Tuesday, October 25, 2005

When Enemies Agree

EU Serf at Once More wrote today that he heard David Cameron on the news this morning agreeing with Tony Blair:

Whilst munching on Breakfast this morning, I was treated to the sight of the Blue Eyed Boy agreeing with Tony Blair. He was agreeing with the Governments new approach to secondary education.

Now I may be a Davis man, but I can assure you that, how dare he? was not the first thing that sprung to mind. I was a little intrigued.
He ends up by stating the principle that if Labour are adhering to Tory principles, it's only right for the party to agree.

This is great news. One of the great strengths that Tony Blair had when he was Leader of the Opposition was that he was not afraid to agree with the Tories. He would agree with their good policies, which made his criticisms of their worst policies all the more cutting. There was a man who made arguments on principle, not based on the assumption of party clothes.

On the other side, the biggest weakness of the Tories over the last eight years is that they felt they had to oppose everything that Labour did, simply because Labour did it (the one highly ironic exception being the invasion of Iraq, of course). They still hadn't come to terms with the fact that opposition didn't mean that, at all times, you had to oppose.

There's a danger in following too blindly, of course, as the Tories have found to their cost over Iraq. If they had possessed a more impressive front-bench team than IDS and Michael Ancram, they could have made a principled case for war that expressed reservations about the Labour argument in a forceful way. Because that is the true trick of opposition - creating doubt in the minds of the public without creating the impression of partisanship.

It has become a maxim in recent days that the momentum developed by David Cameron has "shown that the Tory party is serious about taking power again." I disagree - it has been that the Tory party has shown itself to be dazzled by the bright lights of the mainstream media finally being receptive towards a figure somewhat popular in the Tory party itself. Yet if they can become skilful exponents of the art of opposition - knowing when to agree, when to disagree, and thus highlighting the true strengths of their argument - then they really are being serious about getting back into power. They may still be short on ideas, but becoming an "effective opposition" will see them travel half the distance they need to.