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Does David Cameron Have a Future After Latest Election Defeat?

His moderation may be his — and the UK economy's — undoing.

by
Mike McNally

Bio

March 10, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Fiscal hawks within the party, meanwhile, are calling for tax cuts for workers and businesses and the scrapping of regulation — much of it emanating from Europe — which they claim is stifling job creation and growth. They point out that Moody’s downgraded the UK not because it was cutting too fast, but because it wasn’t cutting fast enough. They want bigger reductions in welfare spending, and warn that even the education and healthcare budgets, which so far have remained sacrosanct, will have to be cut if the debt is to be brought under control.

In his defense, Cameron says he cannot implement all the policies he would like because of the constraints of being in coalition with the socially progressive and economically centrist Lib Dems, and that he will pursue a more overtly conservative agenda if he secures an overall majority in 2015. The danger, however — and the conundrum for Cameron — is that if he doesn’t starting pursuing those policies now, there will be no overall majority.

It’s not all doom and gloom. For one thing, there’s that fall in unemployment, which has been little short of remarkable given the economic climate. Around a million private sector jobs have been created since the coalition took office, more than offsetting redundancies in the bloated public sector, and at 7.8% the rate is well below the European average. While politicians and pundits like to obsess over quarterly GDP figures, voters tend to worry more about whether they have a job to go to.

Cameron can also take comfort from the fact that, for all his problems, the Labour party isn’t doing much better. It was Labour that got Britain into its current state, and which now offers only more borrowing and spending as the solution. While in opinion polls Labour holds the kind of lead that’s typical for an opposition party midway through a parliament in a sluggish economy, Cameron remains more popular than its leader Ed Miliband, and the Tories remain more trusted than Labour to fix the economy.

There’s a consensus among conservative commentators that while progress is slow, the government is on the right track. But there’s also frustration stemming from a sense that Cameron could be taking bolder measures without alienating voters. After all, most of the nominally right-wing policies they’d like him to pursue — from lowering taxes and cutting welfare budgets to renegotiating the relationship with the EU — are far from being “extreme,” as they are supported by majorities of the British people.

It would be a disaster for Britain if Labour clawed its way back into office (if it did, it would likely be in its own coalition with the Lib Dems, for whom Labour are more natural allies) and the country was as a result plunged back into a deep and lasting recession, all because Cameron was too timid to pursue policies that if explained and implemented properly would enjoy widespread support. Those urging Cameron on would like to see him call the bluff of the Lib Dems over some of those policies, daring them to withdraw their support, and perhaps to force an early election.

Many Tory MPs and grassroots activists have long suspected that Cameron’s instincts are not truly conservative; that his true sympathies lie with the metropolitan liberal-left elites, from whom he differs only on a few points of economic policy. It’s a theme that UKIP’s straight-talking leader Nigel Farage has tapped into, accusing Cameron of talking about “gay marriage and wind farms” instead of addressing the real concerns of voters.

If Cameron is to have the chance to finish the difficult and vital job he’s taken on, he will soon have to start proving those critics wrong.

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Mike McNally is a journalist based in Bath, England. He posts at PJ Tatler and at his own blog Monkey Tennis, and tweets at @notoserfdom. When he's not writing about politics he writes about Photoshop.

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All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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The 70s and 80s are going to play out all over again in the UK. The current Tory government are the equivalent of Heath's Tory government of the early 70s - weak, ineffectual, poncy, back-pedalling. They'll be hammered at the next election in '15 by the Labour socialists, who will dig the country into even worse economic territory with more tax, spending and borrowing. Then in '20 the Tories will have gotten their act together, gotten some real conservatives in there, and the country will repair itself (relatively speaking, of course) over the next 15 years with successive Tory governments.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Sorry for double post. I forgot that the new comments system puts new material at the top. Mods please delete the extra one when convenient. :)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I sincerely hope he doesn't. All he (or George Osborne, the Chancellor) have to offer is more of the same - propping up the greedy, dishonest sociopaths in the City of London and protecting them from what should be the consequences of their greed, pumping billions of pounds of freshly printed money into the banks - where it promptly disappears, never to be seen again by anyone who actually works for a living.

The proposed cap on banking industry bonuses should be revised - to zero. The bankers cannot be trusted. Else why would RBS, which lost over £5 BILLION last year, still have found the money to pay £600 million in bonuses to its City gamblers? And this is despite the fact that HMG could stop the bonuses altogether, given that HMG owns over 80% of that bank.

