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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

 

How remarkable that John Noakes still has the power to affect me so

Matthew Norman
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy