By waging such a disingenuous, fear-based campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union, David Cameron and George Osborne are sowing the seeds of their own political destruction
The excellent Archbishop Cranmer blog gives it to David Cameron and George Osborne with both barrels for the grubby, underhanded way in which they have gone about fighting the Remain case in this EU referendum campaign.
Frankly, both George Osborne and David Cameron have disgraced their offices of state in this referendum campaign, with their lies, hyperbole, disinformation and deceit. Whether or not the UK takes the first step toward leaving the EU on 23rd June; whether or not it becomes our Independence Day or is confirmed as the day we resigned to plod inexorably toward becoming an offshore regional council of a United States of Europe, David Cameron and George Osborne will go down in history as Tory charlatans, cheats and political frauds. They have successfully re-toxified the Conservative brand and made it impossible for many to support a party led by either. You cannot call a referendum on something as crucial as fundamental identity or the determination of national destiny, and then collude with corporates and conspire with other elites to feed the electorate a diet of blight, pestilence and woe. It’s enough to make a man never trust a Tory again.
Amen. And the curious thing is that both Cameron and Osborne seem utterly oblivious to the medium and long term damage they are wreaking on their party. Wanting their side to win the referendum is understandable – both men’s authority and political careers ride on the public voting remain. But the desperate and underhanded means to which they are going to win the referendum – the national propaganda leaflet, the Treasury statistics mysteriously missing an analysis of the Brexit to EFTA/EEA scenario – are storing up serious problems for the future.
In this blog’s opinion, both Cameron and Osborne are overrated as master political and strategic minds. Cameron actually failed to win the 2010 general election, and prevailed in 2015 only against a phenomenally weak Labour leader. Osborne, meanwhile, is much more of a tactician than a strategist, often quick to exploit opportunities to win a particular argument, but with little sense of the knock-on impact on other matters.
This is exactly what is happening now. Cameron and Osborne look at the polls, which generally show a steady lead for Remain, and mistakenly assume that this is the same as approval of themselves. But this is not so. Strip away the vast majority of Labour and non-aligned voters siding with Remain out of fear or ignorance, and over half of the Conservative Party may well oppose the prime minister. Had David Cameron conducted his campaign with a shred of decency or respect for the opposing side, this might not be a problem, and eurosceptic Conservatives might well have kissed and made up after being defeated on 23 June. But the sheer barrage of misleading statistics, analyses and inappropriate interventions from global figures organised by Cameron means that no rapprochement will be possible.
The bitter truth is that far from detoxifying the Conservative Party, David Cameron has retoxified it – to a supercharged degree. The prime minister may not be to blame for the Left’s hysterical reaction to any and every limited attempt at fiscal restraint by this government – with Labour shrieking that attempts to curb growth in public spending amount to a holocaust of the sick and disabled, the Left are to blame for much of the toxicity in our politics today. But Cameron is very much responsible for alienating vast swathes of his own side.
After the referendum is done, there will be a large number of small-c conservative voters who would sooner die than lift a finger to support a Conservative Party led by David Cameron or any of his cabinet allies from the Remain camp. This blog is among them. The Conservative Party is now as toxic among many conservatives as it is among the British Left. How then to fight a general election once the Labour Party finally gets itself organised?
This is David Cameron’s true legacy – a Tory Party hated by the Left despite being so boringly, forgettably centrist as to be indistinguishable from New Labour, and equally hated by many on the Right for having betrayed innumerable conservative principles through a policy of government by appeasement rather than the bold pursuit of conservative goals. Hated by the Left for having risked Britain’s place in the European Union by holding the referendum in the first place, and equally hated by the Right for having shamefully come down on the side of supranational, antidemocratic rule from Brussels.
Dave and George are probably not looking that far ahead right now – they are probably too busy lining up the next NGO head to go public about how apocalyptic Brexit would apparently be. But you could not pay me enough money to change places with either of them when it comes time for the first meeting of the Conservative Parliamentary Party after the referendum.
The anger and vitriol will be immense, and may well consume our arrogant prime minister and his chancellor soon after their moment of ill-begotten triumph.
And who will mourn their loss? If David Cameron and George Osborne are the best that the Conservative Party can offer, we may as well have a Labour government anyway.
Top Image: Telegraph
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I agree that Cameron and Osborne are overrated. Cameron is a second-rate politician who has had the good fortune to face third- and fourth-rate opponents. Osborne is good at tricks and gimmicks but that’s about it.
However I suspect that the Tories are banking on the “Corbyn effect” to carry them through the next election. If they assume that Labour moderates will not be able to regain control of the party in the near future then they would not expect to face any credible opposition in 2020 or even 2025. They may well believe that it simply doesn’t matter what they do now because a majority of people will feel obliged to vote Conservative in 2020, however reluctantly, in order to keep the loonies out. Of course, many of those voters would also be eager to punish the party for its arrogance and duplicity as soon as a credible alternative became available, so it would guarantee a landslide defeat in the following election or the one after.
That’s my fear too – that the Tories could effectively be in government but not in power for another decade or even more, simply because the Labour Party can’t get their act together. Meanwhile, we continue to have David Cameron’s New Labour continuity government in place of anything remotely conservative, remotely pro-freedom, pro-individual.
It is increasingly my belief that the Conservatives have utterly and irretrievably squandered this chance in government, that nothing significantly positive can now come regardless of the referendum result, and that it will take a fresh Tory government taking over from another failing Labour government to give us another chance – though how much the country will have to suffer in that time, God only knows.
Many thanks for reading and commenting – I totally agree with your analysis.
Couldn’t agree more!
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