I’m sure our burgeoning and loyal band of followers will be aware that here at the Mambo we don’t get on particularly well with Daniel Hannan. And the feeling is mutual.
But his latest piece contains a grain of truth (normally his articles are unrelenting, paranoid, swivel-eyed dross). You won’t be surprised to hear that when I offer my conditional endorsement though I’m not referring to the guff he writes about “a bureaucratic machine”, something that sounds rather like something you’d hear from a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
But where Hannan is right, probably wholly inadvertently, is to point out that personnel changes won’t fundamentally alter the direction of this government. The ideological direction of travel is already fixed regardless of who provides the public face of individual policies.
For example, one can guarantee that Rupert Murdoch’s man on the inside Jeremy Hunt won’t be rowing back on the government’s commitment to dismantle the NHS. He may sell the idea a little better than the gormless and hapless Andrew Lansley, but nothing substantive will change (and therein lies the danger, as a smoother salesman may appease some of the opposition).
Expenses fiddler and arch Orange Booker David Laws had a crucial unofficial advisory role anyway. His return to government (not rehabilitation) is merely making that role official. The government’s education policy won’t change significantly either way as a consequence.
None of this represents “a lurch to the right”, as some are claiming. Firstly, it’s difficult to imagine how much further to the right a Conservative government could go, and secondly the policy agenda is set by Number 10 and Number 11. That won’t be changing and the men with the power in the Conservative Party (for now anyway) are quite clear about that. The identities of the salesmen aren’t the problem, it’s what they are selling.
In any case, considering the mess this government is making of things, Cameron is merely rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.
Which brings me on (sort of) to another point. The booing of Gideon.
Now I loved it. It’s good to see the smirking half-wit get a taste of what all right-thinking people think of him and his policies. It’s also great to see so many people observe something that we have known here at the Mambo and have been arguing for some time, that the man is a fool, and the view, widely-held not so long ago, that he was some kind of strategic genius is palpably ludicrous.
The booers were absolutely right to boo and point up the farce of a Chancellor personally responsible for savage cuts in state support for the disabled being a guest of honour the Paralympics. It will be interesting to know whether he was already aware of the depth of his unpopularity (I rather suspect that he did, he may be thick but I’m sure even he isn’t that lacking in self-awareness)
It was also nice to see Gordon Brown get a much better reception, especially when one considers the way that the right-wing press tried (and failed) previously to exploit Brown’s disability (his weak eye-sight) to discredit him.
And to argue that it wasn’t the time for “politics” is absurd. Any time is the right time for politics. Especially now.
But it is noteworthy that David Cameron didn’t get quite such a hostile reception. Or Boris Johnson. Even though both are cut from the same welfare-slashing cloth.
Osborne has become the object of hatred, even though his agenda is the agenda of the entire coalition government. They are all in it together, if you’ll excuse the pun, and should be getting exactly the same response.
In some respects it’s quite similar to the situation with Nick Clegg. He has been an excellent shield for the puppet-masters, the Tories, as he has been the recipient of much of the fury and scrutiny that would they would otherwise have had to endure. It’s a mistake to be personalising it too much.
Osborne may appear to be the lovechild of Blackadder and Cain, but he shouldn’t be singled out. All the Tories deserve the same treatment and hostility.