Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Cameron Project

I voted for Cameron and am still very much convinced that I made the right choice. However, I think that after a busy year I can come to some conclusions about what I like and dislike about the Conservative party under Cameron so far.

What I admire is the nerve that is allowing the party to take the time to really think about policy rather than panicking at the unwarranted cries of "no substance!" While it leaves us short of policy now it should mean that we'll have the policy thoroughly worked out when it counts; at the General Election.

The moves to thoroughly entrench socially liberal politics, such as supporting civil unions, are welcome. There is a very plausible case for a new socially conservative revival in Britain but this should be a positive movement to do things like strengthen the family rather than ugly backlash politics.

Reflecting a broader range of priorities is an excellent idea. Demonstrating that the conservatives can think beyond tax policy and our internal debate on Europe is important to becoming an election winning force again and a victory for conservative thought in general.

However, I have one big criticism of how Cameron is proceeding which is that the groundwork positioning may be dramatically limiting the party's ability to think outside the box once the policy groups have reported and the time comes to form a programme for government. Make a quick list of conclusions that the Conservative party cannot come to thanks to announcements already made and this becomes clear:

1) "Tax cuts are a priority for improving Britain's competitive economic position". While tax cuts might be achieved after the election in the sharing of the proceeds of growth expected amounts cannot be promised or aspired to as a part of a Conservative programme.

2) "The NHS requires significant reorganisation". Making a political priority of "Stop Brown's NHS Cuts" after the chancellor's spending record and highlighting that the problem under Labour may have been too many reorganisations makes promising anything beyond a more stable status quo for the NHS very difficult.

3) "Global warming is going to be a change in circumstances we must adapt to as much as a crisis we can prevent". The party's collective mind is made up and as a result we are getting in trouble working out how we differ from Labour, in particular on annual binding targets.

4) "Relative poverty is not a sensible yardstick with which to assess progress". This has been used as a vague tool to say "we care about poverty" which we definitely should but will have the effect of making us hostile to sensible policies, like Thatcher's, which will involve a transition cost in terms of inequality.

The Cameron project is being diverted from highlighting new issues which the party should be caring and thinking about to deciding certain debates before they are properly had as part of a repositioning that has become rather clumsy.

1 comment:

Gracchi said...

I agree with you about Cameron and the positive aspects. I like the way that structurally he has separated the day to day work of the shadow cabinet in media relations from these commissions with a more strategic vision. We'll have to see what it produces.