Tuesday, March 27, 2007

 

Hitchens' Savaging of Cameron a Delight

In my pantheon of rightwing hate figures Peter Hitchens has usually featured fairly highly. He has the same arrogance as his brother, Christopher- with whom he does not communicate- with none of the latter's disarming charm. I should also mention his disturbingly mobile political ideas; he has been a Trotskyist and a member of the Labour Party. He now purports to be a 'moral and cultural' Conservative but last night his Despatches programme was effectively an hour long party political broadcast for that party to which he once belonged beginning with an 'L'.

Iain Dale was apparently invited to be involved but spotted it as a 'hatchet job' and declined. He was right: it was. And a very effective one it was too. Starting with Cameron's former boss at the Conservative Research Department, we learnt that Cameron had no discernible political position when he worked for the party and was self evidently an 'opportunist'; when a candidate in 1997 his manifesto was indistinguishable from any journeyman Tory trying to toe the party line; and in 2005, of course, he penned Howard's less than centrist manifesto.

In the absence of Dale, it was Michael Gove who had to face the brutally cynical questions of The Hitch and came up predictably unconvincing. Hitchens nailed down the accusation that Cameron had speedily invented his liberal 'Compassionate Conservatism' when the media plus his psephologically literate friends, suggested he might be in for the main chance.

Whilst on those friends Hitch put Gove on the backfoot too over all those Etonians milling around the 'ordinary bloke' Dave not to mention his investigation of the aristocratic pretending Bullingdon Dining Club(dedicated to drinking themselves insensible and then trashing restaurants while in fancy dress), which, it was alleged, occupied the major part of the future Conservative leader's time whilst at Oxford. The above picture reveals Cameron(second from left) in his true colours: a privileged toff, surrounded by confreres of the same ilk- note the blond mop of Boris Johnson in the front row(see here for the full run down of toffs now working in the City).

I'm not sure if The Hitch convinced many Conservatives that Cameron is a lightweight opportunist who is slavishly following the Blairite route to power, but he sure as hell convinced me. Labour's attack dogs will have greedily feasted on this useful programme for future use. And it was revealing how many of Dave's enemies the programme managed to flush out- they clearly are not limited to that ageing old head-banger Norman Tebbitt, though he was in it too.

Comments:
It's worth listening to Peter Hitchins on Start the Week this week (which you can do via Radio 4's listen again page). He was first on.

He is high on the list of people who increase my blood pressure to dangerous levels but he isn't as foolish as some of his views may make him seem.

On STW he made some sound points for example about:

- how comprehensive education can fail to help bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds as effectively as selection did

- how the Tory fudge on Europe is absurd (you can't be in it and not controlled by it - in H's view that's like being in Wormwood Scrubs and not being controlled by it!)

- how most political commentators aren't really interested in politics

- how some career politicians like Cameron seem to be interested only in power

- how successful Labour has been implementing social changes of which he doesn't approve (such as civil partnerships).

Not sure I agree with the implications of his doubts about if the two party system is still fit for purpose or whether the parties are reaching the ends of their useful lives though.

And, unlike him, I rather like the 'politically correct' 'liberal elite' view of how our world should be run...
 
First time visit to your blog and (rather OT) it's a relief that someone still knows how to "toe the line". I've lost count of the number of people who prefer to "tow" it!

Yes, you're right ... I'm a boring old Tory pedant.
 
Skipper,
Afraid I don't share your hatred of Peter Hitchens. To be sure, his views on social policy are anathema to my own. But while I disagree with his conclusions, I find some of his premises quite compelling. I've seen him speak about three times, and he's really a very good debater. As Hughes implies, proper political argument is quite a relief in the days of lightweight Comment is Free trash.

I also admire Peter Hitchens for his radicalism - although this fits uncomfortably with his hardline moral conservatism. Too much of political discourse suffers from status quo bias: the monarchy shouldn't be abolished because it's harmless; the lords spiritual should remain because they reflect our heritage.

The transition from Trotskyist to moral conservative isn't as odd as you might think. He remains a revolutionary, albeit a wrongheaded one.
 
Cameron isn't a lightweight opportunist. He is a dangerous man. As I’ve posted before on your blog: a wolf in sheep’s clothing. When he is PM his true radical, right wing self will emerge.
 
I think it's important to clarify "right-wing". I don't think he's neolieral: he won't dogmatically pursue lower taxes. But he is socially conservative. His constant (euphemistic) support of marriage demonstrates this: he wants to tax (poorer) singletons and give the money to (richer) married couples just because he thinks marriage leads to a better life.
 
Surely, a man of the times would have noticed that the clock is still set for GMT and we are in BST.
 
Hughesey and SPL
I agree with both of you that Hitchens is very bright and hugely entertaining, even when one does not agree with him.
 
Sorry to be another Tory pedant but it's his brother, Christopher Hitchens who is known as 'The Hitch'.
 
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