The Mid-Atlantic Blog

December 10, 2005

Is David Cameron Harold Macmillan In Lycra?

A very strong (and quite long) article in Sunday's Business, which much repays a close read, looking at the prospects for centre-right parties across the globe.

On successful first steps on policy:

But image is not everything; Mr Cameron realises that. He has started to roll out new working groups to develop fresh policies, though his own views remains largely unknown. Some of what he says has been encouraging, some less so. His plan for a US-style National Security Council could bring a breath of fresh air to Tory thinking on defence and terrorism. He is right to stick to his plans to pull out Tory Members of the European Parliament from the European People’s Party, an uninspiring, ultra-federalist group of Christian Democrats, European Constitution lovers and advocates of big government.

On environmentalism:

Mr Cameron was also right to launch a policy group on the environment and quality of life, though the manner in which he has done it raises alarm bells for his whole approach and already represents a wasted opportunity to reframe the debate.
While the Left believes that being Green means rejecting the market and economic growth (and, in extremis, to embrace a new Marxism which rejects even domestic trade, all economic growth and seeks a drastic reduction in the world’s population), the Right should seek to harness free markets and technology to solve environmental problems, hand in hand with a rigorous cost-benefit analysis of environmental policies. But Mr Cameron has already gone badly wrong. Instead of trying to think outside the Left-Liberal mainstream on the environment, he is courting fashionable organisations such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth which basically despise the market economy, can never be appeased and will inevitably turn against him.

and later...

But in appointing Mr Goldsmith and John Gummer, the Green movement’s tame Tory (whose main contribution to recent politics was memorably to force-feed his four-year-old daughter a hamburger at the height of the outbreak of mad cow disease), to spearhead his re-think on the environment suggests Mr Cameron is capable of heading in the wrong direction. Indeed, if Mr Cameron means what he indicates he will soon be to the Left of Labour on several critical environmental issues.

and more...

He should instead learn the lesson the Republicans grasped decades ago in the United States: to create real and lasting change for the better, the terms of the debate must be shifted. Fighting the Left on the Left’s terms, as he seems determined to do on the environment, is a recipe for disaster.

The piece ends with the suggestion that Cameron could end up as a Harold Macmillan, who it then blames for many of the problems of the 1970s.

Let's hope not. But meanwhile read the whole thing.

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