Saturday, April 08, 2006

Denial of Downside

What a depressing experience- I just completed what the Conservative Party website calls its Built To Last online 'survey'. Its an odd sort of survey; there are a series of mind-numbingly banal propositions which you have to rate, from 'strongly disagree' to 'strongly agree'. The propositions go along the lines of 'We modern, compassionate Conservatives are for beautiful modern flats for all 18 year olds'. Who on earth is going to 'strongly disagree' with that? None of the propositions were 'We want all Grannies beaten to within an inch of their lives', strangely. If you've been reading a lot of Lib Dem literature lately none of the ideas espoused will be new to you. Why isn't David Cameron leader of the Lib Dems again? This whole 'right leader, wrong party' lark is getting old...

Sadly, for conservative Conservatives its all bad news. That is mainly because along with all the denial of reality we have come to associate with the Lib Dem world, David Cameron has added a new denial- denial of downside. Most effective policies have a downside for somebody. Many really essential policies may have a downside for everybody in the short or even medium term. Thats just how the world is. But not in the half-light world of DC. Its cake and pies for everybody, a veritable garden of Eden, a wonderland where nobody has to pay the gas bill and its always the first day of spring.

Unfortunately for Mr Cameron, most conservative people in Britain are just too darned boring and sensible to believe in that hogwash. They know that very often a necessary measure will bring pain to some part of the nation. And thats how it should be presented to the public. Honestly, and with humility, but out front.

Over and over again, Mr Cameron says he wants to empower people, give them more control over their lives. Sensible, practical people know there are only two ways to do that: first, don't take away the money that gives them the power in their lives and second, don't hem their lives in with the machinery of government. Simple. Thats what conservative people have been saying for many years now, and some, like the great M Thatcher, actually did it. It was painful, and often outraged the lovers of the cushy life paid for out of the public purse, and the occupant of the job for life in some vast bureaucracy. But it was necessary. Mr Cameron never wants there to be any more pain- he never wants there to be a downside for anyone ever again. But thats just not going to happen.

Back in the 90's there was a name bandied about for the guy who wants to be everybodies buddy- he's a people-pleaser. Mr Cameron is one of those. Winston Churchill: compare and contrast.

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