January 4, 2006


Cameron is a serious threat, admits Reid (Toby Helm, 04/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)

Tony Blair's closest Cabinet ally admitted yesterday that David Cameron's new-style Tories pose a serious threat to Labour as the two main parties compete for the centre ground of British politics.

Calling on his party not to veer to the Left and let in the Tories, John Reid, the Defence Secretary, said New Labour faced a "defining year" in which it would be "politically mad" to duck vital policy challenges and abandon ''Middle Britain" and the middle classes.

"The new Tory leadership want to claim the mantle of reformers and plant their flag on that middle ground," he wrote in London's Evening Standard.

"They want to caricature Labour as opposed to reform, socially divisive, looking to the past and shifting to the Left.

"They are hoping we will play to their game plan. We would be politically mad to do so."

Unfortunately for Mr. Reid, such Second Way madness lurks deep in parties of the Left, as witness the Democrats complete abandonment of Clintonism. Which is why it's easy to believe this story, Blair's not done yet - he wants to see how the new boy gets on (Matthew d'Ancona, 04/01/2006, Daily Telegraph)
In his video diary on the Number 10 website, Mr Blair says of his job that "it is an enormous privilege to be able to do it".

The three-and-a-half minute film has been widely interpreted as a swipe at David Cameron, with its warning that being Leader of the Opposition is no preparation for Number 10 and the "different order of stress, challenge, pressure".

Perhaps. But the webcast can just as easily be interpreted as a sort of mini-masterclass aimed at any prospective successor - say, for the sake of argument, a young centre-ground politician doing well in the polls.

In the film, Mr Blair recalls the advice Baroness Thatcher gave him on handling PMQs. Will there come a time when he gives similar advice to Prime Minister Cameron?

I do not doubt for a moment that Mr Blair wants Labour to win the next election. It would, after all, reflect poorly upon him if it did not. But I also think that he is enjoying the rise of Mr Cameron enormously, regards the revitalisation of the Tory party as a mark of New Labour's success, and cannot help but see the Conservative leader - just occasionally - as apprentice rather than rival.

Never underestimate the power of curiosity in politics, the part of every politician that is a thrill-seeker. Part of Mr Blair wants to stick around, and see just how good the new kid turns out to be.

While Gordon Brown is determined to launch an all-out attack on Mr Cameron, the Prime Minister's allies talk, mysteriously, of a "wait-and-see" strategy towards the new Tory leader.

But what is it Mr Blair is waiting to see? That Mr Cameron is ready to take over and pursue the Blairite agenda? Only the most paranoid Brownite would suggest that Mr Blair is hanging on in Number 10 because he sees the man across the Dispatch Box as a more reliable custodian of his inheritance than the man in Number 11, and wants to give him time to settle in.

Consider that if Al Gore had won in 2000 and governed as he claimed he would -- repudiating free trade, entitlement reform, etc., in other words, the entire favorable legacy of Bill Clinton. Instead, George W. Bush picked up where Bill Clinton left off, thereby placing the Clinton Administration squarely in the mainstream of the past thirty years of Anglospheric politics.

When Being Pro-America Makes You Anti-Democrat! (J.B. Williams, January 4, 2006, Canada Free Press)

[I]n recent years, our nation has polarized into two very distinct camps and though there are many mild single issue variations within those two camps, the polarizing issues break down to pure pro versus anti-American ideals and sentiments.

Today, being pro America--supporting America, its founding principles, its fundamental ideals, its policies and its national interests, most likely means that you are anti-Democrat. No matter how hard the Democratic Party works to drive Bush or Republican approval rating into the toilet, the effort just doesn’t seem to take root with the American people. Even when Democrats are successful in undermining public support for their political opponents in the polls, those polls indicate that their own ratings drop even faster and farther in that effort.

Free unfettered self-determination, through personal (including economic) liberty, a free market capitalist economy, freedom OF religion, freedom OF speech, freedom OF thought and expression, the right to fail or succeed at one’s own hand, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the right to one’s own earnings, the right to a safe secure nation, to raise our children as we see fit and the right to self-governance accordingly, these are the fundamental principles America was founded and built upon.

The simple fact is, most Americans are not anti-religion or religious speech, not anti-capitalism or free market society, not anti-military or national security, not federal dependents and not interested in relying upon any commune to raise their young or determine their place or worth in society. Today, this also means that they are not Democrats…

As if on cue, We're People of Faith, Too: A liberal religious Jew speaks to the Religious Right about what it means to be a believer in America (Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, BeliefNet)
For the past half century, the American Jewish community has supported the view that America benefits and religion benefits when the separation between church and state in this country is virtually absolute. Over the past decade, commitment to this strict view of separation has begun to erode. What do I and other liberal religious Jews have to say to our fellow Americans on the Religious Right who are challenging traditional principles of separation?

First, let’s be clear on what we are not saying. We are not saying that religion should be hidden from view. We have only respect for those elected officials who profess a deep religious belief, and we are appalled when media voices pour scorn on religious people.

But we are saying that no matter how profoundly religion influences you, when you make a public argument, you must ground your statements in reason and a language of morality that is accessible to everyone—to people of different religions or no religion at all. In our diverse democracy, Americans need a common political discourse not dominated by exclusivist theology.

So much for the Founding.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 4, 2006 9:06 AM

Here's another fun one:

The issue of the 200th anniversary re-enactment of the Battle of Trafalgar was a particular cause for mirth.

Mr Hague explained that in order to avoid any offence, the re-enactment of the British victory over France was to be fought between a red fleet and a blue fleet.

"Just a little tip if you want to put a bet on it," he added. "The cheese-eating surrender monkeys are in red this time."


Another pop at the Germans involved the result of a survey that suggested that they had difficulty relaxing when on holiday.

"I'm not so sure," he said. "If anyone's got a history of making themselves feel at home in other people's countries, it's the Germans."


In one column last year he commented on reports that France's population was rising by concluding: "Maybe drinking lots of wine and being totally unreasonable is good for your sex life after all."

Labour then suggests that making fun of the Germans and French is anti-British, or something. Ridiculous.

Posted by: John Thacker at January 4, 2006 11:02 AM

Cameron's so close to Blair, might as well vote Labour.

Posted by: Sandy P at January 4, 2006 2:46 PM


The point being Labour isn't that close to Blair.

Posted by: oj at January 4, 2006 3:03 PM

Why are morality, ethics, and value systems seem so impossible to some without the centering of a professed belief in one god?

Posted by: Grog at January 4, 2006 11:35 PM


Because they are impossible without God. Indeed, they're unnecessary unless God.

Posted by: oj at January 5, 2006 8:09 AM

So I guess all non-monotheistic societies must live in some kind of moral vacuum that explains all the savagery they force upon the rest of the world?

Posted by: Grog at January 5, 2006 11:28 PM