Cameron's right-wing agenda
The Tory blogs have been whining about the kid gloves with which “Mr Jackie Ashley” treated Gordon Brown last week. I hope they saw the easy ride the self-same Andrew Marr gave posh-boy David Cameron this morning. The interesting thing about the interview, I thought, was that when policy peeks through Cameron’s impressive showmanship it is pretty right wing. He is against the European Constitution and the single currency and repeats the Tory Eurosceptic mantra about the dangers of a “European super-state”. He rejects the “European social model” (so, of course, does Gordon Brown) and wants Britain to withdraw from the Social Chapter (recalling John Major’s “opt-outs” from the Maastricht Treaty). He wants all hospitals to be foundation trusts; and opposes national pay rates for public-sector employees. On tax the ambiguous “share the proceeds” formula is reiterated, and he also says that he favours green taxes, but without detail it is unclear what this would mean in practice. (Depending on how they are designed green taxes – like all taxes on consumption – can be regressive). And it is well-known that Osborne and others are toying with adopting a flat-tax policy. All this is dressed up in an unthreatening rhetoric: a “forward looking agenda”, a “forward-looking vision”, a “positive agenda”, a “social responsibility revolution”, and “getting the politics out” of the NHS (the last two are, I guess, euphemisms for further privatisation). Cameron also says he favours an early election after/if Brown becomes Prime Minister. (His claim that Brown would lack a “mandate” is disingenuous. In this country the Prime Minister is not directly elected. When Thatcher resigned in 1990 there was no election). And then, a chink in the curtain, a fleeting glimpse of the inner Tory skulking behind the PR man, when he says apropos of nothing, “…why don’t we teach British history properly in our schools”? Now that’s the real thing, it might have come from a Daily Mail editorial. Later on Radio 5 Tory blogger and A-lister Iain Dale dutifully tugs his forelock: “I support my Leader”. How sweet. But someone else (I didn’t quite catch her name) summed-up Cameron rather well: “He’s got a good head of hair”.