Is David Cameron the 'John McCain' of the British Conservative Party?

A much loathed Labor government, the economy in shambles, and little hope that things will right themselves soon — this is the situation which preceded Margaret Thatcher’s triumph in 1979. And this should be a formula for the UK opposition Conservative Party to be way ahead in the polls in 2010. However, this time around, it looks as if  a hung parliament will be the election result.


A hung parliament is the result of a parliamentary election in which no one party has a majority in the House of Commons. It is then a scramble to see which parties can beat the others to a successful coalition to form a government. Some believe the prospect of a hung parliament is not so bad.

David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, is the pretty boy adored by the blue-rinse set, but he has not been able thus far to impress the rest of the country. With the election due to be held within the next three months, there is a good chance that he will be unable to get a simple majority. The Labor government may retain their ruling majority under a power-sharing deal — a coalition with one of the third parties. How could this be? How has David Cameron so missed the mood of the people that he has not inspired their support?

A comparison with John McCain is not unreasonable, despite their significant differences in experience and in age. Like McCain, Cameron has had a hard time inspiring his party’s “core” conservative voters. His middle-of-the-road and wishy-washy center-right talk does not inspire the voters to his cause. It appears that Cameron refuses to change his ways and abandon some of his ideas that clearly turn off voters. Even more than McCain, Cameron insists on babbling on about climate change, cap and trade, and similar policies. There was even a proposal to tax plastic bags to encourage more use of alternate methods of carrying groceries. More tax of any kind is suicide for a party in recessionary times, when most people want fewer and lower taxes.


In short, the people are hurting and wary of new taxes and regulation, but Cameron doesn’t seem to notice. The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which advocates UK freedom from the European Union, came in second in the European Parliament elections, but this remarkable performance from a new rival party appears not to have affected Cameron. He continues to vacillate about the UK’s relationship with the European Union. He continues to oppose giving UK citizens a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the giant, corrupt entity to its east.

Cameron continues to ignore the threat on his right — the British National Party (BNP). The BNP talks calmly about multiculturalism. Meanwhile, Cameron fails to understand that in the public housing estates in the north of England, the BNP seems to be the only party that is “listening” to people’s concerns over immigration, Islamization, and continued perceived attacks on British values.

It is clear that the BNP, with its strength in the north of the country, is taking votes from Labor. Surely it is a mistake for the Conservative Paty to completely ignore the voters’ strong concerns about uncontrolled immigration.

The UKIP, on the other hand, takes votes from the Conservative Party, as it appeals to Thatcherites and libertarians who view the EU with suspicion and distaste.

Therefore, Cameron and the Conservative Party, by ignoring voters’ dismay at the strength of the European Union and excessive immigration, have helped UKIP and possibly also the BNP to gain many potential voters and perhaps seats in the House of Commons this time around.


So desperate is the Conservative Party that some are attempting to make a specious link between UKIP and the BNP. “UKIP: the acceptable face of the BNP” is once again rearing its ugly head on some Tory websites. The former Conservatives that make up UKIP are none too pleased.

Lord Tebbit, former cabinet colleague and friend of Lady Thatcher, expressed his worry about the Cameron style of leadership in one of the country’s newspapers:

Lord Tebbit said that without a “major change of tactics” Mr Cameron might struggle to win the general election.

He added: “The polls were giving the Tories a point or two over 40% until quite recently. The odd rogue polls were giving a bit more, but the steady rating was 40% plus.

“Now, with the exception of the rogues, the rating is 40% or less. The 40% floor has become a ceiling.”

Fraser Nelson, a well respected columnist for the News of the World described Cameron’s New Year’s speech in the following terms:

His speech yesterday was vapid nonsense. Words like “change” and “hope,” repeated over and over again. All that worked for Obama’s America. But Britain wants some beef. And Cam’s speech had as much beef as a vegan sandwich.

It is clear from the lack of traction in the polls, despite all the Labor government’s problems, that Cameron does not understand the mood of the people he is trying to attract. It will be a disaster on an epic scale if Gordon Brown and Labor retain power through some coalition deal.

There are rumors that Gordon Brown may “go to the country” and call the election in the next few weeks to take advantage of the Conservative Party’s less than ideal position in the polls and the fading likelihood of its winning a majority. April seems to be the month that Brown is hoping to test the electorate and see if he can hang on to Number 10. The election must take place by June 6 at the latest.


This is fascinating stuff for students of the “mother of all parliaments,” but very worrisome for the people who may see themselves living under the chaos of a hung parliament and weak government after the years of Labor  missteps and mismanagement.

In the latest poll, the lead is down to 2%, which is a statistical tie. It remains to be seen whether Cameron’s spring forum speech will have helped his cause.

David Cameron, as leader of the “loyal opposition,” should be judging the mood of the country and speaking for the needs of the people. If he were doing so, he and the Conservatives would be a shoo-in.


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