I like Simon Heffer, and I fully agree that David Cameron has betrayed his party. This being said, the Coalition agreement will at least give us a limited return of civil liberties. [SIG]
David Cameron will rue the day he betrayed the Conservatives
As I have argued for the last four-and-half years, Dave is not actually a Conservative, writes Simon Heffer.
By Simon Heffer
Published: 5:09PM BST 21 May 2010
David Cameron will rue the day he betrayed the Conservatives Photo: UPPA Ltd
How sad do we think Dave is at being made to ditch the remotely Conservative parts of his election manifesto in order to stay in his loveless marriage with the Liberal Democrats? I look at him on his many celebrity public relations appearances – for they are all he seems to do these days – and he looks pretty cheerful. Indeed, he appears to be bearing the blow of ditching the reform of badly-drafted human rights legislation, having to maintain inheritance tax, forcing swingeing rises in capital gains tax and abandoning the party’s pledge to support married families surprisingly well.
Of course he is: because, as I have argued for the last four-and-half years, Dave is not actually a Conservative. Like the late and unlamented Sir Edward Heath, he is a technocrat, a bureaucrat and a manager. He is interested only in power, rather than in principle. I always suspected he would prove this the moment he was through the door of No 10 and, by golly, he has.
He still has his supporters in his party, despite having betrayed them by giving the country a Liberal Democrat government, and they will be fulminating if they have read this far. So be it. For the vast majority who voted Tory on May 6, the feeling is different. Can they honestly say that this is what they thought they were voting for if they ended up putting Dave in Downing Street? Of course not.
Dave’s supporters reject such criticism as unfair, because he didn’t know he would have to have a coalition. I would remind them of two points. First, Dave failed to win an overall majority because he fought a shocking campaign against the worst prime minister since Ted Heath, and with a record of economic failure that exceeded even the Grocer’s. Second, he did not need to have a coalition even then. Both Labour and the Lib Dems are nearly broke. The last thing either wants is another election now. Once Gordon Brown had realised the game was up and resigned, all Dave had to do was to meet parliament with a Queen’s Speech based on his manifesto – which itself was so un-Conservative that there was little in it the other parties could find offensive – and dare them to vote it down. They wouldn’t have dared, and Dave, admittedly against all his instincts, could have tried to govern as a Conservative.
However, I don’t think he wanted to. The opportunity to rule with his natural soulmates in the Lib Dems meant he could at last try to put the people he despises most – the “Right” of his own party who do have genuine Conservative principles – back in their box. Any attempt at Conservatism can be shunted off into a siding, or pushed over a cliff, with the excuse that the Lib Dems won’t wear it. Absurdities routinely happen, like Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, removing screeds of offensive remarks about the Lib Dems from his Twitter page because we are all lovey-dovey now. (I am not sure what is the more preposterous – Mr Hunt’s humiliating himself by agreeing to rewrite history in this Stalinist way, or a supposedly grown and intelligent man like him tweeting in the first place.)
Dave will rue the day – and rue it sooner rather than later, I suspect – for rubbing the nose of so much of his party in it like this. The 118 backbenchers who voted against the emasculation of the 1922 Committee show just what he will be up against; I trust, as Norman Tebbit has suggested, that they will form a 2010 Committee, and carry on reminding their leader that we do not yet live in a dictatorship. Dave’s outrageous disregard of his party’s values requires far more scrutiny, not less.