Liam Fox on defence – why do Tory leaders not talk like this any more?
On a different day with a favourable wind, he might have been the Leader of his Party.
He still might be, of course.
Politics is a game of snakes and ladders: there is frequently no rhyme or reason to one’s ascent or descent, who’s in or who’s out, who loses or who wins. And rarely is it a matter of justice.
But on a day in which the polls all point again to a hung parliament, with the nation paralysed by indecision – rejecting the clunking opacity of Gordon Brown in direct proportion to the extent to which they are unattracted by suave imprecision of David Cameron – a message of clarity emerges from Liam Fox.
And it is utter common sense and really quite simple.
As are all effective political messages.
With a sideswipe at the pathologically left-leaning academics, schoolteachers, media and politicians, he says:
I’m really fed up with these liberal revisionist historians who want us to feel bad about everything that our country has ever done. Believing in ourselves and trusting in ourselves is a pretty good start in a country that wanted to make a better go of its future.
He who rewrites a nation’s history and forces everyone to believe it dooms us all never to learn from it.
And this nation has done nothing better than to weave the Christian faith into its cultural fabric, sewn every seam of its legislature with truth and embellished its constitutional design with the incomparable message of hope and love.
Christianity shaped the heart and soul of England and the United Kingdom.
And yet, after 13 years of New Labour, even our Parliament would have us feel bad about it.
Dr Fox continues:
Labour has suffered from such a strong case of colonial guilt that they cannot see the strength we have as a country in being able to form strong relations with different parts of the globe. If you go to a lot of countries, you can see where there is a strong affection for the United Kingdom that we could tap into.
Provided, of course, these different parts of the globe wish to reciprocate.
And, frankly, after the shabby way the UK ditched the Commonwealth in favour of the EEC in 1973, we would be arrogant to have any expectations.
We have in the last 13 years not leveraged these relationships in any way or shape or form to anything like the level that we could have. Rather than to apologise for everything in our history, we should take a bit of pride in our own history and our own conventions and our own convictions and start to look at the positive aspects which give us clout in the world and which give us respect and utilise them properly.
Taking pride in our own history and our own conventions and our own convictions?
It ought to be for David Cameron and the Conservative Party to articulate precisely how they intend to roll back the forces of socialism and reinvigorate the nation with a sense of pride and patriotism. And how they will build upon those aspects which ‘give us clout in the world’ or which ‘give us respect’.
It is evident (and unfortunate) that the most respected thing to emerge on the world stage after 13 years of New Labour is Tony Blair himself.
In calling for closer links with the British Commonwealth, Dr Fox alludes to the age of Empire. Of course, he cannot exalt the virtues of that empire, but he goes as far as any Tory may dare.
And he resolute that defence of the realm must remain an inviolable issue of national sovereignty:
Defence must be a sovereign issue. We cannot allow defence of the UK ever to be decided by a supernational body like the EU. Unless you’re willing to fund and fight, you’re not in the top group of allies which leave only one country in Europe which is a strong military partner for the UK – France. Our security lies in our own hands, and it’s best enhanced by a strong bilateral relationship with the US – as long as the Americans understand that we are a partner, and not a supplicant – and France.
With David Cameron saying ‘never’ to the euro, and Liam Fox saying ‘never’ to European Defence Force, all that remains is for George Osborne to say ‘never’ to a European Monetary Fund with direct (or indirect) tax-levying powers.
These red lines will ensure that there will be a 'massive Euro bust-up' during the first years of a Conservative government.
And, in the event of a minority administration, 'Europe' promises once again to emerge as the issue by which the competing wings of the Conservative Party descend into internecine political warfare: a vote of confidence would then be lost by Mr Cameron, precipitating a further general election and an undoubted leadership challenge.
Enter Liam Fox, stage right.