Thursday, December 15, 2005

Fresh faces

Last week David Cameron was elected leader of the British Conservative party. Many people have compared him to Tony Blair for his media savvy. A subtext of this comparison - which is often not meant as a compliment - seems to be that Blair does not have fixed principles and that he has a tendency to adapt his message to public opinion. In my view this is rubbish: Blair is an excellent example of a leader with strong principles and leadership skills (at least in some areas), unlike many governments in continental Europe which cave in at the least hint of a strike. For instance, it was very courageous of Blair to stand firm on Iraq, given the public opinion he faced at the polls.
At any rate, though Cameron seems to be a likeable fellow, it's quite hard to tell what his policies would be if elected. Margaret Thatcher he ain't. Which, though rather unexciting, might not be a bad thing, if not for Britain, at least for the Tory party. As L'Ombre de l'Olivier notes, it does seem that his approach will have more success that that of his predecessors:
I hope this is part of an deliberate Tory strategy because I think it holds considerable promise. Blair has been identified by numerous commentators as the best Conservative PM Britain has never had (or similar) and certainly he has shamelessly stolen the best parts of successive Tory manifestos for himself. If the Tories start publicly taking credit for this and simultaneously damning with faint praise as in "getting the good bits passed into law" this could cause a nasty split within ZANU Labour. Given the existing fractures between Blair and Brown and the fact that Tax'n'Spend is looking like a bit of loser as taxes rise higher but we see little improvement in government services this could well help the Tories regain the perceived centre ground that Blair so cunningly stole from them.
I agree that this is an excellent approach, but only with the gradual unveiling of Cameron's actual program will we get a better idea of how much of it is media savvy and how much is real substance. I'm hoping for the latter.

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