For some weeks Mr. Cameron’s friends in the media (such as the Telegraph group writer and editor of the Specator, Matthew d’Anconia) have been pointing to an upcoming speech that David Cameron was to make. This speech was intended to show what sort of politician Mr Cameron is, to define him – just as the first major foreign policy speech Mrs Thatcher made defined her (earning her the name the ‘Iron Lady’ from the Soviets – what was intended as an insult became a honoured name).
The speech was finally made on September 11th – on the day that the Iron Lady herself stood shoulder to shoulder with the Vice President in the United States (old, betrayed, hit by several strokes, the Lady still stood and walked ramrod straight – held up by courage alone).
Mr Cameron duly denounced anti-Americanism – it was “cowardice”, but then he said Britain must not be “slavish” in any alliance with the United States, and the American leadership was guilty of”‘sound bites”, lacked “humility” and that the American division of things into good and evil was “unrealistic and simplistic” (and so on and so on).
Leaving aside the point that when someone says that they are beyond good and evil, light and dark, (they are more sophisticated than old fashioned ideas of “right” and “wrong”) it tends to mean that they are evil, it was irritating to hear of Mr Cameron first denouncing anti-Americanism and then indulging in exactly that.
Mr Cameron is free to hold any opinion he wishes, even though I might suspect that his Yank bashing was less a matter of principle than an effort to get a favourable editorial in the Daily Mail (on the correct calculation that this newspaper hates the United States even more than it hates him, although some Daily Mail people such as Richard Littlejohn clearly despise what Mr Cameron said yesterday).
However, it is still unclear what Mr Cameron’s opinion actually is – for whilst he attacked the United States he did not say “the Iraq war is wrong”. David Cameron tried to have his cake and eat it as well, and thus playing to both pro and anti war people in his party.
Now being undecided about the Iraq war is not a crime and opposing the Iraq war is not a crime – I myself wrote against the idea of war, although I believed (and still believe) that once the war had started it must be carried on to victory.
I am not attacking Mr Cameron’s right to have an opinion, or his lack of clarity about what his opinion is – it is not even the general patronising tone of his abuse of the leadership of the United States that I object to. It is the date of his speech that is astonishing.
The anniversary of 9/11 is not the time to make this type of speech (far less to bill the speech as some equivalent of the ‘Iron Lady’ speech). If Mr Cameron really does not understand this it shows that just being born into a wealthy family and going to Eton and Oxford do not make a man a gentleman.