Cameron banged the drums like Blair, and one Tory didn't like it

Stekch: This was a distinctly – and ambitiously – interventionist statement

Share
Related Topics

There was a telling moment after David Cameron had given his Algeria statement in the Commons when the Conservative backbencher Julian Lewis asked him to consider the virtues of "containment" which had "served us well for 70 years in the Cold War and for 38 years in relation to Northern Ireland".

Never mind that this is a pretty rosy view of the British military presence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. It was the clearest expression, on this most consensual of parliamentary days, of a strain of Tory unease that Cameron might have been too infected with the virus of neo-Blairite "liberal interventionism".

Sure enough, Cameron politely promised to "think carefully" about Lewis's "very intelligent point", before demolishing it. In Somalia, for example, the "effort should be to… politically, militarily, diplomatically, through aid and everything else… squeeze the terrorists out of the space. That is not containment, that is aiming over time to completely overcome them."

True Cameron's sober tone did not quite betray the "crusading zeal" attributed to him at one point by Labour's Dennis Skinner, worried that British troops would find themselves embroiled in Mali. Nor were there the rhetorical flights of Blair's famous Chicago speech or the run-up to the Iraq war. Nor, mercifully a binary division of the entire Muslim world into two "arcs" of "extremism" and "moderation".

It was nevertheless a distinctly – and ambitiously – interventionist statement, in which he repeatedly promised – without actually using the phrase – to be tough on terrorism, tough on the causes of terrorism.

He defended the intervention in Libya, and its possible unleashing of the forces at work at Mali and Algeria, saying that dictatorships provoked terrorism.

"We must frustrate the terrorists with our security," he declared. "We must beat them militarily… we must close down the ungoverned space in which they thrive and we must deal with the grievances they use to garner support." You don't as Prime Minister make a sombre Commons announcement about a hostage crisis which left among 37 hostages killed – three Britons confirmed dead and three others missing – without expecting normal inter-party hostilities to be suspended.

Ed Miliband expressed his agreement about the "unimaginable nightmare" into which the hostages at Im Amenas were plunged. Cameron agreed with him back in response. And so on.

Yet even on these predictable occasions, something political usually happens. Yesterday it was the first question asked of the PM by the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell since his banishment at the hands of what increasingly looks like a police conspiracy. Mitchell, who had pressed the case for aid spending in Africa, had done "excellent work" as Development Secretary.

It helped Cameron defend a controversial policy. And hint that Mitchell was on his way back. Neat.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A pack of seagulls squabble over discarded food left on the beach at St Ives on July 28, 2015  

Number of urban seagulls in Britain nearly quadruples: Hide food and avoid chicks to stay in gulls’ good books

Tom Bawden
 

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms