country and that it might be nice if even one of the mainstream parties offered the option not to continue under the EU jackboot.

For fuck's sake, even the offer of an unloaded refendum would be good enough for me (and even for the majority of UKIP, I would imagine). The Tories have shown, both in rhetoric and action, that they fundamentally disagree with even asking the British people about this abso-fucking-lutely fundamental issue.


The Nameless One said...


Political analysis at the level of Terry Kelly?! Jesus, that's a bit much!

Anyway, perhaps inevitably I don't agree with you.

The issue of taxes sums up the increasing consensus between the two main parties in this country quite nicely. The Nu Labour party is not by nature (any longer) a tax-and-spend party. Sure, the upshot of their ongoing faith in the state (and state expansion) is an increase in spending funded by an increase in tax, but this is more of a by-product of their mind-numbing incompetence. The Tory party has failed to distinguish itself from Labour in any tangible way - Letwin's speech did acknowledge that he would like to have some tax cuts if he could possibly afford them but he wasn't going to promise anything anyway in case it did not happen. The upshot is that the man who, by his own admission, has promised radical tax cuts in the past is now flailing around in the political winds, refusing to commit to anything on an ideological, rather than pragmatic, basis. The Tory promise to not damage the economy by cutting taxes irresponsibly is tempered by the unspoken flipside of being willing to raise taxes if this has to be done. There is no ideological commitment to a distinct policy from Nu Labour - to a large extent, all Letwin was saying is that by lessening state impact on the British economy and on British society the Tories can be more efficient than Nu Labour.

Part of the problem with Cameron's Conservatives is the refusal to confirm that they are the party of the right. For all Letwin's talk of setting out his vision for the UK before he can set out an concrete policies, the issues currently addressed by the Tories are on issues such as poverty and social inclusion. Cameron is embracing the issues of the left and seems to be taking left of centre positions on those issues. The policies that this country is desperately needs are far more than stating that poverty is relative rather than absolute and endless bleeding carping about the environment.

And do you truly believe it is Cameron and his changes to the Tory party have improved the party's fortunes in the polls? Because I see the sleaze, the Iraq War and the constant bickering in the Labour party as much more of the reason for the change in the polls. People are not expressing a preference for Cameron - they are expressing their disgust of Blair et al. I think whoever won the last Tory leadership election would be beating Nu Labour in the polls now.

Out of a matter of interest would you have voted for Ted Heath in 1974? And if you would have voted for him, would it simply have been an anti-Wilson vote?

All I see after a Cameron victory at the next election (which I maintain is by no means guaranteed) is an extension of Blairism - an ideological vacuum, being pulled from pillar to post in the mad pursuit of spin and the next positive headline. Sure, Thatcher did not cut taxes in her first term but she did introduce radical, right of centre reforms to the UK. I do not think Cameron has any such reforms to introduce, and I do not believe he has the ideological commitment to discover such reforms of he does win the keys to Number 10 from Brown.

As an aside I would point out that I am not a Tory anymore (or to be more precise I am not longer a member of the Tory party) but have not (as yet) joined UKIP. This is another area I bang on about a lot, but UKIP have to change their image before I would join them. I think they way they currently present themselves condemns them to being a minor party. If they were to change, and present themselves as a broad party of the libertarian right, then I would consider joining them. DK represents this side of UKIP well, and it will be interesting to see how much success those advocating change have within UKIP are over the next few months.

And it is indisputably true to say that if the Tory party managed to sort itself out and remember it is a party of the right, then I would willing re-join that party.

The Nameless One

Jackart said...

Yeah... Sorry about the TK reference. It was before I found out about the Scandal...

It is the entry of debate in the spirit in which it is intended that marks us apart from the likes of Terry.

But I have to take issue with you on you assertion that Nu Lab is not a "Tax 'n Spend" party. The largest peace time tax hike in British history says otherwise.

Are you really saying that the Tories would continue this... this theft?

Other than that, I agree with much of what you (both) say. I just think more can be achieved by influencing a party with a hope of getting power.

bt said...

"Are you really saying that the Tories would continue this... this theft?"

'Fraid so.
Dave claims that he'll cancel the ID project - all well and good, but the tens of billions it would have cost don't look as if they're coming back to the taxpayer, instead it'll pay for 'Border Police' (whatever they are).

It'll be Parkinson's Second Law in action - "Expenditure rises to meet income"..

