Just six weeks ago, David Cameron was enthusing to friends about Arnold Schwarzenegger’s speech to the Conservative party conference. The governor of California had been on the phone, saying how much he was looking forward to visiting Blackpool. It turned out that Schwarzenegger knew what he was in for, having toured England’s seaside towns during the bodybuilding pageants of his youth. Then, a fortnight later, he had mysteriously become too busy, and the supposedly relished visit was — well — terminated.
With our overstretched army bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, violent crime on the streets out of control, a run on a high street bank, teachers assaulted in their classrooms, bullying by pupils over the internet, illiteracy growing, the NHS shambles in which young British doctors are left jobless while thousands of foreigners are imported to take their jobs, house prices soaring way beyond the reach of ordinary families, even the Commission for Racial Equality admitting that uncontrolled immigration and multiculturalism — those totems of New Labour — are threatening the stability of society, there should be a spring in David Cameron’s feet as he pedals north to Blackpool.
A new map hangs in George Osborne’s office, showing the latest parliamentary boundaries for the next general election. It could have been designed to soothe the nerves of a Conservative party election co-ordinator, for it is dominated by Tory blue. A few tricks have been used to achieve this optical illusion. There is no Scotland, for example, and marginal Labour seats are painted a faint red. But overall the picture is of a Conservative country, and an election which is eminently winnable.
It’s been two years since I sat down with 30 potential Conservative voters for BBC2’s Newsnight and asked them whom they’d like to follow into the next election. Their answer was nearly unanimous: the heretofore unknown and obscure David Cameron. And it’s been a year since I sat down with 30 potential Labour voters and asked whom they wanted to follow Tony Blair. Their answer: the colourful and avuncular John Reid.
There are two reasons why Jim Murphy, the Europe minister, is wrong and The Spectator right about the question of a referendum on the European Union Reform Treaty (‘The Spectator is wrong to call for an EU referendum’, 22 September).The first is that the government gave the people a solemn pledge that it would hold one before there was any question of ratifying the European Union Constitutional Treaty, and anyone who takes the trouble (and it does involve a wearisome amount of trouble) to study both documents will find that, to all intents and purposes, the content is the same.
Ian Gilmour was not the only proprietor of The Spectator also to be its editor, but he was unquestionably the best. Patrician, wealthy, high-minded, unassuming, the 28-year-old Etonian ex-Grenadier Guardsman raised a number of eyebrows when he bought the magazine in 1954 and took over the editorial reins himself. However, the five years of his editorship were to cause a lot more surprise when, in fostering The Spectator’s libertarian tradition, he not only espoused radical causes but frequently opposed the Eden and Macmillan governments.
The EU has not helped Aung San Suu Kyi’s causeIt has been a long-held view of mine that most of the evil in the world today can be traced back, somehow, to Peter Mandelson. People tell me that this is irrational and warped. And yet, as the Burmese soldiers sprayed those protesting monks with tear gas and bunged them in the back of paddy wagons to be taken God knows where and for God knows how long, the EU Trade Commissioner’s spectral form once again swam towards me from inside my television set.
A warm invitation to The Spectator’s new websiteThe Spectator has a new website — redesigned, easier to use, with new features and writers. The online magazine will continue to do what the print magazine has always done on paper: inspire debate, stir up controversy and have some fun, with the added advantage that you can add your thoughts to ours.In expanding our web presence we are being true to the traditions of the magazine.