Saturday, December 02, 2006

Cameron - Not for turning!


Cameroony rounds on his critics.

In an echo of the famous Maggie Thatcher speech when she said "the ladie's not for turning", Tory leader David Cameron appears to be saying the same thing today.

The big differences, of course, are that Maggie was a conviction politician with a profound belief in her policies. It was her radical change in direction after years of big government that got her elected. Not for her the growing mass of centralisation, or the overbearing weight of public spending matched by crippling levels of taxation, not for her the reputation of being the "sick man of Europe", not for her the degradation in Britain's international standing, not for her the menace of monetary growth and rampant inflation. Maggie had her views, forthright as they were, she had her medecine - strong and at times unpalatable, but most importantly she had her beliefs which had been nurtured through a strong methodist theology od individual freedoms coupled with accountability and responsibility. Not for her the muddled mess of "the middle ground".

Cameron, on the other hand, is much like the present Prime Minister, a modernising "message man" prepared to plant his placard amongst the heavy traffic in the middle of the road of British politics. It's a dangerous place to inhabit, and is likely to upset those standing on the kerbs at either side. The middle of the road offers neither direction nor hope, just more of the same, let's carry on going this way! It's a direction that will lead to the belief that all politicians are the same and will say anything to get elected, more a case of who has the most popular "image" to adorn their traffic signs.

Unfortunately, for now, all that Cameron can see is the slight lead that the Tories have over Labour and hopes that his "message" of being the "modern man" will see him through to the winning post much as this plan (devised by Alistair Campbell) worked for Blair in 1997. In doing so, he is, (and he accepts this) in danger of alienating the larger portion of the older members of the party he represents. Yet he is prepared to do this, in the same manner that Blair ostracised the left of the Socialist Party.

So, does this mean we can look forward to an even more "presidential" election next time round, with an even bigger input from the "spin doctors"? Let's face it Cameron's background is in marketing!

As a former party member I think I can be entitled to the opinion that spin got us where we are now, and that a little less of it would be very welcome. The time will come shortly when the public will demand that the Conservative Party starts to present policy initiatives that show that it means business, policies that will capture the imagination and make a difference to peoples' lives. Yes, we can have room for environmental and "green" issues, but the major issues such as the size of government, the breadth of public spending, the size of public borrowing, the level of direct personal taxation, the all encompassing powers of Europe, immigration, freedom and liberty, pensions, health services, foreign policy (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan) all need to be addressed. With talent like Haig, Osbourne, and Davies on the front bench one would hope that the formulation of policy would be moving along a whole lotter quicker than it seems to be, and that these luminaries would be able to persuade Cameron that the Conservative Party can update itself without the need for abandoning it's traditional values.

For now, I'm still confused what David Cameron believes in, other than a belief that "presentation" alone will win him the next election!

Links

The Daily Telegraph
BBC News


Update

It seems that I am not the only person on the planet with criticisms of David Cameron's tactics, this was gleaned from Conservative Home today:

  • * Centre-right Tories who supported David Cameron in the leadership contest knew that there was going to be modernisation but they understood that it would not be at the expense of traditional fare. They were told, for example, that in the first few weeks of the Cameron leadership there would be a modernising drive for more women candidates but there would also be exit from the EPP. The first has been delivered - the second has not.
  • * The search for a representative pool of candidates has itself been flawed - even superficial. There has been a search for women and ethnic minority candidates but no deeper search for candidates from the north or from outside the law, politics and the City. Nothing has been done to address the huge costs of becoming a Conservative candidate.
  • * The Tories may be progressing healthily in the south but in northern England there is little good news. 'Waitrose voter' has been wooed assiduously but the Tories are offering little hope to the 'Morrisons voter' who is overburdened by Labour's taxes and failed by inadequate policing.
  • * The party is also becalmed in Scotland and Wales where there are crucial Parliamentary/ Assembly elections next May.

Link

Conservative Home


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