Navigation – Plan du site
Political Parties: Strengthening their Identity, Adapting their Image
Government Parties: Winning and Holding Power

Cameron’s Tories : Talking Conservative, Acting Radical

Le Parti conservateur de David Cameron : conservateur dans le propos, radical dans l’action
Harry Cheesman

Résumés

La politique mise en place par le gouvernement britannique de coalition Conservateurs-Libéraux démocrates, lors de sa première année d’exercice, a fait montre d’un radicalisme auquel Mme Thatcher elle-même se serait refusée, avec un programme, dans les domaines de la santé et de l’éducation, modifiant les fondements de la relation entre l’État et l’individu, et un euroscepticisme affirmé semblant plus profond encore que celui des années Thatcher. La prudence de la « Dame de fer » vis-à-vis du système national de santé est connue, et alors que l’introduction de frais d’inscription universitaires n’a jamais vraiment été envisagée par son gouvernement, celui de Cameron n’a pas hésité à les tripler. En quoi cela nous renseigne-t-il sur le conservatisme de David Cameron ? Cet article cherchera à montrer que, sous la direction de ce dernier, les Conservateurs, tout en s’inspirant de Mme Thatcher dans un grand nombre de domaines, ont, en réalité, fait preuve d’un zèle réformateur qui contraste de manière surprenante avec la prudence de leur héroïne, tant leur attitude prend à revers l’un de ses principaux enseignements : plutôt que de souscrire à la doctrine selon laquelle il convient d’être « radical dans le propos et conservateur dans l’action », le parti de M. Cameron est davantage susceptible d’être « conservateur dans le propos et radical dans l’action ».

Haut de page

Entrées d’index

Index géographique :

Britain

Index chronologique :

20th and 21st centuries
Haut de page

Notes de la rédaction

Dans cet article, l'auteur fait régulièrement référence au site https://www.conservatives.com/. Or, ce site a récemment changé de version, les liens vers celui-ci n'aboutissent donc plus sur les pages demandées. Nous vous prions de nous en excuser, nous les actualiserons dès que possible.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Stephen Evans, “‘Mother’s Boy’ : David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher”, British Journal of Pol (...)
  • 2 House of Commons Debate, Hansard, 1 December 2010, col. 813.

1For many observers David Cameron’s Conservative Party, currently governing the UK in coalition with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, are a distinctly Thatcherite affair. One observer has referred to Cameron as “mother’s boy”,1 whilst Cameron himself has said in response to a jibe from Ed Miliband at Prime Minister’s Questions that he would “rather be a child of Thatcher than a son of Brown”.2 It cannot be denied that the coalition government are following fairly strictly in the “direction of travel” first undertaken by Mrs Thatcher’s administration, practising fiscal austerity in response to the country’s deficit, opening up the possibility of the provision of NHS services by “any willing provider”, and furthering a choice agenda in education by allowing parents to set up and run their own “free schools”. Meanwhile the “compassionate” notes in David Cameron’s pre-election “mood music”, on the environment, poverty and international development for example, seem not to have transpired in the creation of any concrete policy.

  • 3 Peter Mandelson, “David Cameron is no Bulldog. Even Thatcher never left the European ta (...)
  • 4 Hugo Young, One of Us : A Biography of Margaret Thatcher, Basingstoke : Macmillan, 1991, 498.

2Yet there was much talk about the manner in which Cameron had transformed the Conservative Party, how he had “detoxified the brand”. Furthermore if anything signalled a new direction, surely it would be a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Yet the UK’s first year of Con-Lib coalition government has seen radicalism in policy which even Mrs Thatcher would have baulked at, with policies on health and education going to the very root of the relationship of state and individual, and a determined Euroscepticism which seems to go further than that of the Thatcher years.3 The “Iron Lady” was notoriously cautious in her treatment of the NHS, whilst the introduction of university fees was never an option seriously considered during her administration ; the Conservatives under Cameron have happily trebled them. What does this tell us about Cameroon Conservatism ? It is the purpose of this paper to show that, whilst in a wide range of policy areas Mr Cameron’s Conservatives have clearly taken inspiration from “mother”, and have in fact demonstrated a reformist zeal which throws their heroine’s caution into surprising relief, that they have reversed one of her key teachings ; instead of following the doctrine of “talk radical, act conservative”4 Cameron’s Tories are more likely to “talk conservative, act radical”.

Detoxifying the Brand

  • 5 Conservative Party, Built to Last : The Aims and Values of the Conservative Party, (...)
  • 6 Stuart McAnulla, “Heirs to Blair’s Third Way ? : David Cameron’s Triangulating Cons (...)
  • 7 Timothy Bale, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s Rev (...)
  • 8 Idem.
  • 9 Alan Finlayson, “Making Sense of David Cameron”, Public Policy Research, vol. 14, (...)
  • 10 Harry Cheesman, “Cameron and Osborne: Radical Policies in Soft Wrapping”, British Politics (...)

3It is practically an accepted fact that David Cameron’s success in leading his party into office for the first time since 1997 was based heavily on his “detoxification” of the Conservative brand. It is certainly true that Cameron placed an emphasis on issues which had previously not been within the discursive purview of Conservative leaders. It has been pointed out for example that David Cameron’s policy document, Built to Last, contained a list of guiding principles which “could easily fit alongside Labour’s own policy documents”, these commitments included : “eliminating poverty through raising quality of life for all ; fighting social injustice ; tackling environmental threat ; improving the quality of public services ; tackling global poverty ; bolstering internal security and human rights ; enabling communities ; and strengthening the party’s links to the wider community”,5 meanwhile Cameron himself claimed to be the “heir to Blair”.6 It has been said that Cameron sought to move away from the so-called “Tebbit trinity” of tax, immigration and Europe, issues which had dogged his party for years, in order to appear more centrist and be seen to offer something new to the public by comparison with his post-Thatcher predecessors ;7 he reminded the public, for example, of his family’s reliance on the NHS in times of need and linked the Party to “counter-intuitive ‘brand signifiers’ like Bob Geldof”.8 Thus was the Conservative brand made more acceptable to the voting public. Cameron was pictured petting huskies at the North Pole, riding a bicycle to work, and admitted a fondness for British indie bands and “keeping it real”, pitching for a group Alan Finlayson would call “bangle-wearing Bonoists”.9 Cameron and his team were heard to talk of the importance of being “fair” and “progressive”,10 those voters concerned by environmental issues were advised to “vote blue, go green”, and though he never said “hug a hoodie”, the very fact that he was even aware of the existence of such a garment suggested a thoroughly modern leader.

  • 11 Simon Prideaux, “The Welfare Politics of Charles Murray are Alive and Well in the UK”, Inte (...)
  • 12 Richard Hayton, “Conservative Party Modernisation and David Cameron’s Politics of the Famil (...)
  • 13 Nicholas Watt, “David Cameron Ignores Alastair Campbell’s Advice as He Does God”, The Guard (...)
  • 14 Andrew Denham & Kieron O’Hara, “Cameron’s ‘Mandate’ : Democracy, Legitimacy and Conservativ (...)
  • 15 Mauro Barisione, “Valence Image and the Standardisation of Democratic Political Lea (...)
  • 16 Timothy Bale, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s (...)
  • 17 Peter Kerr, “Cameron Chameleon and Britain’s ‘Consensus’”, op. cit., 64.
  • 18 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, Oxford : OUP, 199 (...)

4However despite these changes in tone it would be wrong to conclude that Cameron’s party had depicted a “radical” Conservative front in their discursive approach. Thus it is noted that Cameroon Tories were happy to weave familiar Conservative themes into their discourse ; the phrase “broken Britain” was bandied around in a way reminiscent of notorious Thatcherite advisor Charles Murray, evoking notions of a feckless underclass,11 whilst Cameron was entirely comfortable with putting his family into the spotlight12 and, recently, his faith.13 Similarly Cameron, even during his leadership election campaign, allowed some “toxins” to remain within the Tory brand, with the right wing of the Conservative Party wooed with offers of both the recognition of marriage in the tax system and a withdrawal of the Party’s MEPs from the European People’s Party group in the European Parliament.14 Perhaps Cameron was seeking to present himself as “post ideological”15 although it is suggested that Cameron was practising what Tim Bale might call the “‘and theory’ of Conservatism” seeking to incorporate seemingly incoherent ideological elements into the Conservative whole.16 This would suggest that Cameron’s Tories were utilising different ideologies in a pragmatic way rather than merely not being ideological ; that they were indulging in a certain degree of “ideological cross dressing”17 (whilst it almost goes without saying that whilst many politicians claim to be “post ideological”, this state is an impossible one to achieve).18

  • 19 Mark Garnett, “Built on Sand ? : Ideology and Conservative Modernisation under David Camero (...)
  • 20 Timothy Bale, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s Rev (...)
  • 21 Andrew Denham & Kieron O’Hara, “Cameron’s ‘Mandate’ : Democracy, Legitimacy and Con (...)
  • 22 Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, London : Methuen, 1962, (...)