What we need in the UK is a Conservative leader and Chancellor that didn't go to Eton. Maybe then, what should be done would be done - which is to take steps to restore manufacturing industry in the UK.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Are you saying that the whole thing was the fault of evil bankers? Don't be so quick to absolve politicians of blame. The bankers were stupid, for sure, but the crisis wasn't entirely their creation. The politicians shoulder a huge amount of blame as well. The sub-prime NINJA mortage was created by clinton's administration, and forced on the mortgage industry. This had the effect of eliminating risk, as the US government stood behind those mortgages, supposedly. What do you think bankers are going to do when the goverment tells them "there is no risk in these mortgages"? they're going to figure out the best way to make as much money as possible from it, and jump in at the deep end, which they did.

there's no excuse for the idiocy of the bankers, and they should not have been bailed out. We should have let them go bankrupt, and let the assets pass from the clearly incompetent, to the competent, at knock-down prices. Then start again. We would have had a proper depression, but we would have healed the problem by now or nearly. But instead they've elected to condemn us to decades of pain, by bailing them out, and giving us a zombie economy.

but don't tell me it's all the fault of the bankers, because it isn't - by a huge margin.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I sincerely hope he doesn't. All he (or George Osborne, the Chancellor) have to offer is more of the same - propping up the greedy, dishonest sociopaths in the City of London and protecting them from what should be the consequences of their greed, pumping billions of pounds of freshly printed money into the banks - where it promptly disappears, never to be seen again by anyone who actually works for a living.

The proposed cap on banking industry bonuses should be revised - to zero. The bankers cannot be trusted. Else why would RBS, which lost over £5 BILLION last year, still have found the money to pay £600 million in bonuses to its City gamblers? And this is despite the fact that HMG could stop the bonuses altogether, given that HMG owns over 80% of that bank.

What we need in the UK is a Conservative leader and Chancellor that didn't go to Eton. Maybe then, what should be done would be done - which is to take steps to restore manufacturing industry in the UK.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
David Cameron follows in the tradition of former PMs Harold ("winds of change") Macmillan and Ted ("confirmed bachelor") Heath. Cameron is caught in a vise not unlike the Republicans here. Does he cater to the City's demands for special protection of monopolistic capital, or does he pay attention to the concerns of core Conservative voters? So far, Cameron has chosen the City. UKIP may well eclipse him, simply because it takes High Street voters' concerns seriously, especially the protection of small savers against predatory City banksters.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'm no expert on British politics, but it seems to me that the opinion of the voters is of no import to Cameron right now. The only thing that matters at the moment is the opinion of the LibDem MP's in his coalition. No matter what the polls say he can only go as far as his coalition partners will allow him. I do not envy him. He has to plot a course between coalition breakup and alienating voters.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I have been fiercely independent the whole of my life. As a GDI, I do not blindly follow any dogma...especially down a path of ruin.

I decide issues based upon facts, evidence and argument that is persuasive and intelligent.

Then, and only then...do I choose a side.

However....rampant, runaway, radical leftism is the scourge of the planet and has Europe on the brink and America on the run. It currently despises Israel and wallows in treason, slander and propaganda.

Opposing radical leftism is the job of every man and woman of honor. All other issues pale in comparison. Cameron is not a centrist if he becomes a toe-dipper.

What I want my friends on the right of me to understand, is that not all GDI's are squishy. (and please, stop using the term "RINO", it's beneath anyone who has the IQ above a Chia Pet, every time someone takes an independent stance. Use it sparingly, if ever. A little goes a long way with that epithet. The overuse of it immediately destroys credibility of the speaker, like any other kneejerk slur)

There is a difference between a center-rightist and a toe-dipper. Cameron should be aware of that difference.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Cameron is the John McCain of British politics; he leads the conservative party but essentially rejects all conservative ideas. His frantic efforts to legalize gay marriage reveal a man who wants the socialists to love him. If both parties represent the same ideas and ideals why bother to vote. We are getting very close to that in the former USA. With McCain and Graham leading the Republican party what is the point of taking the effort to vote for the Republican party which has become Obama lite?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I heavily sympathize since I've chosen to register independent when I turned 18 in 2012. I ideologically lean libertarian too. But I'm not giving up. There's even hope yet the GOP can find itself again. For one thing, they hold 30 governorships and 58 state houses. And they hold the House (despite not fully utilizing the power they have). Also forget the fact that you've got people like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Scott Walker who are leading the charge in their own right in the name of liberty. If you're gonna gripe go be a Democrat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I love liberals. They have no chance at ever being successful because right and wrong and success and failure are apportioned out according to race and gender, rather than reality.

If rain gets you wet, it doesn't matter how much you've politicized and radicalized yourself into hating the idea - you'll still get wet.

The UK should end all immigration while they still have a country that won't resemble those they used to exploit. Like it or not, it is what it is and people should adjust themselves to this reality, because there's an awful lot of soaking wet people proclaiming themselves dry.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Even from this distance I've sensed Cameron's reluctance to fully embrace Tory - or conservative - principles. He seems to be walking a very fine line, indeed, and creating organized opposition that may very well lead back to a Labour goverment. A shame. I hope he takes a careful look at where he's going and averts disaster.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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