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The Andrew Goff Column

CANDID CAMERON GIVES HALF NELSON APOLOGY

28-08-2006

The other week Tory leader David Cameron confessed his party had cocked-up rail privatisation, and now admits supporting apartheid was wrong too. Wow! Welcome to the real world says Andy Goff...

How comforting and how twee. David Cameron has admitted that the Conservative Party made errors while in power.

That said, it was a pretty narrow admission from a list that could otherwise be pretty lengthy.

Focusing on the Party's mistakes made over South Africa's apartheid regime, such as arguing against sanctions and labelling the ANC a terrorist movement, his meeting with Nelson Mandela seemingly caused a "Road To Damascus" moment.

In his article for yesterday's Observer newspaper, however, an apology is conspicuous by its absence. Mind you, apologies are a ten-a-penny these days.

What Mr Cameron failed to mention was that the Tories were acting not of out dislike for the ANC or black South Africans, but because they had a significant vested interest in propping up a regime that supported so many of their supporters.

Bankers, mine owners and investors all helped the Party along in return for trying to prop up De Klerk and his nasty little regime.

Viewed as a bulwark against the spread of Communism in Africa, there were plenty of big-time Tories with lots to lose if the regime changed.

What the self-interested bigots didn't realise was that they were dealing with a man of Nelson Mandela's stature.

His ability to see the big picture far outweighed the intellectual capacity of his opponents. So, when the time came for long overdue majority rule in South Africa, he ensured it was possible to have a relatively smooth transition.

Perhaps David Cameron is making a genuine break with the unpleasant past of Theresa May's ‘nasty' party.

At least he has upset the ‘suicide' wing of the Party, the likes of Norman Tebbit and former press secretary and professional Yorkshireman Bernard Ingham. Mr Ingham apparently questioned whether Mr Cameron really was a Conservative. Well, that is good news.

However, the same vested interests still lurk in the murky hinterland of the Tory Party, so should young Mr Cameron become Prime Minister, won't he be in as much thrall to money as his predecessors?

Now, how about admitting errors like supporting General Pinochet, Pol Pot, the poll tax, letting Argentina invade the Falklands, stopping free school milk, selling off council houses, falling for the dodgy dossier and supporting the war in Iraq?

Oh, the list is so long - and it is so easy to admit the mistakes of others before you have the chance to make your own.

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