06 January 2015

Can We Define Cameronism?

As, hopefully, David Cameron's reign as PM hits it's final furlong. I'd like to look deep into it's murky backwaters. I'd like to find the defining ideology of the man, and his schizophrenic government. Not just in terms of two parties in coalition, but of the conflicting ideologies of the man himself.

When the Labour party ran their shortlived and underplayed party political broadcast of a cartoon Cameron chameleon morphing from one political theme to the next, they were closer than they realised to nailing his defining characteristics. And to be fair to Cameron, they are not all bad. His apologies for Bloody Sunday and Hillsborough did seem genuinely heartfelt.

The most surprising attitude of his government has been their attitude to foreign aid and gay marriage. To have a Conservative government support these issues, in the face of much severe criticism from it's own MPs and media, is a bigger victory for the Left than probably they dare realise. It is also difficult to fathom.

I really can't make my mind up whether Cameron is a real convert to these causes or is trying to play some sort of modernist card to win the liberal urban middle class vote that the Tories have sorely missed since their post Thatcher collapse.

I actually suspect his conversion is real, but it doesn't square with his support for Section 28 (as recently as 2001) and his opposition to gay adoption.

Ditto, foreign aid. Did he find some damiscene conversion in being a 80's child of the Live Aid era? Seems as unlikely as his claim to be a Smiths fan.

Look at how easily Cameron has jettisoned his now almost unrememberable softly softly approach to immigration and Europe. His seemingly real understanding of the stupidity of punitive drug laws. His infamous, now laughable claim of "vote blue, go green". He even went as far as quoting "the spirit level" when claiming to want to reduce inequality. A claim never to be heard again from the man who put IDS in charge of welfare.

Then we look at the economic agenda and attitude to the public sector. More Thatcherite than even Thatcher. The relentless drive to push private sector profiteering deep into public provision. Cutting tax on Capital even further, even amid an economic depression and promise to reduce government debt.

Although he has given up on two dog whistle issues - gays and foreign aid, he has relentlessly pushed others. He has been outflanked on immigration and Europe because he could never out UKIP UKIP. But the attacks on the unemployed, disabled and even public sector workers have been relentless in their ferocity. Here we see Thatcher's child in his full glory.

Another curious aspect is his hot and cold attitude to religion. Once describing his religiosity as "like Magic FM in the Chilterns" - "it comes and goes". Then months later he is praying in Church like a US president at his most eager.

It is really difficult to pin down what is sincere about Cameron. But as attributed to Tony Blair, if you can fake sincerity, you have it made.
Cameron seemed to start out a liberal but become more hardcore Thatcherite once in power. His journey rightwards seems to continue to this day, with no sight of where it would end. For those of us who are true liberals, lets hope it ends on May 7th!

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