A response to the Man of Kent

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I actually began this as a response in the comments to my esteemed Comrade here at the Paintbrush Collective, ManofKent86.

To an extent, I agree with my Kentish comrade – Cameron’s policy announcements (where we have had them at all) have been either incoherent (British Bill of Rights), pandering to poorly-chosen interest groups (IHT cut), or plain stoooopid (“marriage incentives” in the tax system). Also, on a lot of the sort of policy issues with which he is (or would like to be associated), the amount of definite policy announced is vastly outstripped by fine, but empty, words and posturing – the environment is a very good example.

In terms of leadership – I think that, at the moment, Cameron hasn’t had to face any real challenges to his authority. All of the different interest groups in the Tories have finally woken up to the fact that public internecine bloodletting will get them nowhere, and that their best bet to get to Downing Street is riding Cameron’s horse.

But where crises requiring leadership HAVE arisen, I think it’s important to contrast them with previous Tory leaders.

Michael Howard suspended the whip from Ann Winterton for making a single racist joke (quite rightly), and he removed Howard Flight – a shadow cabinet member! – as a candidate at a stroke when he broke with the line on tax and spending cuts.

Cameron, in contrast, looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights when Graham Brady dramatically resigned over the Tory position on Grammar Schools. Not only did Cameron lose a member of his shadow ministerial team, he also failed to extract any kind of policy victory from the issue: consequently, I’m entirely unsure what the Tory policy on grammar schools actually is.

Cameron has also not dealt well with the emergence of fundamentalist libertarians like Dan Hannan as big hitters in the Tory party, and this could pose him (and the rest of us, should the Tories get into power) serious problems in the future, simply because they are making up an increasing amount of the Parliamentary Tory Party, and are bound to increase in number and in the stature of their individual members.

I suppose you have to ask yourself this: if Cameron isn’t going to be more authoritative in taking on the libertarians now, and isn’t going to enforce his view of institutions like the NHS over theirs, what’s going to happen if a tough decision has to be made in government? I think he’s leaving hostages to fortune here in a way that Blair would never have done with analagous constituencies of opinion in the Labour Party in the 1990s.

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One Response to “A response to the Man of Kent”

  1. manofkent86 Says:

    I will post at length on the libertarians in the next few days. Have an exam tomorrow on the good socialist topic of “International and Comparative Secured Transactions” so will have to provide a mere overview for now. Generally agree they provide a thorn in the side of the Tories should they get into power. Don’t think it affects Cameron’s credibility with the public as people don’t view them in the same was as the racist gaffe brigade or Militant amongst our lot. Consequently failure to address them can be excused in the eyes of the public as perhaps tolerance of dissent. Like I say more to follow…

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