I can see why you might be skeptical, but I am convinced that Cameron will be good for the party for one main reason. The Tories have not been marginalized because they do not have good, popular policies. They do, but research has shown convincingly that the Tories adopting a policy actually hurts it. That is because the main reason for the marginalization of the Tories is the public’s distaste for the Tories themselves. The Major years put the mark of Cain on the party.
Cameron, however, does not suffer that problem. Because of his youth, charm and confidence people react very differently to him than they do to other Tories, whether they be of the left like Ken Clarke or the right like David Davis. They are prepared to listen to him, even to give him the benefit of the doubt.
That is why I like the appelation “Cameron’s Conservatives” so much. It takes the goodwill towards DC and spreads it to the rest of the party. A candidate in a marginal seat may be listened to where he (or she) was not before.
Yet at the same time, Cameron is not the CINO, if I may coin a phrase, that some have suggested he is. As Ferdinand Mount, former head of Mrs T’s policy unit, pointed out recently, he is the only person in British politics willing to stand up and champion marriage as good for the individual and nation. He is likely to bring back former leaders William Hague and the tastefully named Iain Duncan Smith, staunch conservatives both, to the shadow cabinet. He has adopted sound Conservative Liam Fox’s “broken society” agenda. I have doubts about his environment policy, but that’s about it.
I hear that Sky News has commissioned a poll asking how people would vote if there was an election tomorrow with Cameron as Tory leader, Gordon Brown in charge of Labour and Charles Kennedy still in charge of the Liberal Democrats. The figures are purportedly Con 38, Lab 33, Lib Dem 18, a significant change reversing over a decade’s lead for Labour.
All in all, I think this is a pretty good day.