The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Friday, December 16, 2005
The Cameron Conundrum
This post from GHD on Politicalbetting repays attention. If you're out there GHD, we'd like to hear from you!

As a new poster, but a long term watcher of this site, it is interesting to see the Conservatives on here wrestling with their beliefs to try and fit the outward appearance of ‘liberalism’ apparently being embraced by their new leader.

There is an interesting shift in British politics. After years of being on the backfoot, the word ‘liberal’ is the new buzzword. And defining it has become the battleground. Cameron’s shameless attempts to steal the word for his own create a problem for him.

Either Cameron has to take on the right of his party and risk losing the backbone of his party - the socially conservative, neo-classical economically inclined - or he has to water down his position and risk being exposed for a ‘charlatan’ leading to the ceding of lots of ground to his opponents.

Tony Blair showed, that when you set about to be a thief in the night, you must also make a theatrical show to the doubters or ideologically opposed within your own party.

It seems to me that Cameron may have made a long term mistake by throwing a bone to his right-wingers with his decision over Europe. He seemed to be saying to them ‘it’s alright’ nothing’s going to change and this is still our party’. But the outward rhetoric is all about ‘liberalism’. Already, posters like Sean Fear* appear to be getting the jitters. ‘Where is this taking us?’ is essentially what he is saying, and before long will this be what many of the other members in the Conservative Party will also be saying?

Cameron’s speech today showed that he is an unsubtle politician. He has gone for the ‘easy point’ by appealing directly to LDs who may have the jitters about their party, but in so doing has decided that he wants to fight the next election on liberal territory. Is this wise without having taken on his own party. In the long run he could find himself leaving his own party behind.

Tony Blair used his first weeks to win the battles in his own party. Cameron has used his first weeks to score cheap points with the other two parties. Will he live to regret that decision? And by making liberalism the battleground, perhaps we in the Liberal Democrats will be the long term victors.

Comment by GHD — 16/12/2005 @ 4:35 pm

*Sean Fear is a Conservative from London.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 5:10 pm  
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"What is Liberalism?: I should say it means the acknowledgment in practical life of the truth that men are best governed who govern themselves; that the general sense of mankind, if left alone, will make for righteousness; that artificial privileges and restraints upon freedom, so far as they are not required in the interests of the community, are hurtful; and that the laws, while, of course, they cannot equalise conditions, can at least avoid aggravating inequalities, and ought to have for their object the securing to every man the best chance he can have of a good and useful life." C-B.


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