Britain: 'Give People Control'
Weymouth, Lally, Newsweek
Byline: Lally Weymouth
David Cameron, a fresh-faced 39-year-old graduate of Eton and Oxford, was elected leader of Britain's opposition Conservative Party five months ago. His attempts to change and move to the center the once mighty party of Margaret Thatcher got their first real test last week at the polls. The elections were local but had national repercussions. Overall, Cameron's Tories got 40 percent of the vote. Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour Party, after nine years in government and beset by a series of recent scandals and missteps, got only 26 percent--trailing even the Liberal Democrats. NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth spoke to Cameron in his office. Excerpts:
WEYMOUTH: What do last week's election results say about your party?
CAMERON: I think the Conservative Party has broadened its appeal, and we are showing that we can challenge the government for power at the next [national] election.
Is it fair to say you've changed the direction of the Conservative Party and are leading it away from Mrs. Thatcher?
Tony Blair changed the Labour Party, and that changed everything. It's difficult when someone adopts some of your language, but I've been reconnecting us back to modern, compassionate conservatism.
Some reports have called you anti-business.
I am not remotely anti-business.
You've emphasized the environment.
I think the environment is important. A center-right party must lead on the environment.
How do you differ with Blair in regard to Europe?
I don't want to see a European superstate, and I am opposed to Britain joining the euro.
How would you change Great Britain?
I would give people more control over their own lives and communities by trusting people and sharing responsibility. Tony Blair has centralized power and imposed the highest tax burden in history. I would share the proceeds of growth between investment in public services and lower taxes. …