David Cameron has said he thinks schools should teach mainly in imperial measurements rather than in nasty, foreign, and undeniably French metric.
Funny that. It’s almost like he’d had spies at the rowdy Conservative conference fringe event the night before – staged by smokers’ rights campaigner Forest and Conservatives for Liberty – where I raised this very topic in a speech on Europe. I noted the irony that even though we defeated Napoleon in 1815 and Hitler in 1945 we still seem to have inherited half their policies all the same. From Hitler, inter alia, we got the clampdown on smoking and the obsession with environmentalism. From Napoleon, among other things, we got the metric measurement system – despite the fact that most of us continue stubbornly to think in pints and miles rather than half litres and kilometres.
Prime Ministers don’t make these casual asides by accident. Clearly, what’s going on here is that Cameron has been advised to chuck a few gobbets of red meat to the more reactionary wing of the Tory party: to the kind of people, in other words, who feel badly let down by four years of Cameron’s dogged centrism and who are now sorely tempted to throw in their lot with UKIP instead.
We heard similar right-wing mood music in Chancellor George Osborne’s speech yesterday: the freeze on benefits; the emphasis on tax cuts rather than spending rises; the renewed commitment to tackling the deficit. I was reminded of the chats Osborne and I used to have in the playground when our children were briefly at the same school together. “Just you wait till we form a majority government: then you’ll see what real Tories we are…” he used to say.
As a natural small ‘c’ conservative, I have little problem with this rightwards turn. (Though I think this imperial stuff is forgettable nonsense: yes it’s all jolly and jingoistic but let’s get real – the 30cm ruler is here to stay and it’s not like we’re going to go back to pre-decimal currency). But let us not be under any illusions as to why this is happening. It is not because the Cameron claque has suddenly realised that they were right-wing all along and that actually, come to think of it, they really do believe that the state has got far too big and that we’d all be better off outside Europe. It’s because their minds have been concentrated by opinion polls showing that, thanks to UKIP splitting their vote, the Conservatives are on course to lose the next election to Ed Miliband’s socialists.
Read the rest at Breitbart London
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