Thursday, October 02, 2008

David Cameron – a man with a plan

David Cameron has described himself as ‘a man with a plan’, and his mission is positively transformative. Indeed, the vocabulary is messianic, even if his ministry is to have ‘no miracle cures’. Just like the Old Testament prophets of the seventh century BC, Mr Cameron diagnosed incisively where this Labour Government has gone wrong and he then proclaimed how he would put it right. And it is not only through his character and judgement – though these are manifest. He eschewed all superficial political promises of a new dawn, instead warning of the pain of discipline and the discomfort of difficult decisions which will be taken ‘even in the teeth of hostility and protest’.

He told Conservative party members and the country: ‘We are a united party, united in spirit and united in purpose’.

And that overriding purpose is now to win power in order to fulfil his alliterative promises of ‘rebuilding our battered economy, renewing our bureaucratised NHS, repairing our broken society’.

Tony Blair used the mantra in 1997; Barak Obama uses it today. David Cameron appealed to that democratic imperative – ‘change’ – which is a plea to each human heart to find within it the discernment that we cannot endure ‘more of the same’, but need to look to a different remedy for the treating of the nation’s ills. Certainly, Gordon Brown has experience, but so did John Major; so did Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill. Yet there comes a time when the electorate crosses its boredom threshold and ceases to tolerate the familiar. As Mr Cameron observed: ‘Experience is the argument of the incumbent over the ages. Experience is what they always say when they try to stop change’.

It is a pity he muddled his philosophy when he mentioned libertarianism. Either he does not understand Mill, or his speech writers were out of their depth and Mr Cameron, a PPE graduate, failed to pick this up through the drafting process. He defined the ‘libertarian’ as one who asserts the right to do whatever he or she wants, regardless of the effect on others. This is the antithesis of Mill’s principle that people should be free to do as they please as long as they do not harm others. Conservatism is libertarian - or it should be. There is a dimension of paternalism, and this must be held in tension, but the core philosophy is of the liberty to act according to one’s conscience and one’s will within the law, and the law is not that which grants permissions but that which prohibits, and what the law does not prohibit is permissible. Mr Cameron’s conversion to anti-libertarianism is inconsistent and confusing, especially given his previous pronouncements.

That aside, the UK’s next prime minister talked of ‘unity’, ‘hope’ and ‘belief’, and this did the trick. One wonders of the people will hear his cry and repent. Or if, like Israel of old, they will be deaf to these prophetic entreaties, and continue in the way that leads to death.

18 Comments:

Blogger The Heresiarch said...

It is rather worrying, is it not, if DC doesn't appreciate the difference between libtertarianism and libertinism. Or perhaps "libertarian" is now a dirty word, rather as "liberal" has become in the US, where it means almost the precise opposite of what I mean when I say "liberal".

2 October 2008 at 08:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Libertarian' is not the same as conservatism, which sets store by religion, patriotism, family, rule of law, and individual responsibility and virtue (e.g., thrift, restraint, effort).
In other words, conservatism entails social involvement, not anomie and detachment, within an outlook of temporal and teleological values described by St Augustine in The City of God.

2 October 2008 at 09:43  
Anonymous anonymous2 said...

I think you will find that 'libertarianism', as understood by the (younger end of) the Conservative Party is now to be found buried under the multiple pile-up of a metaphorical car crash that is/was the investment banking industry.

We're all statists now (we have no choice) and probably will be for a future generation or two.

Sorry to disappoint.

2 October 2008 at 10:47  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace

It seems that you are impressed. I too watched the speech and was heartened by Cameron's obvious passion, energy and gritty determination. But we know that politics is a long game, so let us hope that he also has stamina.

As to semantics, my particular Bête Noire is the (mis)use of the word 'hopefully'. But the abuse of language in recent years has led to the point where words can mean anything that one wishes them to. Complete Alice in Wonderland.

2 October 2008 at 10:56  
Blogger Dave said...

"He told Conservative party members and the country: ‘We are a united party, united in spirit and united in purpose’"

That's what Tony said and we now know that he used ruthless bully boys to keep the troops in line. He used spin to hide the truth and he allowed others to loot the country, and all the while he used his charm to blind his fans and the rest of us.

Is that what we are to expect from Call me Dave? The population tend to vote against parties, but I'm not at all convinced that a vote for CMD will be any better than more of the same

2 October 2008 at 11:16  
Blogger dmk said...

You'll be crowning him Holy Roman Emperor next.

Given that the unregulated free market has got us into this current mess, it was rather a worry to see Cameron proposing a simplistic market forces solution to school and education reform.

Lots of fine words, better in attack than in defence: we know Cameron is good on image, but the jury is still out on action. I wouldn't want to anoint him just yet.

2 October 2008 at 11:16  
Blogger Unsworth said...

@ DMK

That a market is unregulated means nothing. Traders, their clients and their overseers - including the Government, FSA etc - are those who may be at fault.

Or would you argue that the lack of market regulation has deprived these people of free will and all intellect?

Casting stones?

2 October 2008 at 11:32  
Anonymous anonymous2 said...

"Archbishop Peter Akinola cites sheep sex arrest as proof of Britain's moral decline" (see Daily Telegraph)

It's those perishing libertarians, I tell you. They're a menace.

2 October 2008 at 14:19  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

David Cameron doesn't have a clue. That's what cocaine does to you. I'd rather be dead then by David Cameron.

