Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ponder Post 12: Why Do the Tories Let Him Get Away With It?

It used to be said that there was only one way to beat Bobby Fischer - don't play him at chess. Once Steve Hilton, David Cameron's 'Director of Strategy', has been sacked, this wisdom should be tattooed on the forearm of every Tory party worker (they're very unattractive anyway, so the tattoos will make little difference). Gordon Brown is, in terms of pure politics, playing a blinder. Parading with Thatcher was his latest coup, a brilliant subversion of Cameron. The Tory response was to wheel out some goon called Rob Wilson who said it was all because Thatcher was frail and didn't really have a clue what was going on. In textbooks of political philosophy this is known as 'the complete flaming idiocy manoeuvre'. (Incidentally, the Cameron Rwandan jaunt in July is known as 'the you really should seek help' defence.) No, the way not to play Brown at chess is to play him on his record. His casino economy is responsible for our vulnerability to the current banking crisis - note that the only outing the wretched Alistair Darling is allowed is to cover up this mess - and there are countless other examples of his managerial incompetence. But, somehow, he always succeeds in evading these issues and, bewilderingly, the Tories always let him. Why?


  1. Dave seems to have heeded your useful advice re the Casino Economy, to judge by today's Telegraph...

  2. Much as I hate his policies and his person, I can't help but admit a growing admiration for the way that Brown plays politics. He might look as rough as Brad Pitt's elbow but Gordon Brown is slippier than Madonna's tongue.

  3. Yes indeed, but it can't be healthy to have a PM whose avowed aim is to destroy - not defeat but destroy - the Opposition. He's serious. We'll proably have to rely on the financial crisis unleashed by the Northern Rock panic to bring the brute down...

  4. Ah but events, events. As Nick Cohen points out today, we're now in uncharted territory where a Labour government appears to be siding with the rich and the hedge-funders against the middle and working classes. Add to that the nightmare prospect that the US might really intend to drop a big one on the Tehran mullahs next year, and things could change totally in an instant. (What exactly were the Israelis up to last week, for example?)

    The old saw is that oppositions don't win elections, governments lose them. If a bad run of circumstances - complacency? - at home and abroad conspires to wreck the nation's savings and mortgages, Labour will be fired at the next election even if all the Tories have to put up against El Gordo is an olde colde potato. The NR affair makes clear that no one trusts Brown an inch, for a start. Just my 2 cents.

  5. Worth far more than that, Mark. The Israeli thing is strange indeed.

  6. As a bystander admittedly viewing from afar, it seems to me that your current batch of Tory leaders have few, if any, core beliefs. Their recent policy initiatives, such as outlawing plasma televisions, underscore that fact. Brown's comments about Thatcher a month ago, "She saw the need for change....I admire the fact she is a conviction politician," were stunningly effective because there is no there there on the other side, and that renders attempts to gain traction by addressing actual issues fruitless.

    In answer to your question, as long as there isn't a genuine identifiable set of core beliefs underpinning the opposition, they will continue to be hapless victims of an astute political strategist like Brown. In the '70's, Margaret Thatcher understood that very well while Edward Heath did not, which is why she crushed Labour at the polls three times and Heath managed it but once. Despite their best efforts, it took John Major & Co. 7 years to undo the Thatcher majority in parliament.

    I think this is what happened to the Progressive Conservatives in Canada after Mulroney and is happening to the GOP in the United States at the moment.

    Aside to Nige: Cheer up! History shows that political parties that achieve total domination tend to splinter apart or, failing that, implode.

  7. Two points:

    1) I think Gordon may have been too clever by half with the Thatcher visit. Hid 'trad' labour supporters would be appalled and he has made the Tories wake up to what he is up to.

    2) What do we replace the 'casino economy' with? Dave is wise to be cautious in overplaying this. However, when those in debt squeal louder, he can play merry hell with the psychologically flawed one.