This isn’t an article about the Prime Minister’s penis, or any part of his genitalia for that matter, although were he to find his testicles any time soon it would a tremendously good thing for the country. Cameron’s reaction to the UKIP plague has been a consummate disappointment in the immediate aftermath of last week’s council elections. Where William Hague calmly assured of no lurch to the right, we see in the Queen’s Speech the new centre-piece of coalition politics – immigration reform.
This has been in the deck for a while now but one suspects the PM was holding it in his pocket for the day when he needed more than his Etonian credentials to sate his right wing’s fears over anything moderate. That day has come but it is a tragedy the card has to be played due to external forces. An intra-Tory xenophobia war could have been managed and largely squashed but with UKIP putting serious pressure on the party, there is every likelihood we will see some startling changes in the months to come.
I described the PM in my last article as a curiously wet non-entity and that assessment remains. Where my excitement has gone over his centrist appeal and apparent dynamism with regards to taking the Conservative Party in a new, compatible and modern direction, I’m not sure. Probably flushed down the toilet with half a dozen cabinet fails, a couple of party rebellions around Europe and gay rights and an ever sluggish economy. All taken together it smacks resoundingly of a dearth in leadership.
The traditional Tories were never going to just fade away or become naturally subducted into Cameron’s compassionate model, that is, beyond initial electoral logic. He clearly failed to realise that this was his job, to carry the party with him. Instead he ploughed forward with his loyal clique in tow and has up to this point been dangerously dismissive of those within the party who opposed his more progressive tendencies. Not that I’m defending the reprehensible Nadine Dorries, but the leadership’s treatment of her is indicative of this.
If immigration needs reforming then fine, do it. I’m hugely wary of the wide and competing range of arguments in this area and frankly cannot be bothered to wade into that now. All I know is that the timing of this new initiative is cynical and transparent to the point that I’m tempted to add Cameron to my Bonfire of the Ministers. The right wing is indisputably wagging the Cameron, if you’ll pardon my phrase-butchery.
Compassionate conservatism is now a dead brand thanks to wildly controversial NHS overhauls and welfare reform, coupled with slashed corporate and 50p tax rates, against a backdrop of decreasing living standards. The electorate won’t buy that line again for some time indeed. So while the rightwards lunge is hugely undesirable, the centre is no longer fertile ground for the Tories and they are left in an ideological crisis. At the moment, Labour can reasonably look forward to a leading share in the vote come 2015, as completely undeserved as that is and would be.
I tentatively whispered some months ago that perhaps Hague deserves a second shot at the top job, especially if he could do so during a period that wasn’t politically untenable for the Conservative Party. I wouldn’t exactly describe the current climate as tenable but the Tories are still in power with a good stretch ahead of them. While I’m usually highly skeptical of the often nominal cabinet reshuffle, proactivity should probably come in the form of radical personnel changes. I’d prefer that to an immigration policy that satisfied those with the worst perspective on the issue.