2 October 2008 at 15:18  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

"The unregulated free market has got us into this current mess" - really?
I thought interference & micro-management was partly to blame.

2 October 2008 at 16:42  
Anonymous the recusant said...

One swallow doesn't make a summer; I cannot overly put much confidence in Mr Cameron based on one speech. On past performance, remember "hug a hoodie" and the farce of his cycling to parliament in an effort to endorse his green credentials and then had a 4x4 following with his brief case. Mr Cameron is preoccupied with image, and all his actions (despite his libertine denials) betray a social liberal at work. I found very little of substance in his speech, Oh it had its share of sound bites, the obvious ploy of dragging up Mrs Thatcher, granted not quite as bad as the socialists still blaming her for the state of the country after 11 years of red government, but all in all I was disappointed especially as he should have used it as the starting gun for the next election.

I still cannot identify the clear blue water we might have expected, most of his words focussed on reaction to Gordon Browns homily of the previous week, there really is very little difference between Mr Cameron ‘s version of the New Tory party and the established left, would that it were not the case.

Where were the definite commitments to tax reductions, not just the possibility, if the economic forecast improves, to be decided later, in the future, possibly? No commitment to a referendum on the EU constitution irrespective of whether it has been ratified by other nations or not. No commitment to repealing the religious hatred legislation or the hundreds of other equally insidious acts passed by this government, I don’t just mean moaning about it, I mean an explicit commitment to repeal them. You see it just wasn’t there.

He seems still intent on perusing his Green agenda by committing to stop the 2nd runway at Stanstead, no mention of curbing the power of councils in their obsession with red zone road charging just a temporary freeze on council tax – not a reduction or a requirement to petition the tax payer before any increase. Well the list is endless

I don’t care if he surrounds himself with old Etonians, I don’t care if he smokes the occasional recreational spliff, I do care that he is a man of substance and not just a Tony Blair clone, anyone seen anymore swallows?

2 October 2008 at 17:52  
Anonymous roman said...

Reading the comments about DC's speech on several blogs, including this one, a common theme is 'why didn't he say anything about xxxxx'.

Well, he spoke for over an hour, which was more than long enough - if he had included a comment on absolutely everything, he'd still be talking!

He definitely is not a Blair clone, and I applaud his speech.

2 October 2008 at 18:48  
Blogger Menelaus said...

Can we just not be liberal? Isn't that what we want? Dear Lord, it's not that difficult.

3 October 2008 at 00:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ruth Kelly standing down from Parliament!

3 October 2008 at 06:09  
Blogger Johnny Guitar said...

"He definitely is not a Blair clone..."

Come off it. Its bloody obvious what he’s up to. At least Blair was good at being Blair (if that makes any sense whatsoever). Cameron’s impression of pre-1997 TB is rubbish. In fairness, I do respect Cameron's attempts to normalise Northern Irish politics by beefing up the Tories on my side of the Irish Sea but apart from that people considering to vote Conservative are doing so because they aren't Labour and aren't Gordon Brown. Sorry, but I’m with Peter Hitchens when it comes to DC: an unprincipled individual who stands for nothing. He’ll probably still be Prime Minister though.

3 October 2008 at 07:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Blair came into power to the tune of"things can only get better".
He stitched us up!.
David Cameron says,I have a plan.
The very words Michael Caine used as the bus hang over the precipice!(the italian job.)Never did know what it was.!

3 October 2008 at 08:00  
Blogger Tomrat said...

DMK,

Given that the unregulated free market has got us into this current mess,...

Gyahhh!!! There is nothing ruddy free about the market! Why does the left continue to believe this is a failing of the free market when it has never existed? The carte blanche power of the state and the EU over all aspects of our lives has given them overbearing control of the markets; instead of (rightly) regulating important aspects of the market (like monopolisation, corporate manslaughter, responsibility and externality dumping) they have taken to fiddling around the edges with the unimportant stuff like market exclusion (an example: my company has to sell separate but fundamentally identical products to multiple sites around Europe, incurring HUGE additional costs in marketing, regulation and production), the shape of consumer goods (remember the bendy banana or weights and measures fiascos?) and tariffs/price controls. The irony is that by messing with these natually evolving aspects of the market they miss the actual areas that need some control; our banks got to the size where their collapse causes massive damage, fractional reserve banking supplants the gold standard causing the rise of fiat - virtually worthless - currency, which drives inflation; BASEL II accounting practices are enforced causing institutions to find new ways to lie, then the governments find new ways to cover up their own inadequacies and powerlessness, inevitably making us poorer for the experience.

No DMK, there is nothing free about the present market philosophy.

Your Grace,

I want nothing to do with DC's brand of "conservatism lite"; you dont need a paternalistic edge to real libertarianism as it is self-amending - his is some thirdway horlocks which is little more than the fulfillment of the hegelian dialectical synthesis of political power - look up the group "common purpose" on the internet and you will see which way the main parties are taking us.

The only conclusion to make here is the abandonment of the old guard completely.

lpuk.org

3 October 2008 at 09:17  
Anonymous Adrian P said...

I noticed on certain question that he said I will not do that, this occured in a TV interview.
Surely our system should be that it is not up to him alone.
Too many MP's, most of them in fact simply follow the party line, when they should be representing us, not the wishes of their Global Elite Puppetmasters.

3 October 2008 at 12:39  

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