David Cameron is presiding over a racist party

Last week we saw the most sinister errors of judgement of his premiership in the form of ads in the poorest taste imaginable

Share
Related Topics

David Cameron is basking in the Portuguese sun, and he has earned his holiday. But he has some serious thinking to do.

When he became the unlikely leader of the Conservative Party in 2005 he set about modernising his election-losing party, seeking a move to the centre ground. Tony Blair had changed the game, having, for example, appointed openly gay ministers and brought in civil partnerships. Confronted with a Britain more at ease with itself, Cameron – against his own instincts – had to speak the language of Blair. He asked us all to believe this move came from the heart, but, having known Cameron for more than 20 years, I saw a side of him I had never seen.

When the Tories needed the Lib Dems to form a government, Cameron had an opportunity to cement the change, to show his party had changed for ever. But we've been disappointed.

Setting aside some highly questionable appointments, last week we saw the most sinister errors of judgement of his premiership in the form of ads in the poorest taste imaginable. What on earth must the Lib Dems be thinking of their coalition partners, given the revelation that the "Go home or face arrest" campaign was orchestrated in private? Neither the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, nor the Lib Dem Home Office minister Jeremy Browne, knew it was coming. Worse still, the Human Rights Commission has announced an investigation into police tactics, seemingly Home Office-sanctioned, for "racially profiling" and targeting "ethnic" citizens and illegally demanding to see their papers. So who did authorise this tactic?

It could have turned out differently. The Tory party's broadly liberal tradition is just as strong as the more voluble right. What could have been perceived as a formidable, philosophically coherent, modernising government is drowning in the vulgarity of opportunistic spin-doctors. I would love to have seen what a real coalition policy unit, led by David Laws, Michael Gove and David Willetts, and licensed to stride beyond the hallowed text of the Coalition Agreement, could have spawned across Whitehall. Instead it is being torn to shreds by the rigid thinking of small-minded backbenchers. As an aide to three Tory leaders, it saddens me to say this.

I have never called anyone racist. It is an often used and discredited cry. But this time, I believe the Conservative Party has shown it is racist. It will do anything, right or wrong, to bolster its poll ratings. Cameron's hard work around a modernity agenda ran into the sand. His party has never really embraced change, but he gave up the fight too soon. In short, he talks like a liberal but still allows his party to behave like "the same old Tories". Who would vote for that?

Last week's developments are no coincidence. The general election campaign, under the supervision of Lynton Crosby, has started two years early, and you can bet race and immigration will be a big part of Tory strategy. A decade ago, Theresa May, supposedly a moderniser, was brave enough to tell the Tories they were seen as "the nasty party". Yet now she presides over this foul talk. Et tu, Theresa?

React Now

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

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary