By David Beeson
It’s such a relief to have David Cameron leading the Conservatives.
Remember Thatcher, the Iron Lady? The Iron Lady with the wooden head, I always used to call her. “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning”, she told us, to the delight of her supporters. “Oh, yes,” they said, “that’s courage, that’s conviction.”
We’ve had a recent example of where the inability to change your mind or admit the slightest chink in your infallibility leads: it was the Blair show at the Chilcot Inquiry.
The only reason Blair gave us to go to war was the threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. Now that even he has to admit that there weren’t any, his justification is that had we not removed the monster, he might have had WMD by now.
On that basis you’d lock up all unemployed young people now on the grounds that they might mug someone in the future; you might lock up anyone expressing an interest in going into banking on the grounds that later on they might rip off the economy and demand we finance their bonuses (though that might not be such a bad idea).
Blair is what you get when you can’t U-turn. But Thatcher herself also showed where that attitude leads, with the poll tax, rail privatisation, a crippled NHS. Worst of all, she gave us a completely ideological measure in the de-regulation of banking, the great legacy of Reagan and Thatcher, the root of our problems today.
Fortunately, David Cameron has dropped all this pig-headedness. In fact, the Tories have completely switched, through 180 degrees – a complete U-turn.
Have you ever seen anyone change his mind that easily, that often? I’ve already mentioned the tax allowances for married couples, which were on, off, then on again. Honestly, it was like watching an indicator light blinking.
The latest, though, is the best of all. On January 15th, George Osborne was telling us that the Tories would bring in an emergency budget within 50 days of taking office. Vital, indeed urgent, cuts in public spending would be made without delay.
Now David Cameron tells us that this won’t be the case at all – there’ll be no swingeing cuts immediately after an election victory.
Let’s give credit where it’s due. The only way to avoid plunging the country back into recession is to keep on spending a tad longer. It’s great that Cameron has finally got his mind round that one.
But how can anyone seriously contemplate voting for him? Our position is far too difficult to leave it to someone who needs to make policy up as he goes along. We have a Government which has been doing the right thing, consistently, for many months – and we’re beginning to get the results.
As an alternative to that Government, we have the Tories who’ve switched from the dogmatic certainties of Thatcher to the flip-flopping opportunism of a vote-chasing Cameron.
Here’s an idea: choose neither. Leave them safely in opposition.