October 9, 2011


British Leader Pushes for 'Can-Do Optimism' and Faith in Austerity Path (JOHN F. BURNS, 10/05/11, NY Times)

Mr. Cameron's speech amounted to something of a rite of passage. In five years as the party's leader before the 2010 election, he often seemed out of step with the Conservative mainstream as he worked to reposition the party on the political center ground that Labour dominated in winning three successive elections.

But his "heir to Blair" approach -- a self-conscious imitation of the centrist political style of Tony Blair, the Labour prime minister for 10 years until 2007 -- did not always sit easily with the Conservative heartland. Voices within the party also complained about Mr. Cameron after Labour denied the Conservatives an outright majority last year, saying he ran a middle-of-the-road campaign that left voters unsure of what he or the Conservatives were offering.

But the uncompromising tone from the prime minister and a broad representation of his cabinet at the Conservatives' conference suggested strongly that despite policy concessions to their left-of-center coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, nearly a year and a half in office had removed much of the wavering.

On a wide range of Britain's hottest political issues -- the economy, education, crime, immigration and welfare, to name only a few -- the policies proclaimed at the conference have carried the party's new brand of "radical reform," characterized by an emphasis on thrift, discipline, accountability and a pervasive loosening of bureaucratic controls.

Mr. Cameron and his advisers appear to believe that currents of disarray in the Labour Party -- whose annual conference last week was marked by boos at the mention of Mr. Blair, the most electorally successful leader in the party's history -- has given the Conservatives the time to make their policies succeed.

That much seemed clear from Mr. Cameron's promise of an eventual return to prosperity. "Our plan is right, and our plan will work," he said.

Likening the austerity program to building the foundations of a house, he added: "I know you can't see it or feel it yet. But this is the crucial point: It will only work if we stick with it."

...until and unless Labour reclaims its Thatcher/Blair recent past it isn't a threat to a Thatcher/Blairite Tory Party.  But, eventually, the Tories will tire of being the governing party and they'll veer back Right, leaving the opening for a Labour Party that has veered away from the Left.

Posted by at October 9, 2011 8:21 AM

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