James Forsyth

The Cameron project is more intellectually interesting than we appreciate

The Cameron project is more intellectually interesting than we appreciate
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David Brooks is the most influential American newspaper columnist and his column today is a paean of praise for George Osborne. He praises Osborne for offering not just pain but a “different economic vision — different from Labour and different from the Thatcherism that was designed to meet the problems of the 1980s.” He goes on to argue that Cameron and Osborne’s responsibility agenda is something that the Republicans should copy.

This isn’t the first time that Brooks, who Tim Montgomerie identified as a guru for Cameron back in 2007, has applauded the Tories.  Back in the Spring, he said that Cameron’s attempt to position the Tories as the party of society was the right response to centralised, left-wing thinking embodied by the Obama administration.

Brooks’ interest in the Cameron project is proof that it is more intellectually interesting than we sometimes appreciate. As Matt put it in his column on Sunday, “Cameron proposes nothing less than to wean this country off its apparently unbreakable dependency upon the state, centralism, welfare, and rule from Whitehall: the corrosive habits of half a century.”  

The most important development of the conference season is that Cameron has now made explicit his belief that ‘big government’ is the problem. If he is elected, it will be with a mandate to roll back the state. To my mind, this is why parts of the left that were happy to engage and flirt with Cameronism have now turned on it.