Red Tory guru Philip Blond has broken with David Cameron. Excerpt from his Guardian piece:
The PM has given up something for nothing, ceding all his strategic and visionary thinking to George Osborne’s tactical and failing approach to the deficit. A new conservatism has been strangled at birth; a failure to rethink the party’s economic offer means that old economics have killed new politics.
Why has this been allowed to happen? Cynics will say that Cameron never believed in his vision in the first place and it was all a cover for rightwing extremism. I don’t accept this; I suspect the failure is philosophical and structural. Cameron has, or had, some of the best intuitions in British politics but lacks the ability to synthesise these into concepts and clear principles. A pragmatism that refuses to choose or decide on any governing principles may well have worked in earlier more prosperous times but in this economic crisis it’s a disaster. The refusal to decide what type of conservatism he represents has led to him backing all the dogs in the fight and abandoning his own vision to the victor. This, coupled with a refusal to lead from the centre, has resulted in a decentralisation of power and a dissipation of purpose. Departments have permission to run with whatever variant of conservatism any minister finds persuasive.
So the falling-out between Blond and Cameron indicates, I suspect, more about entrenched political interests and intra-party politics than it does any “failure” of the project, which has barely been tried. That probably won’t stop some politicos from seizing on the split as proof of Red Toryism’s utter unworkability and attempting to lock out voices like his in the future. But perhaps the real lesson here for those interested in recovering or developing an alternative conservative tradition is this: don’t expect to neatly transpose what is going to be a long, quiet labor onto a national political stage with instant results, fashioning a platform and passing bills like a well-established party or interest group; at least not yet, or so quickly. It can be perilous to stand on the roof when the foundation is being repaired.