Cameron / Clegg yawn

The lovely Iain Dale interviewed David Cameron the other day, and has posted extracts of the interview on his blog.

He’s also, depending on your point of view, EITHER courteously pointed out to the LDV team that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is mentioned in passing, OR has engaged in a massive blog link whoring project to stir it within the Lib Dems who will hate what Cameron had to say.

Here’s what their dear leader had to say about our dear leader:

ID: Do you think Nick Clegg is in the wrong party? [Lol lol roffle impish grin]?

DC: [pauses, winces] I don’t really know him well enough. I don’t know his views well enough.  I think it is very exciting what they are saying about education because our education policies are very close together. That’s a good thing. I’m a liberal Conservative so I think there is always going to be lots of common ground between liberal Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. If you look at what we are saying about decentralising power, passing power down to the lowest level, if you look at what we are saying about the environment, opposing Identity Cards, the priority given to education, I think there are a lot of people in the Liberal Democrat party who would agree with that, so that’s encouraging. Is he in the wrong party? I don’t know enough about his views about other things.

Oh, come off it!

For starters, people who become leaders of political parties are usually pretty sure they’re in the right party.  You might just as well have asked Cameron if he’d ever considered joining the Lib Dems or one of its predecessor parties, along with half his shadow cabinet.

So the question having been asked, what are Cameron’s options for response?

A) “No, he smells” – ruled out for “nasty party” reasons, ie the Tories are attempting to recoil from their previous odious public image, so can’t say nasty things about opponents in public.

B) “Hahah very funny can you ask me a real question?” – ruled out because this is an interview that will transcribed verbatim and put into the public arena, and it’s basically good manners to keep talking whatever the question.  (Alert readers may remember I once asked Iain Dale if he was evil, and he very kindly didn’t respond “hahah very funny can you ask me a real question” either.)

C) Oh yes, waffle waffle lovebomb, some  policy similarities.

Essentially Cameron said the only thing he could realistically have said when asked that question. Having established that how should we respond?

We could respond to the points policy by policy.  There’s the environment, a topic we’ve been campaigning on since our inception; one that has always featured in our manifestoes, most recently as the “green thread running through all our policies”. At the same election, the Friends of the Earth decried the Tory manifesto as

[…] giv[ing] the impression that the environment will not be safe in Conservative hands. It fails to say how a Tory Government would tackle climate change, the biggest threat the planet faces, and suggests that environmental protection will be towards the bottom of its priorities.

It’s a subject that’s no stranger to LDV’s pages, either as we’ve reported “Conservatives set to drop green tax policies“, and the failure of the Conservatives to adopt most of Zac Goldsmith’s environmental policy, amongst many others.

So not for environmental reasons, then.  Devolution reasons, perhaps? Lib Dem Voice’s favourite fluffy elephant doesn’t think so:

More BLACK MAGIC from Ms Caroline Spell-person, Conservatory spokesperson for turning local councillors into eunuchs, with her plan to “give more power to local government” by, er, taking their powers away and giving them to mayors.

This promises to do the OPPOSITE of what it says on the tin.

The proposal to increase accountability will actually DILUTE it; the promise to return power to people will really move power IN to a new centre that is less representative and more remote; the plan to free local government from central government control will, in reality, SHACKLE local councils even further.

And of course this comes hot on the heels of last year’s bizarre Council tax policy where the Tories wanted to take Labour’s already draconian power to specify how much councils can raise, and er, make it even worse.  This coming on the top of other strange Tory tax policies such as tax breaks for dead millionaires, staying married for the sake of the accountants, and that complicated one about employment that the Labour party subsequently nicked.

So, that leaves education as the one Tory policy so good that it will woo Lib Dems to the dark side, starting with Clegg.

Hmmm.  That would be the education policy that sees the Tories seeing schools as places that should make a profit? (And why not? It works so well for public transport!) Or would that be the education policy the Tories, er, ripped off the Lib Dems in the first place, as Standard journalist Anne McElvoy pointed out last year?

Much of it still comes down to the hardest things to deliver of all: more consistent teacher quality, better incentivised and tirelessly pursued. The Lib-Dems’ spokesman David Laws first conceived the idea of greater financial incentives for those who improve underperforming schools: an ingenious application of market thinking ripped off wholesale by the Tories (just in case they think we didn’t notice). […]

Until Mr Cameron can decide whether his vision is to set more [schools] free of central control or to boss them around even more with his own pet requirements, his claim to lead the next stage of the reform crusade will be flawed. He can do better than that – and for all our sakes, he should.

