May 13, 2010
Dancing with the Devil: David Cameron's Path to PowerBy Chris Powell
We Brits have a new Prime Minister, but conservatives are muted in their celebrations. Over the last week we have watched our beloved party dance with the devil and form a formal coalition with the Liberal Democrats -- the most left-wing party ever to approach government, and a party who will prevent the new coalition from doing anything remotely conservative.
The election should have been easy for the Conservative Party. Gordon Brown was one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers of all time. Labour had allowed and encouraged complete social meltdown, an unwieldy welfare state, and out-of-control immigration, not to mention handed huge chunks of power to the socialist European Union and wrecked the economy.
There has been a British tradition since the rise of the Labour party during the war years, and it is unwritten and often unspoken -- much like our constitution. The tradition goes that Labour sweep into power on fantastical left-wing promises, such as compassionate policing and huge welfare programs, which, after drunken spending binges, results in a hangover of social breakdown, an exhausted Treasury, a stagnant economy, and out-of-control unions. At which point Britain realises it is in trouble and hits the panic button. Then the Conservatives come in, cut spending, encourage business growth, and increase social cohesion -- and Britain starts to work again. It happened after Attlee's power cuts and food shortages of 1947, Wilson's strikes of the late 1960s, and Callaghan's Winter of Discontent in 1978-9. It was supposed to happen in 2010 as well.
So what happened? With the deficit at 12.6% of GDP (crisis-stricken Greece's is currently 12.7%) and debt levels approaching an eye-watering 80% of GDP (rocketing from under 30% in 2001 and around 20% under Thatcher) and forecast to be well over £1 trillion by 2011, this election should have been child's play. A "Tory" government promising a tough stance on immigration, no nonsense on the European super-state, tough spending cuts, and a relief on business taxes in order to get the economy moving would have brought a sweeping majority unseen since the first Thatcher reelection of 1983.
But we had "Dave" -- as David Cameron has become known. His philosophy has become known by critics as "Daveism," "Cameronian" (as an adjective), or simply "Daveguff." Dave's changes to the party have been well-documented already -- the rejection of Thatcher, the strong environmentalist tint, vague on tax cuts, soft on crime, image-heavy, all over a general rejection of anything specifically conservative.
Those of us who objected were told not to "quarrel" or "divide." With an initial burst in the polls that took the Tories to a twenty-point leader shortly after Dave's ascension to the leadership, it was difficult to argue with -- the right of the party were silenced.
This was made worse by the small Cameronian clique centralizing power and candidate-selection. One-hundred "A-listers" (known as "Cameron's cuties") -- bright, young, fresh, liberal, and (of course) "diverse" parliamentary candidates, often with no experience or knowledge of the area in which they were placed, were forced onto local communities by HQ as candidates for some of the safest seats, pushed ahead of other, true conservatives who had campaigned for years in local areas.
While the "Cuties" may have been ethnically "diverse," their views were not -- they all sang from the same hymn sheet of Daveguff, with its "compassion," "progressivism," and the sickening enviro-slogan, "Go Green, Vote Blue!"
The head of the A-listers was Joanne Cash, parachuted into Westminster North -- arguably the cushiest winnable seat in the 2010 election -- who was especially notable for having no experience in politics. Some speculated that her marriage to Octavius Black, one of Cameron's oldest friends, may have been a factor. Cash was especially noticeable for being quite a nasty piece of work. A rather public bust-up with her local party activists resulted in her calling Head office, getting Dave to sort the mess out, and then triumphantly tweeting "RIP Dinosaurs" and "Its official, DC has changed the party!!!!" after party heads scolded the local activists for speaking out.
Soon, Cameron's poll numbers started to drop. Cameron had turned the election into a popularity contest, not one based on principle. Yet the more the public found out about Dave, the more they didn't like. The high levels of spin and slick imagery put off a public still bored of it from the Blair years -- they detected the lack of principle that characterises Daveism as well. In addition, Dave's upper class Etonian background came across as condescending and out of touch to many people, especially in the North and in Scotland, where the Tories hoped to break through.
Then came the rise of golden boy Nick Clegg from the Liberal Democrats during the TV debates. Clegg's fresh face and ability to come across as the "anti-political" candidate meant he was able to challenge Dave for the "nice guy" badge while hiding his own socialist agenda. With less than a month to go, the electorate seemed sure they didn't want Gordon Brown, but they weren't so keen on Dave, either. Panic set in, but it was too late.
The morning after the election revealed the dreaded "hung parliament." The Conservatives had won the most seats but were nineteen short of the 326 needed for the majority, a damning indictment of the failed Cameronian revolution.
Analysis condemns Daveism even more. Tory candidates chosen locally actually did very well, winning seats they were not expected to win -- it was Cameron's Cuties that let the side down. Out of the 100 A-listers placed in some of the safest seats in the country, a stunning two-thirds failed to get elected. The much-worshipped Joanne Cash was brutally defeated in Westminster North, sending shockwaves around Conservative Party HQ. Dave himself must have cringed when he saw her concession speech -- a bitter tantrum at the media that ended with the words "So for the record, press -- you are on notice. No more lies!"
Cameron's strategy of taking the "right-wing" vote for granted also backfired, as many chose to vote instead for the small U.K. Independence Party (UKIP). In seats where Tories lost by slim margins, it was calculated that if 70%-80% of UKIP voters (most of whom are disaffected Tories) voted Conservative in those seats instead of UKIP, the Tories would have won 21 more seats, which would have given them an outright majority and a proper government. Dave's snubbing of the right of the party had spectacularly backfired.
Britain's future is unstable. In typical Dave fashion, Cameron instantly jettisoned any remaining dignity, snuggled up with the hard-left Liberal Democrats in a coalition, and has given them a whole range of concessions and Cabinet seats. We now face the horror of a Tory government appointing anti-American Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister, and rich-hating Vince Cable in the Treasury, and that's just for starters.
The value of pound sterling has taken a downward turn in the last week, and the markets are in panic. Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has stated very seriously that we are months, maybe weeks away from becoming Greece. Britain desperately needed a strong Conservative government, and has instead a bizarre soup of conservatives and socialists -- the responsibility of such an outcome rests on the shoulders of the new Prime Minister..
Chris Powell is the pseudonym of a U.K. author.