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.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Why did we not get there first ? Tory 'spin'

To give credit where it is due David Cameron's stated intention, but not of course policy, is that use of the royal perogative should be trimmed and any PM's 'war powers' should be curbed are both first class ideas.

But, why are we allowing Cameron to get there first ? Good politics DC ! On the other hand it'll have the Torygraph readers foaming at the mouth - not a pretty prospect ! Alienating your core support doesn't seem a clever tactic, but they've got nowhere else to go politically, as Cameron tries to construct a 'new' Tories big tent stretching to the centre ground.

However much of this supposed change of tone is nothing more than spin. Cameron says he's opposed to more grammar schools, but wants 20% selection by aptitute which will deliver the same result through the back door. How equality of opportunity is enhanced by supporting tuition fees in higher education needs some explaining too !

On Europe, the Tories kept pretty quiet on that most troublesome of issues for them during the General Election. Now it seems the Tories are going to choose either isolation in Europe or an alliance with extremists. With the EPP-ED group, comprising moderate centre-right opinion from Europe's leading Conservative and Christian Democrat parties, you'd think the Tories would seek influence within that group, especially as it is the largest political block in the Euro parliament. Er, no ! The avowedly eurosceptic Tories seem to prefer the latter option, of isolation or extremism.

'The Guardian' and 'The Independent' speculate that potential European partners could included the virulently homophobic and muscular brand of Catholicism influenced Law and Justice party from Poland or, incredibly, the post-fascist Italian National Alliance. So much for moderate centre-ground politics !

As Jimmy Cricket would say....and there's more. ! Listening to Theresa Villiers on a recent Radio 4 broadcast of 'Any Questions' she suggested the Tory 'opposition' to ID cards was primarily down to worries about cost. So it's not about principle and civil liberties then ?

I have to say I was genuinely pleasantly surprised that the Green policy commission was to have two excellent and committed environmentalists 'on board' in the shape of John Gummer and Zac Goldsmith. However, it doesn't auger well in that before they've set to work on the policy forum Peter Ainsworth, Tory spokesperson on the environment, is calling for a 'massive road building programme'.

Clearly there has been some shift to the centre of British politics, but much of the policy pronouncements are far less progressive than they seem. There's still a large element of 'same old Tories' when you scrutinise what they say. As hinted at above and in earlier posts how long can he keep the core vote onside ? Media reports suggest significant sections of the parliamentary party are become extremely aggrieved at the policy-on-the hoof and [public] trashing of Thatcherite orthodoxy.

One final point. I have the Tory PPC for Torbay in mind here. Marcus Wood enthusiastically endorsed the harsh and illiberal Cameron-penned manifesto last May. Now, he rushes into the local media lauding the supposedly 'one nation' conservatism of his leader. In doing that alone, he displays an astonishing degree of political gymnastics. So which specific policies that you stood on in May do you now repudiate Marcus ? When policy is decided only in the leaders office and is influenced by focus groups, it leaves PPC's like Marcus looking incredibly silly ! Now when you have party conference making decisions, informed by a shared political philosophy such as Liberalism, any significant policy changes are better carried because they have been authorised by the wider party membership. This avoids the kind of mess the Tories are getting themselves into !


Blogger Martin said...

Looks like Ming Campbell and Emlyn Hooson already did...

11:08 am GMT

Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Pity we didn't make the same political capital out of it ! That's probably due to a largely Tory press who are for the time being mostly suppressing their reservations about Cameron.

12:12 pm GMT

Blogger Greg said...

"Cameron says he's opposed to more grammar schools, but wants 20% selection by aptitute which will deliver the same result through the back door"

How do you work that out?

7:44 am GMT

Blogger Barrie Wood said...

Tories still support social and educational segregation via selection by ability.

Realising that Grammar Schools in most parts of the country are electorally unpopular and brand children as 'failures' at 11, he seeks to use 'back door' means of achieving the same ends.

8:40 am GMT


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