Sunday, October 02, 2011

Cameron must show his mettle

This is a guest post by Zach Johnstone:

The parliamentary hiatus that is ‘conference season’ means different things to different people. For some it is the apex of the political calendar; a time for jingoistic sentiment and reverence of a party’s achievements to date. For others, it serves as little more than a tired formality concerned less with policy formulation than with haughty image-polishing and transient poll rating surges.

Yet whichever perception holds the most validity, with the Conservative Party conference due to get underway today there is a palpable sense that, in offering such uninspiring performances at conference, both the Liberal Democrats and Labour missed the chance to steal a march on the Tories. For the former, the mission was to show that tuition fee U-turns and political evisceration in May’s local council elections are problems from which the party can recover. For the latter, it was no less than to demonstrate to the voting public that there exists a credible and coherent alternative to the Coalition.

In the event, neither succeeded.

Miliband’s speech in particular was as disjointed as any conference speech in living memory. Even if Ed professes to be “up for the fight”, on the evidence of his shadow cabinet’s reluctance to come out in his defence it seems as though few in the Labour ranks share the sentiment. Yet setting aside for a moment the delivery of the speech, the sheer lack of content will – or at least should – resonate amongst any Labour members with designs on victory in 2015. In well over 5,000 carefully drafted and re-drafted words, Miliband offered no grand strategy whatsoever for tackling the deficit or for rebalancing the budget. Instead, those in attendance were treated to a partisan diatribe denouncing the proposed abolition of the 50p tax rate, the anticipated cuts to corporation tax and, well, just about any mechanism of growth that has been (or is expected to be) introduced by the Coalition.

The ramifications of this are yet to be fully played out; party conferences, especially those that fall years before the next general election, are not steadfast indicators of a party’s fate. They do, however, offer an insight into the integrity, intellectual capability and capacity for leadership of a party’s leader.

What, then, of the Conservative party?

David Cameron will arrive in Manchester today to find the bar set unprecedentedly low in all of these regards. The initiative is certainly there to be seized; the Coalition has not yet, as many predicted, provided an insurmountable hindrance to the Conservatives’ pre-election vision of change (with the notable exception of the NHS). The parties have demonstrated a capacity for cooperation that few foresaw in the early weeks of governmental matrimony that has led to a cogent and extensive vision for the next four years. It is for Cameron to continue this positive trajectory and make the case for cuts, to articulate the thinking behind the launch of free schools, to lend his unwavering support to IDS’ under-threat welfare reforms and to breathe new confidence into the economy. The Prime Minister will be sharply judged on his grasp of the macro issues.

Just as importantly, however, Cameron must ensure that his vision is relevant to those of all walks of life – if it is important that ordinary citizens know that the modern incarnation of the Conservative Party is on their side, it is equally crucial that businesses feel similarly reassured. On both fronts, this is something he surely cannot do without dealing directly with Britain’s membership of the EU. Brussels’ announcement that the UK will soon be forced to accommodate the claims of “welfare tourists” is emblematic of the resentment many feel towards the imposition of directives and diktats from EU institutions, whilst Barroso’s intransigent determination to impose a tax on financial transactions – the so-called Tobin tax - is one that would hit the UK’s unusually large financial sector with singular brutality. It is on such immediate and pressing problems – the micro issues - that Cameron must also elucidate his government’s position.

For Charles Moore, matters are even more pressing. Cameron should be looking to the party conference as nothing less than the platform from which to “offer a way out” of economic and political disaster – to give it to us straight and to fill the void in the political market left by those politicians who could “talk both truthfully yet encouragingly about hard times.” On this, however, I am far from persuaded. Moore, to all intents and purposes, is still talking in terms of image: the delivery of the speech must be laced with optimism and hope, something to which he refers as no less than “a genuine duty of leadership”. And perhaps in a sense he is right. But even if he hints at it, he doesn’t fully touch on what truly matters: what must come from Cameron’s speech more than sanguinity is a reassertion of the values that put him in Downing Street in the first place. Just as Thatcher’s neo-liberalism characterised the 1980s and Blair’s Third Way monopolised the early-2000s, Cameron must show his mettle by detailing the overarching direction in which he seeks to take the UK.

