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David Cameron - man and his politics worth watching?





deanhills
I have a great respect for Britain's new Prime Minister, David Cameron and was wondering whether others feel the same about him, i.e. is his politics worth watching? I can understand what he is talking about, and even more than that, like the way he is walking his talk, i.e. working on reducing the UK deficit for example. What inspires as well is his simplicity of words, and total confidence and self-assurance.

There is a very good article in Time Magazine this week, which is not available online yet, but probably will be soon. What is available however is an interview with Cameron by the author of the article, Catherine Mayer. The interview focuses on Cameron's first official visit to the US, what he plans to discuss with Obama, comments about BP and plans to remove British troops from Afghanistan:
Time Magazine Interview with David Cameron
jwellsy
Thanks for posting that. He doesn't get much news exposure where I live. He sounds pretty level headed. I hope his actions match his words. That interviewer asked some really good questions too. A lot of American politicians should watch him for leadership style tips. I'm looking forward to hearing more from him.
Bikerman
LOL...I always find the difference between US perceptions of our lot and UK perceptions quite amusing. I was pretty sure the US would like Blair - all style and no substance. Now it is Cameron - all ad-lib and no script.
Cameron is basically the Tory answer to Blair. Both Blair and Cameron had exactly the same role:
a) appeal to home-counties women (upper-middle class women in the south-east and south of England who are a really important demographic electorally)
b) modernise his party and make it more electable
c) not scare off the money-men

Cameron was selected after the Tories catastrophically lost the last election (before this recent one) to Labour for the 4th time. Blair was selected after Labour lost the 4th election to the Tories in the 80s/early 90s.

Cameron's political priority is to make the right-wing Tory party more 'cuddly' and therefore electable by smoothing over or even reforming some of the more right-wing stuff and making lots of noises about how caring and green the party is. Blair's mission was to make the left-wing labour party more 'capitalist', by ditching the socialist underpinnings and adopting a market-friendly philosophy for Labour.

Blair had John Smith to do a bit of preparation for him (John was a proper Labour man who became leader of labour in the early 90s but tragically died - leaving the way open for Blair (1994). Cameron has been chucked-in at the deep end after a series of no-mark Tory leaders of no real merit or personality.

Now the differences - Blair won a very large majority in 1997, whereas Cameron lost and had to cobble-together a deal with Cleggs SDP/Liberals - something for which he lost a lot of Qudos in his own party. You must realise at this point that Labour were a dead duck under Brown - immensely unpopular - and were obviously going to get stuffed as everyone knew for months before the election. Yet Cameron couldn't get even a small majority. The press had been predicting a large Tory majority for months before the election so the result was a bit of a kick in the teeth for Cameron.

Blair wasn't really a Labour person and Cameron isn't really a Tory - neither are actually very Political (big P) - in the sense that neither is particularly tied to any political philosophy and both are more than ready to ditch principle for pragmatism when required.
Both rely on charm and good looks to a very large extent. Blair probably had a bit more substance to him, but it is early days for Cameron so he may actually develop a political personality given time (at the moment he is still in the 'please like me, I'm a really nice man...honest' phase. That will soon pass - it lasted about 16 months with Blair).

Cameron's major problem is holding together the current coalition - a task I think is way beyond him (I predict it will collapse within the next 6-12 months in an implosion of bitterness and name-calling).
At the moment it is barely holding together - the SDP/Liberals are widely perceived by many of their former supporters as treacherous turncoats who can no longer be trusted. Previously their greatest asset was that, never having been in power, they were untainted by harsh and unpopular policy decisions and 'box fresh' - they could promise pretty much anything in the sure knowledge they would not be elected and not have to actually do it. They have blown that for good - currently polling less than 13% (and the Labour opposition haven't even elected a leader yet).

