Wednesday, October 06, 2004
An Average Equality of Failure

There has been very little eveidence that the Tories have proved astute and cunning in thinking through their predicament. They pay lip service to the paradigms of public choice that have haunted reforms of the State since the late nineties yet sound remarkably coy about their actions in government.

Michael Ancram's speech on foreign policy, composed of incoherent attacks on Labour and a genuflection towards non-governmental organisms like John Bercow, sounds remarkably Blairite in its turn towards to all audiences. Consider the headlines: attacks on Blair and Jack Straw over Iraq and Zimbabwe (NuLab hypocrisy); loyalty to NATO, the Commonwealth and Gibraltar ("fly the flag"); a strengthened relationship with the United States, based upon straight talk (???????); and a compassionate foreign policy (if they can wrest international development back from the EU).

Ancram should not be expected to forego political opportunities but this grab-bag recites a list of conservative themes without putting them into practice. The rhetoric from Europe displayed this only too well:

He vowed to take back powers from Brussels, including control of fisheries, a greater part of international aid, and the opt-out from the Social Chapter. He said the Conservatives would make it clear they would never give away 'essential British rights of self-determination' on tax, welfare system, immigration and asylum, and defence and foreign policy - all of which he said were at risk. And, responding to reports that Mr Prodi suggested that in future British Olympic medallists should celebrate under the European flag, he said: "Get lost, Mr. Prodi, get lost."

In a sense, Howard and Ancram are Majorite reactionaries, since they wish to hover in some half-way house between Maastricht and Amsterdam, last patronised in the 1990s. Blair must be quite happy to depart the political scene, satisfied that he has bleached the Tories clean of all dangerous radicalism.

(23.12, 6th October 2004)


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