He must offer, quite simply, that which discernibly passed both Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg by: substance.

Part of doing so is to resist punctuating his speech with digs at Labour’s expense: respect will be won or lost on the strength of the Conservative vision for both economic recovery and societal improvement, not on its proclivity for dishing out vitriol. It is for Labour members to worry about Labour...

...and worry they should. For if the party’s dismal conference did not portend electoral calamity, it certainly demonstrated that political purgatory awaits the Labour Party unless it begins to offer a viable alternative to the Coalition’s broad-based reform agenda, and wastes no time in doing so. With Ed at the helm, this is frankly a reality that is becoming more and more difficult to envisage.


Blogger graham wood said...

I think we can expect nothing of substance from Mr Cameron at the coming conference - which is merely a repeat of the customary PR exercise for the political mediocrity prize of the year.

Can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit?

I cannot do better than quote something of DC's record (as recorded by Rodney Atkinson)

Since 2007 Mr Cameron has:
" reneged on his "cast iron" referendum guarantee, allowed non Tories to help select Tory candidates, invited socialists to speak at the Tory conference, alienated the Tory working class, committed hundreds of billions to the man made climate change myth, accepted Marxist political correctness, surrendered critical powers to the EU, rejected grammar schools, failed to head warnings about Andy Coulson, permitted homosexual proseletising in schools, refused to attend CBI and NFU conferences, disastrously gave Lib Dems a platform in the election, ignored classical liberal and Conservative think tanks, and chose deliberately to lose the general election rather than win 30-40 additional seats by accommodating the UKIP line!"

I'm sure readers can think of more of this man's claims to fame and fortune?

2 October 2011 at 11:03  
Blogger bluedog said...

The forgotten people in British politics are the old white working class.

The EU doesn't interest them, yet. Jobs for themselves, and their children, the quality of education, access to affordable housing, a belief that they can lift themselves up a rung or two, these are things they want. Being socially conservative, they are not remotely interested in the progressive agenda of same sex marriage and adoption, multiculturalism and unfettered immigration. If you want to lose their vote, these are the issues that you promote.

This particular demographic has been completely captured by the Right in the USA and in Australia. There is no reason why the same demographic could not be captured by the Right in the UK.

Or is there?

Of course, how silly, the Conservative Party stands for everything the British working class sensibly despises.

No wonder the Conservative Party is unable to win power in its own right.

2 October 2011 at 11:39  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

For me, Cameron’s betrayal of Conservatism is summed up by this Telegraph headline: ‘Our forces, brought to their knees’.

2 October 2011 at 11:52  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Zach Johnstone the modern incarnation of the Conservative Party

You have no idea how a proud, free Briton views those words. The presumed logic behind it is thus. To defeat my ideological enemy, I need to capture some of his votes. The best way is to become more like my ideological enemy in my policies.

And you’re asking Cameron to show his mettle ? A bit much to ask of the political researcher turned party leader. He’s never been more than an advisor, and a bad one at that.

This conference should be about Cameron’s successor (If they can’t agree one, let the decision fall to the Baroness). It should be about restating true conservative values. (If you are unsure what these are, ask your parents. They’ll tell you of the huge majorities these values were responsible for 30 years ago). It should be about going to the polls again next May, to ditch these no-hope Lib Dem opportunist political dreamers). And most of all, it should be about the cast iron ( a non Cameron sense...) guarantee ( there’s a devalued word in politics...) of an EU referendum. I’ll repeat that, an EU referendum.

The Conservatives will end up with such a majority, they won’t know where to sit everybody. Failure of the tail to re-engage with the body, then you’ll find the Inspector handing out UKIP pamphlets....

2 October 2011 at 14:47  
Blogger Oswin said...

Yep, we've had the adenoidal worm-gob, now we're awaiting old mealy-mouth. We're doomed, doomed I tell you!

Amateurs, fools and bunglers both; something has got to give, if only Clegg's knicker elastic!