Cameron is therefore in the position of needing to keep Clegg on-board which means keeping Clegg happy to cut his own throat, by making sure that the razor comes in an important box with ministerial gravitas, and surrounding him with people who are very good at nodding yes, whilst pretending to be serious analysts giving him the 'bad news'.
It is quite amusing in a macabre sort of way, like a crash in slow motion - you can't help but look on with fascination.....
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Cameron's major problem is holding together the current coalition - a task I think is way beyond him (I predict it will collapse within the next 6-12 months in an implosion of bitterness and name-calling).
Let's hope your prediction will not come true. I'm crossing my fingers for Cameron and Clegg to succeed as they seem to be working with focus on national interest as a common ground.

Your views about the SDP/Liberals and apparent lack of cooperation between Cameron and Clegg are contrary to Cameron's description of their relationship, so does this mean that Cameron was lying during the interview?
Bikerman
Not lying - he's a politician and they try to avoid direct lies and prefer to stick within the literal truth whilst twisting every phrase to give another impression...it is quite a skill actually.
I haven't seen the interview but I doubt he tells any factual lies - it will be more a case of being "economical with the actualité" as the former Tory wideboy Alan Clarke put it, when he was caught out in a lie Smile

My description is pretty accurate so you will have to judge for yourself whether he tells blatant lies.
This is how the 'quality' press are reporting events:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/22/tory-lib-dem-coalition-cabinet
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/07/lib-dems-tories-hit-2009-poll
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/together-at-chequers-but-this-was-the-week-that-the-coalitions-honeymoon-ended-2034325.html
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
Not lying - he's a politician and they try to avoid direct lies and prefer to stick within the literal truth whilst twisting every phrase to give another impression...it is quite a skill actually.
I haven't seen the interview but I doubt he tells any factual lies - it will be more a case of being "economical with the actualité" as the former Tory wideboy Alan Clarke put it, when he was caught out in a lie Smile
Probably you need to see the interview. As he very deliberately informs everyone of how very well the coalition is working. Backed up with reasons why it is working so well. No avoidance here. Very specific statements.

Bikerman wrote:
My description is pretty accurate so you will have to judge for yourself whether he tells blatant lies.
This is how the 'quality' press are reporting events:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/jul/22/tory-lib-dem-coalition-cabinet
http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/07/lib-dems-tories-hit-2009-poll
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/together-at-chequers-but-this-was-the-week-that-the-coalitions-honeymoon-ended-2034325.html

