“I believe in the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and I will never do anything to put it at risk.”
Working my way through the coverage of David Cameron’s Leader’s Speech at the Conservative party conference yesterday, then examining the text of the speech itself, I cannot help but conclude that some of the criticism which it has attracted, actually reflects its strength rather than its weakness. The BBC in particular, and other commentators in the print media, decided the Tory leader had provided an uninspiring oratory. Clearly there was an expectation that Cameron would deliver verbal fireworks; rhetorical tricks of the type which Obama favours, with promises to match. Instead his speech was measured and realistic. Very much the speech of a man who expects to have to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk.
On Burke’s Corner, Brian has done a characteristically thorough job of appraising the communitarian conservative credentials of Cameron’s speech. O’Neill has quoted the same remark which I used to start this piece.
I have been on an interesting journey recently, examining the bona fides of communitarian conservatives who claim their credo forms the most natural defence of society and therefore also represents a commitment to social justice. If I were a voter on mainland Britain, with the choice of all three national parties from which to choose, I’d be exactly the type of voter which ‘progressive ends by conservative means’ is designed to attract.
Equally, as a unionist, it is clearly important to me that Cameron is unequivocal in his support of the Union. Not only must his commitment be rhetorical, it must be practical and evident in his policies. He has thus far got the rhetoric right, and in attempting to make the Conservatives the only party with representation in each of the United Kingdom’s four constituent parts he is also advancing the practical aspect of his commitment.