Friday, 14 May 2010

Cameron breaking with Thatcherism

I had a deep distrust of the Conservatives going into the election. I particularly doubted David Cameron's sincerity: There seemed to be parallels in his campaign with that of Margaret Thatcher in the 1970s, when she espoused support for the European common market, "town hall not Whitehall" and even said in her first televised speech as Prime Minister: "where there is discord, let us bring harmony". It became clear within weeks that she had no intention of fulfilling any of those implied promises.

Admittedly, Cameron had already distanced himself from one of the Iron Lady's most famous sayings, when he declared that there is such a thing as society, it's just not the same as The State.

There was a more subtle change in his speech on the Downing Street lawn yesterday. There was the same emphasis which Thatcher laid on responsibilities as well as rights, but where Thatcher would have defined a successful life in terms of money earned or high position achieved, Cameron said that his aim was to enable children growing up under the "new politics" to be whatever they wanted to be. In other words, fulfilment didn't necessarily come from riches or status.

(I was reminded of the desciption of the Kardomah Café in "Return Journey", where Dylan and friends would discuss how "Dan Jones was going to compose the most prodigious symphony, Fred Janes paint the most miraculously meticulous picture, Charlie Fisher catch the poshest trout, Vernon Watkins and Young Thomas write the most boiling poems ... ")

I am under no illusions that Cameron is carrying the whole of the Conservative Party with him. He will remain leader just so long as he seems successful. But at least he has been consistent so far in applying his philosophy of Liberal Conservatism.

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