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Has Cameron made his last “liberal Conservative” speech?

October 9th, 2011 Posted in Nudge Dredd by

Am I the only one who is getting increasingly annoyed at the two-faced Cameron that seems to be emerging ?

On the one hand he urges us all to engage with his Big Society project – insisting that this is about “treating adults like adults” and asking people to “take responsibility for their lives” – but falls back on nannying and legislation at the first sign that society isn’t marching to his new tune quite as quickly as he would like.

Back in 2009 – before he was elected he was very clear that society was broken because big government interfered too much:

Why is our society broken? Because government got too big, did too much and undermined responsibility”…. “But this idea, this approach, that for every problem there is a government solution, for every issue and initiative, for every situation a tzar….”….”you know the biggest problem with this big government, it’s not the cost, though that’s bad enough, it’s the steady erosion of responsibility and it is our task to lead Britain in a completely different direction”

Even in February 2011 his mantra was still along the lines of personal responsibility:

“The big society is about changing the way our country is run. No more of a government treating everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions. Instead, let’s treat adults like adults and give them more responsibility over their lives.”

“And the big question we have to ask ourselves is this: do we want a country where politicians, bureaucrats and the powers-that-be treat everyone like children who are incapable of taking their own decisions and taking responsibility for their lives? Or do we want a country where we treat adults like adults, and give them more power and more responsibility over their lives?”

Now it all seems to be about government getting involved in the way people bring up their children, introducing another consultation into tobacco (plain packaging), stopping all “explicit” advertising on hoardings and even considering a FAT tax for everyone (despite the fact that back in 2008, when on the hunt for votes, Andrew Lansley said “..Providing information is empowering, lecturing people is not. So, no excuses, no nannying..”).

Now Cameron tells us…. “…we’ve got to be less sensitive to the charge that this is about interfering or nannying”.

So what on earth is going on?

Do we simply accept that Cameron is a just another two-faced politician who says what ever suits? He may have felt the need to appear “liberal” pre-election but is, at heart, an old fashioned Tory that can’t help but look down his sneery nose at those who are too fat, too chavvy or too stupid to help themselves and knows in his heart that Nanny knows best?

Possibly. He has an interfering gene in him that’s for sure – having a go at WHSmith for putting chocolate oranges at the check out, BHS for its sale of tiny tots padded bras, Lily Allen for her song lyrics etc.

But if we do believe his stated desire to be a “liberal Conservative”  why is he seemingly being tossed from pillar to post, wanting to be liberal, but overseeing an increasing number of policies that are anything but?

I really don’t know. Perhaps he has given up on the fight with the Tory right. Perhaps he doesn’t have sufficient control over his Ministers to ensure that departments stick to the plan. Or perhaps his Ministers don’t have enough control over the Whitehall bureaucrats that ultimately formulate policy. It’s possible Cameron’s reliance on polls and focus groups have driven him into the arms of Mumsnet/Mothers Unions/ASH/BMA.

Whatever the reason, it looks right now as though Cameron has decided to leave liberalism to the Liberals.

He is seemingly being tossed from pillar to post, wanting to be liberal, but overseeing an increasing number of policies that are anything but.

16 Responses to “Has Cameron made his last “liberal Conservative” speech?”

  1. mdc Says:

    You’re looking for some kind of ideological party or even Cameron-specific explanation. But all politicians are like this. These policies could just as well have been announced by Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, the BNP… maybe not UKIP for some of them, but that’s about it.

    Whole political class justifies its existence on the notion it knows best. Obesity and smoking are fads at the moment. Sexual puritanism has come back, just couched in feminist language rather than Judeo-Christian language. These are general trends, not just Cameron or the Tories.

  2. Angela Harbutt Says:

    I would accept that as a generalism – but when leader sets out to change the national perception of the entire party – bangs on about it pre and post election and then seems to waver I think it is worthy of note.

  3. Robert Eve Says:

    Give me an old fashioned Tory anyday rather than a ghastly liberal.

    Trouble is Dave is a liberal – he in in favour of gay marriage for heavens sake.

  4. Angela Harbutt Says:

    jeez are there really still people who are anti gay ? or is just the marriage bit?

  5. James P Says:

    With people like Robert Eve supporting Conservatives you can see why no one really trusts the Tories whatever Cameron tries to do.

  6. Jonathan M Says:

    mdc is of course right. It is always cock up not conspiracy

    Cameron is a managerialist with no fixed opinions worth fighting about, except his being PM. He has been sat on by received opinion because those are the people he speaks to now, whose good opinion he expects.

    This is the political class reasserting itself – nothing to do with Cameron. The man is a moral vacuum filled by the nearest gust of wind.

    If you want liberalism (in the pre WW2 sense) your only hope is UKIP, you haven’t a hope in hell from Hughes or Huhne if that’s what you suppose. There aren’t five MPs in the current HoC who would support personal responsibility over an approving headline from the “bien pensant” consensus.

  7. Angela Says:

    UKIP – Any party that has a stated policy that it will REQUIRE UK schools to teach Britain’s contribution to the world (including British inventions and Britain’s role in fighting slavery and Nazism)!! needs to take long hard look at itself.

  8. Jonathan M Says:

    Do you object to teaching:-
    a) Invention?
    b) Fighting slavery?
    c) Fighting Nazism?

  9. Jack Hughes Says:

    Cameron’s ideas are not based on a coherent ideology nor on a pragmatic view of what the nation needs.

    Instead they are based on what will sound nice at a north London dinner-party with Polly Toynbee and assorted BBC staffers.

  10. Angela Says:

    Jack – You may well be right but that is no reason – in my opinion – to continually allow politicians generally, and David Cameron in particular, to get away with it. If we give up and shrug our shoulders at such behaviour nothing will ever change. I am not saying that I can change it – but if enough people point out such hypocrisy when we see it then we may stand a chance of changing it.

  11. Psi Says:

    @ Johnathan M

    Clearly Angela was referring to REQUIRING schools to teach certain things. Allow a free market in schools and they will cater to what parents want rather than have to dance to the latest politically imposed tune.

  12. Jonathan M Says:

    So if a school in Dagenham say wanted to teach Nazism or condemn the abolition of slavery that would be alright would it?
    Just checking how libertarian you go.

  13. chessnuts Says:

    @Jonathan M
    No it wouldn’t be ok which is probably why in the highly rare chance that such a school would be set up, it would be stigmatised by society around it, and no parent would want to take their child to such a school (besides, they would teach it to their kids regardless if they wanted…), and good luck finding teachers willing to indoctrinate Nazism at a school that hasn’t a glimmer of hope for success.

    But that’s just my opinion. I’m about as liberal as they come.

  14. Lotus 51 Says:

    @ Jonatahn M
    “If you want liberalism (in the pre WW2 sense) your only
    hope is UKIP”

    UKIP website- UKIP will..”oppose disestablishment of the Church of England”

    So imposition of a particular religion by the state is “liberal” is it?

  15. Jonathan M Says:

    @Lotus 51
    Establishment of a church is not imposition. It is official recognition.
    In what sense are you imposed upon – frogmarched to Sunday School perhaps or forcibly dunked in a font? No – made to marry then? Not that either.
    I had forgotten that pre WW2 Liberals were all Dissenters first and foremost.

  16. Jonathan M Says:

    Hiding in the unlikely is no defence.
    If a group of BNP supporters set up a school in Dagenham or Burnley and recruited BNP teachers to teach racism and misogyny would you support its right to exist and their right to receive State funding like other schools?
    Yes or no?