Alex Massie

Miliband: Dave is a Tory Dubya

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Not to harp on about this too much, but can I again note that Labour seem to believe that this election is a British version of the Gore vs Bush Presidential election? Here's David Miliband arguing that "it's the policies of George W Bush that he [David Cameron] is promising".

So there you have it: Cameron is the British Dubya and we all know how that went!

This is a neat ploy from Labour, not least since 90% of voters have no idea what that really means in policy terms except that it sounds very, very bad indeed. Stylistically or in terms of temperament it's hard to see what Bush and Cameron really have in common though I dare say Labour won't mind if voters perceive a connecting sense of privilege. (Eton replacing Andover, of course.)

But Bush never followed through on what once seemed an interesting, even promising vision of "The Ownership Society". Most of "Compassionate Conservatism" withered on the vine, abandoned in the post-9/11 era. What replaced it, in terms of domestic policy at least, was a Big Government Conservatism that increased the federal government's role in education, passed a huge and unfunded entitlement expansion for pensioners and generally abandoned any pretence to fiscal discipline. Much, in other words, as Labour has done in Britain...

Still, as I say, it's cute since the Bush Bogeyman means Iraq and, I suppose, the calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina - though this latter, it must be observed, was a failure of government (at all levels)...

Then again, is anyone buying this? Won't most people, in as much as they ponder it at all, think the comparison rather odd and ultimately implausible?

UPDATE: Sunder Katwala reminds me that George Osborne did write a piece in 2004 arguing that while there was very little for Tories to learn from Bush the President, there was something they could learn from Bush the candidate. But, actually, one could argue that while in 2005 the Tories took the "Fire up the Base" approach used by Bush and Rove in 2004 this time around their campaign strategy is rather different. Indeed, the Tory base has not been wholly enamoured with Project Cameron's approach. So perhaps this merely demonstrates the shortcomings of these kinds of transatlantic comparisons, fun and entertaining though they may be...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articlePoliticsdavid miliband