Friday, July 27, 2007

In defence of David Cameron

Since I left the Conservative Party two years ago (at roughly the same time as David Cameron became leader but not because of that) I have undergone a real change in attitude towards it. When in the past people told me that the nasty element so often seen was the face of the party I argued against that, but I came to realise that they were right. Not that every member is nasty, in fact some are fantastic and there are some elected representatives who are fantastic and who I would vote for, and even work to see elected again. But the truth is that the real face of the Conservative Party is too often the smug, sneering, nasty, frothing-mouthed, Daily Mail reader that we're all used to.

And boy has is reared itself up over David Cameron and his trip to Rwanda. The howls from the loony wing of the Party have been deafening. How dare he go to Africa and find out what's happening around the world? Why do we care what happens to the colonials? The Rwandans don't vote - why bother? Why wasn't he in the country looking at the flood?

Well, let's take the last point - yes, for some people the flooding this week has been devastating. But really - do they want some politician to fly over them in a helicopter tutting and rolling his eyes? If he didn't have a bucket and a mop to help clear up then he wouldn't be of any use to anyone. But on the other hand, he had already visited flooded areas in his own constituency before he went to Rwanda. A Prime Minister must be able to concentrate on several urgent issues at once, running the country and fulfilling international duties cannot stop because of a crisis. Instead our leaders must be able to juggle lots of balls in the air.

And it was a good thing going to Rwanda. If we want to stop genocide happening in the future we have to understand what happened and why. We must learn to read the signs. No genocide ever starts as a genocide - it starts with name-calling, it starts with exclusionary policies and it starts with labelling people as different. If we can recognise the first stages then maybe we can help stop the second, third stages taking place. And if we can stop genocide occuring, if we can help people to be safe in their own countries, maybe we can stop so many coming to the UK (shameless nod to right-wing sensibilities).

13 years ago the world stood by and allowed a genocide to take place in Rwanda. And the genocide is still taking place there - women and children are still dying of AIDS; people are still dying from their wounds and killings are continuing. I'm delighted that David Cameron went to see for himself what is happening in Rwanda. It can only make him a better politician and perhaps even a better Prime Minister.


Iain Dale said...


Man in a shed said...

Louise - David Cameron not cancelling or postponing his trip was bad politics. The idea of Rwanda was great - especially as pouring money into African has been shown to fail - new ideas are needed and we are the most likely source of them. It a much better idea than the usual MP fact finding missions / taxpayer funded holidays.

But in his slowness to respond to a situation which is not what he wished it to be that is showing a troubling sign of weakness of judgement. I hope that its the fault of some of those around him and can be fixed.

Grammar-gate was the same - what compounded the utter disaster of David Willett's speech was the failure to respond and apply common sense damage limitation.

David Cameron needs to learn to respond to events better. He has a fantastic message, and his rebranding has been good, even inspired at times. But no one is the whole package, and he needs to look to his team to give him a full spectrum of political capability.

He is also the victim of a well prepared and executed NuLabour plot to destabilise him and the Conservative party - unfortunately he's playing his part in this by not being flexible enough.

gordon-bennett said...

First of all the Conservatives were NEVER the nasty party. I don't know why Theresa May said that.

The Conservatives' main and (almost) only problem is the relentless opposition and undermining carried out by the bbc. Just as they casually deceived people about phone quizzes and programme trailers, they consistently misrepresent the Conservative Party.

They distort the facts and favour the Labour Party.

Anyone who doubts this should take a look at the many blog sites recording bbc bias (look for them via Google).

Here's one telling example. Have you ever heard any beeb interviewer ask a Conservative why the Party doesn't increase its privatisation programme, given the success of privatisation which has been copied all over the civilised world.

No, the beeboids are all against it, because it's a capitalist idea, and they show this by opposing any and all privatisation every step of the way.

Chris Palmer said...

'But the truth is that the real face of the Conservative Party is too often the smug, sneering, nasty, frothing-mouthed, Daily Mail reader that we're all used to.' - Louise

I though David Cameron was the face of the Conservative party? Anyhow, just who are these smug, sneering, nasty people you speak of? I don't think I have met any during my time. I would be interesting if you could post a few examples for clarification, rather than just a quick and needless slur.

Dick Wishart said...

But the truth is that the real face of the Conservative Party is too often the smug, sneering, nasty, frothing-mouthed, Daily Mail reader that we're all used to.' - Louise
Typical cheap trashy slur that bears no relation whatsoever to the Party, methinks the Party is well rid of you.

Anonymous said...

Last comment is interesting - exactly the kind of attitude the article was referring to.

I doubt you'll have people naming names here, but there's no doubt that the most unpleasant people I ever met were those during my time in the Conservative Party. I also met some of the most wonderful, dedicated people you could ever hope to meet.

I guess it's the same in the other parties - I met some pretty dreadful Liberal Democrats too.

