Chris Grayling came out with the bald assertion that a future majority Tory government would scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights, leaving us to buddy up with the only other non-signatory, that bastion of democratic rectitude, Belarus. That the EU as an entity under the Lisbon Treaty is due to sign up to the ECHR, thereby making it a condition of EU membership hasn't troubled Grayling. But still, in all likelihood it's a difficulty the Tories won't be tackling post-2015, so why not score some populist points in the here and now?
The second awkward moment for Dave's new-found triangulation saw his foreign secretary peddling a particularly pernicious immigration myth. "Benefit tourism must end" thundered William Hague, this morning. With pieces like this stirring the pot, the media have gone out of its way to talk up the prospect of *millions* of new Romanian and Bulgarian workers pouring into Britain. And not only that, a massive chunk of them will make their way here solely to sponge off Britain's social security system. As anyone who's spent some time on the dole will tell you, an opulent existence awaits.
Never ones to let the truth get in the way of scaremongering, the Tory/media myth of 'benefit tourism' got a good kicking here and elsewhere when it was first floated over a year ago. There is no evidence *at all* that people get on the plane just so they can check out the fancy interiors of JobCentre Plus. Sure, there are overseas workers who happen to be on the dole because they find themselves out of work, but it's spin of the most cynical and politically obnoxious kind to suggest they're benefit tourists. As the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants put it, "why shouldn't migrants who've worked and contributed to the UK through taxation on their income be it as salaried or self employed people, claim benefits when they fall upon hard times just like anyone else?" Indeed, especially when you consider British nationals working in EU territories can take advantage of reciprocal arrangements should they need it. But this is simon pure dog-whistling, and Hague is playing a very grubby game.
So there you have it, within hours of Dave committing the Tories to the centre ground, two very senior figures indulge blatant populist opportunism in a panicked attempt to see off UKIP.
How's that "no lurch to the right" coming along?