Was this morning in Croydon the point where David Cameron finally, fully, exposed himself for being full of the Bullingdon bogusness as the majority of the country has suspected for a decade?
Because only a 9-carat Old Etonian bullshitter would somehow forget what football team they claim to support. Fickle, or just thick? In a speech supposedly about colour, and not just which teams play in claret and blue, a seemingly small slip was in so many ways revealing, and exposed Cameron for the dissembler that he really is.
It had been all so carefully arranged, all so carefully stage-managed, hermetically sealed, without any awkward questions from the likes of Andrew Neil, or Inside Croydon, to trip him up. But then Cameron doesn’t need us there to do that – he’s perfectly capable of doing that for himself.
There was the autocue for him, so that he could deliver his carefully prepared monologue, with the exquisitely turned empty phrases, and the faux bloke-ishness reference to football. “Of course, I’d rather you supported West Ham,” said the previously acclaimed Villa fan, pronouncing his aitches like no West Ham supporter has ever done. Cue awkward laughter.
In a speech in which he talked about Britain’s “shining example” of having “multiple identities”, all Cameron managed to do was expose his own, and Croydon Tories’, two-faced attitude to race and racism.
There was the front row seating arrangements, with the three Croydon Conservative candidates (unlike Croydon Labour last week, the Tories at least made an effort to ensure that all three turned up for the monologue from their party leader). Head boy Gavin Barwell was there, calculatingly positioned between two black men, to hear a speech in which Cameron actually suggested that the Conservatives would be the first party to have a BME Prime Minister.
“Maybe it’s someone in this room now,” he said, presumably looking around to see if he could spot another Old Etonian.Therein lies the problem with so much of mainstream British politicians: say one thing, do another.
In a word: hypocrisy.
For all the speech’s laudable intentions, what Cameron said can hardly be a credible sentiment when you consider the real track record of his party nationally, and especially locally here in Croydon.
Cameron was making the speech to an audience of Croydon Conservatives who have not had an Afro-Caribbean councillor for a decade. In one of London’s most ethnically diverse boroughs. Odd that.
He was making that point to an audience of Croydon Conservatives who, when given the choice between Croydon-based councillor Vidhi Mohan and white, middle-class party donor Chris Philp, chose Philp for the ultra-safe Croydon South seat. Mohan was later given the “honour” of standing in Croydon North, and the task of overcoming a 12,000-vote Labour majority. Odd that.
And he was making the point to an audience of a local Tory party who have chosen to do less than nothing about the brazenly racist attitudes expressed by one of their more senior members, one who has even held positions on influence on Conservative selection committees.
He was making the point to an audience which included Gavin Barwell, who once wrote to his own party, “We need to face up to the fact that we are in this hole because of things we have said and done over the years – [people think we have] a lack of concern about discrimination.” Yet as an MP, in 2012, Barwell duly followed Cameron’s party line and voted in Parliament to repeal Section 3 of the Equality Act, which supported our society’s duty to treating people equally and free from discrimination.
But then Anne Piles is #BackingBarwell, just like Prime Minister David Cameron. So there’s nothing odd about that whatsoever.
There have long been suggestions of the Croydon Conservative party including elements who hold barely disguised racist attitudes.
Yet Cameron, the man who presided over the repeal of equalities legislation during the last parliament, was using Croydon this morning as his platform to launch what he called a “2020 vision” for the BME communities: “Ambitious but realistic aspirations to help people from all our communities really thrive.”
All our communities, Dave?
Does that include the traveller community, which was so readily traduced in a racist tweet by a prominent member of the Croydon Tories?
Can what Cameron has to say on BME opportunities and equalities really be taken seriously when even members of his own political party in Croydon suggest that they have been denied equal opportunities by the same Conservative Party?
It could just be that the public face of David Cameron and Gavin Barwell’s Conservatives is at odds with some of their colleagues’ private beliefs. After all, you can’t really trust anything said by someone who can’t even remember what football team he claims to support, can you?
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