Monday, October 24, 2005

cameron, blair and tory central office

I'm slightly ashamed to admit that I sheepishly explained to Andrew last night that I'm finding it fairly difficult to dislike David Cameron so far; he seems to have something which I've not seen in a Tory politician for quite a while; assuredness and ease with other people. He rarely comes away looking like a prat, which mightn't sound like much of a compliment but - given the recent run of Conservative party leaders - it is.

So I have mixed feelings about Stephen Newton's post dismissing him with the damning 'IDS/Cameron type' label. It's a mistake at this point to confuse 'inexperienced' with 'inept' - although I hope that Stephen is right and that Cameron has been overachieving.

One thing is certain, however, and that's the fact that comparing Cameron to Blair is a complete non-starter. A couple of years ago, echoing Blair's uncertain position in his own party during the 1980s, Cameron was disliked by a lot of Tories for being something of a jumped up little prick; someone who hadn't served his time, and didn't understand - or respect - the traditions of the party. People in Labour were calling Blair 'the tory' twenty years ago, not just recently.

But, unlike Cameron, Blair went on to fight and win crucial arguments with the Labour Party - even if he's gone barmy since. The tories may have made the same realisation that Labour made in 94 (that they needed someone dynamic, centrist and popular) but the realisation is driven purely by their desire to reinstate themselves as the "natural party of government". In the Conservative Party no arguments have been won, no bloody noses handed out, and no respect earned. The Tories expect to win the next election because they feel it's their right. But Labour won in 1997 because they earned the right.

It's not inconceivable that Cameron will be the next PM. But it's inconceivable that he'll hold it together unless he starts taking on the right wing of his party (and the Mail group) and winning their respect. Until then, he'll stay a jumped up little prick.

Stephen, meanwhile, keeps blogging and digs out the truest, most salutory post I've read in the last few weeks. He's already written extensively on Maria Hutchings, the mum who was primed by Essex Tories (boy, that's a good insult) to attack Blair over immigration during the last election campaign. Now he's noted that both Conservative Central Office and the Tory run Essex County Council spent the afternoon googling Hutchings (they ended up at his blog).

Stephen's not surprised. He notes:

"Despite a leadershhip election and a pledge to change that’s been made many times before, those who played the race card a few short months ago are still running the Tory party. No doubt they’re eager to make race an issue once again."

More excellent blogging from Stephen here.


jonathan said...

Ahem. I've just noticed that the last person to leave a comment on my blog was Stephen. In the interests of clarity, I'd just like to make it clear that Assistant Blog does not operate a 'links for comments' policy. We observe good journalistic practices.

Mind you, I do take bribes.

Bloggers4Labour said...

Just think of all those hordes of conservative bloggers out there - are they going to put up with centrism? They want conservative social policies and to give the unions a pounding, not just Blair's gentle rolling-back of the state. Could be interesting.