David Cameron: The Anti-Role Model

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on June 9, 2009

david-cameronMy colleague, Ben Domenech, has penned an article discussing why–despite the seeming certainty that the Tories will eventually sweep to power in Britain (their recent successes in the council elections, and the successes enjoyed by the center-right in elections for the European Parliament likely help the Tories)–American conservatives should not look to the example set by David Cameron to revive the conservative movement here in the United States:

. . . Cameron hasn’t actually pushed for anything resembling a coherent agenda or the remaking of the Tory party in policy terms. He’s about rebranding, not reenvisioning — and Cameron’s current pending success isn’t because of ideological consistency, a reputation for cleaning up messes, or even offering common sense answers to the burgeoning issues of the day. It’s because his political enemies are committing a particularly gruesome form of public hari kari.

This is a fantastic path to political success, but it’s not one that can really be adapted. Despite a few attempts to advance his toughness, the word most used among British conservatives for Cameron is still “wet.” He’s viewed as a weak figure, one preternaturally vulnerable to the negative opinions of others. Canvassing a group of center-right thinkers in Britain today, one finds an astonishing lack of insight into what Cameron will actually do once the reins of power are transferred in the way of real reform. He’s given lip-service to a lot of ideas, of decentralization and more local control — but few on the center-right view Cameron as a strong voice of leadership on any of the economic issues motivating voters today.

I’d love to disagree with Ben. Alas, I cannot. I wrote this over three years ago, on Cameron’s inadequacy as a prophet of conservative revivalism. Little has happened to change my mind. To be sure, David Cameron would be an improvement on Gordon Brown. But then, at this stage, anyone would.

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