David Cameron has been the leader of the Conservative Party since December 2005 and appears to be a direct attempt to clone Tony Blair and the effect he had on the Labour Party. So like Blair he has been charged with ´modernising´ his party and making it appeal to as wide a set of people as possible, or in other terms making it conceivable to elect a Tory government again. This is clearly no small task, the Tories are seen as backward and representative of a Britain which most of us don´t recognise and that´s because they are backward and representative of a Britain which most of us don´t recognise.
So like Blair before him David has to change his party to compete, Blair successfully veered from left-wing through centre and into right so can David do the same in reverse? Well he´s trying to give that impression but clearly it´s been a struggle since with all the major issues of the last few years, especially Iraq, the Tories agree wholeheartedly with the government position.
Watching the last three leaders of the Tory party fail so spectacularly in opposition was great amusement but its dangerous when the government is largely unopposed, and while in Scotland the SNP were the opposition to Labour, in England the Tories remained in that position almost by default. The SNP provided a decent opposition to Labour in Scotland and consequently they won the recent election and took power. The Tories have struggled to have that kind of effect in England and it is largely because they agree with most of what the government has done, they might argue over specifics or delivery systems or re-organisation but that´s about being seen never to agree rather than because of any genuine belief or principle (if you believe Tories can have principles).
So with Hague ridiculed over his baseball cap ten pint drinking fiasco, Ian Duncan Smith just mysteriously fading away like a wisp of smoke in a breeze and Michael Howard finally cornered and staked by Van Helsing enter David Cameron.
According to his own youth-tastic website "He spent almost seven years at Carlton Communication plc, one of the UK´s leading media companies, where he was Director of Corporate Affairs and served on the Executive Board."
Finally the Tories have someone who may understand the public image and its revolting importance in today´s Americanised politics. So Cameron has a similar friendly vicar act to Tony Blair but he´s also in touch with the youth and cares about the environment. So we get things like Webcameron which features wee video blogs of Cameron visiting places and generally being a bit of a condescending prat.
Cameron has a perfect Tory background, he went to Eton and Oxford, his family are ludicrously rich from the world of finance and he´s even descended directly from King William IV. He went from uni into a job with the Conservative Research Department. So what, you may ask, is different about David Cameron and all the other snivelling over-privileged greedy scumbags sitting on the Tory benches?
Well for a start he got caught smoking weed at school, reportedly continued to smoke throughout uni and may even have dabbled with charlie. He also claimed to be in favour of a report on overhauling drugs policy which recommended downgrading E from class A to B. However in reality if he ever gets power he won´t do anything positive about drugs law and is already distancing himself from this position, in fact he said, on the Jonathon Ross show no less, that he was not in favour of legalising drugs.
He describes himself as a "compassionate conservative" which is quite clearly an oxymoron. What he means by it is that he cares about us all, he goes on about ´social justice´ quite a lot and promises to make it happen and most unusually for a Tory he wants to safeguard the NHS and somehow make it independent from the government.
His big non-Tory policy is the environment which he claims to be passionate about to the extent he arranged a lot of photos in the papers of him cycling to work then got accused of spin when someone also photographed his official car which was following along behind carrying his clothes and documents.
He has supported same-sex marriage, wants to improve attitudes towards the disabled and has a far more gentle view of immigration than Count Howard did. All quite odd for a Tory. On the other hand he is a Unionist, wants to avoid the EU and loves war or as he calls it ´spreading democracy´.
He´s also against ID cards but then spoils it by being a fox hunter and claiming he would overturn the ban.
So for the most part Cameron is a traditional Tory he has just thrown his support behind a few popular issues which while generally accepted as the obvious way to go by the general public are still believed to be up for argument by out of touch Empire throwbacks in the rest of his party. The truth is despite all of his stylish spin and posturing Cameron is part of the tiny super privileged minority who still think they have a right to power and he has surrounded himself with people from his school days.
Ultimately he is a Tory and that should be reason enough to never vote for him, I don´t believe he would take action on the issues he´s been talking up, it wouldn´t surprise me to find that an independent NHS actually means selling it to an American company and its easy to talk about improving the environment without actually doing much about it, MP´s have perfected this art over the last few years. Sadly though I´m guessing the fact he got voted into the top 100 sexiest men in some stupid magazine poll and has such a carefully cultivated public image will see him do well against Brown.
He just reshuffled his shadow cabinet today in response to Brown´s cabinet announcements and he has added some women and some younger MP´s. Over the last couple of weeks though the Tories have had a few embarrassments and they clearly aren´t a united force behind Cameron. The funniest upset was Quentin Davis switching to Labour from the Tory party, he´s been a Tory MP for 20 years and says he no longer knows what the party stands for "It has no bedrock. It exists on shifting sands. A sense of mission has been replaced by a PR agenda."
Combine this run of poor form with the news that Brown is climbing in the popularity polls since taking power and you can see Cameron still has a lot of work to do.