Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 7 December 2005

The Conservatives have a new Leader ... and he can perform

I've just been watching David Cameron during his first outing as Leader of the Conservative Party at Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) and thought he performed extremely well. I think I detected a very slight nervousness (or parhaps bashfulness might be a better word) when he stood up to ask his first question, but he very quickly seemed to find his stride - his rebuke to Hilary Armstrong (Labour Chief Whip) for barracking him immediately he stood up, and his patience until he was satisfied she would allow him to continue without further such childishness, was quite refreshing. His technique of seeming to agree whole-heartedly with Tony Blair, and his promise to support the Government's Education Bill, despite whatever opposition Blair may provoke from his own Party with some key aspects of his proposals, demonstrated that Cameron has a strategy to discomfit the Prime Minister - quite interesting and amusing to watch. Cameron's remark that Blair had been "the man of tomorrow, once ..." was quite telling and provoked a wry smile from the PM himself. It was by no means a walkover for Cameron, of course, as Blair performed pretty well himself, specially because he sensed (at least on this occasion) that his normal bluster against the Opposition could no longer work, when his new opponent was unwilling to join him in the usual ya-boo style of exchange which has characterised PMQs.

A fine start, then, for David Cameron. His election as Leader yesterday by a two to one margin over David Davis (Cameron 134,446 votes/68 per cent, Davis 64,398 votes/ 32 per cent) should give Cameron the ability to implement the changes he wishes to make to Conservative Party policy, but we have so far only the broadest outline of what his plans entail in practical terms. For myself I am cautiously hopeful that his brand of consensus-style politics, and his avowed desire to regain the centre ground of British politics, may allow the Conservative Party to improve its electoral prospects with policies that I can pretty whole-heartedly support. However such support is somewhat premature until David Cameron fills in many of the policy gaps, or at least provides a more detailed picture of what he proposes than he has revealed so far. I did download a membership application form from the Party's website yesterday, but I won't be filling it in and sending it off just yet - before I re-join I want a little more clarification ...

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