The Economist endorsed David Cameron: The British Conservative Party, the obvious choice for an indebted Britain!

Posted on May 7, 2010 by


Article Written By Rémy-Christophe Mariotti

I come to contemporary British politics a neophyte.  Not only is this Prime Ministerial election my first venture into the vast and fascinating world of politics in the UK, but heretofore my knowledge of the subject was limited to my youthful enfatuation with the Baroness Thatcher and a few architectural details about Westminister that I remember from a high school Art History course.

I come, therefore, untainted by a British upbringing, British sensibilities, British biases, or years of socialisation among peers, at school, or via party publicity and propaganda.  My curiosity is genuine and my outlook fresh.  In the interest of full disclosure, however, I’ve never hidden my libertarian-conservative tendencies and approached this election with a natural inclination toward the Tories and their youthful and compelling leader, David Cameron.  (Another one of those “full disclosure” caveats: I’m a sucker for young and energetic politicians.  Don’t hold it against me!  I think it’s human nature.)

I’ll be the first to admit that my initial approach to the elections was highly unscientific, much like that of the average voter.  That’s why I decided to delve more deeply, reading all I could from British news sources, from the three major contenders’ bios, and from their party platforms.  These are my conclusions.

Despite my conservative bent, I was a fan of Tony Blair’s.  Not necessarily on foreign policy, where he ill-advisedly followed his friend and ally into Iraq and Afghanistan; not necessarily on domestic policy, where he enacted a national minimum wage, a levy on privatised utilities, and pumped more money into Britain’s NHS; but he was a pragmatic politician and leader, who deftly sailed the seas of domestic politics, reinvigorated his atrophied party, proved his committment to his international allies, was tremendously well-respected in the community of world leaders, and even did a few things domestically that I very much approved of: no rise in income tax, a diminished VAT, curbed inflation and interest rates, a more muscular application of the penal code, and aided in the transformational devolution of the United Kingdom at the institutional level, establishing the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales, and the Northern Ireland Assembly.  He remains today an inspirational and influential agent on the international stage.

Gordon Brown is no Tony Blair.

Aside from being dour and quick to anger (neither of which are substantive criticisms of a world leader, but definitely have a pernicious effect on the PM’s diplomacy and on this writer’s humble opinion of him), I take issue with several of Mr. Brown’s policies while in residence at 10 Downing Street.  The nationalisation of banks during the reccessionary period; the release of the Lockerbie bomber; Labour’s shocking implication in the extensive and noxious Parliamentary expenses scandal; staunch opposition to privatisation of government services; an extension of Britain’s already massive entitlement system; elimination of the 10% income tax bracket, forcing those taxpayers into the 20% category; and all-too-believeable accusations of staff bullying.

Now, of the two remaining parties in any serious contention, Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats has garnered the most media attention.  The LibDems caught the public eye, not least beacuse of their charismatic leader and their status as the non-establishmentarian, outside party.  This initially floated Clegg and his party, at least until halfway through the widely-watched and game-changing televised debates.  That forum – the first of its kind in modern British electoral history – gave the television-watching and internet-savvy British voter insight into the three leaders’ perspectives, policies, and styles.  Gordon Brown, although bold and decisive in his speaking manner, couldn’t summon an adequate defense for tenure as PM, relying mostly on bluster and angry finger-pointing; David Cameron, a polished Old Etonian, gave generally bland and repetitive answers, and only truly shined in the third and final debate; and Nick Clegg, for all the media attention received and independent allure, lost both when he voiced his support for large-scale immigration amnesty, an unusually supportive view of the European project across the Channel, and – despite some very encouraging rhetoric in defense of individual rights and freedoms – general support for a continuation of Britain’s more socialist policies.

Reasons why the LibDems’ fame (and eventually vote-count) didn’t stick?  Policies.  Platform.  Substance.  Viability.  They just weren’t there.

And then there was Cameron.

David is anything but a lack-luster conservative.  As leader of the Conservative party and a true-blue Tory in every sense of the word, Mr. Cameron is of course a fiscal conservative.  But, as he has repeatedly made clear to journalists in speeches and in writing, he is much more than that.  As a member of the media-labelled “Notting Hill set,” he also harbors more progressive sensibilities, comensurate with his station in Britain’s socially-active upper class.  Although a pronounced admirer of that great Conservative icon, the Baroness Thatcher, his priorities in the environment, work-life balance, and international development put him further in the center than the archetypal Thatcherite, and much more en vogue, too.

Where does Mr. Cameron – ostensibly this writer’s candidate of choice – stand on the issues?  He believes in the reduction of taxation and a cut in public expenditure; passionately in favour of free trade and an open economy; is a strong proponent of deregulation of the private sector; proposes a reduction in the national corporate tax from 25% to 20%; is pro-life; fights to toughen prison regimes; pledges to make the bloated NHS “more efficient, more effective and more patient-centred” by granting it increasing independence from the Department of Health; endorses the creation of largely-independent city academies with independent control over admissions and curriculum as a method of improving inner-city education; and argues passionately for limits in welfare payments in favour of individual initiative.

Most impressive to me – both as a libertarian-conservative who votes according to his values, and a non-Brit who respects the long and distinguished history of the UK and wants nothing more than its return to functionality and global excellence – is Mr. Cameron’s vision for a “Big Society” to the detriment of the “Big State.”  This, in my humble opinion, is the most transformational concept of these elections, and undoubtedly what makes David Cameron stand apart from his two frumpy opponents.  The Big Society that Mr. Cameron loving describes is one in which the central government devolves much of the domestic decision making to municipalities, local councils, and even the average Briton himself.  MPs are held accountable; police chiefs are directly elected; constituencies can vote to veto tax hikes; public sector employees can take over the services they deliver; patients can choose from an expanded list of healtcare providers; parents can come together to make their own schools.

This is the England of David Cameron.  This is the UK that will thrive again under his broad-minded, pragmatic, conservative, and internationalist tenure.

I join the Daily Express, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, the Sun, the Times, the Economist, and the Spectator in their endorsement of David Cameron for Prime Minister.