Sunday, March 15, 2015

When Toryism moves right....

Lynton Crosby's general campaign advice for the right-wing politicians he expensively manages generally seems to be to tack right, and then right again, until you've out-manouevred anyone else who might be coming from that direction.  It seemed to work in Australia for John Howard.  It didn't work for Michael Howard in Britain in 2005.  And the jury is obviously out on its impact on David Cameron's campaign in 2015.

Mind you, there used to be a time when the Conservative Party didn't see tacking right as a useful or honourable tactic.  This was a party that held a variety of centre-right views together - including, yes, some of the 'ultras' - but believed firmly in its national position as a "One Nation" party, needing to look beyond its own borders for support and affirmation.  It was a party that understood the welfare state, tapped in to the aspirations of lower income earners whilst maintaining their safety net, and vigorously challenged any onset of incipient racism that might come up, especially under the guise of "immigration reform". To his credit, one of Michael Howard's finest blasts came in his searing attack on the BNP.  It was always a great shame that this fundamentally decent man allowed his campaign to be defined by posters of the inflammatory nature as the "Are you thinking what we're thinking?" kind.  If you want an inkling of what this Tory Party used to sound like, give Michael Heseltine's piece in today's Mail a read.  It is a full and wholesome put-down of Nigel Farage's race-meddling and brooks no thought of dealing with such a man, likening him to a less intelligent version of Enoch Powell, another politician at ease with the far right.

The vigour of the Heseltine attack on Mr Farage is all the more satisfying for the weak-minded, feeble appraoch shown by the Conservative Party's actual leader, David Cameron.  He seems to have embraced the Crosby mantra of not annoying UKIP supporters, and as such has successfully conveyed - yet again - an image of flaccid, unprincipled, short-termist leadership.

If you want a sharp and unforgiving assessment of the Cameron mode of leadership, read Nick Cohen in the Observer.  I know Cohen is no conservative, but he is a clear-headed commentator on politics who gives no quarter in his honest assessments of both right and left.  His condemnations of Cameron are given greater force because they ring so true.  He compares his approach to that of Angela Merkel, who denounced the anti-Muslim protestors in Dresden in no uncertain terms as having "prejudice, hatred and coldness in their hearts".  Try listening for anything even remotely similar from Cameron about UKIP and you'll end up getting your ears tested.

Cohen also - rightly - mocks the Tory choice of candidate to challenge Nigel Farage in South Thanet as an attempt to simply provide Faragism without Farage.  Might as well have thrown in their lot with Farage from the word go.

If the modern Tory Party really can't attack a man who openly plays with racist ideas, no matter how cunningly phrased, then it does need to start asking why it is even in business.  Time used to be that we knew what broad-mindedness differentiated the Tory Party from fringe right-wing groups.  It looks as if that time is no more, and the UK is the loser.


2 comments:

Don Wood said...

I loved the "He seems to have embraced the Crosby mantra of not annoying UKIP supporters, and as such has successfully conveyed - yet again - an image of flaccid, unprincipled, short-termist leadership."
He has shown himself to be flaccid but his priciples remain. They change with the wind but they are principled by his short term leadership. I have only know politics since the 1970's and in all that time not a lot has changed other than I am a lot older.

Bikram Singh Majithia said...

nice blog.