2 October 2011 at 15:22  
Blogger UKIP said...

He's shown his mettle all right:

2 October 2011 at 16:46  
Blogger Yokel said...

Cameron IS showing his mettle. He is a fully paid up EUropile, doing the bidding of Brussels even more effectively than Tony Bliar.

2 October 2011 at 17:17  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Cameron is full of pie crust promises, his credibility has sunk so whatever he spouts will be taken with a pinch of salt by most people.

I wouldn't underestimate Red Ed Millipede though, he reminds me of the tortoise in the tortoise and the hare race. Call me Dave is the hare full of bluster but turns back all the time, whereas Ed says little, has not made promises he can't keep (and he does have a point on what he said about asset strippers being bad for businesses.) and quietly wins the next election.

Get the obnoxious asset strippers - those dodgy Iranian playboy Tchenguitz brothers, the Reuben brothers who have re-invested but mainly in real estate where they double their billions again, Tom Hunter and all the other greedy buggers in consortium’s who have stripped British cash rich companies to the bone, I worked for one that was stripped of its 1.1 billion and had to go twice begging to Rothschilds - to reinvest their billions into this country's new travel infrastructures and a new state of the art airport in the South East with the wow factor, such as Boris has talked about based on harnessing all that free energy from the sea. I mean if we are to have fantastic new planes like SonicStar that go to New York in 2 hrs via space we are going to need a fab. new airport in the estuary. Now that would be an Isambard Kingdom-brunel type achievement.

And develop the rail networks to take more freight off the motorways so that we can actually do 80mph!

2 October 2011 at 17:21  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

May I humbly suggest that the UK Conservatives take a better look at the Canadian example, with its majority Conservative government under our best prime minister ever (I think), Mr Harper?

We've been very fortunate. For the first time since WW II, some say, Canada has an indpendent and muscular international policy and armed forces with a punch. Canada no longer cowtows to the UN and feels free to support its allies, including Israel. The "global warming/climate change" scam, which still bedevils the UK, the US and Australia, is all but dead here, with mouthed formalities not to upset Mr Obama to south of us, but the staff of our environment ministry has been mysteriously decimated under "procedural" budget cuts and personnel transfers. There will be no "carbon credits," Kyoto compliances and our oil sands are in full production mode. To the panic of the multi-billion "green" lobby, not only are crony "renewale energy" subsidies drying out, but a pipeline to the US will be built, and natural gas exploration is going into full swing. Our energetic energy policies are freaking out the Saudis, who are losing their market share to the US and seeing an upcoming price drop with every Canadian initiative.

Having a real conservative Federal government has spinoff effects in empowering other levels of governments and the citizens as well. Toronto has now a conservative mayor and our provincial elections, in Ontario, coming up this month may bring in a our provincial Conservatives as well. On a local level, people are beginning to question the monopolies and powers of the public sector unions, the abortion debate is heating up, and in spite of the public's support for multicuralism and Gay rights, over-the-top education policies by leftist nitwits, such as acommodating only Muslim prayer in schools, pumping pro-UN propaganda, or forcing third graders to question their gender identity and sexual orientation are getting an unexpected push-back. The proof being in the pudding, our economy is sailing along rather nicely. Recently, our economy overtook Great Britain's, something which with our great differences in population and industrial capacity should not have happened...but you naughty kids somehow got yourselves into this EU mess, you swamped your cities with the world's most unproductive and troublesome types, allowed the UN and OPEC to dictate your energy and international policies, and as if that wasn't enough, elected the pseudo-Conservative drones and tricksters you are pulling your hair out over. Please, people, do something to get your act together as a key leader of the democratic and industrialized world; Australia will turf the bad Gillard experiment, Canada is already on the right track and anyone, including Lady Gaga, will be able to burry Obama and the Democrats in the coming US elections.

On the other hand, if things continue on, I confess to looking forward to seeing many of you folks here; our founding British stock is in demographic and cultural decline, and inviting immigrants who can hit the ground running, instead of sapping our welfare offices for generations, is our new, but quiet, immigration policy.