5Another theory regarding this mixed discursive approach suggests that Cameron has inherited a situation in which a radical change in policy itself is impossible to achieve. Perceived as on the left of the Tories, he became their leader on the basis that he was the most palatable candidate to the electorate as a whole from amongst those on offer, rather than any real sentiment amongst Tories that a radically different approach to policy was needed.19 Having not “carried his party with him”, so the theory goes, on the issues which he seemed personally to care about (e.g. social liberalism, the environment, poverty) and seemingly unwilling to confront them in a Blair-style “clause IV moment”,20 the only real change in direction he has been able to effect has been a discursive one. It has even been argued that, despite Cameron’s popularity with the Party, he has no mandate for any significant review of policy, in that popularity with the Party, rather than its MPs, did not produce legitimacy for Edward Heath in 1975, Mrs Thatcher in 1990 or Iain Duncan-Smith in 2003.21 Again this suggests that much of Cameron’s apparent reformism may have been limited to the discursive realm only by political realities. The discourse which ensued seems to exhibit the ideological eclecticism which is perfectly coherent with the conservative “disposition” of Oakeshott,22 appearing to recognise certain emotional attachments (such as that of the British public to the NHS or overseas development concerns) and incorporating Blairite notions such as “progressive” and “equality” to which the public may be said to have become attached, and which Conservatives have so often been so uncomfortable with.

“Theorising Cameronism”

  • 23 Sudhir Hazareesingh & Karma Nabulsi, “Using Archival Sources to Theorize about Politics”, i (...)
  • 24 Peter Kerr, Christopher Byrne & Emma Foster, “Theorising Cameronism”, Political Studies (...)
  • 25 Ibid., 193.
  • 26 Ibid., 196-199.
  • 27 Mark Bevir & Rod Rhodes, The State as Cultural Practice, Oxford : OUP, 2010, 67.
  • 28 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, op. cit., (...)
  • 29 Mark Bevir, Encyclopedia of Governance, Thousand Oaks : Sage, 194-195.
  • 30 Mark Bevir & Rod Rhodes, “Narratives of Thatcherism”, West European Politics, vol.  (...)
  • 31 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, op. cit., (...)

6However David Cameron is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and his party, along with the Liberal Democrats, are the party of government. One year into the Cameron administration, it is pertinent to ask ourselves to what extent Cameron’s Conservatives have talked or acted both radical and conservative, in order to theorise Cameroon Conservatism. It is suggested that by comparing the speechmaking of Conservative ministers during this time with the policies pursued under the Con-Libs, we will be able to determine the extent to which Mrs Thatcher’s “talk radical, act conservative” model has been adhered to. In this regard the author strongly affirms the importance of archival sources in political theorising.23 The investigation which follows takes its cue from a recent attempt at “theorising Cameronism” by Peter Kerr, Christopher Byrne and Emma Foster of the University of Birmingham.24 The authors of this work suggest three complementary strands of analysis within which work intending to theorise Cameroon Conservatism may broadly fall ; “Cameronism as ‘Thatcherism with a human face’”, “Cameronism as depoliticisation and governmentality” and “Cameronism and the cartelisation of political parties”.25 It is the first strand with which this work wishes to engage.26 If Cameronism may be said to have inherited a neoliberal core from Thatcherism, and given it a “human face”, it is legitimate to wonder what that face looks like, and to attempt to map its contours and features. In this endeavour it will be seen that a certain degree of interpretation is necessary to portray the “human face” Cameroon Conservatism gives its neoliberal programme. The author reiterates the insight of Bevir and Rhodes that “[an] interpretive approach suggests that political scientists should treat data as evidence of the meanings or beliefs embedded in actions”.27 It is submitted that this is of particular relevance in determining the extent to which political actors may be said to “talk conservative” and the role this plays in the construction of Thatcherism’s “human face”. The author affirms Freeden’s belief that whilst such a study of speechmaking cannot purport to “be taken as the final and authoritative word on the structure or contents of the ideologies they present, the self-description of an ideology by its adherents cannot be ignored as an important guide to its interpretation”.28 It is hoped that the study will be of value as the “interpretation of the interpretation” of Cameronism by key Cameronite actors.29 Furthermore the author notes the reservations Bevir and Rhodes have about defining Thatcherism in a static way ;30 similarly Freeden’s critique of the “chimera of conservative dualism”, detected in the work of such authors as W.H. Greenleaf, is acknowledged.31 It is however submitted that, given that Cameroon Conservatives may be said to have refashioned Thatcherism in some way, it is relevant to ask what their discursive reaction has been to what is merely one of its elements, in this case the Thatcherite “talk radical, act conservative” approach. It is hoped that, by focusing on this singular theme within Thatcherism, rather than merely comparing Cameroon talk with a “shopping list” of Thatcherite signifiers, it will be demonstrated that practitioners of Cameronism have interpreted “human” as meaning “not radical” and have thus followed a discursive strategy which may be called “conservative”, with a small “c”. In this sense they have departed from what might be called a “Thatcherite” model of the discursive realisation of policy objectives. Nevertheless these policy objectives remain radical in their speed and reformist intent.

Cameronism and the deficit

  • 32 David Cameron, “Together in the National Interest”, Speech to Conservative Party Conferenc (...)

7Cameronism’s defining characteristic is arguably its fiscal conservatism, featuring an ambitious plan to rid the United Kingdom of its deficit within five years (in time for the next general election). There is no doubt that the deficit reduction strategy is radical, indeed one of the most radical in the western world, and is arguably a deeper, faster reduction than any other undergone by the country in peacetime. However the language deployed in pursuit of this policy by key Conservative actors shows a mixed ideological heritage. Thus Cameron’s speech to the Party Conference of 6 October 201032 shows the Prime Minister appealing beyond the economic rationale to the austerity package. He begins by referencing Thatcher’s famous “there is no alternative” (TINA), telling Conference : “I wish there was an easier way. But I have to tell you : there is no other responsible way.”

  • 33 Stuart Ball, Baldwin and the Conservative Party : The Crisis of 1929-1931, New Haven/Londo (...)

8Cameron’s compassion is evidenced ; he “wishes” there was another way, his hand is forced on the issue to the extent that “responsibility” is the motivating factor behind the austerity drive, rather than any ideological intent. Similarly there is a hint of Thatcherite “housewife economics” in Cameron’s suggestion that Labour have “mortgaged Britain to the hilt”. However even this, one of Thatcher’s trademarks, has an older lineage. Unlike the monetarist and privatising innovations of Thatcherism, comparison of a nation’s bank balance with that of a person can be traced at least back to Stanley Baldwin.33

9Later Cameron calls for unity in his campaign against the deficit : “And I promise you this : that if we pull together to deal with these debts today, just a few years down the line the rewards will be felt by everyone in our country.” By conceiving of the deficit as a “national” problem, rather than one pertaining to banks or international finance as some would argue, Cameron is invoking a national responsibility, falling on each person, to reduce the deficit. Appeal to “the nation” is also heard later in the speech when he tells his audience that, along with the economic benefits of austerity comes “that thing you can’t measure but you just know it when you see it, which is a sense that our great country is moving forwards once again”.

  • 34 Stephen Evans, “The Not So Odd Couple : Margaret Thatcher and One Nation Conservatism”, Con (...)

10Thatcher and her ministers would often appeal to patriotic sentiment in her attempts to “domesticate” the “New Right”34 but it would of course be foolish to declare patriotism the ideational property of Thatcherism ; Evans believes it shows the influence of Disraelian “One Nation” Conservatism on Mrs Thatcher. Evans conceives of “One Nation” patriotism as something outside neoliberal economics which “domesticates” them ; indeed this may be said to form part of Thatcher’s own strategy of giving the “New Right” a “human face”. Thus Cameron has learnt a discursive strategy here, but cannot be said to have learnt this from Thatcher, the lineage of appeals to nation being as old as politics itself (and certainly as old as Disraeli).

  • 35 Institute for Fiscal Studies, “New IFS Research Challenges Chancellor’s ‘Progressive Budget (...)

