This blog is a political blog from a left-of-centre perspective. This is not specifically a party political blog, but does have a Lib Dem orientation. Constructive enagement with radical liberals, social democrats / democratic socialists and greens is particularly welcomed.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Cameron - the early verdict !

On the plus side one can welcome the environment commission set up by Cameron. Certainly Gummer and Goldsmith are two figures well worth listening to and their deliberations - and the Tory reaction to them - should prove interesting. One caveat is are the Tories picking up the mantle of green issues as a clumsy attempt to [as they probably see it] connect with younger voters ? After all the Tory record has been dismal since Gummer departed.

Likewise, the social justice commission was unthinkable under recent Tory leaders. And, whilst he was an atrocious leader, since then Iain Duncan-Smith has travelled extensively around the UK and absorbed much from the communities he's visited. To earn respect for his integrity and genuine interest from community activists on the Easterhouse housing scheme in Glasgow speaks well of the man. They aren't too keen on Tories up there !

The attempt to make the Tory party benches resemble 21st century Britain via better representation of women and other minorities is something to be applauded too.

However, the mood music may have changed but underneath the old rancid Tory party lives on. Already we have the Tories pledged to leave the moderate centre-right European People's Party grouping in the European Parliament. Who will they align with ? Only the nasty nationalist elements remain open to them. So a few days in the fissure on Europe is out in the open again.

Secondly, look at the top of the party, with key positions given to Fox, Davis, Hague et al. It looks pretty much business as usual with a firm rightward emphasis. That the likes of Clarke and Redwood figure in shadow appointments hardly buries the grisly memories of the Thatcher years.

In terms of presentation, the vacuos but slick oratory seems to ape Blair and that in a period when the PM is far less popular than his party. It will be interesting once the 'honeymoon' period is over to see if Cameron can shift the party to the centre and what the Lib Dem response will be. As Charles Kennedy has said this country doesn't need another conservative party. I'd go further it doesn't need any conservative party !!

What does worry me about CK is that he seems to have no ideological compass of his own. It is Cable, Laws and the other economic Liberals who are steering the party rightwards, with of course, no reference to the membership. Is the Meeting the Challenge exercise for real ? Certainly I would have to consider my position as a party member should we cosy up to the Tories. I've spent my entire adult life opposing them and to make grandiose announcements about putative deals with the Tories come a 'hung' parliament seems terrible politics all round. These anti CK briefings are very damaging too. That said, I'm not sure how much further inertia from 'Chairman Charles' we can sustain.

To their credit the Tories have hit the ground running under Cameron, although one expects this new 'exciting' Tories phase not to last more than a few months. In the meantime I feel the party needs it's social liberal wing to thread their ideas together in response to the Orange Book tendency. Is it me ? Am I the only one to think that we are sounding rudderless and politically drifting ?


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