Finally there’s ID cards, and on that topic, you have got to be fricking kidding me?  The Lib Dems should consider joining the Tories because they oppose ID cards?  Hello? *knock on forehead* Is there anyone in there?  For the love of all that is holy, ID cards was a Tory idea in the first place! If you cast your mind back ten twelve years to 1995 you’ll see that the “Tory Right” was demanding ID cards whilst a young Tony Blair thought that might not be such a good idea. A weird decade long  balletic policy switch between the other two parties about which of them is now proposing ID cards is not a reason for any Lib Dem to change allegiance!

Anyway, that’s policy dealt with. Ultimately, we have quite good policy and the Conservatives erm, don’t.

But lets not forget the Smithson Lovebomb Backatcha Hypothesis. This is really quite elegant, a case of pointing out that since many in the Tory party are significantly further to the right than their leader, actually maybe it’s David Cameron who might be better off changing parties.

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18 Comments

  • Me thinks you hate ‘love bombing’ a lot -maybe because it actually works?

    Another day, another comment/attack on Cameron. Are you running out of Con-LD parish councillor defection stories? (-:

  • Cameron should perhaps take over from Gordon Brown?

  • Steven Ronald 20th Feb '09 - 11:25am

    I think a shrug of the shoulders is a better response to be honest; this perhaps indicating some insecurities…

    It’s a playful question – not to be taken seriously – and yet Cameron still manages to get caught out in a bit of a lie when he says, “I don’t know his views well enough”, it’s implausible that he wasn’t done some research on the man who is leader of the “third” party.

    And yes we should always be working together with parties in areas where we agree.

    Given labour and tory policy has been completely interchangeable for 15 years now I really think we should be more confident in ourselves and be above this petty stuff.

  • But should we rather ask, if Cameron truly is a liberal Conservative as he claims, whether he is in the wrong party?

  • Anon @ 11.25. There have of course been many Liberal Etonians; some more successful than others. There is always far more “man bites dog” about a Liberal Etonian than a Conservative Etonian.

  • W&W – a tendency to swim with the tide, rather than against it, says something, of course.

  • Grammar Police 20th Feb '09 - 12:23pm
  • You have a range of opinions in all parties, but I for one am positive that Nick Clegg is firmly rooted in the political centre. Now Cameron is more right of centre but reaching for the centre.

    Therefore, both men and both parties have a lot of common ground. This is a GOOD thing.

    The Liberals have been dismissed as a bunch of raving impractical lefties for far too long, and now the party has lurched to the Centre (HUZZAH!) and now compares favourably with the other parties, people are whining and attacking?

    Grow up. I am a card carrying Liberal and have been since about a year before Clegg was a leader. What attracted me? The fact that I saw potential in the Liberals, and when I voted for Nick Clegg as leader I could see that the potential I saw could come to fruition. I haven’t been disappointed since.

    If there really is a chasm between the Lib Dems and the Tories it means that the Lib Dems are too far left, and if the Liberals start lurching to the left again then they can do so without me, and I hope many others.

    I for one am proud of this party, and proud that we have taken enormous strides towards establishing ourselves as a credible alternative right in the political centre.

    I am continually irritated however, by those who seek to mock or downplay such an achievement, even in a manner such as this. I mean, look at David Cameron’s response. Did he attack? Did he ridicule? Go back a few years and he would have LOLZED in our direction. Yet for his somewhat diplomatic response he’s subjected to nonsense like this that yet again makes the Lib Dems look like a waste of space.

    What to expect from a website that spends most of it’s time on idealism and radical leftest diatribe though eh?

  • johninpenarth 22nd Feb '09 - 1:48pm

    well, in one important sense we do have something in common with the conservatives in that both the liberal and conservative traditions grew out of the post (English) civil war political milieu. Both represented the opposite poles of that tradition, which is what makes me smile so much now about the idea of ‘liberal conservatives’ – there’s no such thing, just less conservative conservatives!

    I imagine that this is what my (Scots socialist) mother meant in the 70s when she complained that the Liberals were closer to the Tories than to Labour. She meant that neither had Marxist roots, and of course they don’t, since they predate that by quite a long time ….

    As I see it, socialism was a foreign weed which blew over here and managed to find fertile territory at a time of great social crisis. Sadly, perhaps, it established itself but now, having reverted so clearly to statist authoritarianism it seems to have out-stayed its welcome.

    The current situation is therefore very interesting, much more so than when our ambition was to replace the conservatives as a party of government (something which was logically very unlikely).

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