11The speech also features an appeal to a social democratic vision of fairness, with Cameron telling his audience that “it’s fair that those with broader shoulders should bear a greater load”. No matter that the Institute for Fiscal Studies disagrees,35 it is Cameron’s claim that his Party’s strategy of deficit reduction is one whose “load” is distributed fairly according to ability to pay. This is an audacious discursive land-grab from the realms of social democracy, one which is made all the easier by the TINA stance on the necessity of the plan.

  • 36 George Osborne, “Our Tough but Fair Approach to Welfare”, Speech to Conservative Party Conf (...)

12George Osborne’s speech to Conference manages to be just as eclectic in its ideational bricolage.36 Osborne evinces something of the TINA attitude, asking and answering the following rhetorical question : “So, why do we have to sort out the public finances ? Quite simply because we have to. Because any other road leads to ruin.” Meanwhile he demonstrates a neoliberal attitude to the forces of global capital, seeing them as an inevitable force, practically forcing the government’s hand in its deficit reduction strategy :

The world has confidence in the plans we have set out. Vigilant at all times we remain – but there is no panic, no daily dread of the bond market, no paralysing fear that our credit rating could be lost, no immediate danger of a deathly spiral of higher interest rates.

13Similarly Osborne also reduces the nation’s financial situation to the simplicity of a home budget, telling Conference that the nation must be rid of debts because “[it’s] like with a credit card. The longer you leave it, the worse it gets.”

14Nevertheless, despite the Thatcherite heritage of these words (notwithstanding the Baldwinian lineage of “household economics”), Osborne explicitly links his policy of deficit reduction to “One Nation” Conservatism ; and not only via the patriotic means favoured by his leader, telling Conference :

  • 37 Idem.

You know, our opponents say I’ve got an ideological plan. That this whole exercise reflects a particular view of the state. I have to tell you : they’re right. I do have a particular view of the state. I believe in public services. That modern government exists not just to provide resolute security at home and abroad, but also to provide the best in education and healthcare, and support for the Big Society. This is at the heart of my one nation conservatism.37

  • 38 David Seawright, The British Conservative Party and One Nation Politics, London : Continuum (...)
  • 39 Ewen Green, Ideologies of Conservatism : Conservative Political Ideas in the Twentieth (...)

15Thus, whilst Cameron and Osborne reveal an orthodox view of the relation of state and markets, within the bounds of that orthodoxy, they claim to have created both a fair and progressive policy. These concerns are also intermingled with “mythic” “One Nation” sentiments of unity, paternalism and patriotism,38 and are occasionally name-checked as such. In the economic sphere, perhaps the area where the current Tory stance is at its most radical, Cameron and Osborne have attempted to add something of a “value added”. If this is Thatcherism’s “human face”, it consists of “One Nation” paternalism and patriotism, as well as notions of fairness and progressiveness which are surely more commonly associated with social democracy or liberalism than Conservatism (though note that “One Nation” paternalism does not necessarily entail state intervention, nevertheless references to “One Nation” certainly evince a concern for the poor which rightly may be thought only incidental to Hayekian neoliberalism).39 The quotes included above also refer to two of the Cameroon Tories’ most distinctive ideological characteristics, their attitude to the welfare state and the overarching notion of the “Big Society”. It is to these two notions that this discussion will now turn.

Cameronism and the welfare state

  • 40 Norman Barry, “Conservative Thought and the Welfare State”, Political Studies, vol. 45, n 2 (...)
  • 41 George Osborne, “Our Tough but Fair Approach to Welfare”, op. cit.

16The Conservatives’ relation to the welfare state has throughout history been a complex one, with a general scepticism arising from “a sometimes unstable amalgam of moral and efficiency considerations”.40 These two competing ideational sources are present within the words of Cameroon Conservatives on welfare reform. As with many policy areas the current Conservatives have not been content to simply make cuts to welfare and reduce the deficit, and leave their reformism there (though deficit reduction is certainly one of their aims) ; they are also seeking to reform the very institutions themselves. Osborne’s speech to the Party Conference of 2010 makes this intent clear :41

The first truth is that unless we reform our public services, they will decline. We saw over the last ten years that more money without reform was a recipe for failure. Less money without reform would be worse.

17Later on he makes a very Thatcherite appeal for welfare reform, claiming Victorian values and the need for radical reform, and combining these with fairness and patriotic considerations :

But if someone believes that living on benefits is a lifestyle choice, then we need to make them think again [...]. And together we have achieved what no one in our jobs before us has ever achieved : agreement on a radically new welfare state […]. But if this welfare state is going to gain the trust of the British people, it needs to reflect the British sense of fair play.

  • 42 Centre for Social Justice, Breakdown Britain, London : Social Justice Policy Group, 2006.
  • 43 Timothy Heppell, “Weak and Ineffective ? : Reassessing the Party Political Leadersh (...)
  • 44 Ibid., 382-391.

18The ideational fount of Conservative policy in this sphere derives however from work done by former leader Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice, responsible for the influential Breakdown Britain document.42 Set up following his return to the backbenches, it earned him a return to the front bench as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. Breakdown Britain is a tome-like analysis of the causes of poverty in Britain which focused on five principle causes of poverty, including “worklessness and economic dependence”. Duncan Smith’s agenda was somewhat reminiscent of John Major’s “Back to Basics” campaign, focusing on such issues as the role of “family breakdown” as a cause of poverty.43 Just as Major’s initiative was an attempt at renovating Thatcherism via a return to traditional values (and could be seen as his own attempt at giving Thatcherism a “human face”), so Duncan Smith’s analysis of the causes of poverty had a moralistic undertone. However it is instructive to note the manner in which Duncan Smith’s approach differs from that of Major in the way in which it has been insulated from the weaknesses of Major’s “Back to Basics” theme which was “open to expropriation by social conservatives, who used it as a vehicle through which to attack single mothers and preach sexual fidelity”.44

  • 45 Iain Duncan Smith, “Our Contract with the Country for 21st Century Welfare”, Speech to (...)

19Thus Iain Duncan Smith’s speech to the 2010 Party Conference sees him comparing non-working families unfavourably with working ones.45 Of working families he said :

How easy it would be for them to give up and fall back on the state, like too many they see around them. Yet even when times are tight they strive to stay in work and do better for their children. They know that it is right to pay taxes to help those in real need ; all they ask is fairness from the government when they do. Yet instead they see their taxes go to pay for an unemployed family living in a house costing £100,000 in rent.

20Furthermore he evinces a traditionalist concern for the traditional family unit : “They see their money support a system that penalizes mothers and fathers who choose to live together, with their kids.” However Duncan Smith triangulates, demonstrating a concern with the inegalitarian nature of the society created under Labour :

It was one year ago in Manchester that David Cameron gave us this mission. He told this Conference that Labour had made the poor poorer. That it had left youth unemployment higher and inequality greater.

21Yet his conclusion is classically Thatcherite, with Labour’s statism blamed for the youth unemployment and inequality created under Labour :

Labour failed. This is because they trusted too much in the power of the state to solve every problem. They confused being strong with being harsh and fairness with favours.

22Furthermore his explanation of the government’s policy in this field, which he describes as a series of “contracts” with the unemployed, the most vulnerable and the British taxpayers, delineates a notion of fairness based around equality of opportunity rather than outcome – a theme which again runs through Thatcherism. The factors Duncan Smith identifies are input rather than outcome oriented :

Strong, stable families. A school that gives you the skills you need for your future. Work where you can provide for your family. Streets that are free of drugs so that our children can grow up in safety. And freedom from debt.

23Meanwhile the policies to be put into place, enterprise allowances for the unemployed and a single Universal Credit which makes sure that “work will pay”, approach equality from an input rather than outcome viewpoint.

  • 46 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, op. cit., 395.
  • 47 Peter King, The New Politics : Liberal Conservatism or Same Old Tories ?, Bristol : Policy (...)
  • 48 Anthony Quinton, The Politics of Imperfection, London : Faber & Faber, 1978, 12-13.

24Freeden notes that this is a quintessentially Conservative notion of equality, in that it comprehends the market as an “extra human legitimation” of an inegalitarian social order ;46 provided people are given equality of opportunity to take part in this inegalitarian system, a need to produce outcome equality, using what Duncan Smith might call “favours”, becomes unnecessary. Indeed (so this conservative argument goes), attempting to best the social order provided by the market in this way is impossible, which is why, despite Labour’s “favours”, inequality had increased. This stance also reflects something of an organicist view of society, albeit one which sees the inequality-producing market as a spontaneously occurring component of such a society : artificially changing the outcomes of this spontaneous social formation can only be dangerous or ineffectual, in that the wisdom of the policymaker cannot transcend that of the “natural” or organic forces which have brought about its creation in the first instance.47 Only the poor themselves can thus better their own situation. Similarly Duncan Smith’s perception of the inability of “imperfect” human planners to improve the welfare of the poor reflects the key conservative understanding of the imperfectability of human nature.48

  • 49 Harry Brighouse & Adam Swift, “The End of the Tory War on Single Parents ?”, Publi (...)
  • 50 Ibid., 191.
  • 51 Richard Hayton, “Conservative Party Modernisation and David Cameron’s Politics of the Famil (...)
  • 52 Ibid., 499.

