Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cameron Keeps Right on Europe


There seem to have been definite moves by David Cameron to appease his right-wing base recently. Not only have the Tories taken a harder line on Islamicism and its threat, but there has been a noticeable keenness to gain back some of the UKIP vote. The UKIP vote deprived the Tories of the chance of winning a significant number of seats at the last election (including, locally, Carshalton and Wallington), and it may be a consideration on Cameron's part to allow his right-wing the sop of Euroscepticism in an otherwise modernising Tory Party.

In the Sunday Telegraph today David Cameron launches an attack on fellow right-winger, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's attempt to revive the European Constitution. His Defence Spokesman Liam Fox, meanwhile, fresh from a week chumming up with the Americans to restore Toryism's Atlanticist credentials, has called for UKIP supporters to vote Tory. In a GMTV interview this morning, Fox said, "There's only one party that's going to take Britain in the direction that those who vote Ukip would like to see, that is standing up more for Britain's interests, making sure that the decision that effect the British people are made here in the UK. That's the Conservative Party."

Euroscepticism is one of the few Thatcherite shibboleths that Cameron has left in place. As the issue that tore the party apart under John Major he may have decided that he could not afford to open up a war on this front while he seeks to alter much of the rest of the party's mindset. It is also probably that he is an instinctive eurosceptic himself. Even so, it will be difficult to appease right-wing anger. Long-time sceptic and Telegraph columinst Christopher Booker has penned a piece for the Freedom Association's website. In it he attacks Cameron on every front for failing to adopt proper right-wing policies, not least on Europe, where he claims voters are looking for a party to "uphold Britain's national interest, as we suffocate under the malfunctioning system of government represented by the European Union."

Booker's piece is a fascinating bit of right-wing doublethink, as most of the flaws that he angrily cites about British politics arguably had their genesis in the Thatcher years - but more of that in time! Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether Cameron can hold modernisation in one hand and still cater to the eurosceptics with the other. The two are not easy partners.

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