By that, I mean he could do with listening to David Green, head of the excellent British think-tank Civitas and one of the real intellectual forces in the UK conservative movement today. Like me, he seemed to think David Cameron was exactly the figure the Tories needed to get back in the political mainstream. We were right on that, but neither of us expected that at the same time as improving the party’s PR Cameron would also junk about half of conservative thought. David has an essay in today’s Telegraph every word of which I agree with:
There are two main Tory traditions: patricians, who see society as made up of leaders and followers, and themselves as a kindly elite destined to rule, and radicals, who inherited the mantle of J S Mill’s liberalism when the old Liberal Party collapsed in the 20th century. They picture society as a self-governing community reliant on the qualities of its individual members.
David Cameron, it now seems, is a patrician Tory. Although some have likened him to Tony Blair, in truth his emerging policies reveal a person more like Gordon Brown, who combines disdain for the masses with a belief that they need most things done for them by a kindly state, run by people of superior insight.
A few weeks ago, radical Blairites like Stephen Pollard were surmising that a Cameron-led Tory party could be the ideal home for them once Gordon Brown succeeds Tony Blair: a party shorne of the unpleasant image of the past but open to radical liberal economic ideas. Yet even Stephen, who applauds Cameron’s general thrust, is dismayed by his approval of that Stalinist instrument of socialized medical care, the National Health Service. In other words, Cameron is positioning himself to the left of Tony Blair’s right.
The Cameron we have seen as leader is not, it appears, the Cameron we were advertised during the leadership election. I wonder how many of the senior, genuinely conservative figures that backed him in the contest following the unfortunate defeat of Liam Fox’s bid feel the same way. If Cameron is as conservative as many of us were assured he was, he needs to make that apparent soon.