A contrary view on the Cameron speech

This began as a comment to LJ “Beaglescout” Miller’s diary Central Concepts from David Cameron’s Speech to the Conservative Party, but I’ve since decided to expand it a bit more and make it a diary.

Melanie Phillips is one of the most fearless and incisive conservative commentators on either side of the Atlantic who has long been standing against the receeding tide of Britain’s cultural and national values against the multicultural relativism and non-judgmentalism that is eroding away the foundations of its future existence as a Western nation.

And having long suffered through the Labour government, she is quite distressed that the Conservative Party leadership, particularly David Cameron, is resting its political program on the same foundation of sand that the Labour government has been foundering upon.

This latest speech she views as just more rhetorical fluff devoid of substantive content, rhetoric without conviction.

Unfortunately, we in the U.S. also have been suffering from such similar empty – or evenly deliberately deceptive and ephemeral speeches – from our political leadership, and not just from the left side of the political divide.

From Melanie’s review titled Playing it safe (10/8):

So what went wrong with David Cameron’s speech? This was supposed to be the speech that ‘sealed the deal’, the last big chance before the election to show Britain why it should vote for him rather than merely against Gordon Brown.

He blew it.

It was vague, woolly, bland, dull. Far from igniting with the passion of a moral cause, it read like a mechanical assembly of boxes to be ticked. There was hardly any sense of the urgent civilisational threats and challenges to this country.

She then proceeds to eviscerate his speech in agonizing detail. Some excerpts:

[Regarding Afghanistan], a statesman-in-waiting would have done what the government has so conspicuously failed to do…that is, explain to the mystified and dangerously apathetic or even hostile British people why this is not a faraway war in which we should never have got involved but one upon which the security of the region and the free world depends, and that we have to see it through however long it takes

As for the rest of the speech, parts of it were incoherent. He can’t be against big government but also ‘the party of the NHS’. He can’t be for devolution and for the union which it is weakening. He can’t be for the minimum wage and also free up entrepreneurialism to create desperately needed jobs.

He can’t be for responsibility in family life by giving financial incentives for marriage and giving financial incentives for civil partnerships whose fundamental premise is that marriage is not a unique institution with unique privileges and duties defining its unique role in safeguarding family life, but that its privileges can be detached from those duties and given to others.

Either he’s running scared of the Guardianistas and the BBC — or worse, he agrees with them.

Much of the rest was studiedly vague and took the form of empty statements that welfare dependency would end, people would be protected from crime and would get what they wanted from the school system…

And that is what was missing from Cameron’s speech. It’s not that it was short on policy detail, which was not its role anyway. It’s that it didn’t tell us a story that made us say yes, this man really does grasp not just the economic debacle but the full extent of Britain’s cultural, moral and existential decline – and that it is important that we elect him in order to reverse that decline.

Instead, he played ultra-safe; and so we are left wondering even now whether he’s keeping his powder dry – or whether there isn’t any powder there.

Read it all, and also check out her earlier critical reports from the Conservative Party annual conference:

David Blair (10/7)

The elephants in the room at the Tory party conference (10/6)

David Cameron and the spectre of ‘President’ Blair (10/5)

Read and weep for a once great nation and pray that we do not follow in her footsteps, but that the Lord will raise up leaders who will courageously speak the hard truths – and a nation that will listen and heed.