'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics
'An influential activist' - The Guardian
'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman
'You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron
Thursday, 28 March 2013
If David Cameron only entered politics now, would he even be a Tory?
The New Statesman published this on Tuesday and I'm rather smug that 2 days later, even post Miliband, it remains the 2nd most read piece on The Staggers. It's also attracted a load of comments. But hardly anyone has answered the second question (in the last line). Anyone care to have a go?
Over the last two weeks I’ve been wrestling with a couple of questions. Trouble is, I only have an answer for the first. Perhaps you could all help me with the second?
My first poser is this. Let’s imagine that David Cameron had not gone into politics when he did. Entranced by the magical world of PR, he eschewed the chance to be an MP to pursue a career in the media, but now, 20 years on and full of regret, he decided he would like to give it another go. Which party would he join?
Well, according to Conservative Home the achievements the current government should be most proud of – and therefore presumably most attractive to a prospective new recruit – are the Equal Marriage Act, protecting the International Aid budget and raising the income tax threshold to £10,000. You don’t have to be much of a student of politics to know that they are three core Liberal Democrat policies – and the comment section of the Conservative Home article would suggest that the Tory grass roots don’t have much time for them. But as the Tory party is now furiously laying claim to them, presumably Cameron is in fact, quite keen…
Then you think about the things David Cameron first cared about when he became Conservative leader – you remember, when he wanted everyone to hug a hoodie or a husky, when (on his election) Norman Tebbit described him as wanting to build a “New Modern Compassionate Green Globally Aware Party” (it wasn’t a compliment) and he ditched the Tory Torch for an oak tree . And you look at the Tory party now – pulled rightward by UKIP, anti wind farms, demanding marriage tax breaks and reductions in inheritance tax, – and you wonder how comfortable Cameron feels inside the party he leads. It’s not really the vision he started with, is it?
And you wonder if the David Cameron who joined the Tories in his twenties would now look at the Lib Dems and the Tories, and find, perhaps to his surprise, that in fact he had rather more in common with the former than the latter.
Which brings me on to my second question, to which I have no answer. If indeed it is true that the current Conservative Prime Minister would today feel more comfortable in the Lib Dems than in his own party, who should be more alarmed about that fact – the Tory membership, or the Lib Dem grassroots?