2 October 2011 at 18:01  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Is his mettle cast iron?

2 October 2011 at 18:13  
Blogger bluedog said...

Brilliant comment, Mr Barzels @ 18.01. It seems Canada has closed the book on PC. But you did lead for many years!

2 October 2011 at 21:08  
Blogger graham wood said...

"Canada is already on the right track and anyone, including Lady Gaga, will be able to burry Obama and the Democrats in the coming US elections."

Good post from you Avi, and good to hear of real Conservative government there!

Re the USA election though, IMO they need only one candidate to bury the Dems in the USA - undoubtedly it must be Herman Cain. A real Conservative, good Tea Party candidate, with integrity, and great business/scientific/administrative background. Unlike the Obarmy One, he loves America and its Constitution!

2 October 2011 at 21:34  
Blogger Owl said...

YG, Dave the phoney cannot show his mettle as he doesn't have any.

He will just apply the Fabian method of using semantics to give the impression that he means A, while busily doing B.

The Ballsup and Cleggy may have set the bar rather low but I think you can trust DC to get under it. He's very flexible.

Do you think we could get some Canadians to enter our dismal country and help in putting it back together again?

2 October 2011 at 22:44  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

Thank you, Mr wood. I must stress that I'm not boasting about our seeming success. After decades of Liberal governments and faux-conservative Conservative ones, we practically stumbled onto and lucked into a what I'd call a centrist-conservative government. Not everyone in the right wings is totally happy, of course, but you must keep in mind that since the early seventies, the very definition of Canadian identity was a neutral, left-wing liberal, something that will take time to "wash away."

As for Herman Cain, I'm with you on that one. I had iniially dismissed him for his lack of government experience and his low standing in the primaries, but he has been plowing on and debating well and his numbers have been rising. Not having had a public position or not knowing the back alleys of Washington would have practically disqualified him in the past, but these "handicaps" have become assets now with the new wave of Republicans and the Tea Party, both of whom mistrust the old guard. Personally, I think that political experience is less important than managerial one, which Cain has as a businessman. Unlike a prime minister's office, the republican government's presidency is closer to a chief executive officer's in a corporation, where smarts in choosing advisers and cabinets is of more value. No matter how inexperienced Cain may be in foreign affairs issues, it is inconceivable that he could make a bigger mess than Obama, and in any case, international affairs, as someone commented, really involves about ten nations that truly matter. My prediction is that most likely the slick poitician Perry will win the nomination, but if I could vote in the US, I'd go with Cain.

I wish we here knew as much about UK politics as we do about US ones, but our media is focussed on our southern neighbours, our biggest trade partner and defense guarantor. As a former Prime Minister of ours quipped, living beside the US is like sleeping with an elephant; the elephant may be nice, but if it twitches, we're in trouble.

2 October 2011 at 23:36  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

PS, Just read you comment, bluedog, thank you, but the book on our Conservatives hasn't closed enough to make us feel safe. The opposition Liberals have been decimated, the leftist New Democrats are weak and the Greens, with one seat held by a moonbat, are a silly joke. But, we did have a minority government for a long time, our CBC is as bad as your BBC and much of our cultural and educational establishment and what goes for our intelligentsia here, is squarely on the left. Many battles to wage still!

2 October 2011 at 23:44  
Blogger Atlas shrugged said...

I sum up the overriding message of The Labour Party Conference as thus.

We would be doing the exact same things as the current administration, the 'important' difference being that the 'EVIL' Tory's, and 'treacherous' Liberals enjoy cutting public services, and we don't.

Surly this kind of party politics is treating the voting public like mindless idiots. They clearly are mindless idiots, but thats not the point.

Therefore the questions to be asked are.

Are floating voters going to buy it?


As Labour would be doing the exact same things, will it make any appreciable difference to anything worth worrying about, whether enough floating voters buy it in 2015 or not?


Very possibly not.


Quite clearly, it could not possibly make any kind of important difference whether enough buy it or not.

Which really should beg all kinds of other questions like.

What is the bloody point of voting at all?


