new labour and david cameron–a perfect match?

meet the new boss….same as the old boss? when tony blair steps down as british PM, there will be a pitched battle to determine the next occupant of 10 downing street. the upcoming contest between david cameron (conservatives) and british PM tony blair’s hand-picked successor (chancellor of the exchequer gordon brown) may not be the fierce ideological struggle everyone may have expected. the message of “cameronism” sounds familiar– very similar in fact to blair’s “new labour”.

Cameron has put a stake through Margaret Thatcher’s legacy. New Labour has triumphed beyond its wildest dreams: this is Blair’s brilliant legacy – to be outflanked on the left is an extraordinary achievement he should mark as his glory moment. If anyone doubts that Cameron means it, just chortle with glee as the Daily Mail’s Melanie Phillips shrieks in pain: “This leaves millions of natural conservatives effectively disenfranchised – and, even worse, demonised as dinosaurs by the party that is supposed to represent them, but is now telling them to go hang while it tears up everything they believe in … The ideas in his advertisement appear to define ‘what is right’ as the distorted doctrines of leftwing propaganda.” Tebbit weighs in too. Imagine how the Cameron clan must be whooping as the Mail is left gasping and spluttering. This is exactly what it wants.

polly toynbee in the guardian

i think she’s right that cameron has “put a stake through margaret thatcher’s legacy”. many observers of british political history may see this as a good thing. the baroness would not have signed on to wealth re-distribution through government largesse, an emphasis on global warming, or the idea that “strict ideologies should be foresworn in favor of a flexible approach to politics”(cal thomas). we can argue the overall effectiveness of thatcher’s policies, but at the end of the day, politics will always be about ideology. those who ignore this and choose style over substance do not give the voters what they need, which is a debate on ideas, not on personality.

david cameron isn’t any different from tony blair, at least in any visible way. so maybe that kind of ideological debate can’t take place between blair and cameron. the real question here is whether gordon brown believes in continuing blair’s policies in a future labour government. if brown intends to stay with what has worked under new labour, then i don’t see how cameron provides much of an alternative.

if he really believed that the blair government was ruining the country, he wouldn’t go out of his way to help the PM get his school reforms passed. he talks about fighting global poverty, bridging the gap between rich and poor, and reducing carbon emissions to deal with global warming. the problem cameron has is that he has more in common with tony blair than margaret thatcher. we shall see if the conservatives will follow cameron to the left, or whether they will be resigned to re-electing new labour.
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2 thoughts on “new labour and david cameron–a perfect match?

  1. Steve,

    I would have to say yes, based on what I have seen of Cameron. I’m just not sure it’s the best strategy for the Tories and for Cameron to adopt if they want to provide an real alternative to New Labour. If they just want to win at all costs, maybe this will work.

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