Sunday, December 18, 2005

Who's Been Smoking Crack at The Observer?

David Cameron stakes his claim today to be the voice of moderate, progressive Britain in a remarkable interview in which he says that the Conservatives speak for a 21st century generation of Britons who are non-ideological and want politics to be practical. In a revealing interview with The Observer, the new Tory leader jettisoned his party's hardline image on immigration, saying he welcomed those fleeing genuine persecution abroad.

And what does the great Liberal say?

There are some obvious problems with his appeal to Lib Dem voters. Most people who voted Lib Dem at the last election were probably against the Iraq war. He was in favour. The Lib Dems are a pro-European party. He is pronouncedly Eurosceptic. One of his few specific pledges during the leadership campaign was to withdraw Tory members of the European Parliament from the mainstream centre-right grouping in Brussels, which has already whipped up a storm with his MEPs and drawn fire from Angela Merkel, the Christian Democrat German Chancellor.

'The principles that the Conservative Party should apply are very clear: we think immigration is very good for Britain; we think that there are clear benefits in a modern economy from having both emigration and immigration, but that net immigration has to have a very careful regard to good community relations and the fair provision of public services. Those are the principles you apply, and then you have to try to come up with answer.'

The answer the Tories came up with in their last manifesto was a quota or a cap on immigration. Is that still his policy?

'We are reviewing.'

It could be ditched?

'All our policies are under review.'

He goes out of his way to strike a very different note about asylum seekers.

'I'm passionately committed to giving people who are being tortured and persecuted asylum, and that means not just letting them in, but taking them to our hearts, and feeding and clothing and schooling them.'

So, they are 'reviewing' their opinions on foreigners. The devil in this detail is what Cameron would believe counts as people being 'tortured and persecuted', a sceptical person might believe that this is still the pre-election immigration policy, just in more liberal-sounding language. With no mention of a special island to send them to.

What about foxhunting? Would he make hunting with dogs legal again?

'Personally, yes - I would.'

...'the constituency I represent is packed full of now rather frustrated fox hunters,' he says. He confirms that he been foxhunting himself: about 10 times, he reckons.

...'I'm saying to the Prime Minister: if you want these education reforms, you can have them. Be as bold as you like, because you've got my backing.'

...Cameron has given another ex-leader - Iain Duncan Smith - a job running one of the policy commissions, which will help him avoid having to make policy commitments for two years.

Gives him plenty of time to go on chat-shows and present himself as a nice bloke.

To be fair he seems genuinely committed to getting rid of the old fat white men of the Conservative Party and replace them with women and members of ethnic minorities but this just means he's a slightly progressive Conservative, not a Progressive.


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