UKIP's wake up call, and Cameron's fatal flaws
Cameron is too much of an opinion-poll-chasing, cosy insider in deference to the chattering classes. Dumping the principled and able Michael Gove and losing Douglas Carswell via defection to UKIP are two sides of Dave's losing coin. 2015 may not be pretty for the Tories
As an expat, I hope that I can approach British politics with a degree of detached objectivity. Of one thing I am certain: I would not vote Tory with David Cameron in charge.
He demonstrates the foolishness of elections of Party leaders by the Party membership when formerly it was exclusive to the members of the Parliamentary Party. They are the only people able to assess the candidates’ performance at first hand.
The current system is a beauty contest in which the spoils go to the most glib, not the most able. So a tough, working class, conviction politician with successful business experience, David Davis, was scorned by the blue-rinse set in favour of an Eton/Oxford-educated PR smoothie.
He surrounds himself with cronies who were at Eton/Oxford with him. It is hardly surprising that he stands accused of not understanding the concerns of Mondeo Man. He comes across as a politician who flip-flops according to what YouGov is telling him.
He is a pusillanimous and slippery leader who sacrifices his colleagues in deference to his focus groups and the Red Tops. One of his most able Ministers was Andrew Mitchell who was forced to fall on his sword after being traduced by the police and headlined by Grub Street.
Cameron should have brought him back at the last reshuffle, but appointed mediocrities and nobodies instead. He got rid of his most effective Minister, Gove, because the chattering classes didn’t like him, and Patterson at Environment, who was liked and respected by the farming and rural communities; the reasons escape us.
There are Tories of substance and conviction in the Commons as well as time-serving voting-fodder like David Amess (who he?). Cameron has no use for them.
‘We plan to change Britain with a sweeping redistribution of power: from the state to citizens; from the government to Parliament; from Whitehall to communities; from Brussels to Britain; from bureaucracy to democracy. Taking power away from the political elite and handing it to the man and woman in the street’.
That was the keynote message in his 2010 Manifesto. And what has he done? As Douglas Carswell said, he and his colleagues talk much, promise plenty and deliver nothing.
During the campaign, he promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. He supported ‘climate change’ policies that would raise energy costs by 40 percent. He espoused the Big Society, except that nobody had any idea what it was. He advocated softer prisons and sentencing; they are now grossly over-crowded.
He opposed grammar schools -- a bit rich, coming from an Old Etonian. He promised to match Labour spending before even seeing the books.
His policy of increasing foreign aid by no less than 37 percent (now over £11 billion, a sixth of which is handed over to the EU to spend as they wish), and at the same time cutting key budgets is deranged. In particular, he has cut defence so sharply, and at a time of escalating risk in the MENA and Eastern Europe, that the army has been decimated and is now at its smallest since the 18th Century.
The RAF has planes standing idle because so many engineering personnel with transferable skills took their severance pay and departed to the private sector. The RN Is smaller than at any time since Henry VIII and for the first time ever there is no longer a capital ship in home waters.
At a time when he is trumpeting reform of the EU to bring power back to Britain, he is going to exercise the final opt-in for the vile European Arrest Warrant, a totalitarian tool if ever there was, at the same time nodding through 34 other transfers of legal authority from the English courts to Brussels.
Small wonder that many distrust his referendum posture, believing it to be a sham. Here is what Carswell said, ‘Nothing suggests that the PM is looking to change in Britain's EU status, as opposed to getting changes that would be applicable to all member states’. And there’s no chance of that.
He shows no signs of being either a conviction politician or wedded to any other principle apart from the opinion polls. Like her or not, there was never any doubt about what Thatcher stood for. What Cameron stands for, ‘is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’.
If one word sums up the deficiency in British politics it’s ‘integrity’. Public trust and confidence seems to be at an all-time low, and the system is cracked and alienated.
This may explain why UKIP is on a roll. People want change; not the periodic switching between two self-seeking oligarchies, but something new. Farage has the common touch; he comes across as ‘one of us’.
When the chateratti mock his views on the EU, immigration, and the state of the nation generally they fail to understand in their Westminster village that he is simply articulating the way ordinary people feel.
There is a desperate need to shatter the decaying mould. UKIP is the present and only hope. The predicted UKIP landslide in Clacton could be the wake-up call.
Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world
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