Monday, October 19, 2009
What is Cameron all about?
Last night's Sunday Supplement to Radio Four's Westminster Hour was the concluding section of three-part series in which Peter Oborne, a columnist for the Daily Mail, explores whether there is a philosophy underlying the Conservative party, and if so, how to describe it. It might have been an interesting series — I missed the first two — but the last should be required listening for anyone who thinks they don't know what David Cameron is all about.One might argue that Oborne was a little over-enthusiastic at points: he certainly was effusive in his praise and has high expectations of Cameron. I would be inclined to dampen down Oborne's wilder excesses, even though some of his predictions, like that Cameron would be a Prime Minister pursuing what he believes to be the national, rather than the party, interest, are obviously highly desirable in any Prime Minister. One might also dare to think that some of the elements of the Conservative party, both parliamentary and popular, have not exactly come fully on-board with regard to Cameron's own Conservatism. Although I feel the force of that criticism, I am slightly more sanguine: my analysis is that although Cameron has an obvious 'stable', his evident ease with the breadth of Conservatism's history will mean that even if some parts of the party don't feel him to be 'one of them', he won't come across as being utterly 'unsound'.Despite all that, though, Cameron's own instincts come across clearly in Oborne's interview, and it is clear that he is a One Nation Tory: Oborne's analysis is that Cameron is quite unlike most Tory leaders all the way back to Macmillan. Whatever the truth of that, he states firmly that he believes in a Britain where the state makes it possible for people to work together, rather than one where the state does the working itself; a Britain whose sense of society is organically-grown from what Burke called 'little platoons', rather than one whose sense of society is a construct derived from the state; a Britain where people are empowered to take responsibility for the things around them, rather than a Britain where everyone expects agents of the state to sort out the problems. Can he deliver? — ah, now there's the question.You can listen to last night's broadcast HERE.