October 22, 2005


Blair can show us way to power, says Cameron (Rachel Sylvester and Alice Thomson, 22/10/2005, Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron says today that the Conservatives will regain power only if they build on the political revolution brought about by Tony Blair.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the front-runner in the Tory leadership race says his party must stop behaving as if the voters got it wrong at the past three elections.

"When he became Labour leader, Tony Blair understood what Margaret Thatcher had done to change the country," he says. "The Conservative Party has to understand why it has lost three elections in a row and what Blair has achieved over the last eight years. We can't turn the clock back to 1997 and pretend it has all been a bad dream." [...]

His views will infuriate some traditionalists but he says his party must move into the 21st century to survive.

"There are some in the party who believe that the pendulum will swing back," he says. "But the Conservative Party has no right to office. It exists because it has principles and ideas and policies that attract people."

Mr Cameron, the champion of the modernisers, says: "Margaret Thatcher did amazing things for Britain but there will be a new generation of voters at the next election who were born after she left office. We are facing a new era and we must respond to it."

He adds: "There is an attitude among some that all the Conservative Party has to do is to shout a bit louder and hate modern Britain a bit more and everyone will come rushing to the standard - and I just think that is not part of the problem; that is the problem."

Now we know what Michael Gerson has been up to, Bush Says GOP Must Turn From Negativity (Terry M. Neal, October 6, 1999, Washington Post )
Texas Gov. George W. Bush today criticized his party for espousing negative rhetoric, failing to portray a message of inclusiveness and forgetting that conservative policies should benefit those left behind in an affluent society.

Bush's remarks, during a speech on education, marked the second time in a week that the Republican front-runner has challenged his party to rise above the perception of it as a repository of uncaring and mean-spirited ideology. Last week, he stunned many supporters on Capitol Hill when he denounced a congressional GOP budget plan that would save money by deferring tax credits for the working poor.

"Too often, on social issues, my party has painted an image of America slouching toward Gomorrah," told his audience at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. "Too often, my party has focused on the national economy, to the exclusion of all else, speaking a sterile language of rates and numbers, of CBO and GNP. Too often my party has confused the need for limited government with a disdain for government itself."

He then declared: "This is not an option for conservatives. . . . Our founders rejected cynicism, and cultivated a noble love of country."

As he has throughout this early stage of his campaign, Bush used today's speech to stake out the middle ground in American politics and distance himself from the GOP's right wing. Though Bush has stood with his party on a number of key issues, he has taken opportunities to show that his style of conservatism has a softer edge.

In presenting his second major education initiative, Bush explained how his "compassionate conservatism" would translate to real policies. While his ideas generally hewed closely to long-favored conservative themes, such as school vouchers and charter schools, he indicated his intention to avoid some of the party's hot-button rhetoric and ideas. [...]

Bush's education proposals and his overall message defy standard political orthodoxy that says Republican candidates must run to the right in seeking their party's nomination and move back to the middle for the general election. In Bush's case, he has already moved to the middle -- a luxury his strong front-runner status affords him. By attempting to redefine conservatism, analysts say, Bush has effectively adopted his own brand of triangulation, the term originally used to describe Clinton's political strategy. [...]

House leaders declined to comment on Bush's remarks, though some said privately they believed they were aimed more at Patrick J. Buchanan and other conservative presidential aspirants rather than at Congress.

Last week, campaign spokeswoman Mindy Tucker said Bush was not trying to distance himself from the unpopular Congress, but simply expressing his disagreement on one relatively narrow policy matter. Today, communications director Karen Hughes insisted that Bush was not attacking the GOP but the image created by partisan foes. "There's recognition that conservatives have been misportrayed," she told reporters. "There's recognition that there is a public perception that our party is mean-spirited."

But when a reporter today asked Stephen Goldsmith, Bush's senior domestic policy adviser, about the line in Bush's speech suggesting the party had confused the need for limited government with a disdain for government itself, he said: "It's intentionally in the speech, and it was meant to send a message."

Bennett, who is advising Bush but has not endorsed anyone, said: "What he wants is a broader party with a different message and never yield the high ground of compassion to the Democrats. They don't deserve it."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2005 7:48 AM
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