Heffer: Cameron is 'not a conviction Conservative'
Writing in his new megablog RightMinds, Simon Heffer articulates succinctly what many of us already know. Or think we know. We cannot know we know because of the present inconvenient variable: we're in coalition, which creates a number of known unknowns. Or unknown unknowns. But of all the rumours circulating about David Cameron's preferred modus operandi, none is doing more damage than the perception that his disposition, habits and policy preferences are more in tune with Nick Clegg than any on the 'Tory Right'; that he actually prefers being in bed with with Liberal Democrats to having to pander to his party's ‘Turnip Taliban’, ‘dinosaurs’ or ‘backwoodsmen’.
Yesterday, Michael Gove continued the Cameroon élite's favoured pastime of deprecating Conservative Party members, by urging his party not to respond to the constraints of coalition 'by doing the things that make the most atavistic parts of our party cheer up'.
Do those Conservatives who favour a return to academic selection in education really represent the primitive instincts and values of their remote ancestors? Is Conservative education policy (which is actually less selective than that pursued under the Blair-Adonis academy plan) more in tune with Liberal Democrat philosophy than with that which inspires millions to vote conservative in order that their children might receive a grammar school education?
A few weeks ago, William Hague wrote: “I wanted a Conservative government. I would have liked to have pursued some of the things on Europe on which we’ve had to compromise. However, I do find the experience of coalition government is much better than many of us feared. This is a more united Government than the one I served in before, which was purely Conservative.”
So, this coalition with the Liberal Democrats is more united than the last wholly Conservative one. Which rather suggests that the core Cameron-Clegg partnership is a meeting of like-minds, a fusion of soulmates, a bedding of the conjugally compatible. It is perhaps a logical and necessary precursor to the 'Red Tory' phenomenon: on the policy spectrum, Orange Tory has to precede it. And as the blue mixes with the orange, you get a rather unattractive shade - vote blue go green.
The problem is not, as Mr Heffer says, that David Cameron is 'not a conviction Conservative'; it's that he's not 'our sort' of Conservative. In the 'broad church', he is what Mrs Thatcher would have termed 'a wet'. And the problem with wets is that they tend to loathe everything that Margaret Thatcher stood for: her style, her manner, her policies, her conviction. They also paralyse the advance of Conservatism with their preference for defeatism over a return to 'ideological conviction'.