Magazine article The Spectator

What Cameron Must Do Now

Magazine article The Spectator

What Cameron Must Do Now

Article excerpt

The arrival of a prominent new figure in national life is always greeted with a period of experiment among the nation's political cartoonists. It is not yet clear quite how David Cameron will come to be depicted, though the image that is emerging is of a slightly cherubic fellow with full cheeks and round eyes. Perhaps that does not quite do him justice. Mr Cameron's political countenance, meanwhile, is likewise a work in progress. Greatly though his success is to be welcomed, not least in the opinion polls, the fact is that he has taken up his new position with a less clear political identity than perhaps any leader of a main political party in modern times. We know that he would, quite rightly, like to see more women Tory MPs and want to talk more to the inner cities. He describes himself as a 'liberal conservative'.

But we cannot yet be sure whether he is a free-marketeer or an interventionist, nor whether his promise to pull Conservative Euro MPs out of the federalist grouping in which they sit in Strasbourg is the sign of genuine dislike for the centralisation of power within the EU.

At present Mr Cameron seems to be enjoying his political ambiguity. When the Observer visited him at home shortly before Christmas he easily batted away difficult questions by saying that 'all policies are under review'. We greatly admire the new Conservative leader's ease with interviewers, and are much taken with his charm, which has proved attractive to all kinds of Britons who normally dive for the remote control whenever a politician appears on the screen. But David Cameron will not be able to duck questions of policy for long. The strong possibility of further government defeats in the Commons over the next few months will see to that.

The first of these will be education. David Cameron's first pronouncement from the dispatch box as Conservative leader was that he wished to seek a consensus on the government's education White Paper, which proposes to free schools from some aspects of local authority control. It was left to Mr Blair to remind him that there still exists a huge ideological gulf between Labour and the Tories over the issue of academic selection. In fact, far from granting schools more independence to select their pupils on academic merit, the government's White Paper promises further to enforce a comprehensive selection policy.

Disturbingly, Mr Cameron already appears to be ditching his belief in allowing schools a free policy on selection: 'Representing, as I do, small towns with one or two schools, the last thing you want is for one to be a selective school and the other not to be. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.