It'll get worse, too - there'll be the Olympics bill, the PFI hospital bills, new power generation plant, kitting out the Forces with some decent stuff, propping up failed pension schemes, and so on and so on.

I wouldn't expect many tax cuts over the next 15 - 20 years if I were you.

Simon Jester said...


You said that some of your fellow bloggers attended the same Bow Group lecture as you.

I didn't attend this lecture, so I'm going to have to use your article on it. The key quotes appear to be:

"I agreed with every platitudinous, uncontroversial syllable (apart from the bit about climate change)"
"[Letwin] suggested that those who know that tax cuts will be revenue neutral are tin-foil hatted loons."

Neither of these statements would provoke any dissent from 80% of the parliamentary labour party (apart from the bit about climate change, where they would agree with Letwin and disagree with you.)

Aside from some waffle about providing an "Enabling state" rather than an activist state. In short, your own article convinces me that there is no significant difference between what Dave's Conservative and Gordon's Labour party would do in office. Osbourne has given no indication that he would even stop the raids on the pension funds.

Given this, it appears to make more sense to vote for anyone other than Cameron, than to vote for a Conservative party that will continue Labour's policies. If UKIP still remain on the margins, there is at least the chance of getting a more "conservative" leader of the "Conservative" party - after all, the next leader could scarcely be any less conservative...

Peter Risdon said...

If the choice is a Colgate PM being dragged to the left by his party, throwing them occasional bones (fox-hunting ban, say) and one being dragged to the right by his party, then I'll take the latter.

The choice genuinely is between bad and worse.

chris said...

I like what UKIP says a lot, and should they still exist at the next European Parliament elections they are where that vote will go. However in the national elections I am willing to wait before going UKIP in them as well because I think that Cameron is playing a long game.

Behind the BBC appeasing headlines most of what Cameron says tends to approach problems with a world view that the people solve problems better than the state. His words might not be producing any policies that Auntie can attack him for, yet, but his words are not those of an out and out big stater. Unlike Brown.

I think that there is another factor as well, there is an economic downturn coming sooner or later. By giving Gordon Brown the political space to go with his instincts this is more likely to be sooner than later. If it comes before the next election then all the bad of the ERM will be undone and Labour will loose it's position as more trusted on the economy. Even better just as the ERM debacle kept us out of the Euro it will provide a shield against more lefty nonsense in for a while.

Anonymous said...

What utter shite. Your thoughts resemble those of ReaLab supporters who gave up all their ideals to get elected. It has resulted in the destruction of their party and ruined our country.

If you are happy being taxed to hilt by Westminster, laws decided by Brussels and foreign policy by Washington then you’ve been in the wrong party for 10 years.

I would rather see 5 years of Brown and the destruction of society than lend my name to someone who is lying to the public.

The EU is the great issue of the day im afraid, all other policy if you have no control of your destiny. Democratic values, honesty and accountability rest on being honest with the public about the EU. Surely it’s obvious that a project of this scale that is so universally un-popular is bound to fail.

If you want yer plumbing done there are 1m unemployed and millions on income support who could do with the job/higher wages

What price yer plumbing if Eastern Europe goes pear shaped or Turkey/Russia join in 10 years time???

The EU is fundamentally a wealth transfer mechanism from old to new Europe in the vain hope of global relevance and safety in numbers. It is built on misinformation and spin. To claim anything else is delusional when 2 contributor countries vote against a constitution requiring 100% acceptance. The fact that other votes were cancelled to avoid a string of no’s should tell you all you need to know. That this is being brought back via the back door is bad enough until you realise the reason. The EU with 26 states is ungovernable with one country one vote; this is the EU reason! So they really are saying its coming anyway because we lied to you when proposing the enlargement, hear anything about “but it will mean giving up the only power we have now “no nor do I. It is sickening to see how the spin is so easily accepted by people, if you wish to be serious about fixing all that is wrong in society the first stage is admitting errors in the past, analysis of the real problem then a suggest a solution. Not what is happening now which is criticize NuLab for all they have done wrong, all the lies and corruption and then not demand the same from the party you support.

Your last line can easily be imagined being said in 1996/7

You can either rejoin stay in the Tory Labour party an pull it the way you want, or you can cast democracy, accountability and into the wilderness of fringe party politics and make the collapse of the EU Tory’s less likely.

Cameron is approaching the point of no return, how can he differentiate himself when he realises that the public will not vote for a Blair Mk2, after going this far down the muddle ground route?

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