25Duncan Smith’s emphasis on the family is, in the eyes of some commentators, an advance on the traditionalist stance associated with the Conservatives,49 affirming the notion that marriage is the best familial arrangement but accepting that, “even if marriage is generally the best arrangement, it is not always the best, and even when it is the best it is not always feasible”.50 It has been noted that, thus far, Cameron has avoided a spat with the more traditionalist element of the Conservative Party over the issue of family, with Hayton suggesting that this element within the Conservatives has been quieted by the Tory leader’s commitment to recognise marriage in the tax system51 and the fact that he inherited a “much more propitious electoral context” than that of previous Conservative leaders.52 Duncan Smith’s reworking of the traditionalist stance, taking a slightly more liberal line on the issue whilst clearly viewing a stable family background as an input condition within a framework of “equality of opportunity”, may be seen in this context, allowing the Conservatives to acknowledge the importance of the family whilst attempting to avoid “the perception that they are willing to legislate their own morality”. His speech to the 2010 Conference thus sees him tell his audience that “[a] government welfare cheque can protect against hardship but can never substitute for a loving parent”.

  • 53 Fran Bennett, “Child Benefit : An Untidy Cut”, Public Policy Research, vol. 17, n°3, 2010, (...)

26However in the same speech he defends the removal of child benefit from certain higher wage earners, ostensibly an anti-family policy which alarmed the right-wing press,53 in two ways, as an element in deficit reduction as well as a pro-family move for poorer, more needy families,

It is in that context we should see the Chancellor’s announcement on child benefit, a decision which is tough, fair and right. There are no easy decisions as we try to get the deficit down but we all suffer if we fail this test – the poorest the most. And I tell you Conference this coalition cannot reach for success by standing on the backs of the poor.

  • 54 Polly Toynbee, “This Conservative Notion of a Universal Credit is a Mirage”, The Guardian, (...)

27Thus a liberal or social democratic notion of universal welfare, embodied for many in such policies as child benefit,54 is sacrificed in favour of the fiscally conservative orthodoxy of deficit reduction in combination with a quasi-paternalist concern for society’s poorest families. Thus the neoliberal (deficit reduction) is combined with a hint of Conservative traditionalism regarding the family and “One Nation” paternalism to defend the policy.

“The Big Society”

  • 55 Phillip Blond, Red Tory : How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix It, Lo (...)
  • 56 Distributism, a political philosophy based on Catholic social theory, recommends the wider (...)
  • 57 Jonathan Raban, “Cameron’s Crank”, London Review of Books, vol. 32, n 8, 2010, 22- (...)
  • 58 David Cameron, “A Voice for Hope, for Optimism and for Change”, Speech accepting the leader (...)
  • 59 Ben Kisby, “The Big Society : Power to the People”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 8 (...)
  • 60 Phillip Blond, “Rise of the ‘Red Tories’”, Prospect, 28 February 2009, available a (...)
  • 61 David Cameron, “We Need Popular Capitalism”, Speech to World Economic Forum at Davos of 30 (...)
  • 62 David Willetts, Civic Conservatism, London : SMF, 1994 ; Ewen Green, Ideologies of (...)

28The Big Society is in many respects David Cameron’s “big idea”. It is not a policy, rather an attempt at articulating an overarching philosophy which explains certain of the Conservatives’ policy decisions. The Big Society has its origins in the so-called “Red Tory” philosophy associated with Phillip Blond55 and his ResPublica think tank. Blond’s philosophy, which owes a great deal to the distributism56 of G. K Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc,57 sees the state as a disempowering force, and seeks a redistribution of capital and power, as well as the responsibility for the provision of public services, throughout society. Cameron has summed up this approach in a helpful soundbite: “There is such a thing as society ; it’s just not the same thing as the state.”58 This phrase alone reflects Cameron’s intent on creating a “post-Thatcherite” discourse (mirroring as it does Mrs Thatcher’s famous “there is no such thing as society” dictum) ; Blond is equally critical of Thatcherite economics as he is of New Labour statism. However on closer inspection, the Big Society project is not so post-Thatcherite as one might think. The parallels between Cameron’s Big Society and Douglas Hurd’s “active citizenship” initiative of the Thatcher administration have been suggested by Ben Kisby,59 whilst Blond’s talk of “recapitalising the poor”60 has a whiff of Thatcher’s “popular capitalism” about it. David Cameron has used the phrase “recapitalising the poor” in a speech to the World Economic Forum at Davos calling for a “truly popular capitalism”.61 Outside of Blond, the “civic conservatism” championed by current Cabinet member David Willetts, which sees the civic potential in Thatcher’s neoliberalism, has also inspired the “Big Society” project.62 It will be seen that the logic of the Big Society has been used to argue for policies which could easily be viewed as radical steps in a Thatcherite direction.

  • 63 Department of Health, “Government Launches NHS Listening Exercise”, Press release of 6 Apr (...)
  • 64 Department of Health, Equity and Excellence : Liberating the NHS, Cm 7881, London : HMSO, (...)
  • 65 Andrew Lansley, “Secretary of State for Health’s Speech to the NCAS Conference”, Speech to (...)

29The Conservatives’ health reforms are one such policy. Fronted by Secretary of State for Health Andrew Lansley, these reforms have proven to be one of the most controversial areas of coalition policy, with opposition having reached such a pitch that the legislative process towards the Health and Social Care Bill 2011 has now been “paused” for a “listening exercise”.63 Nevertheless the Bill has reached Report Stage and without a significant Liberal Democrat rebellion is likely to become law with its principle essence intact. The proposed reforms are certainly radical, providing for a significant degree of GP-led commissioning (GPs would control around £60bn of the NHS budget under the proposals), allowing a “move as soon as possible to an ‘any willing provider’ approach for community services, reducing barriers to entry by new suppliers”.64 Clearly this can be interpreted as the near-privatisation of the NHS, but Lansley and the Prime Minister’s words on the reforms utilise the logic of the Big Society to prepare the discursive ground for the reform. Thus Lansley tells the National Clinical Assessment Service Conference of 5 November 2010 that his reforms reflect a “Big Society approach” :65

A Big Society approach to caring for our ageing population. An approach that shifts power from the state to people and communities. That means giving real freedom and flexibility for the social care profession to find new ways of supporting people. Ways that draw upon the innate relationships and sources of support that lie underused within our communities. It will require a double devolution of power. From Whitehall to Town Hall. And then from Town Hall to the citizen.

30Again the mixed nature of the ideological recipe is notable. There is a clear communitarian backdrop, in particular in the reference to “innate relationships and sources of support that lie underused within our communities”. Meanwhile the “double devolution” of power speaks of the anti-statist element within the Big Society vision. Similarly the individualist empowerment element in Big Society thinking is summed up in Lansley’s principle soundbite (delivered not just at the NCAS conference but in a host of other speeches) : “no decision about me, without me”.

  • 66 Andrew Lansley, “£70 Million to Help People in their Homes after Illness or Injury”, Speec (...)
  • 67 Randeep Ramesh, “Andrew Lansley’s Deliberately Bland NHS Speech was a Strategic Move”, The (...)

31This thinking of course bleeds very easily into the rhetoric of “choice”; Lansley tells the 2010 Party Conference for example that “our reforms will mean”, “Giving patients choice – and not just choice of a hospital. We are giving patients the right to choose their doctor, and their treatment, anywhere which meets the standards of the NHS and costs the same as NHS prices or less.”66 The parallels between this “choice” element and that of the Blair/Brown governments to the provision of NHS services are of course clear, and in fact Lansley’s speech to the 2010 Party Conference sees him critique New Labour’s reforms for their lack of speed, but crucially, not their direction :67 “We have already published comprehensive plans setting out our ambitious vision to improve the NHS – none of Labour’s delays and procrastination.”

32And as in the other areas we have seen, concern for inequality is demonstrated, with Lansley telling the 2010 Conference :

When health inequalities have widened – and men in different parts of Birmingham have a ten-year gap in life expectancy. The question isn’t whether we change. It’s what kind of change we need. Why we are making the reforms.

