Alex Massie

Cameron the Radical?

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Apparently the new issue of Prospect carries a piece by Philip Blond of Demos in which

He calls on Cameron to lead a massive redistribution of power and wealth, to restore Britain’s “lost” civil society and local pride, to break up monopolies, protect small businesses and promote microfinance and self-improvement for the poor.

If this sounds radical and distinctly un-Thatcherite, it’s because it is. But, Blond points out, as late as August 2008 David Cameron was promising to be “as radical a social reformer as Margaret Thatcher was an economic reformer.”

This confuses me, since a lot of it sounds pretty Thatcherite to me. Self-improvement? Check. Small businesses? The grocer's daughter was all in favour of them, surely? Suspicion of monopolies? Well Thatcherism was always a little more Friedrich Hayek than Milton Friedman. Granted, Cameron's professed (that is, I'll believe it when I see it) committment to localism runs somewhat contrary to the Thatcher revolution's centralising instincts but in general I think you see here a kind of merging of the One Nation and Thatcherite streams of Conservative thinking in a kind of grand bargain. Granted, there are times when much of this can seem rather too woolly, but in general it's a pretty encouraging trend. And in any case, playing social reformer to Maggie's economic reforms isn't to repudiate Thatcherism; rather it's to partner it.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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