I've got one thing to say to my old colleagues - Gordon Brown is their John Major. After such a charismatic and truly popular leader, things can only go downhill.

The next one is there for the taking, unless the tories throw it away. Seems like they're making a pretty good fist of doing just that.

Jeff said...

Very interesting post and comments here, much better than the flippant cartoons of DC sitting in Africa on his own wondering why he is there.

One question though, if Cameron would be futile in a helicopter tutting and rolling his eyes above the floods, is he not just as futile going to Rwanda doing the same tutting and rolling of eyes at the genocide caused there?

Maybe I've not been looking in the right places, but it seems Cameron went to Rwanda just so he could say he went to Rwanda rather than come up with some new plan for the place.

Anonymous said...

Louise, I'm like you - I can't stand the Daily Mail and its nasty tone but, unlike you, I don't find that much evidence of it among Conservative Party members. Sure, there are some - just as there are some Labour Party members who drip with class hatred, some Lib Dems who think dirty tricks are fine and dandy and some SNP activists who simply hate English people - but to defame an entire political party and thousands of decent people on the basis of the unsavoury views of a few is deeply unfair.

If you are writing in good faith you should ask yourself if this smear is a positive contribution to politics, and to making the world a better place.

Louise said...

Thought I'd respond to a couple of the points made here.

man in a shed - I agree with most of what you say about David Cameron's judgement and slowness to react - but honestly I think his bad press is more to do with his own Party than NuLabour plots.

gordon-bennett - paranoia is alive and well...

Dick Wishart - perhaps I'm guilty of unimaginative cliche ridden writing, but that's about it.

Anonymous 1 - thank you, I agree with everything you say.

Jeff - I think the major difference is one of timing, we can only learn lessons in retrospect when we look back on what's happened. 13 years is too long, but it's an important first step and I think Cameron was right to make it.

Anonymous 2 - You're right about every Party having it's unpleasant element. I just found that the Conservative Party had a larger unpleasant than pleasant element. I do not pretend that this blog makes any contribution whatsoever to political life, it's just my place to sound off.

Chris Palmer said...

Louise, in giving examples of 'nasty and sneering' people you think reside within the Conservative party, you do not need to name any names. You could give examples that don't use real names.

Louise said...

Chris - I wasn't going to give examples and I certainly won't name any names. The article wasn't actually meant to be about my experience of the Conservative Party so much as Cameron's trip to Rwanda. If I give just one story I hope this suffices, I'm certainly not going to get into tro-ing and fro-ing to justify my opinion - this is the moment which turned me from a non-member but active supporter to a non-supporter.

A group of members had spent a Saturday morning canvassing/delivering for a local election with the MP. As is normal we ended up in the local pub chatting about the campaign, the prospects for the seat etc when the MP said "There are only 1.5% of his kind in this ward, we certainly don't want one of them representing us." His kind being of an ethnic minority. Everyone around the table agreed, I sat in embarrassed silence. Now you could have a go at me for not speaking up and I would deserve that, but when MPs are happy to say such a thing, in public and members are happy to agree then that's a group of people that I don't want to be associated with.

I know that there are many members who don't feel the same way, and many who would also be appalled. But coupled with previous experiences that was the final straw for me.

gordon-bennett said...


What a smug, sneering, nasty, frothing-mouthed personal attack.

Anonymous said...

In other words, the crime of the MP was not to be a bigot himself but to assume that a significant number of voters in the particular ward you were canvassing were bigots.

It would be a service to public life if you named names here. The MP concerned should be made to justify himself.

If you refuse to name names, we'll be forced to question your motives. After all, it was YOUR decision to make a public attack on the Conservative Party for being a nest of bigots so you should now make good on your allegation.

After all, if I had a blog and said that I had stopped being a Muslim because I heard an Imam and some of his supporters at the local mosque saying that disabled children should be put down and western women were no better than prostitutes, you would wonder if I was sincere or merely an Islamaphobe trying to stir up hatred.

The test of my sincerity would be if I was prepared to provide details. The same applies to you.

Louise said...

Anonymous - as you can imagine I'm going to disagree with you and not go further than I already have.

The point of this entry was actually to defend David Cameron's trip to Rwanda, but that's got lost a little. My defence stands - I think he did a good thing by going to Rwanda and if when he's PM (as I think he could be) I hope this experience will inform how he refers to people, the asylum debate and foreign policy in places like Darfur.

Feel free to question my motives, that's your perogative and anyone who makes statements on blogs - their own or anonymously on another person's - opens themselves up to be questioned. That's fair enough.

Anonymous said...

Louise didn't make an attack on the Conservative Party, she made an attack on it's loony wing.

If what you guys are saying is true, then there is no loony wing and therefore she's not attacking anyone.

However, from the tone of the comments on here, I think otherwise.

Chris Palmer said...

I would like to point out that since my last comment, I have discovered one or two 'nasty' individuals within the Conservative party of the sort you mentioned - though not for the reasons you set out in your example.

You were right.