33Along with this concern for inequalities and a critique of Labour’s lack of reformist zeal, Lansley also reassures his audience that the Tories are “committed to the NHS. An historic commitment to increase NHS resources in real terms each year, despite the dreadful debts we inherited. We will not make the sick pay for Labour’s debt crisis.” Thus the blame for the “debt crisis” here is laid at Labour’s door, rather than that of the global financial system ; more importantly however, Lansley evinces a paternalist concern for the sick that the burdens of deficit reduction should not fall on them. This is certainly putting a “human face” on the Health Secretary’s policies, and chimes with other statements we have seen which seek to demonstrate the “progressive” nature of deficit reduction under the Tories. Furthermore this reassurance comes with the implication that Labour are inadequate custodians who have put the sick at risk because of their “debt crisis”.

  • 68 Sonia Exley & Stephen Ball, “Something Old, Something New : Understanding Conservative Edu (...)
  • 69 Nihad Bunar, “The Free Schools ‘Riddle’ : Between Traditional Social Democratic, Neoliberal (...)
  • 70 Conservative Party, “Academies Programme Opened up to all Schools”, news item posted on 17  (...)

34A similar ideological mixture is discernible in the words of Cameroon Tories on the proposed education reforms of Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove.68 Gove’s proposals for “free schools” would allow various types of groups, including parents’ groups, religious groups and charities, to set up schools, providing they can fulfil certain criteria. In the Swedish context, where a system of “free schools” already operates, it has been noted that the “free schools” policy fulfils a number of discursive objectives, reflecting neoliberal, social democratic and multicultural aims.69 Gove’s words on free schools, and the extension of Blair’s Academies programme,70 reflect a comparably mixed ideological justification. Thus for Gove, as for Lansley and Duncan Smith, inequality is at the root of his justification for the reform :

  • 71 Michael Gove, “All Pupils will Learn our Island Story”, Speech to Conservative Party Confe (...)

In every school year there are 600,000 children. The very poorest are those eligible for free school meals – 80,000 in every year. And out of those 80,000, how many do you think make it to the best universities ? Just 45. More children from one public school – Westminster – make it to the top universities than the entire population of poor boys and girls on this benefit.71

35And as with Lansley, Labour are attacked for the pace of their reforms rather than their actual content. Thus Gove reminds his audience that :

In the 1980s when the first academy-style schools were created – the CTCs – it took five years to create 15. They were fought tooth and nail by the Labour Party but they are now overwhelmingly brilliant schools. When Tony Blair tried to replicate their success with his own Academies programme, he too was attacked. By the Labour Party. In one term he only managed to create 17 academies. And yet they are now recognised as his principal achievement in education.

36The Big Society is evident in his explanation for why independent schools achieve better exam results :

  • 72 Michael Gove, “A Comprehensive Programme for State Education”, Speech of 9 November 2009, (...)

They were established independent from local and central bureaucracy, free from central control over the curriculum, free to adopt the reading and maths policies which help the most disadvantaged, free to pay good staff more, free to have longer and more fulfilling school days, free to establish Saturday schools to help stretch and challenge pupils, free to shape and enforce more rigorous discipline policies, free to deploy resources more efficiently, free to develop excellent extra-curricular activities and free to spend the money on their own pupils which would otherwise be spent, beyond their control, by the local authority.72

  • 73 Michael Gove, “All Pupils will Learn our Island Story”, op. cit.

37For Gove more freedom from statist intervention allows schools to flourish. His variant on equality is certainly one based on equality of opportunity, but is clearly incoherent with any notion of comprehensive education. Again we note that Blairite themes have been used to undermine what is traditionally seen as a Labour policy, with a promise of more radicalism in the pace of reform. And yet paradoxically Conservative plans for education will involve some top-down reform of the curriculum which can only be described as statist. More than this, it emphasises a traditionalist view of what education consists of. Thus Gove promises to intervene from the centre to create a more traditional curriculum :73

We need to reform English. The great tradition of our literature – Dryden, Pope, Swift, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Austen, Dickens and Hardy – should be at the heart of school life. Our literature is the best in the world – it is every child’s birth right and we should be proud to teach it in every school.

38Later he tells his audience that :

One of the under-appreciated tragedies of our time has been the sundering of our society from its past. Children are growing up ignorant of one of the most inspiring stories I know – the history of our United Kingdom. Our history has moments of pride, and shame, but unless we fully understand the struggles of the past, we will not properly value the liberties of the present […]. I am delighted to announce today that Professor Simon Schama has agreed to advise us on how we can put British history at the heart of a revived national curriculum.

39These policies can easily be seen as contradicting the independence Gove seeks to give headteachers and parents through the Academies and Free Schools programmes, and arguably contradicts their modernising imperative. It is also instructive to note the Big Society ethic reflected in his assertion that British society has been “sundered” from its past, and that this is a tragedy. Similarly classically patriotic feeling is at the root of his belief that the national story is “one of the most inspiring stories”. Again, despite the radical neoliberal drift of his reforms, Gove’s discursive approach is ideologically eclectic.

Cameronism and the immigration/multiculturalism debate

  • 74 The Guardian (editorial), “Cameron on Multiculturalism : Blaming the Victims”, The Guardia (...)

40The discursive areas of immigration and multiculturalism have been grouped together for the purposes of this essay for a number of reasons : because one leads to another, because they see Cameroon Tories facing the same ideological dilemma, and because they are a crucial area of discourse to which the Cameroons’ headline themes, such as “Big Society”, “Broken Britain” and “dealing with the deficit”, mostly do not apply. They have nevertheless become two of the defining areas of Cameroon discourse. These are also issues on which the Prime Minister has taken a personal lead, making two key speeches, one in each field. The first was delivered to the Munich Security Conference of 5 February 2011. The speech was seen by some as an attempt to pre-empt a march by the far-right English Defence League that weekend, and the coincidence of timing was unfortunate at the very least.74 Though purportedly a speech dealing with issues of terrorism and extremism, the line which achieved “cut through” in the media was :

  • 75 David Cameron, “Speech on Radicalisation and Islamic Extremism”, Speech to Munich Security (...)

Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.75

41However this was reported (naturally enough one might think) as “multiculturalism has failed”.

  • 76 Kate Connolly, “Angela Merkel Declares Death of German Multiculturalism” ; The Guardian, (...)
  • 77 The Daily Mail (editorial), “Nicolas Sarkozy Joins David Cameron and Angela Merkel (...)

42Furthermore the location of the speech can perhaps be seen as an attempt by Cameron to link his view of multiculturalism with that of German Chancellor Angela Merkel who had herself recently expressed the very same view telling her audience that multiculturalism had “failed, and failed utterly”.76 Combined with the tough approach recently taken by French President Nicolas Sarkozy on integration issues, it may be said that something of a consensus is forming amongst the major European leaders.77 It is a distinctly conservative viewpoint, articulating a scepticism in multiculturalism arising (at best) from a communitarian perspective which prioritises integration, and therefore cohesion, as a defence to the purported atomisation of rights-bearing individuals in a liberal society. In this vein Cameron tells his audience in Munich that :

In the UK, some young men find it hard to identify with the traditional Islam practised at home by their parents whose customs can seem staid when transplanted to modern Western countries. But they also find it hard to identify with Britain too, because we have allowed the weakening of our collective identity. Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and the mainstream. We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong.

43From there Cameron goes on to critique political correctness, a perennial conservative bugbear often seen as an incidental product of multiculturalism :

So when a white person holds objectionable views – racism, for example – we rightly condemn them.
But when equally unacceptable views or practices have come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly even fearful, to stand up to them.

44However whilst Cameron criticises the restriction on the freedom of speech of some by customary codes of political correctness, he hastens to draw a line at “nonviolent extremism” which he believes contributes to the “process of radicalisation”, leading to the conclusion that “[we] must ban preachers of hate from coming to our countries. We must also proscribe organisations that incite terrorism – against people at home and abroad.”

45Beyond this policing of the freedom of speech Cameron also calls for “stronger citizenship” :

Frankly, we need a lot less of the passive tolerance of recent years and much more active, muscular liberalism. A passively tolerant society says to its citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It stands neutral between different values. A genuinely liberal country does much more. It believes in certain values and actively promotes them.

46In short Cameron’s speech voices an opinion where liberalism is a feature of western culture, into which all members of society must integrate. The “muscular liberalism” of such a society actively promotes core values to demand such integration, and aims to prevent the disaggregating effects of what he terms “passive tolerance”. Thus whilst he promotes liberalism as a core tenet of British culture, community is prioritized ; liberalism is praised, but in its role as an aspect of British community rather than as an innate good.

