Rod Liddle

Cameron grasps at populism out of desperation

Cameron grasps at populism out of desperation
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David Cameron has said that “burglars leave their human rights at the doorstep” when they break into a house. He added that he wishes to see “fewer” prosecutions of homeowners who defend themselves or their property from intruders. He has not spelled out precisely how far we can go with burglars, whether or not we can tie them to a tree and bugger them, whooping and hollering. Nor has he made it clear what happens to burglars who climb in through an upstairs window; do they still have to leave their human rights on the doorstep, or could they perhaps put them beside the wheelie bin, near the gate? Either way, this is an abrupt volte face from the Tory leader; three years ago, when attempting to convince the country that the Conservatives were now a “nice” party, he said:

“…..and if you find a burglar in your bedroom, you should hug him and then take him downstairs for a cup of tea and some toast, exchange telephone numbers and perhaps enjoy a summer holiday together.”

Please forgive the facetiousness. It’s just that Cameron is flailing around like a spastic windmill right now, grabbing hold of any populist cause regardless or not of whether it accords with what he has said in the past, whether or not it is coterminous with conservative values. There is nothing he will not say and, bizarrely, considering the opinion polls, it smacks of a certain desperation. On the same day as his stuff about burglars he softened the Tory line on spending cuts; actually there won’t be swingeing cuts, he said, far from it. We’ll be spending, don’t worry. Uh? Meanwhile the party has laid into bankers, demanding that the government punish them. A week or two ago Cameron, in a grotesque example of vapid electioneering, was shrieking about “Broken Britain”, without ever spelling out why Britain was “broken” and what we might do about it.

Of course, we are nearing an election and we can expect a bit of grandstanding. But has there ever been a leader so divorced from even a semblance of principle or ideology? Has a leader ever flip-flopped more cynically? If you vote for Cameron on May 6 will you have the slightest idea of what you are voting for?