Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Cameron Questions

In my mind, David Cameron is faced with two major stumbling blocks in the coming weeks, as he goes into Tuesday's first round of voting on the election of a new Conservative leader as the new favourite. His problem is that he appears to have no intention of countering either of them.

Is Cameron more Blairite than Blair?
It is often remarked about David Cameron that he is very much in favour of pursuing the kind of modernising agenda that Tony Blair took on when he became Leader of the Labour Party back in 1994. This perception has gone unchallenged in the past few months (perhaps because many activists have finally come to the conclusion that, after eight years of Labour government, they want some power far more than they want their principles). It comes through whenever the man talks about his big ideas, like his speech on social entrepreneurship recently, which came across to many as just another Blairite initiative. It comes through whenever he discusses what he really believes in, such as another speech soon after the election when he criticised the Left for talking too much about resources in the public services, saving his anger too for the Right for talking too much about changing the structures of the services, when what he felt was that what the public really want from politicians are answers to their problems. That's a fair position to take, but it did come across as offensive to many of us on the Right, and I don't imagine that Mr. Cameron has changed his mind recently. And finally, the perception of his Blairite credentials comes across with today's suggestion in the Times that a senior Cameron backer says his man might try to cut off up to 7% of the party's core economically liberal and socially conservative supporters in order to appeal to the liberal-leaning voters out there. To some, Cameron's Blairite credentials are a sign of great things for the Conservative Party. But it is a serious flaw to many in the party, and it is a question that must be addressed by the man if he wishes to lead the party.

Is Cameron part of the ambivalent metropolitan elite?
There is not much which is Conservative (with a small 'c' or a big 'C') about the trendy London elites which Mr. Cameron is frequently thought of as being a part of. His background is one of affluence, with his Eton and Oxbridge education, his Oxfordshire upbringing and his West London lifestyle today all bearing witness to this truth. The question is whether he is a part of the liberal elite frequently criticised by the Right for their destructive social libertarianism, and for what comes across as their lack of understanding for what life at the rough end of society is like. And it is this perception which has come across with Mr. Cameron's drug history being at the centre of media attention. The stereotype of the liberal, metropolitan elite is that they are unmoved by the conventional principles of morality and responsibility for onesself and one's society. They don't care much for the institutions of marriage and the family. They feel no problem about moral questions of the day, such as abortion or euthanasia. And they take a very liberal, very trendy attitude to crime and especially drugs. Whilst that kind of attitude may work in Notting Hill or North Kensington, it is damaging to those of us who live and work in the crime-ridden and quietly depressed inner cities of this country.

Those are the two greatest questions that have to be addressed before I, as an individual Conservative Party member who believes in the virtues of freedom and responsibility, who believes firmly in taking the State out of people's lives, but whose principles are firmly socially conservative, could ever vote for David Cameron to be the next leader of my party - the only political party in modern Britain which believes in the same things that I and millions of others believe in and know to be true.

That is his challenge over the coming weeks. I hope he will live up to it.

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