  • 78 David Cameron, “Good Immigration, Not Mass Immigration”, Speech to party members in Romsey (...)

47Similarly Cameron’s key speech on immigration, delivered to party workers in Romsey, Hampshire, claims that immigration has been too high and recommends a cap on the numbers arriving in Britain.78 A significant part of his reasoning is communitarian. Thus he tells his audience that the cap is necessary :

because real communities aren’t just collections of public service users living in the same space. Real communities are bound by common experiences, forged by friendship and by conversation; knitted together by all the rituals of the neighbourhood, from the school run to the chat down the pub. And these bonds take time. And so real integration takes time too.

48It is interesting to note that in both these speeches Cameron is at pains to avoid accusations of extremism. Thus the Munich speech sees him reminding his audience that “Islamist extremism and Islam are not the same thing”, whilst the Romsey speech finds Cameron reminding his audience of the many ways in which “[our] country has benefited immeasurably from immigration” and telling them : “I believe the role of politicians is to cut through the extremes of this debate and approach the subject sensibly and reasonably.” Crucially for this study, the sensitive areas of multiculturalism and immigration are those in which the Prime Minister’s language is least eclectic ideologically. And his communitarian arguments are the epitome of small-“c” conservatism.

Conclusion

49The above discussion depicts a government who seem constantly at pains to achieve a multitude of different discursive aims in the language they use to argue for their policies. On each occasion a “talk conservative, act radical” approach has been taken. Thus concern for inequality is exhibited throughout the words of the Cameroon Conservatives on reforms in Welfare, Health and Education, although these seem to have been contested as requiring the provision of a liberal “equality of opportunity” rather than social democrat “equality of outcome”. Thatcherism is adverted to, especially as regards the Party’s policies on deficit reduction, but so is Blairism, in the furthering of a “choice” agenda in Health and Education. The Party’s “One Nation” tradition is referenced in the occasional patriotic sentiments expressed, as well as in the communitarian basis for the government’s policies on multiculturalism and immigration, whilst “Red Tory” communitarianism is the inspiration for the Big Society project. Cameroon Conservatives have also included in quite a significant way some traditionalist elements as regards their depiction of the role of the family in a good society, as well as in the need for discipline in schools. Educational curricula meanwhile should also bear the mark of traditionalism and depict a “national story”.

  • 79 Ivor Crewe, “2010 : Year in Review”, Political Insight, vol. 1, n 3, 2010, 81.

50Yet the suite of policy these discursive strategies are being used to complement is radical, even by neoliberal standards. Ivor Crewe has called it “a breathless programme of reforms as radical as those of the Attlee and Thatcher governments”.79 Even if one only weighs the policy areas considered here, it is an impressive programme in its ambition ; removal of universal child benefit, introduction of the “any willing provider” principle into the NHS, free schools and academies effectively doing the same in education, a government placing numeric limits on immigration for the first time whilst declaring multiculturalism a failure, and all whilst undertaking the execution of an austerity plan aiming to reduce the deficit within five years. Today’s Conservatives do not shun the label “radical”, and have been known to describe themselves thus. Nevertheless they seem to be describing themselves as everything else too, pragmatically mobilising concepts and arguments from across the ideological board in pursuit of what can only be described as a radical suite of neoliberal policy. Only the immigration and multiculturalism policies can be said to truly deviate from the neoliberal course, though Cameron is full of praise for the economic benefits of immigration whilst he criticises it. If Cameronism is Thatcherism with a “human face”, it is a radical variant on the doctrine, refuting universal child benefit, comprehensive education and truly bringing market forces to bear on the NHS, policies which Thatcher may have wished for, but could not have hoped to have achieved. As for the “human face”, consisting as it does of features drawn from a wide variety of ideological sources, its eclectic construction has been an arch exercise in a cautious pragmatism which can only be described as conservative. With a small “c”.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

BALE Timothy, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s Revival all down to David Cameron ?”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 80, n°2, 2009, 222-232.

BALL Stuart, Baldwin and the Conservative Party : The Crisis of 1929-1931, New Haven/London : Yale University Press, 1988.

BARISIONE Mauro, “Valence Image and the Standardisation of Democratic Political Leadership”, Leadership, vol. 5, n 1, 2009, 41-60.

BARRY Norman, “Conservative Thought and the Welfare State”, Political Studies, vol. 45, n°2, 1997, 331-345.

BENNETT Fran, “Child Benefit: An Untidy Cut”, Public Policy Research, vol. 17, n 3, 2010, 130-134.

BEVIR Mark & RHODES Rod, “Narratives of Thatcherism”, West European Politics, vol. 21, n°1, 1998, 97-119.

BEVIR Mark, Encyclopedia of Governance, Thousand Oaks : Sage, 2007.

BEVIR Mark & RHODES Rod, The State as Cultural Practice, Oxford : OUP, 2010.

BLOND Phillip, “Rise of the ‘Red Tories’”, Prospect, 28 February 2009, available online at : <http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2009/02/riseoftheredtories/>

BLOND Phillip, Red Tory : How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix It, London: Faber & Faber, 2010.

BRIGHOUSE Harry & SWIFT Adam, “The End of the Tory War on Single Parents ?”, Public Policy Research, vol. 14, n°3, 2007, 186-192.

BUNAR Nihad, “The Free Schools ‘Riddle’ : Between Traditional Social Democratic, Neoliberal and Multicultural Tenets”, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, vol. 52, n°4, 2008, 423-428.

CAMERON David, “We Need Popular Capitalism”, Speech to World Economic Forum at Davos of 30 January 2009, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/01/David_Cameron_We_need_popular_capitalism.aspx>.

CAMERON David, “Together in the National Interest”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 6 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/David_Cameron_Together_in_the_National_Interest.aspx>.

CAMERON David, “Speech on Radicalisation and Islamic Extremism”, Speech to Munich Security Conference of 5 February 2011, available at : <http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/02/terrorism-islam-ideology>.

CAMERON David, “Good Immigration, Not Mass Immigration”, Speech to party members in Romsey, Hampshire, of 14 April 2011, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2011/04/David_Cameron_Good_immigration_not_mass_immigration.aspx>.

CENTRE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, Breakdown Britain, London : Social Justice Policy Group, 2006.

CHEESMAN Harry, “Cameron and Osborne : Radical Policies in Soft Wrapping”, British Politics Review, vol. 5, n°4, 2010, 12.

CONNOLLY Kate, “Angela Merkel Declares Death of German Multiculturalism”, The Guardian, 17 October 2010, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/17/angela-merkel-germany-multiculturalism-failures>.

CONSERVATIVE PARTY, Built to Last: The Aims and Values of the Conservative Party, 2006.

CREWE Ivor, “2010 : Year in Review”, Political Insight, vol. 1, n°3, 2010, 79-81.

DAILY MAIL (editorial), “Nicolas Sarkozy Joins David Cameron and Angela Merkel View that Multiculturalism has Failed”, The Daily Mail, 11 February 2011, available at : <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1355961/Nicolas-Sarkozy-joins-David-Cameron-Angela-Merkel-view-multiculturalism-failed.html>.

DENHAM Andrew & O’HARA Kieron, “Cameron’s ‘Mandate’ : Democracy, Legitimacy and Conservative Leadership”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 60, n°3, 2007, 409-423.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, Equity and Excellence : Liberating the NHS, Cm 7881, London : HMSO, 2010.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, “Government Launches NHS Listening Exercise”, Press release of 6 April 2011, available at : <http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/DH_125865>.

DUNCAN SMITH Iain, “Our Contract with the Country for 21st Century Welfare”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Iain_Duncan_Smith_Our_contract_with_the_country_for_21st_Century_Welfare.aspx>.

EVANS Stephen, “The Not So Odd Couple : Margaret Thatcher and One Nation Conservatism”, Contemporary British History, vol. 23, n 1, 2009, 101-121.

EVANS Stephen, “‘Mother’s Boy’: David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher”, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 12, n°3, 2010, 325-343.

EXLEY Sonia & BALL Stephen, “Something Old, Something New : Understanding Conservative Education Policy”, in BOCHEL Hugh (ed.), The Conservative Party and Social Policy, Bristol : Policy Press, 2011, 97-119.

FINLAYSON Alan, “Making Sense of David Cameron”, Public Policy Research, vol. 14, n°1, 2007, 3-10.

FREEDEN Michael, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, Oxford : OUP, 1996.

GARNETT Mark, “Built on Sand ? : Ideology and Conservative Modernisation under David Cameron”, in GRIFFITHS Simon & HICKSON Kevin (eds.), British Party Politics and Ideology after New Labour, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 107-119.