There is absolutely NONE whatsoever.

A fact of life that should be as clear as the noses on our faces, but apparently is not, other then to a very tiny few.

Quite frankly if British politics, was ever alive in the first place, it most surly is not now.

Government policies, most especially any kind of important or long term ones, are not decided upon by elected politicians or members of political parties.

They are not decided upon either by people within The European Parliament, or The European Council of Ministers.

ALL important matters are decided upon at a very much higher level, following advice from, or based on information gained by, corporatist establishment created, appointed and sponsored bodies such as The RIIA, Tavistock Institute, MOD, CFR, and BIS, as well as many other secretive quasi governmental groups, committees and sub-committees.

Party politics is no more then a soap opera style SIDE-SHOW for the uninitiated, or utterly profane masses, used solely to distract them from the secretive inner workings of the real powers that be.

3 October 2011 at 01:59  
Blogger Atlas shrugged said...

I see that OWL, has the tone about right. Well done that man, 10/10, it is good to note that at least someone is thinking in the correct manner.

However have a small degree of sympathy, for not so poor, but utterly powerless David Cameron.

It must sometimes be a little hard being seen to be responsible for many things one has absolutely no real control over, with or without the Lib/Dems in tow.

However he will be eventually well rewarded for his efforts, we, on the other hand will be lucky if we end up usefully owning the shirts on our backs.

3 October 2011 at 02:16  
Blogger Avi Barzel said...

"Do you think we could get some Canadians to enter our dismal country and help in putting it back together again?" (Owl)

If it were so simple, but as I must stress again, we're experiencing a freak of political fortune, a blue moon, as it were. Conservatism in Canada is a fragile flower. So established, ingrained and inbred is our liberal establishment that it's having meltdowns over everything the Conservatives do. The most amusing to me was when one of our liberal politicians bemoaned the fact that in the days gone by the Canadian flag sown on a backpack of travellers was a virtual passport (designating the wearer as a neutered citizen of a harmless, likeable chump of a Care Bear nation). When Canada lost membership in the Security Council to Portugal (of all countries), our lefties screamed that we are no longer loved by the UN and that we lost it due to Canada's snubbing of Islamist regimes and open support of Israel, right in the faces of Obama and the EU. Recently, there was a protest befire our Parliament in Ottawa by the usual hipsters over the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline which will carry heavy oil to the US. The same oil that has the Saudis scheissing in their robes. Oil worth trillions to Canada, and these self-hating, treasonous bourgeois snots want to stop it because Greenpeace and other billionaire activist corporations have dictated that we can't exploit it, I suppose because some rare gnat mutations, or whatever, get headaches. Not to worry, we'll get the pipeline built, even if we have to relocate the gnats or whatever to Bora Bora, to pay off the usual Native bands with millions for coming within a thousand miles of their imaginary hunting grounds, and to supply the eco activists with new grands to keep them cobbling together unread "studies" and quacking to the pinko media for another year.

So, sorry Owl, you can't have any of our good folks yet, as they are still few and far between. But we'll gladly take some of you guys to freshen up our stocks.

3 October 2011 at 03:45  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Hate to agree, but it's (almost) all true.
On the main issue it is certainly true.
Cameron is a poltroon and a traitor.
As somoene who has changed sides in the past 5-6 years, I am very strongly anti-EU. Havning been conned from the inside, so to speak.

It is going to get worse before it gets better, unless Camron gets hos arm twisted, which is, I suppose, possible.

You might also like to consider, as an aside, as to why I am so stringly anti-religion: because there too, I have seen (I think, all the arguments - and certainly all the christian ones) and now adjudge them to be false.

3 October 2011 at 08:06  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Mr Johnstone, it doesn't matter how you try and spin Cameron. You see, we've already seen what kind of material he's made of and it's the same stuff that falls out the rear end of a male cow.

3 October 2011 at 08:44  
Blogger len said...

Trouble with Cameron is nobody believes him anymore.
Too many broken promises to much compromise.
To me at, least, he has lost all credibility

3 October 2011 at 17:56  

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