Prime minister echoes Tony Blair as he pledges to follow footsteps of Victorian pioneers to rebuild infrastructure
The White House really does have an intoxicating effect on visiting British prime ministers.
Still heady from his reception on the South Lawn of the White House five days ago, the prime minister has declared today that he is to walk in the footsteps of Britain’s Victorian pioneers to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure.
The prime minister made clear that this will go beyond the elegant words in his beautifully crafted speech today to the Institution of Civil Engineers which bears the mark of an erudite pen.
Cameron is spoiling for a fight with Tory traditionalists, by saying the time has arrived to rip up Britain’s “bureaucratic, top-down planning laws”. On his other flank he has the Liberal Democrats in his sights as he says there will be a consultation on building a “Boris Island” airport in the Thames Estuary. The Lib Dems are opposed to any airport expansion in the south east of England.
This is the bold language of Obama’s new best friend:
I’m not dogmatic about this. There will be costs and protests. And I am certainly not doing it in the hope of immediate political advantage.
I can see the furious objections – the banner headlines – already. But rather than give in we should ask instead: what is it that people want for the future?
Reasonable things. A decent home. A clean environment. Jobs for their children, the ability to get around without hassle, huge costs or endless jams. And then we should take the necessary steps to make these things a reality not leave future generations to deal with the consequences of our cowardice.
If this all sounds a little familiar then we should turn the clock back to Tony Blair’s “best when we are boldest” speech to the Labour conference in October 2002. The former prime minister made that speech after a series of visits to George Bush in the long run up to the Iraq war. A year later, following the invasion of Iraq, Blair went further when he famously declared that he had no “reverse gear”.
Cameron and members of his circle are obsessed by Blair who is referred to as the Master. There is one difference. Cameron’s bold gear will apply only in Britain. He currently has no plans for more overseas adventures after the successful mission in Libya.
from Nicholas Watt