GOVE Michael, “A Comprehensive Programme for State Education”, Speech of 9 November 2009, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/11/Michael_Gove_A_comprehensive_programme_for_state_education.aspx>.

GOVE Michael, “All Pupils Will Learn our Island Story”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Michael_Gove_All_pupils_will_learn_our_island_story.aspx>.

GREEN Ewen, Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Oxford : OUP, 2002.

GREENLEAF William, The British Political Tradition, vol. 2 : “The Ideological Heritage, London : Routledge, 1983.

THE GUARDIAN (editorial), “Cameron on Multiculturalism : Blaming the Victims”, The Guardian, 7 February 2011, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/editorial-david-cameron-multiculturalism-edl>.

HAYTON Richard, “Conservative Party Modernisation and David Cameron’s Politics of the Family”, The Political Quarterly, vol.  81, n°4, 2010, 492-500.

HAZAREESINGH Sudhir & NABULSI Karma, “Using Archival Sources to Theorize about Politics”, in LEOPOLD David & STEARS Marc (eds.), Political Theory : Methods and Approaches, Oxford : OUP, 2008, 150-171.

HEPPELL Timothy, “Weak and Ineffective ? : Reassessing the Party Political Leadership of John Major”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 78, n°3, 2010, 382-391.

HORTON Tim & GREGORY James, “Why Solidarity Matters : The Political Strategy of Welfare Design”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 81, n°2, 2010, 270-276.

INSTITUTE FOR FISCAL STUDIES, “New IFS Research Challenges Chancellor’s ‘Progressive Budget’ Claim”, 25 August 2010, available at : <http://www.ifs.org.uk/pr/progressive_budget.pdf>.

KERR Peter, “Cameron Chameleon and Britain’s ‘Consensus’”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 60, n°1, 2007, 46-65.

KERR Peter, BYRNE Christopher & FOSTER Emma, “Theorising Cameronism”, Political Studies Review, vol. 9, n°2, 2011, 193-207.

KING Peter, The New Politics : Liberal Conservatism or Same Old Tories ?, Bristol : Policy Press, 2001.

KISBY Ben, “The Big Society : Power to the People”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 81, n°4, 2010, 484-491.

LANSLEY Andrew, “Secretary of State for Health’s Speech to the NCAS Conference”, Speech to NCAS Conference of 5 November 2010, available at : <http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/Speeches/DH_121491>.

LANSLEY Andrew, “£70 Million to Help People in their Homes after Illness or Injury”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Andrew_Lansley_70_million_to_help_people_in_their_homes_after_illness_or_injury.aspx>.

McANULLA Stuart, “Heirs to Blair’s Third Way ? : David Cameron’s Triangulating Conservatism”, British Politics, vol. 5, n°3, 2010, 286-314.

MANDELSON Peter, “David Cameron is no Bulldog. Even Thatcher never left the European table”, The Guardian, 11 December 2001, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/11/david-cameron-thatcher-european-table>.

NORTON Philip, “The future of Conservatism”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 79, n 3, 2008, 324-332.

OAKESHOTT Michael, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, London : Methuen, 1962.

OSBORNE George, “Our Tough but Fair Approach to Welfare”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 4 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/George_Osborne_Our_tough_but_fair_approach_to_welfare.aspx>.

PRIDEAUX Simon, “The Welfare Politics of Charles Murray are Alive and Well in the UK”, International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 19, n°3, 2010, 293-302.

QUINTON Anthony, The Politics of Imperfection, London : Faber & Faber, 1978.

RABAN Jonathan, “Cameron’s Crank”, London Review of Books, vol. 32, n°8, 2010, 22-23.

RAMESH Randeep, “Andrew Lansley’s Deliberately Bland NHS Speech Was a Strategic Move”, The Guardian, Politics Blog, 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/oct/05/andrew-lansley-nhs-reforms-speech>.

SEAWRIGHT David, The British Conservative Party and One Nation Politics, London : Continuum, 2009.

TOYNBEE Polly, “This Conservative Notion of a Universal Credit Is a Mirage”, The Guardian, 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/05/universal-credit-cost-welfare-reform>.

WATT Nicholas, “David Cameron Ignores Alastair Campbell’s Advice as He Does God”, The Guardian, Wintour and Watt blog, 27 April 2011, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2011/apr/27/davidcameron-easter>.

WILLETTS David, Civic Conservatism, London : SMF, 1994.

YOUNG Hugo, One of Us : A Biography of Margaret Thatcher, Basingstoke : Macmillan, 1991.

Haut de page

Notes

1 Stephen Evans, “‘Mother’s Boy’ : David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher”, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, vol. 12, n°3, 2010, 325-343.

2 House of Commons Debate, Hansard, 1 December 2010, col. 813.

3 Peter Mandelson, “David Cameron is no Bulldog. Even Thatcher never left the European table”, The Guardian, 11 December 2011, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/11/david-cameron-thatcher-european-table>, retrieved on 20 December 2011.

4 Hugo Young, One of Us : A Biography of Margaret Thatcher, Basingstoke : Macmillan, 1991, 498.

5 Conservative Party, Built to Last : The Aims and Values of the Conservative Party, August 2006, cited in Peter Kerr, “Cameron Chameleon and Britain’s ‘Consensus’”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 60, n 1, 2007, 46-65, 51.

6 Stuart McAnulla, “Heirs to Blair’s Third Way ? : David Cameron’s Triangulating Conservatism”, British Politics, vol. 5, n°3, 2010, 286-314.

7 Timothy Bale, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s Revival all down to David Cameron ?”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 80, n°2, 2009, 227.

8 Idem.

9 Alan Finlayson, “Making Sense of David Cameron”, Public Policy Research, vol. 14, n 1, 2007, 3-10.

10 Harry Cheesman, “Cameron and Osborne: Radical Policies in Soft Wrapping”, British Politics Review, vol. 5, n°4, 2010, 12.

11 Simon Prideaux, “The Welfare Politics of Charles Murray are Alive and Well in the UK”, International Journal of Social Welfare, vol. 19, n°3, 2010, 293-302.

12 Richard Hayton, “Conservative Party Modernisation and David Cameron’s Politics of the Family”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 81, n°4, 2010, 492-500.

13 Nicholas Watt, “David Cameron Ignores Alastair Campbell’s Advice as He Does God”, The Guardian, Wintour and Watt blog, 27 April 2011, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2011/apr/27/davidcameron-easter>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

14 Andrew Denham & Kieron O’Hara, “Cameron’s ‘Mandate’ : Democracy, Legitimacy and Conservative Leadership”, Parliamentary Affairs, vol. 60, n°3, 2007, 422.

15 Mauro Barisione, “Valence Image and the Standardisation of Democratic Political Leadership”, Leadership, vol. 5, n°1, 2009, 54.

16 Timothy Bale, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s Revival all down to David Cameron ?”, op. cit., 227.

17 Peter Kerr, “Cameron Chameleon and Britain’s ‘Consensus’”, op. cit., 64.

18 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, Oxford : OUP, 1996, 17-18.

19 Mark Garnett, “Built on Sand ? : Ideology and Conservative Modernisation under David Cameron”, in Simon Griffiths & Kevin Hickson (eds.), British Party Politics and Ideology after New Labour, Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 117.

20 Timothy Bale, “‘Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Dave’ : How Far is the Conservative Party’s Revival all down to David Cameron ?”, op. cit., 228. Blair’s abolition of the Labour Party’s “clause IV” (a constitutional commitment to common ownership) is widely regarded as a key symbolic moment in his programme of “modernisation”.

21 Andrew Denham & Kieron O’Hara, “Cameron’s ‘Mandate’ : Democracy, Legitimacy and Conservative Leadership”, op. cit., 422.

22 Michael Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays, London : Methuen, 1962, 168-169.

23 Sudhir Hazareesingh & Karma Nabulsi, “Using Archival Sources to Theorize about Politics”, in David Leopold & Marc Stears (eds.), Political Theory : Methods and Approaches, Oxford : OUP, 2008, 150-171.

24 Peter Kerr, Christopher Byrne & Emma Foster, “Theorising Cameronism”, Political Studies Review, vol. 9, n°2, 2011, 193-207.

25 Ibid., 193.

26 Ibid., 196-199.

27 Mark Bevir & Rod Rhodes, The State as Cultural Practice, Oxford : OUP, 2010, 67.

28 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, op. cit., 387.

29 Mark Bevir, Encyclopedia of Governance, Thousand Oaks : Sage, 194-195.

30 Mark Bevir & Rod Rhodes, “Narratives of Thatcherism”, West European Politics, vol. 21, n°1, 1998, 97-119, cited in Peter Kerr, Christopher Byrne & Emma Foster, “Theorising Cameronism”, op. cit., 197.

