Monday, January 15, 2007

Is Cameron Ready for Change?


We do have some trouble identifying precisely what David Cameron is for, it is true. Whether you're an AS student getting to grips with the bare essentials of party policies, or an A2 student struggling to work out just what Conservatism in the UK Today is all about, David Cameron doesn't seem to be helping you. He's kept his policies deliberately vague, and been strong on what sometimes seems like contradictory rhetoric. He has, however, been supremely successful in repositioning the Tory Party and persuading voters that it is no longer the incaring prehistoric beast it once was.

But could all this be about to change? Have the jibes about being policy lite, or acting like a crypto-Blair, got to Cameron? An article he has written for the Daily Telegraph suggests that, at the very least, he is trying to pitch for the Conservative grassroots support. He firmly rejects the idea of being 'Tory Blair', suggesting that he is the real heir to Margaret Thatcher. He also identifies those Thatcherite traits that he is keen to endorse: "Those ideas are profound and enduring: freedom under the law, personal responsibility, sound money, strong defence and national sovereignty."

He has also started playing up his eurosceptic credentials. Astonishing as it may seem to those of us who heard him speak, Cameron may actually be concerned at the defection of the peer Lord Pearson of Rannoch, who with a colleague defected to UKIP last week.

Whatever his motivation, he should be careful. His three imemdiate predecessors started out with a 'modernising' Tory agenda, but quickly ratcheted back to a more comfortable right-wing brand that sat well with their supporters - but not, alas, with the electorate who soundly rejected them at the polls. Cameron is, I think, too canny to go back to Tory Basics, but this is the year when we are promised more policy detail, and might finally get the chance to analyse New Toryism with a degree of confidence that we know what it is about!

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