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Project Fear: It’s Mr Cameron that’s afraid

David Green, 29 February 2016

In an article for the Sunday Telegraph David Cameron admitted that he is afraid of the risks we face if we leave the EU. A vote to leave, he insisted, would be the ‘gamble of the century’.

Mr Cameron has been accused of leading Project Fear, a campaign to frighten members of the public into voting to stay in the EU. But his article in the Sunday Telegraph shows that his focus on risk and uncertainty is not just a political calculation. He is the kind of conservative whose political creed is the result of his own fears – the very type that Hayek had in mind when he wrote his essay ‘Why I am not a conservative’.

Hayek explained that he was not opposed to the ‘loving and reverential study’ of traditional institutions, but he questioned those conservatives who lacked the courage to welcome a future of free personal and institutional growth. They were typified by a ‘fear of change, a timid distrust of the new as such’, coupled with a fondness for authority. They assumed that all would be well so long as the comfortably off were trusted to rule.

This mental timidity is the very opposite of Winston Churchill’s frame of mind. We can guess how Mr Cameron might have rephrased Churchill’s famous ‘fight on the beaches’ speech:

“Think of the risk if we fight on the beaches, imagine the uncertainty of fighting on the landing grounds, and one hardly dares to think of the gamble of fighting in the fields, let alone the streets, or to contemplate the many years of uncertainty if we have to fight in the hills. We shall put on a grim-faced look for the cameras, declare that we are battling for Britain, and then surrender.”

We are a great people and we deserve a prime minister who believes in us. By its nature the future is uncertain but, as our long history shows, we possess the qualities and character to keep adapting and advancing.

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