The Apollo Project
Liberal Ideas for the 21st Century
Monday, January 16, 2006
The Business Press and Cameron
by Peter

Continuing this occasional series, today John O'Sullivan - formerly an advisor to Thatcher - steps up to take aim at Cameron in the FT.

His thesis is that Cameron is attempting to fool all of the people all of the time. And he says so with some style:

The activists are trying to convince themselves that he is pulling off a brilliant trick. He is presenting orthodox Tory ideas in glittering centrist garb – or, if not quite that, adding new ideas to the existing corpus. For instance, asking Bob Geldof to help forge a world anti-poverty programme may be a roundabout way of undermining the Common Agricultural Policy.

This is too hopeful.


A smaller group of modernisers, perhaps including Mr Cameron himself, is in the grip of a more subtle delusion. They see the new leader deliberately “dissing” traditionalist supporters in order to win over LibDem voters.


That leaves the party faithful. The Tories think they have elected Hugh Grant. In doing so, they believe, they have solved a nagging existential problem. Until the mid-1980s, the Tory faithful felt themselves the natural party of the middle class. But since then they have drifted apart as the Tories became Thatcherised and the middle class changed its self-image, political opinions and sensibility – became, in a word, “Curtisland” after Richard Curtis of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, and Love, Actually, in which a multi-faith, multi-ethnic London middle class swears terribly but is otherwise awfully nice and holds excruciatingly nice opinions. This is a global phenomenon as parties across the English-speaking world change composition with blue-collar workers moving right and others left. But the Tories don’t know that and would like to be accepted in Curtisland once again.

All of which brings to mind the thesis of the elusive GHD.

And of course it would not matter all that much if the policies were good. BUT O'Sullivan concludes that

None of these spells, alas, has anything to do with the actual or potential problems facing Britain in the coming decade.
posted by Peter Pigeon @ 1:35 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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