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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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David Cameron Becomes Prime Minister.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I cannot believe that I have just witnessed David Cameron standing on the steps of Number 10 as the new Prime Minister. I almost came of voting age at the 1997 election, and can remember the relief and celebration that met the arrival of New Labour on the scene, Tony Blair pressing hands through a sea of flags. The present moment seems so very different, no defining instant of change but an elongated process of negotiation, manipulation and indecisiveness, the latter on the part both of the electorate and the elected. Cameron made a powerful, persuasive and humble speech, to the background of boos and jeers. Those noisemakers probably suspect that his moderate words merely gloss over the fundamental values of the party he leads, a dormant ideological beast that is still feared by the public: a party of whom 43% were privately educated, of free-market millionaires, of those who believe that society is fundamentally broken, but that those who are the poorest are the least worth fixing with the aid of the state.

It is of course impossible to predict accurately what will happen next; we don't even know the precise terms of the Lib Dem coalition, or who will comprise Cameron's cabinet. But in a perverse kind of way, I fear that Cameron's government will actually prove to be rather more centrist in this first term that it might instinctively otherwise be. Remember that this is the party that wants to cut inheritance tax for millionaires and that opposes tax rises in order to reduce the squeeze on public services; this is a party that insists that the country is broken; this is the party that is resistant to the forces of globalisation to which they are nevertheless in thrall when it comes with money attached; this is the party that is least likely to impose stronger regulations on the banks.

The ironic thing is that we might well expect all these measures to be qualified or even cancelled under the alliance with the Lib Dems. Surely, one condition of the Lib Dem coalition will be that the tax break for millionaires will not appear in the first budget. Certainly, the vision of the Conservatives (who are, to be fair, certainly less right wing than before the Cameron era), will seem less provocative to the two-thirds of left wing voters who did not endorse the Tories last Thursday, now that they have the Lib Dems in tow.

As I posted previously, I do not see that Nick Clegg had any alternative other than supporting the Conservatives in forming a working government. But, strangely, I fear that Cameron as Prime Minister of a minority Tory party has a better chance of a second term (however soon the next election comes) than Cameron as Prime Minister of a fully-fledged, right-wing, Tory powerhouse. As the muted response to Cameron's place outside Number 10 implies, and as the election percentages clearly indicate, Britain is a progressive place that believes in a substantial and supportive public sector.

Without the Lib Dems, the old Tory party's genetic instincts may well have destined them to erode the latter in a way that might make them unelectable for another decade, as the Thatcherite repressed return in the full belief of their ideological right to govern, privatise and cut. With the Lib Dems tugging them towards the centre, though, the Conservatives may well have become not only feasible, but reasonable.

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Posted by Alistair at 8:06 pm


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I give up on this country Im leaving good bye
Its so unfair, I was born during the Thatcher years, and my parents suffered hard to bring me up.
Then it was time for the good old War Party who sided with two known War criminals, Bush and Cheney.
Labour who basically iqnored everyone let the property market go out of control, and made life almost impossible for young people to manage,
and now........
not for me thank you
I am going to the USA to be a personal trainer

ps sorry for my spelling and grammer
my state schooling was really bad, under the torys

10:00 pm  

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