It's amazing how many people seem to have been taken in by the attempt to portray David Cameron, the pro-war Thatcherite, as a 'moderate'. Here's my piece from today's Guardian.
Cameron is no moderate
He supports the Iraq war and tax cuts, opposes EU social policies and has neocon associations
Monday October 24, 2005
What exactly is moderate about David Cameron? On taxation, the Tory leadership favourite has signalled his attraction to the flat-rate tax, a far-right wheeze that would leave, according to a Treasury report, up to 30 million Britons worse off and the super-rich even richer. Declaring his support for "flatter taxes", Cameron has enthusiastically backed the decision of his lieutenant, George Osborne, to set up a commission to investigate the idea and has signed up to a classic Thatcherite economic agenda of tax cuts and deregulation.
On Europe, he wants the Conservatives to break their long-standing link with centre-right Christian Democrat parties in the European parliament and talks of "fighting to end the EU's damaging social role". And in foreign policy, he is an unreconstructed hawk, his campaign masterminded by the neoconservative trio of Tory MPs Osborne, Michael Gove and Ed Vaizey, all enthusiastic cheerleaders for Pax Americana. Osborne hailed the "excellent neoconservative case" for action against Iraq in 2003 and denies that the invasion has radicalised Muslim opinion.
Gove and Vaizey are signatories to the statement of principles of the Henry Jackson Society, which has its UK launch next month. The society - named after the US Democratic senator who opposed detente with the Soviet Union - campaigns for a "forward strategy" to spread "liberal democracy across the world" through "the full spectrum of 'carrot' capacities, be they diplomatic, economic, cultural or political, but also, when necessary, those 'sticks' of the military domain". Calling for the "maintenance of a strong military with a global expeditionary reach", the society bemoans the fact that "too few of our leaders in Britain and Europe are ready to play a role in the world that matches our strengths and responsibilities".
The list of Henry Jackson patrons reads like a Who's Who of US foreign-policy hawks: including the former CIA director James Wolsey, William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, and Richard Perle, former chairman of the Defence Policy Board and the man many see as the architect of the Iraq war.
Cameron himself voted for the Iraq war, believing that to vote no "would have been to break the US-UK alliance which has been the cornerstone of our peace and security". Saddam, according to the new Tory saviour, posed a threat not just to the Middle East region, but "to the world", and like all good neocons Cameron blamed the conflict on the French and their promise to veto any second UN security council resolution.
Cameron's meteoric rise from leadership no-hoper to frontrunner has taken many by surprise. But what has happened is that British neoconservatives, faced with the nightmarish possibility that in a straight fight between David Davis and Kenneth Clarke the more charismatic and anti-war former chancellor would prevail, sought to undermine support for the latter by reinventing Cameron, the pro-war Thatcherite, as the voice of Tory "moderation".
The strategy has worked. "The central job of a new Tory leader is to put the Conservative argument in a different way ... to be the change, not just to talk about it. Putting policy meat on the bones just isn't the point" - these are the views of the Tories' modernising guru Daniel Finkelstein. For him, the fact that Cameron looks moderate is all that matters. But those not enamoured by the prospect of a regressive tax system, a revival of 1980s economics, a hostile attitude to Europe or British participation in military invasions of Iran, Syria or any other country the US decides to attack in five or six years' time are well advised to read the small print.