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What is the best we can hope for from the Conservatives?

The Conservative Conference in Manchester is effectively the beginning of the Tory campaign for the 2010 General Election. We can confidently expect that Labour will pay the price in that election for its epic fail as a government. Once again Labour will leave Britain with worse education, more structural unemployment, a debased currency, massive debts and a moribund economy. The election will give the people their moment of revenge, but can we hope for more than that brief pleasure from the Conservatives?

David Cameron personifies High Toryism, with its noblesse oblige approach to social problems. He sees a powerful role for the state in "improving" our lives. His version of the traditional High Tory concern for conserving the countryside is a radical approach to "Green" issues. Advised by his chum Zach Goldsmith, he embraces the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming and is ready to use authoritarian measures to "save the planet." While previous Conservative leaders had to pretend to believe in the Soviet-style National Health Service for political expediency, Cameron actually does. If you believe the important healthcare industry works best as a state enterprise, why stop there?

In short, the man is barely a Conservative at all. Still less is he a free-market classical liberal. He is as much a Statist as Gordon Brown, but merely wishes to pull the government's levers to (slightly) different effect.

New Labour has criminalised well over 3,000 formerly legal activities. It has been one of the most authoritarian governments in British history. Cameron's Conservatives are suggesting the repeal of none of them. The "ratchet effect" Margaret Thatcher struggled to combat is back. If the New Conservatives repeal none of New Labour's laws and then add more of their own, all we can confidently expect is to be less free after their first term. I am far more interested in a programme of legislative repeals than in any new measures. No such programme is on offer.

To fix "broken Britain" needs courage. Taxes for the lower paid should be reduced, both to eliminate the nonsense of minimum wage-earners paying income tax and to open a wide gap between those on benefits and those who earn. Only then will we get our 6 million "economically inactive" back into production. The benefits system needs to be radically simplified and all abuses ruthlessly eliminated. The National Health Service needs to be replaced with a compulsory insurance system and all healthcare providers privatised. Education too should be privatised and the National Curriculum eliminated. Not only will Cameron's Conservatives not attempt all of this, they will not attempt any of it. They lack the testicular fortitude.

I fear the best we can hope for is for the Conservatives to slow the rate of economic decline and the drift to a police state. Not very inspiring is it?


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Not mine, but Stormin' Norman's if I remember correctly.


Not a great speech, policy free, but it did have plenty of "hooks" on which to hang radical reform.

"David Cameron's war on the state

• Big government 'to blame for Britain's broken society'"


This Election is not important - The next one is.

There is no where for Labour to go and when Cameron does a rerun of Major's dismal poltroon ridden administration the field is wide open

Andrew Duffin

"testicular fortitude"


Nice euphemism.


I do not advocate 'springing radical reform unannounced' for the reasons you state. I favour the long game, a counter-Fabian approach. Rolling back the state without, at first, scaring the neo-Gramscian horses at the BBC.

Plenty of groundwork to level the playing field then a radical second term.


Cameron is a Blair impersonator in many ways, not least in his moral relativism. I would rather lose an election than lie to the electorate; if it wants Labour policies, then Labour is the right party to deliver them. Politics is not sport. Having said that, I am not quite so naive as you think. I understand much of what Cameron had to do in "detoxifying" the Conservative image.

However, Oppositions don't win elections. Governments lose them. Labour has run out of steam and only a miracle can save it now. A sensible Conservative leader should be carefully and diplomatically seeking a mandate for genuine reform, if only by placing anodyne "hooks" on which to hang more radical action. I see no sign even of that.

Springing radical reform unannounced (as you seem to advocate) would not only be immoral, but unproductive. Apart from anything else, such conduct would guarantee no second term. Given the financial mess the Conservatives will inherit, they will be able to achieve very little in 4-5 years - if indeed the IMF permits them any independent action at all.


If you, I and David Cameron were to travel in time to the 19th Century, I would be a Liberal and you would both be Tories. He's not as High Tory as you, I will give you that. Would you accept an invitation to write a guest post on the merits of High Toryism? I think it would be fascinating.


Something else that doesn't seem to be on Mr Cameron's agenda is losing.

The tories have such a psephological disadventage in the forthcoming election that to get a working majority will require at least a 10% win in the popular vote. To achieve such a large margin of victory requires a swing as large as in 1997.

If you think it would be possible to do this with ANY of the policies mentioned, all of which I agree with by the way, then I would respectfully disagree.

Whilst the Labour party is a spent force the BBC is not.

How do you think this would feature in BBC coverage..... "The National Health Service needs to be replaced with a compulsory insurance system and all healthcare providers privatised"?

Realpolitik is the name of the game, Labour learnt their lesson in 1992. All you can do before an election is lose votes and alienate people, after an election, if you win, you can do whatever the hell you please.

I don't know what Mr Cameron will do in Downing Street, maybe he will be as pathetic as he appears. I do know however that if I was in his position I would have done more or less exactly what he has, the alternative is 5 more years of Mr Brown.

The developing prominence of Carswell and Hannan hints to me that all is not lost for the tory party.

Dick Puddlecote

"I would say it has been one of the least authoritarian governments in British history, but one of the most totalitarian"

Totalitarian I would wholeheartedly agree, but how does that not naturally encompass authoritarian during the process?

Perhaps this is semantics here, but not all Labour ravings have been totalitarian. All, however, at some point, have been authoritarian.

There has certainly been no sign of liberal/libertarian leanings at all.

Repeal should be an instinctive conservative reaction to Labour's abuses in power, but as Tom points out, this isn't on the agenda AFAICS.

Ergo, Cameron is no conservative.


“David Cameron personifies High Toryism.”

On which alien planet does the alien phrase “High Toryism” refer to an alien creature named “David Cameron”? On this planet, however, I am baffled why you would claim such a thing when even the Wikipedia-article to which you refer in order to support your claim shows it to be greatly in error --- unless, of course, the man in question is hiding his High-Toryism by doing a very good job of pretending to be a facile modern liberal. (One can always hope.) Is the phrase “High Tory” now to be trashed along with the words “Fascist” and “Nazi”? It is an interesting question whether communication will even be possible in a hundred years from now, after political language has wrecked so many perfectly good words. Not liking the man is a perfectly understandable sentiment, but I do not think one should defame the High Tories of old by linking them to a man who is a but one elemental shade of the unique and profoundly decadent conditions of modernism to which High Toryism is quite foreign.

“the man is barely a Conservative at all.”

On the contrary, he is very much a Conservative, but not a conservative, and certainly not a High Tory. Apart from his bank-account and his route to power, I struggle to think of what he wishes to preserve --- certainly not merry old England, but then, who does? Still, I suppose, since that benighted land is well beyond preserving, it is rather beside the point.

“New Labour . . . has been one of the most authoritarian governments in British history.”

Again, on the contrary, I would say it has been one of the least authoritarian governments in British history, but one of the most totalitarian. For some reason, however, libertarians do not seem to care for the distinction.

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