Posts Tagged ‘Economist’
March 31st, 2010 at 2:16 pm
Getting to Know David Cameron’s Inner Edmund Burke

In the next six weeks Britain will go the polls and most likely pry Gordon Brown’s fingers off the levers of power.  The Economist thinks his successor will be the Tory leader, David Cameron.  The magazine offers a closer look at the Conservative Party’s answer to Tony Blair.  Though Cameron takes many positions that suggest a taste for government intervention, he also seems to possess a subtle debt to Edmund Burke, the philosopher-politician who argued for tradition, order, and the importance of the family.

British society, so his critique goes, is broken. The cause is the erosion of responsibility (his favourite word) by a hyperactive state. He is at his most animated when justifying his (arguably overstated) social pessimism, pointing to “our records against the rest of Europe on things like teenage pregnancy and drug abuse, alcohol, family worklessness, educational problems”. The analysis is open to criticism: the societies he sees as unbroken, including many in continental Europe, spend more on welfare than he would want to or can afford to.

The cure, he says, is giving power away, strengthening local government and empowering people directly by, for example, letting them set up their own schools. He is undogmatic about the precise size of the state, deploring instead its over-centralisation; he prefers a big society to a big state. It remains to be seen whether that will bring relief to the overburdened public finances.

If he becomes the next British Prime Minister, David Cameron could do much to counter President Barack Obama’s juvenile treatment of America’s most important European ally.  If he expands his cultural critique into a governing philosophy that returns power to citizens, he’ll outshine The One on style and substance.