Heir to Blair, or matcher of Thatcher?
Except, of course, in matters religio-political.
The Conservative Party is reported to be relishing the prospect of an autumn election, asserting that if the Prime Minister does not call one, he will have ‘bottled it’. In preparation, the Party is ditching many of the recommendations of the Gummer/Goldsmith report - all talk of matching Labour’s public spending commitments, making families pay to park at out-of-town supermarkets, and taxing internal UK flights. Instead, there are rumours of abolishing inheritance tax and reforming stamp duty. There will doubtless also be a few noises about immigration, cleaner hospitals, more discipline in schools, not run 'by Europe'... Mr Cameron will no longer refer to himself as the heir to Blair, but the true heir to Thatcher.
Cranmer does not need to be gifted with prophecy to bet his ashes that if there were to be a general election in October, David Cameron’s Conservatives would be humiliated. Perhaps unlike his immediate predecessors, he would neither resign nor be pushed, but there would be certain demands for a change in direction, and a conviction change at that. The concerns are with his honesty, integrity, his perception of truth, and his consistency.
Cranmer is not saying that the Leader of HM Opposition lacks these qualities, but the all-important public perception is that he manifestly does. And the decision to u-turn (if it be true) on his recent centre-ground strategy in order to appeal to ‘core’ voters simply perpetuates the perception that the Tory Tree simply blows with the strongest wind.
For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear' (2Tim 4:3).
David Cameron’s problem is that (for all its cuteness) Labour's 'chameleon’ campaign has paid off, as has the drip-drip-drip of the ‘flip-flop’ mantra. No matter how much Mr Cameron refers to himself as a conviction politician, or ‘an admirer of Margaret Thatcher’, or asserts that the present Shadow Cabinet is made up of the ‘successors of the Thatcher inheritance’, people simply do not believe him. And those who believe least are many ‘core’ supporters, not least because what he says on one day is frequently contradicted the next, and any who criticise him, no matter how experienced, how credible, or how senior, are arrogantly and pompously dismissed as being 'out of touch'.
How can the heir to Margaret Thatcher criticise Lord Tebbit and declare that he is ‘out of touch with where the Conservative movement is’? It is not only a naïve assertion; it is fundamentally wrong. There is a vast chasm between David Cameron’s ‘Conservative movement’ and that constituted of thousands of loyal Party workers. The real ‘Conservative movement’ is neither the Shadow Cabinet nor CCHQ, but the tens of thousands of members and millions of ‘core’ supporters, many of whom respect and admire Lord Tebbit. When Mr Cameron attacks him, he pours scorn upon them all.
No-one calls for justice; no-one pleads his case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil (Isaiah 59:4).
The Conservative Party has become a Party without true conviction. Announcements are made off the cuff, amended or disowned within days, and there is a feeling of a weekly policy shift. True to the heir-to-Blair strategy, style is perceived to have triumphed over substance. While this reported change in direction may be welcome, it comes far too late for an autumn poll.
Or could a manifesto pledge to hold a retroactive referendum on the EU Constitution / Reform Treaty save him?
Yet if the pledge were made, would any either believe or trust him?