June 26, 2008

THE BRAND IS THATCHERISM...:

Cameronism: The Tory leader has done a brilliant job rebranding the "nasty party", but he has yet to come up with a coherent political philosophy - or anything especially new. Richard Reeves on the continuing Conservative makeover (Richard Reeves, 26 June 2008, New Statesman)

If Labour politicians were a bit worried in 2005, they are terrified now. Unless there is a significant change in the political weather, Cameron is set to be prime minister within two years. For a long time, Labour refused to believe that Cameron was executing a brilliant strategy to return the Tories to office by reshaping Con servatism. Cameronism is real - as real as new Labour, or the Third Way - and is likely to be the guiding light of the next government.

As a political strategy, Cameronism represents a largely successful attempt to detoxify the Tory brand. Andrew Cooper, the Tory modernisers' favourite polling guru, spent years presenting evidence to party elders showing that people supported various Conservative policies - until they were told they were Conservative policies. Cameron was the first leader to understand this. The first two years of his leadership was like a sorbet between courses, intended to cleanse the electorate's palate of late Thatcherism. It consisted of a relentless marketing exercise to dem onstrate that Cameron was, variously, a "compassionate", "modern", "liberal", "centre-right", "practical" Conservative: and that he was leading his party in the same direction. At his boldest, Cameron has claimed himself as the true "heir to Blair". He and colleagues such as Oliver Letwin now audaciously claim to be pursuing "progressive ends by conservative means".

Now the bitter taste is gone, tougher policies on welfare, immigration and public services can be pursued without being dismissed as typical products of the "nasty party".


...you just need to make it seem a bit ladylike to market the same ideas.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 26, 2008 7:48 AM
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