Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Tories: Getting it right and getting it wrong

David Cameron's response to Tony Blair's speech on education suggests he has more nous than many of his fellow Conservatives. Under Hague, Duncan Smith or Howard the response would almost certainly been to argue that it showed Blair was a dangerous socialist who must be stopped before he destroyed the country.

Instead Cameron has welcomed the speech because it shows Blair has realised the Tories were right all along. This makes him sound statesmanlike and will infuriate the Labour backbenches, causing trouble for the prime minister. It is an approach Simon Carr, the Independent sketchwriter, has been urging on the Tory leadership for as long as I can remember.

It also leaves the Liberal Democrats with a problem if we want to be something more than the defenders of the status quo in education. See the responses to my posting yesterday for some of the arguments within the party.

This evening it was announced that the Tories will support the second reading of the Terrorism Bill. This will allow us to stand alone as the defenders of our liberties. It will not be a popular stance with everyone, but it will be popular with many people - and many of them will not yet be Liberal Democrat voters.

It also looks like the continuance of a failed Conservative strategy. Hague, Duncan Smith and Howard seemed to believe that if they talked tough and got as close as they could to the Americans then they could make Blair seem weak and unpatriotic. This approach never looked like working. So it is not all bad news for the Liberal Democrats.

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