The fuss around the budget distracted from CallMeDave's utter carcrash interview with Gay Times about the Conservative journey on the thorny issue of equality. Their history has been less than glittering, with the Section 28 debate being the particular low of recent history. Certainly, there has been a shift in the image of the Conservative party, as this particular piece of nasty history has been gradually airbrushed out. And then Dave, to secure votes to elect him as leader, promised to withdraw from their European group and form a new group with a bunch of more extreme partners, whose views on issues like homosexuality are rather less advanced.
This has created something of a Tory dichotomy, as the Cameroon surface skim is liberal, but the political application in the European parliament is rather less so. So, when Cameron was questioned over Conservative abstention over a motion on a homophobic law change in Lithuania, he floundered. Clearly, he had no idea what the MEPs had done, no interest in what they do and it seems that his liberal attitude isn't shared by other elements of the leadership. After he crashed and burned over that question - quite spectacularly - and then attempts to buy time by going off at a tangent over the style of interview.
Video flaky - link here.
He starts off with a statement - rightly - that gay rights are human rights, but then suggests that these are moral issues that should be subject to free votes, which is an interesting attitude towards a basic human right. I don't think everyone expects that everybody in the Tory party is signed up to the new liberal agenda, but some consistency amongst the leadership would be good. Otherwise it is just electioneering, posturing and airbrushing and Dave would never stoop to that. Would he?
He ends by claiming that the reason that the Conservative Euro MPs abstained was because they have a policy of not involving themselves in the internal affairs of other countries - a theory blown out of the water when the C4 reporter explains that Tory MEPs had raised their own motion about press freedom in Italy within a few weeks of the Lithuania affair.
The other interesting thing was to see how badly CallMeDave performed when he was sent off-piste by the line of questions. Cameron is at his most effective and assured when he's able to rely on the prepared soundbites and arguments (George W Bush was a fan of those), but if he is dragged onto a subject where he has not had the advantage of a prepared script, then things get a little more flaky. I fear that the debates planned for the next few weeks may be so well regulated that diversions are unlikely, but if he is distracted, expect the carefully-crafted image to take another tarnishing.