Lady Thatcher’s side-by-side appearance with Dick Cheney yesterday to mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11 features prominently and proudly on the White House website. But it has created a few tricky headlines for David Cameron in this morning’s newspapers…
Team Cameron may conclude, however, that the headlines underline the changes that he is making to the Tory Party and also his determination to see Britain have a less slavish relationship with America.
Mr Cameron will be pleased at the welcome his 9/11 speech receives from Fleet Street’s leader-writers. The anti-war Guardian calls the speech "moderate, sensible and liberal" and the anti-war Mail describes it as "significant and statesmanlike." The Mail hopes that Mr Cameron is distancing himself from "the warmongers who surround Mr Bush" and is "signalling a change in party policy that will come as a huge relief to many natural Tories." The Times more or less shares ConservativeHome’s own reading of the speech. It believes that Mr Cameron distanced himself from the Bush-Blair execution of the war on terror but appears to have little quarrel with the big decisions of the last five years. The Times finds more of a compassionate emphasis in Cameron’s ‘liberal conservatism’ but christens it ‘neocom’ rather than ‘neocon’.
The fact that newspapers with as different approaches to the war on terror as The Times and Daily Mail can all welcome yesterday’s speech underlines the speech’s principal weakness – it’s completely unbankable. Yesterday’s speech told us little about what Mr Cameron would actually do now about, for example, stopping Iran becoming a nuclear power or preventing further genocide in Darfur.
Mr Cameron deserves our patience when it comes to unpacking the practical content of his ‘liberal conservatism’. Yesterday was a promising beginning but that was all it was. At some point he’s going to have to upset The Independent-Daily Mail axis or the Times-Sun grouping. Early years Blair was, of course, able to please all sides of difficult debates but what made for good politics also made for bad government.