The article is more subtle than the headline but William Hague’s piece for today’s Sunday Telegraph [Telegraph site is down at time of posting] hardens the hint of criticism of Israel that was evident on Thursday. Matthew d’Ancona – writing on the page opposite to Mr Hague – describes the former Tory leader’s words as "astonishing". The Spectator’s Editor (who believes Iran is the greatest foreign policy test of our age) speculates that Mr Hague’s advisers are responsible for this "wobble".
The Hague article is also another sign of the Shadow Foreign Secretary’s determination to wrench the Conservative Party away from its once inseparable relationship with America:
"In some instances, such as attacks on the Lebanese army or on parts of the civil infrastructure, Israeli actions have been disproportionate, and our Foreign Office should not be afraid to say so: our position in international affairs may often be linked to that of the United States but it does not have to be identical to it."
Earlier this year William Hague, in a trip to Washington DC, spoke of America’s moral authority "bleeding away". Hague 2006 is certainly striking a different pose than Hague 2003. This is backbencher Hague during the Commons debate ahead of the Iraq war:
"Our national interest is wide ranging, given that ours is the fourth largest economy in the world, our trade extends across the world and our citizens may be found throughout the world. However, it is also part of our national interest to act in concert with the United States of America in matters of world peace and stability, and that is what the Government are seeking to do. Every serious attempt to advance peace in the middle east has been advanced under the auspices of the United States of America. Every successful attempt to clean up the Balkans has been undertaken only with the support of the United States of America. Those who will not venture out when a criminal is coming down the street should not complain when someone acts as the policeman. The reason why the USA takes on so many responsibilities in the world is that others shirk those responsibilities, as they have done in the Security Council in the past few weeks."
Editor’s comment: "The British Conservative Party’s willingness to criticise an Israel besieged by terrorist enemies – during a time of conflict – is only the latest example of where Team Cameron is following a more European worldview. The embrace of the Kyoto approach to global warming (rather than the Asian-Pacific Partnership’s technological approach), an acceptance of European levels of taxation and a more ‘understanding’ approach to crime are three manifestations of this trend. It is a trend rather than a full-scale conversion but Cameron’s Tories are increasingly looking more Christian Democrat and less like the successful conservative parties of the Anglosphere."