Sunday, January 04, 2009


Can Dave Cut the Mustard?

I'm quite as fan of Peter Oborne as a journalist, author and broadcaster but his piece today raises more questions than it answers in my humble opinion. He builds his article around party reactions to the economic crisis, acknowledging that Brown's response has been aided by Labour's traditional belief in the benign reach of the state. Oborne believes Cameron is resolved on the "extraordinary enterprise" of arguing the other end of the proposition: that the state-

"lies at the root of Britain's recent economic and social failure.

To this end he will find:

Defending Conservative economic principles means arguing that failing businesses should be closed, with the loss of thousands of jobs. It means making the case for cuts in public expenditure on vital services.

Oborne goes on to assert that Cameron is working up a revolutionary approach to Britain's travails:

Fundamentally, he has been calling for the British state as it currently stands to be dismantled, with power taken from central government and given back to local communities and institutions.

Now this kind of 'giving power to the people' has been promised by parties ever since I could recognise Harold Macmillan and still the centre has become more powerful under whoever has been in power.

Oborne developes his case by urging Cameron to eschew 'wealthy young men' and bring in some harder edged 'authentic' types like William Hague or Eric Pickles to add some bite and credibility to his mission:

In the new year, Cameron will announce his shadow cabinet reshuffle and would be well advised to promote men and women who will make his case at the next election, not those with whom he would enjoy a country house weekend.

But Oborne is whistling in the dark here; Cameron seems wholly cocooned in his upper-middle class social bubble, favouring fellow Old Etonians oe Bullingdoners to anyone even vaguely of the Tebbitt tendency.

Finally Oborne suggests Cameron has a more difficult task than Blair who merely adopted the 'neoliberal Thatcherite consensus' while Cameron must enter 'unknown territory'. This neglects the fact that Blair had to persuade a still left leaning party that market forces should be embraced and the probable fact that Cameron, unlike Brown, hasn't got a clue how to navigate this new terrain successfully.

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