James Forsyth

Brooks: Cameron is the right alternative to Obamaism

Brooks: Cameron is the right alternative to Obamaism
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David Brooks is, to my mind, the most perceptive American commentator. He is a conservative who understands Obama and what he is trying to do. So, I was particularly interested by his remarks on the Charlie Rose show where he said that Cameron’s emphasis on society is what the right should offer as an alternative to the enhanced role for the state that Obama is advocating:

“we now have two models. We have the Obama model, which is technocratic, sending teams of experts to solve problems. Very centralized, actually. And then if you want the alternate model -- the Republicans in this country unfortunately have no model because they haven’t thought about it, or they haven’t thought productively about it.

But there is another model. And that is David Cameron, the British conservative leader in Britain. And he says if you’re going to be the centralized state, I’m going to be society. Capitalism is not good enough. It needs to be embedded in institutions. And you’re going to champion the technocrats in government; I’m going to champion every other institution in society, whether it’s family, career associations, every other -- the church -- every other association you can think of. I’m going to be the society party and going to make you the state party.

And I do think that is a natural alternative. But the consensus that both has, which we didn’t have even in the Clinton years, was that we used to think the market was the dominant economic structure in society, and basically functioning and just.

Now I think it`’ hard to maintain, and so we need a market, but we need it embedded in some source of order and authority. And it`s either going to be the government or social institutions.”

The emphasis on rolling forward society has been one of the hallmarks of the Cameron leadership. If, and it is a big if, he can succeed in making the Tories “the society party” and Labour “the state party” then he will achieve a realignment in British politics. He will also show the right the way across the English-speaking world.

Tim Montgomerie indentified David Brooks as a guru for Cameron back in 2007.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

Topics in this articleSociety