GOOD WEEK, BAD WEEK (EDITION FOUR)
Even before Thursday’s bombings the Tory leadership race had slowed a little. In the week of Live8, G8 and the Olympics decision the competition for attention was intense and most contenders decided to pipe down.
The very start of the week offered the only real windows of media opportunity and David Davis used Monday night to make a big speech to the CPS. The speech enjoyed a broad welcome from The Daily Telegraph and, more importantly (!), from visitors to this blog. It also stood out from the crowd of other interventions that have often appeared clichéd and platitudinous. Peter Riddell mocked up a standard Tory leadership speech in Wednesday’s Times:
”We have lost touch with the people. We must modernise/ occupy the centre ground (or not, depending on the fashion of the week). Freedom and the family should be at the centre of our appeal. We should aim for a smaller State and lower taxes, while guaranteeing every child a proper education and every patient prompt care. We should stand for individual liberty and personal freedom, while protecting hard-working families from yobs and criminals with zero-tolerance policing. We should resist the encroachments of the nanny State while opposing violent and sexually explicit television programmes and videos.”
The Economist found DD’s speech refreshingly different. Concluding that the Shadow Home Secretary has a clear compass on public service reform and tax policy, it gave the credit to the Reform think tank. If DD becomes leader, Reform and its former director, Nick Herbert MP, the author of the CPS speech, will become hugely influential. So, in a special award, I give Reform +2 and advise everyone to carefully study their manifesto.
For ‘Watlington’, who has become a stand-out observer of the Tory leadership race on the Social Affairs Unit blog, DD’s speech was an important attack on privilege. Watlington writes:
”Although seen by some as an attack on the Notting Hill set, Mr Davis was making a much wider point. He was saying that as someone from humble origins who had made it to the top, he knew about aspiration and merit as opposed to privilege and patronage. Herein lies a kernel of a modern Tory story. __It is a story that fights against privilege wherever it occurs. For example a mission against privilege says that everyone, rather than just the pushy or the rich, should have access to the best healthcare and education and have the levers of power to make sure that this is so. It says that the lowest paid should pay less tax so that they have the same opportunity as higher rate tax payers. It says that Conservatism should stand up for the small business rather than the unfair cartels of the multinationals. Above all, an attack on privilege means a sense of social justice. It means an open society based on giving people a fair deal rather than one in which all the levers of power are in the hands of the state. It means a society that liberates economic and social entrepreneurs to fulfil their potential but also ensures that those left behind are properly and compassionately cared for.”
DD gets +3 for the speech and the week overall. It was a brave speech and he confirmed his reputation for bold thinking. He also promises speeches on social reform and foreign policy. The foreign policy speech will need to include thoughts on the war on terror and homeland security. Peter Riddell’s mock speech doesn't even include a empty phrase about the 9/11 world. That absence is a small confirmation of the fact that none of the Tory leadership candidates have yet outlined a strategy to protect the British people. I award a –1 to each of the four candidates who opposed the Iraq stage of the war on terror. Some pundits have already started to partly blame the Iraq war for Thursday’s carnage. But such people have an impossible problem with chronology. The war began on 9/11 - which happened before Saddam was toppled. Leaving Iraq will only embolden the terrorists and as the group claiming responsibility for attacking London said:
”We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Notice the “and Afghanistan.” Al-Qaeda etc want the western powers thrown out of the many territories that they want to terrorise and Talibanise.
David Cameron was on Any Questions? last night and gave a compassionate and statesmanlike performance. He criticised the tendency towards anti-Americanism of another panellist and opposed Labour’s voluntary ID cards bill as being irrelevant to terrorism.
That performance – with perfect tone – and two more parliamentary endorsements gives him +2 for the week.
David Willetts receives +1 because of last week’s speech to the Child Poverty Action Group which The Economist described as “compassionate and lucid”.
Winning The Theresa May Hero Of The Week award was Michael Ancram for supporting grassroots members’ voting rights.