Thanks for the links Bikerman.
gandalfthegrey
I don't feel David Cameron is trustworthy. He failed to secure a majority because the majority of the British public who also share some trepidation about him, this despite the unpopularity of Gordon Brown and Labour. Most Brits voted for the Conservative Party and not David Cameron. Those who were looking for leadership voted for Nick Clegg from the Liberal Democrats.
deanhills
gandalfthegrey wrote:
I don't feel David Cameron is trustworthy. He failed to secure a majority because the majority of the British public who also share some trepidation about him, this despite the unpopularity of Gordon Brown and Labour.
Maybe you do have a point. Now that I am thinking about it, he did not feature that strongly as an opposition leader. More like saying what people would like to hear. Anyway, will give him the benefit of the doubt as a new leader. I hope for the sake of the Brits that he and Nick Clegg will succeed together. I think it took guts to start off by cutting expenditure, as well as the cabinet taking a pay cut, and so far, I am impressed for that reason. Just hope it is not going to create an avalanche of union problems and strikes as a result.
Bikerman
<correction> Most Brits did not vote for ANY specific party - that's sort-of the reason why we have a coalition. The Tory party got 36.1% of the vote. About 1 in 6 people in the UK voted for them (per capita) - or about 1 in 4 of the adult population</end correction>
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
<correction> Most Brits did not vote for ANY specific party - that's sort-of the reason why we have a coalition. The Tory party got 36.1% of the vote. About 1 in 6 people in the UK voted for them (per capita) - or about 1 in 4 of the adult population</end correction>
Does this then mean that they voted for leaders instead? I.e. is this correction with regard to gandalfthegrey's posting? Or are you saying the same thing, except yours is more detailed with regard to percentages and outcomes?
Bikerman
The leader (Cameron) is elected by a combination of MPs and party members.
Nobody votes for him as PM - apart from his own constituents.
Technically people vote for a local candidate and when all is counted the party with the most candidates elected is invited to form a government. Whoever is leader of that party will normally become PM.
In practice many/most people vote on party lines whoever the local candidate is. I actually disagree with Gandalf in that I think a lot of people voted because they liked Cameron rather than they like the Tory party - but I also partially agree in that there are in any case a hard-core Tory vote who will vote for a turnip, so long as it is a Tory turnip. Cameron was supposed to add enough to that to get a majority - he failed.
I was correcting the statement that a most (majority of) people voted for a particular party/candidate. They didn't. a majority is >50% and no party has polled that in my memory or even to my knowledge.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
The leader (Cameron) is elected by a combination of MPs and party members.
Nobody votes for him as PM - apart from his own constituents.
Technically people vote for a local candidate and when all is counted the party with the most candidates elected is invited to form a government. Whoever is leader of that party will normally become PM.
In practice many/most people vote on party lines whoever the local candidate is. I actually disagree with Gandalf in that I think a lot of people voted because they liked Cameron rather than they like the Tory party - but I also partially agree in that there are in any case a hard-core Tory vote who will vote for a turnip, so long as it is a Tory turnip. Cameron was supposed to add enough to that to get a majority - he failed.
I was correcting the statement that a most (majority of) people voted for a particular party/candidate. They didn't. a majority is >50% and no party has polled that in my memory or even to my knowledge.
Thanks for the details. That is very informative. You mention that nobody voted for Cameron, except his own constituents, and they voted for local candidates instead. So why would you say that Cameron failed in not getting more votes, if people tend to vote for local candidates? That would appear to be outside his phere of power then, and should probably be seen as a general election problem, rather than Cameron's failure?
Bikerman
As I said - the system is designed so that people vote for their local candidate BUT IN REALITY many vote for the party they wish to win, regardless of the local candidate. Cameron's main role, and the reason many MPs elected him, was to be the Tory Blair - young, handsome and charming - and attract people to the Tory party. That is why they took a risk by electing him (he was completely untested in office, very inexperienced and has never held any of the top jobs (or the shadow role) in politics which one normally sees a future PM in - chancellor, home secretary, foreign secretary.

In that he has failed. He was up against a dead-duck Labour party and should have easily got a majority - all the polls were predicting one. The fact that he didn't is seen by many of his party to signify that the experiment was not worth it. Many of them are very right wing and really want nothing to do with Cameron's 'touchy-feely' type of 'one nation' Conservatism. That was supposed to have died when Thatcher came to power. As Cameron has tried to move the party more to the left, he has made substantial enemies on the right, and his failure to get the all-important majority gives them the ammunition they need to plot in the background and build up support for his eventual over-throw.
deanhills
Bikerman wrote:
In that he has failed. He was up against a dead-duck Labour party and should have easily got a majority - all the polls were predicting one. The fact that he didn't is seen by many of his party to signify that the experiment was not worth it. Many of them are very right wing and really want nothing to do with Cameron's 'touchy-feely' type of 'one nation' Conservatism.
I still don't understand why it was Cameron's failure though? How did he personally fail, if the election became a three party election? Was that not the real reason that the Conservative Party lost so many votes?

A political commentator recently went on a fact finding trip in the United States and found that most people in their thirties are completely cynical about both the Republicans and Democrats, and find the two party elections unrealistic. He predicts that in the next few years there will definitely be a new party that will be a serious contender, which obviously would then result in three way elections. If and when that happens would one then make it the personal failure of any of the leaders of the Dems or Republicans, or just a political fact of life?
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