Rovian Cameron?

From The Economist‘s survey of the Cameron Conservatives:

The strain of Conservatism that Mr Cameron embodies has thus become unfamiliar. It is pragmatic, incremental, willing to adapt to win and keep office. This is the flexible Conservatism of Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th-century prime minister, combining his awareness of the needs and votes of the lower classes with the gradualism of Edmund Burke, who articulated Tory alarm at the French Revolution. It is a Conservatism that is sceptical of state power and favours market solutions, sound money and patriotism—but all in moderation. This is perhaps the real contrast between Mr Cameron and David Davis, who left the shadow cabinet last month to dramatise his disgust with Labour’s erosion of civil liberties. Both believe in the principle he wants to defend, but Mr Davis really believes in it.

My sense is that there is nothing wrong with an “awareness of the needs and votes of the lower classes.”


Mr Cameron also talks about establishing new “social norms”—using signals from government to establish healthy models of behaviour. He cites the success of previous campaigns against drunk driving as a precedent. In Glasgow on July 7th, Mr Cameron talked with new stridency about personal responsibility and “moral choice”.

Whether intractable social problems can be solved quite so magically is open to doubt. But a future Tory government would probably lack the cash for costlier solutions.

This is worth keeping in mind, particularly when people like me complain about the failures of the Bush Administration. Liberals often point to the vast sums spent fighting the Iraq War. As someone who believes that the Iraq War is worth fighting, I keenly sense that it has constrained our options on the domestic front, certainly in the short term.