David Cameron Wags The Dog

by George_East on August 29, 2014

david-cameronDavid Cameron has had a very bad week.  It began with Boris Johnson confirming that he would seek the Conservative nomination for the safe London seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.   Boris would not be bothering to do so unless he thought there were good chance that the Tories will lose the election, so that there is a vacancy for the Tory leadership – his enormous ego is hardly going to be satisfied by being a back bencher or even a minister (unless it is the top job).

Then there was confirmation that Nigel Farage had got the UKIP nomination for the eminently winnable Thanet South (one of the seats that our own Jackie South identified as a potential prime target for the Kippers way back last year).

To top it all, on the very day of its much trailed speech at the Scottish CBI and seemingly catching Downing Street completely by surprise, Douglas Carswell defected to UKIP and resigned creating an exceptionally difficult by-election – indeed one in which it would be pretty surprising if Carswell lost.    The defection of Carswell is particularly painful for Cameron because as recently as the announcement that the Prime Minister backed the idea of an in/out referendum in the next parliament, Carswell called on the Euro-Phobic Tory right to rally round, as they  could not really ask for much more.

The apparent reasons for Carswell’s defections are revealing as it would appear to be very much related to Cameron’s fundamental flaw: that he is an empty shell of a PR man, without any consistent principle beyond believing that chaps like him should be running the country.    When it came down to it Carswell just did not believe that Cameron was committed to doing anything very much at all (some token renegotiations in order to be able to sell a ‘yes’ vote to the British public in a referendum).

With the polls continuing to defy the Westminster village political pundit conventional wisdom (Cameron’s Tories should be comfortably in the lead by now) and the Scottish referendum opinion polls narrowing slightly giving rise to the possibility (though, in my view, still remote) that Cameron will have the historical indignity of going down as the Conservative and Unionist Prime Minister who lost the union, Cameron was in dire need of changing the news agenda.

Today we found out how he is going to seek to do that with his speech on national security and the threat from ISIS.   He described them as ‘a greater and deeper threat to security than we have ever known’.

As I have previously written on these pages there is no doubt that ISIS are a scary bunch and, in my view, for the sake of the middle East and to prevent mass murder, or even genocide in the region, military intervention is justified.  However the notion that they are a greater threat to our own domestic security than Hitler or Stalin at the height of the cold war, or Napoleon in his pomp or the Spanish Armada in Tudor times, is patently ridiculous.    Indeed as a threat to the security of the British people, the IRA were more of a direct threat than ISIS.

The rhetoric is, of course, designed to enable a raft of new illiberal security measures to be passed.   The repeal of control orders was one of a tiny number of positive things that this government has done.    There is nothing that David Cameron likes more than to make that serious frowny face of his and play at being ‘tough’ and ‘prime ministerial’.

I suspect that given the febrile state of the Tory Party in the light of the Carswell defection we are going to get a lot more of this over-heated rhetoric to distract from Cameron’s domestic problems.   Sadly, as part of that, we are also likely to see civil liberties undermined even further – it is not like we can rely on the Lib Dems to prevent anything.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth August 30, 2014 at 2:03 pm

I think radical – perhaps one might say “fundamental” – Islam as practised yesterday by al-Qaeda and to-day by the Islamic State is a greater threat than the IRA – or soon will be.

I expect the “State” soon to pronounce jihad against us in support of those Muslim men, in Rotherham and elsewhere, who have sexually abused girls of all cultures. The opportunity to cause trouble is too obvious.

The IRA had no wish to conquer England, let alone destroy Western culture – it certainly didn’t see the latter as “Satanic”, being part of it.

Franco’s remark on the location of his columns vis-à-vis Madrid sadly comes to mind.

Most Muslims no doubt are as peaceful as anyone else, but why shouldn’t the Muslim Council of Great Britain (or whoever) be campaigning for the Government to support a Muslim state as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and for Arabic to be made an official language in this country? And when such campaigns are started, it hardly matters how the rest of us respond: the jihadis win either way.

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Mike Killingworth August 30, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Sorry for all the bold – alas, there is no edit facility on this blog…

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nino August 31, 2014 at 11:01 am

But why are Islamic State so strong? Where has their modern weaponry from? All taken from the Iraqi army? And even if all their fighters are volunteers they still have to eat, be accommodated and supplied with costly modern ammunition. Is all this financed solely by ransom demands and what they can take from their opponents? I’m not convinced. Like Al Qaeda before them substantial money is surely coming from sources known to the intelligence sservices. Are these sources too embarrassing to be made public? In the meantime I agree that the IS bogeyman is a convenient and tempting distraction for western governments. Sadly the same governments aren’t too concerned about people other than themselves and their families being killed.

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