Thursday, September 01, 2005

Who do the Tories have for today?

Because Ken Clarke is yesterday's man. I like the breezy manner, the cigars, the jazz, let's have another pint and to hell with the waistline as much as most people seem to. But his Heathite managerialism, his Kissinger-lite realpolitik and his Euro-enthusiasm are so 1970s, darling - and while the derailing of the integration train has relieved the pressure on Clarke on this third point, I personally don't think his failure to see the shortcomings and weaknesses of this project should be overlooked. I combine this with a wee bugbear I have about the way that Tory politicians' failures are immediately overlooked by some so-called "progressives" if they are pro-European.

David Cameron, on the other hand, is too young. I was getting depressed at the thought of a Tory leader that was actually younger than me, but he's proved himself to be just too damn young, I'm happy to say. Take this comment, for instance: "I know this is how young people feel because this is how I feel."(Emphasis added). Embarrassing, I think you'll agree - you're 38, David, 38! - yet indicative of his relative youth because he's not yet of an age to realise that most people - and especially not the yoof - are very impressed when politicians (like teachers) attempt to ingratiate themselves to people by pretending to be like them, when it's blindingly obvious to everyone that they are not.

Mature leadership requires the realisation that the understanding is, by the nature of the exercise, limited and that there needs to come a time when one has to take responsibility for trying to make oneself understood. But this presupposes that one has a philosophy, a political outlook with policies that one wants to get across. So what are they, boys? What are you for?

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