31 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, op. cit., 349.

32 David Cameron, “Together in the National Interest”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 6 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/David_Cameron_Together_in_the_National_Interest.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

33 Stuart Ball, Baldwin and the Conservative Party : The Crisis of 1929-1931, New Haven/London : Yale UP, 1988, 218.

34 Stephen Evans, “The Not So Odd Couple : Margaret Thatcher and One Nation Conservatism”, Contemporary British History, vol. 23, n°1, 2009, 101-121.

35 Institute for Fiscal Studies, “New IFS Research Challenges Chancellor’s ‘Progressive Budget’ Claim”, 25 August 2010, available at : <http://www.ifs.org.uk/pr/progressive_budget.pdf>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

36 George Osborne, “Our Tough but Fair Approach to Welfare”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 4 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/George_Osborne_Our_tough_but_fair_approach_to_welfare.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

37 Idem.

38 David Seawright, The British Conservative Party and One Nation Politics, London : Continuum, 2009, 4-8.

39 Ewen Green, Ideologies of Conservatism : Conservative Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Oxford : OUP, 2002, 274-275.

40 Norman Barry, “Conservative Thought and the Welfare State”, Political Studies, vol. 45, n 2, 1997, 345.

41 George Osborne, “Our Tough but Fair Approach to Welfare”, op. cit.

42 Centre for Social Justice, Breakdown Britain, London : Social Justice Policy Group, 2006.

43 Timothy Heppell, “Weak and Ineffective ? : Reassessing the Party Political Leadership of John Major”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 78, n°3, 2010, 384.

44 Ibid., 382-391.

45 Iain Duncan Smith, “Our Contract with the Country for 21st Century Welfare”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Iain_Duncan_Smith_Our_contract_with_the_country_for_21st_Century_Welfare.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

46 Michael Freeden, Ideologies and Political Theory : A Conceptual Approach, op. cit., 395.

47 Peter King, The New Politics : Liberal Conservatism or Same Old Tories ?, Bristol : Policy Press, 2011, 42-47.

48 Anthony Quinton, The Politics of Imperfection, London : Faber & Faber, 1978, 12-13.

49 Harry Brighouse & Adam Swift, “The End of the Tory War on Single Parents ?”, Public Policy Research, vol. 14, n°3, 2007, 186-192.

50 Ibid., 191.

51 Richard Hayton, “Conservative Party Modernisation and David Cameron’s Politics of the Family”, op. cit., 492.

52 Ibid., 499.

53 Fran Bennett, “Child Benefit : An Untidy Cut”, Public Policy Research, vol. 17, n°3, 2010, 131.

54 Polly Toynbee, “This Conservative Notion of a Universal Credit is a Mirage”, The Guardian, 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/oct/05/universal-credit-cost-welfare-reform>, retrieved on 30 June 2011 ; Tim Horton & James Gregory, “Why Solidarity Matters : The Political Strategy of Welfare Design”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 81, n°2, 2010, 270-276.

55 Phillip Blond, Red Tory : How Left and Right Have Broken Britain and How We Can Fix It, London : Faber & Faber, 2010.

56 Distributism, a political philosophy based on Catholic social theory, recommends the wider distribution of ownership of the means of production.

57 Jonathan Raban, “Cameron’s Crank”, London Review of Books, vol. 32, n 8, 2010, 22-23.

58 David Cameron, “A Voice for Hope, for Optimism and for Change”, Speech accepting the leadership of the Conservative Party of 6 December 2005, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2005/12/Cameron_A_voice_for_hope_for_optimism_and_for_change.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2006.

59 Ben Kisby, “The Big Society : Power to the People”, The Political Quarterly, vol. 81, n°4, 2010, 487-488.

60 Phillip Blond, “Rise of the ‘Red Tories’”, Prospect, 28 February 2009, available at : <http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2009/02/riseoftheredtories/>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

61 David Cameron, “We Need Popular Capitalism”, Speech to World Economic Forum at Davos of 30 January 2009, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/01/David_Cameron_We_need_popular_capitalism.aspx>, retrieved on 30/06/2011.

62 David Willetts, Civic Conservatism, London : SMF, 1994 ; Ewen Green, Ideologies of Conservatism : Conservative Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, op. cit., 278.

63 Department of Health, “Government Launches NHS Listening Exercise”, Press release of 6 April 2011, available at : <http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/DH_125865>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

64 Department of Health, Equity and Excellence : Liberating the NHS, Cm 7881, London : HMSO, 2010, 37.

65 Andrew Lansley, “Secretary of State for Health’s Speech to the NCAS Conference”, Speech to NCAS Conference of 5 November 2010, available at : <http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/www.dh.gov.uk/en/MediaCentre/Speeches/DH_121491>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

66 Andrew Lansley, “£70 Million to Help People in their Homes after Illness or Injury”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Andrew_Lansley_70_million_to_help_people_in_their_homes_after_illness_or_injury.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

67 Randeep Ramesh, “Andrew Lansley’s Deliberately Bland NHS Speech was a Strategic Move”, The Guardian, Politics Blog, 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/oct/05/andrew-lansley-nhs-reforms-speech>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

68 Sonia Exley & Stephen Ball, “Something Old, Something New : Understanding Conservative Education Policy”, in Hugh Bochel (ed.), The Conservative Party and Social Policy, Bristol : Policy Press, 2011, 97-119.

69 Nihad Bunar, “The Free Schools ‘Riddle’ : Between Traditional Social Democratic, Neoliberal and Multicultural Tenets”, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, vol. 52, n°4, 2008, 423-428.

70 Conservative Party, “Academies Programme Opened up to all Schools”, news item posted on 17 November 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/News_stories/2010/11/Academies_programme_opened_up_to_all_schools.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

71 Michael Gove, “All Pupils will Learn our Island Story”, Speech to Conservative Party Conference of 5 October 2010, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2010/10/Michael_Gove_All_pupils_will_learn_our_island_story.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

72 Michael Gove, “A Comprehensive Programme for State Education”, Speech of 9 November 2009, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2009/11/Michael_Gove_A_comprehensive_programme_for_state_education.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

73 Michael Gove, “All Pupils will Learn our Island Story”, op. cit.

74 The Guardian (editorial), “Cameron on Multiculturalism : Blaming the Victims”, The Guardian, 7 February 2011, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/07/editorial-david-cameron-multiculturalism-edl>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

75 David Cameron, “Speech on Radicalisation and Islamic Extremism”, Speech to Munich Security Conference of 5 February 2011, available at : <http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/02/terrorism-islam-ideology>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

76 Kate Connolly, “Angela Merkel Declares Death of German Multiculturalism” ; The Guardian, 17 October 2010, available at : <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/17/angela-merkel-germany-multiculturalism-failures>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

77 The Daily Mail (editorial), “Nicolas Sarkozy Joins David Cameron and Angela Merkel View that Multiculturalism has Failed”, The Daily Mail, 11 February 2011, available at : <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1355961/Nicolas-Sarkozy-joins-David-Cameron-Angela-Merkel-view-multiculturalism-failed.html>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

78 David Cameron, “Good Immigration, Not Mass Immigration”, Speech to party members in Romsey, Hampshire, of 14 April 2011, available at : <http://www.conservatives.com/News/Speeches/2011/04/David_Cameron_Good_immigration_not_mass_immigration.aspx>, retrieved on 30 June 2011.

79 Ivor Crewe, “2010 : Year in Review”, Political Insight, vol. 1, n 3, 2010, 81.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Harry Cheesman, « Cameron’s Tories : Talking Conservative, Acting Radical », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. XII-n°8 | 2014, mis en ligne le 20 décembre 2014, consulté le 28 avril 2017. URL : http://lisa.revues.org/6938 ; DOI : 10.4000/lisa.6938

Haut de page

Auteur

Harry Cheesman

Goldsmiths, Université de Londres, Royaume-Uni. Harry Cheesman is a PhD candidate at IMT Lucca, currently conducting research at the Conservative Party Archive in Oxford as part of a visiting studentship at Goldsmiths, University of London. His dissertation supervisors are Giovanni Orsina of LUISS and Antonio Masala of IMT Lucca, whilst he is “mentored” in London by Simon Griffiths at Goldsmiths. His work focuses on Conservative ideology under Margaret Thatcher, and seeks to understand the role of history and ideas within the party’s discourse as it pertains to Thatcherite industrial relations reform.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Les contenus de la Revue LISA / LISA e-journal sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Revues.org