January 30, 2006


I'll never give in to Right, says Cameron (Toby Helm, 31/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Yesterday Mr Blair flatly rejected suggestions that Mr Cameron would be his natural successor as he again endorsed Gordon Brown as "absolutely" the right person to take his party and country forward after he steps down.

"The people who are best placed to continue this process are the people who started it," the Prime Minister told BBC1's Breakfast programme.

In his speech Mr Cameron said that Mr Blair, rather than bringing in new political ideas when he became Labour leader, had merely adopted much of the thinking of Mrs, now Lady, Thatcher.

There was therefore no contradiction between praising both Mr Blair and the former Tory leader.

Mr Blair had grasped that what Labour needed to do to win power was imitate much of her approach.

"A more middle class Britain wanted a middle class lifestyle based on a prosperous market economy. Tony Blair understood this - profoundly understood it.... Tony Blair saw that the task of New Labour was to preserve the fruits of the Thatcher revolution."

The Tories had made "terrible strategic and political mistakes" as they struggled to respond. "Having defined ourselves for many years as the anti-Socialist party, how were we to define ourselves once full-blooded socialism had disappeared from the political landscape?"

The way forward for the Tories now was to accept that New Labour and the Conservatives shared similar aspirations but had very different ideas on how realise them.

While the Blair/Brown government put its faith in "legislation, regulation and bureaucracy" and saw action by the state as the way to deliver economic dynamism and social justice, the Tories had a different recipe for success. "We will respond to state failure by empowering individuals and civil society," he said.

Had Bill Clinton been the Democratic nominee in '88 it's possible to imagine Ronald Reagan being forced to say something similar.

Sorry, but voters prefer straight choices (Mark Steyn, 31/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

What should be the attitude of those us in the sober sheets to the Lib Dem leadership race? Aside, that is, from an appreciative titter at the Sun's "Another One Bites The Pillow". [...]

My colleague Tom Utley, who is usually right about these things, thinks it won't do Mr Hughes any harm. But I wonder. Two weeks ago, you may recall, I predicted that the Tories would win the Canadian election. They did, and since then I've been asked if I know precisely why.

Well, having been totally shut out in Quebec for almost two decades, they suddenly picked up a bunch of seats formerly held by the separatist party.

There are various explanations for this, but I note that a few weeks back the separatists elected as their provincial party leader a man called André Boisclair, a homosexual and sometime cocaine addict.

When I first heard the coke stories, it was around the time David Cameron was deflecting similar inquiries and I naturally assumed it was a similar long-ago youthful indiscretion.

But it turns out Mr Boisclair was doing coke while serving as a Minister of the Crown in the Quebec government.

As Maclean's magazine wrote: "Besieged by reporters, he finally conceded he had 'consumed' while in cabinet. He insisted quite vehemently that he is clean now, and always had his wits about him while at work."

Immediately, the press started writing stuff about how the "Generation X" "party boy" represented "the new face of Quebec politics" (Toronto Star) and proved that Quebecers are "ready to embrace an openly gay premier" (Montreal Gazette).

Hmm. A couple of months later and a hitherto all but invisible Quebec "conservative" vote re-emerges after a decades-long hibernation and abandons the separatist cause.

Coincidence? Depends what you're snorting. But my sense is that, outside the metropolitan fleshpots, most people are more socially conservative than they're willing to tell pollsters - and that "tolerance" is not the same as "approval" and a popular gay soap character or queenly old rocker is not the same as a gay party leader or transsexual prime minister.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 30, 2006 10:10 PM
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