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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…

Thatcherandcheney_1 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’.

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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.

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